Most of us know that marriage is a covenant.  We do not become married by being faithful . . . or by loving, honoring, and cherishing the other person.  To become married, we must enter into a covenant.

Likewise, becoming a Christian is entering into a covenant with God–a blood covenant.  We do not become a Christian by faithfully serving God, being devoted wholly to Him, or keeping His commandments.  We become a Christian by repenting and accepting Jesus’ blood, that was shed on our behalf.

But few would argue, that although we do not become married through faithfulness, or loving, honoring, and cherishing our spouse, that is how we remain married!  If we fail to do the things we have promised, we make the covenant of no effect.  The Scriptures make it clear that if we are not faithful to our spouse, unless they choose to forgive us and give us another chance, we have irretrievably broken the marriage covenant.

Likewise, although we do not become a Christian by faithfulness, and obedience to God’s commandments, that is how we remain in covenant with Him.  Although He hates divorce . . . although He is longsuffering and forgiving . . . if we break His covenant and fail to repent, we eventually reach the end of His grace.

Although a couple is not considered married until the covenant is entered through the proper ritual and before witnesses, from the time that a woman accepts the man’s proposal of marriage, the covenant is entered into, and its standards are expected to be upheld.  The engagement period is a probationary period, so to speak.

What wise person would proceed to marry someone who was unfaithful to them during the engagement period . . . or who became neglectful or abusive?  But, if they loved the other person very much, and had hopes that their behavior would change, they would postpone the marriage until they were certain that the other person had matured enough in character to be able to uphold the covenant.

If a wise and forgiving man loved a harlot very much, and wanted to have her as a loving, faithful wife, he would have a long engagement and would work with her (or have someone else work with her) to bring her to repentance, and to train her in the ways of faithfulness and love.

We are very much like that harlot, and the Lord is like a forgiving man who loves us very much.  But He is wise.  He knows that for us to have a marriage of love, faithfulness, and contentment, someone is going to have to work with us, to train us in the ways of righteousness and faithfulness.

While we are here on Earth, in these mortal bodies, we are engaged to our Lord.  When we become a Christian, we  have accepted His marriage proposal.  We know that He is longsuffering and forgiving . . . that He is committed to us . . . that He will do whatever He can do to mold us into a faithful, loving bride (but we have a role to play too).  But He is wise enough to know, that if we will not commit to being faithful and obedient to Him, there can not be an eternity of peace and love together.  If we prefer others to Him, we will not be content to be in covenant with Him alone for eternity.  If we do not share the same values . . . if we are not willing to be obedient to Him and accept His standards . . . then for us, an eternal covenant would be a prison.

The role of the Holy Spirit is to prepare us, during this engagement period.  He works in us daily, to bring us to repentance when we sin . . . to sanctify us  . . . to teach us to set ourselves apart in holiness for the Lord.  He works in us to teach us the ways of righteousness . . . to mold us, and to conform us to the image of God . . . that we might be a fitting bride for His Son.

‘ . . . even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.’  (Ephesians 5:25-27)

If we submit to the Holy Spirit, if we allow Him to work in us, He will see to it that we are ready . . . spotless and blameless . . . a beautiful bride who is prepared for her husband-to-be . . . when the wedding day arrives.

‘ . . . be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.’  (2 Peter 3:14)

People who believe that we are eternally saved the moment we profess our faith do not understand this essential process.  Although we are expected to uphold the covenant and live by obedience during our earthly ‘engagement’ period, we are not married yet.  To believe that we are now married to a perfect God, yet can live any way we please, is utter foolishness!  God is wise–He will not allow Himself to be unequally yoked!  Jesus is in no hurry.  There will be no wedding until the bride has been prepared!

If, rather than allowing the Holy Spirit to work in us . . .  we begin resisting Him and fighting against Him . . . if we cease to uphold the covenant despite repeated pleading and warning from Him . . . we will eventually exceed the grace of God.  We will prove ourselves unfit to be His bride, and we will find ourselves on the outside, looking in, when the wedding takes place.

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