Hebrews 13:4-6 says “4 Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. 5 Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” 6 So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
The writer of Hebrews continues his letter to Hebrew Christians with last minute instructions. These are bullet points he wants to leave with them kind of like the talk someone gives to their children and grandchildren when they are going to die soon. Not that the writer was going to die, but Christ’s coming was imminent and he wanted to leave them in as good a position as he could. He was probably uncertain as to when or if he would have the opportunity to exhort and encourage them in their walk so he was leaving the most important things to them as he wrapped up his letter.
Marriage should be honored by all – this is not something we see in our society much anymore. People “test drive” their mates like buying used automobiles. Jokes and cutting remarks are everywhere. When you meet someone who honors marriage you know it. They are open and appreciative of those who have stuck with each other over the years. Sometimes we skip over this part of the instruction to get to the next part that deals with sexual sin. But marriage is more than sex. It is a one-ness that should be honored and celebrated.
The Complete Jewish Bible says, “Marriage is honorable in every respect; and, in particular, sex within marriage is pure. But God will indeed punish fornicators and adulterers.” There is the word “and” here…marriage is honorable in every respect … one thought….and in particular, sex within marriage is pure. Or in the NIV “and the marriage bed kept pure, “…other translations say “undefiled.”
I looked up the word defile. It means to make foul, dirty, or unclean; pollute, taint, debase, violate the chastity of, desecrate, sully.” Think of all the ways this can be done. Look around you. Watch people. This is done everyday…in work places, in churches, in groups and organizations, in friendships….if not physically acted out…it is done emotionally. It’s so easy to allow ourselves friendships with the opposite sex which come pretty close to defiling our relationship with our spouse. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28 “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” The writer in Hebrews is concerned that in their weakened state of their spiritual hearts … in the persecution they are a part of that they will find solace in someone else’s arms….someone else besides their spouse.
The next part of this is a warning. “for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” Often we think these two things are one and the same.
An adulterer is someone who is married and involves themselves in extramarital affairs.
The sexually immoral are those who take part in sexual activity outside of marriage. This includes pornography, homosexual relationships and a host of other sexual sins one can be a part of outside of marriage.
The writer is covering all bases…inside and outside of marriage…any sexual relationship not sanctioned by God…God will judge.
It was suggested in one website I read that the Hebrews were in a culture where there were two schools of thought. One was that it was expected that a man have a mistress or two on the side because marriage was too restrictive. The other was that marriage was not restrictive enough…that you needed to deny yourself in order to be spiritual. Both were wrong. Our culture believes that you “can’t” be faithful and that “everyone” is either unfaithful or sexually active outside of marriage. Thankfully, this isn’t true.
But let’s remember the warning God gives the Hebrews and us through these verses. We must align ourselves with God’s thoughts on marriage and the marriage bed as being pure and holy.
Verse 5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”
In trying to see this from the Hebrews point of view…I believe we need to go back to what they were dealing with in their world. They were being persecuted for their faith…this included not being allowed to buy and sell like they used to when they were following Jewish Law. Their income capacity had changed. The writer is reminding them here that God will never leave nor forsake them. He is their provider. He is reminding them to be content with what God has provided.
I need this reminder often. Our world values more and more things and bigger homes and more stuff and better things and better stuff. Living simply in our day and age is not looked well upon. I love my home. It’s a two bedroom apartment that meets our needs. Yes, it’s cluttered because there is very little closet space for the “things” we need, but it’s ours provided by a loving Heavenly Father for His children. I can be content in that or I can kick at the goads. It is my opinion, that some of the Hebrews were probably kicking at the goads. I’m sure they had much less than any of us here have tonight, yet the writer believed they could be content and remember that God had their backs and that He was providing and He would
never leave nor forsake them. Dr. Greer says the word never here means “Never, never, never, never, never, never.” I need that. When I go into work everyday and I feel like I am alone…that I am once again in Jr. High with everyone around me gossiping and making life unlivable….I need to hear that my God will never, never, never, never, never leave me.
Verse 6 says, “So we say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”
Again, another reminder to the Hebrews that what they are going through is temporary. What is the worst the world can throw at them? Death? But that means Eternal Life. So even in death…the world’s worst for us…God has our best waiting for us. He is faithful. The writer is reminding the Hebrews and through them us that God is faithful. He will see us through. We can be content…we can know that He will never leave us and we do not need to be afraid. We can live confidently. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit our Helper in John 14:16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper,to be with you forever,” And best of all our helper, the Holy Spirit, lives inside of us living out His life through us…we don’t have to do a thing…just let Him life through us.