“MARRIAGE IS AWESOME!” Eph. 5:22-33
INTRO – I want to start this sermon w/ one clear declaration: We stand on the authority of God’s perfect, holy Word in declaring that God’s ONLY plan for marriage is a loving, committed relationship between 1 man & 1 woman for life!
- We will always stand on that absolute biblical truth, no matter what kind of reasoning liberal pastors, theologians, & scholars come up with as they twist & distort God’s Word & God’s unchangeable principles in this critical family issue.
- We will not preach a message of hate, abuse, or ridicule of those who are caught in Satan’s lies in the area of homosexuality. We will love them, just as we love everyone who is struggling w/ sin of any kind – which includes all of us here today!
- We acknowledge that there is much that we do not understand about this particular struggle, but that will not keep us from striving to share the love of Christ & the message of the Gospel w/ those who wrestle w/ same-sex attraction.
- We believe now & will always believe that the power of God & the Gospel is transformative for all people who come to Him in faith.
- We also understand that the sanctification process is just that – a process – & the Church is called to walk alongside every person who desires to become a devoted disciple of Jesus, no matter what their particular life struggle or besetting sin is.
I also want to make another clear declaration: Christian marriage done God’s way is AWESOME! I’m tired of marriage getting bashed; of the husband/wife relationship being ridiculed & viewed & talked about as a burden. I want to proclaim that the marriage relationship between a Christian man & a Christian woman is the most wonderful, most fulfilling, most beautiful earthly relationship there is. I know that some of you have been hurt deeply in your marriage. Some of you have gone through painful, costly divorces. Some of you have had a spouse who was unfaithful to you, who walked away from the marriage vows & the marriage relationship, & decimated your life & your family in many ways. You have some scars that will always be in your life b/c of this. And as long as we are living in this messed up, fallen world, there will always be failures of some kind in every marriage relationship. The beauty of the Gospel & the Word of God is that there is grace available for EVERY failure. There is restoration available to EVERY person who cries out in desperation to the Father. We all have to acknowledge today that no marriage is perfect b/c it is made up of 2 imperfect, broken people. Mark Hall of Casting Crowns had this to say about the song that the group has released called, “Broken Together”:
“Marriage is tough. We bring a lot of fairytales to the picture when it comes to marriage. We bring them to the altar with us [thinking]: ‘This is going to be perfect. We don’t have to be apart. We can just wake up together every morning and no one is going to have morning breath. We’re not going to have any problems.’ And then the problems hit and you don’t know where to file those into your picture. . . The idea I’m trying to say is: ‘Can you lay down who you thought I was and love the ‘me’ that is? Can we take this from where we are now and realize that I can’t be that person?’ Only God is going to be able to make this work and broken people can be broken together.
In spite of all our imperfections & all our brokenness, the Christian marriage relationship is awesome! Let’s look at our Scripture passage for today & find out how to have staying power in our marriages today:
Stay in your place – God has made it very clear in His Word that both the husband & the wife each have a very definite place in the marriage relationship.
For the wife, her place is the place of submission to her husband. Gk word – hupotasso. Comes from two Greek words, the word hupó, which means “under,” and tasso, which means “to set in place.” In other words, it means to set something in place up under something else. In the context it is talking about submitting to the authority of another. So Paul is saying to the wives, “Be willing to place yourself in a position under your husband who is the authority of your family. Be in that position of being submissive.” This does NOT mean that the wife is inferior to the husband in any way. That’s a completely different Gk word, hupakouo, such as is used in 6:1 & 6:5. This word, hupotasso, DOES mean that a Christian wife will willingly choose to place herself in the place of submission to her husband b/c she wants to honor God & be obedient to His Word. It’s an act of submission between 2 equals & it takes great grace & integrity for the wife to willingly choose to do this.
The husband’s place in the marriage relationship is that place of loving his wife. At 1st glance, sounds easy – Valentines – buy her some roses, take her out to eat somewhere nice, let her go shopping, pick your dirty socks up off the floor, & voila – you’ve loved her! WRONG! This isn’t something you do once & then go on to something else. It’s not a love you do in response to her love for you – “I will love her if she’ll show me a little more attention.” It’s a command given by God that you are to choose to do every moment of every day for the rest of your life. It’s a selfless, sacrificial love that sets the standard so high that it is humanly impossible to do it. It has to be Jesus being Jesus in & through you to your wife in order for you to love her this way. It takes YOU completely out of the picture & brings Jesus completely to the forefront of your life & your marriage – “as Christ loved the Church & gave Himself up for her.” This kind of love willingly & obediently gives up everything for your wife. The ONLY way you can do this is if the Holy Spirit is controlling you, making you sensitive to the needs that your wife has & empowering you to meet those needs out of your love for her.
Wives & husbands – know YOUR place in the marriage relationship & stay there!
Stay in bounds – Nearly every sport has a boundary line – football, baseball, soccer, basketball, tennis. Athletes know that in order to win the game, they have to stay inside the boundary lines. The rules are very clear that you cannot play the game outside the boundary lines.
Our world has done a masterful job at erasing nearly all the boundary lines when it comes to relationships. But God’s boundary lines have been set firmly & permanently in place, not b/c He doesn’t want us to have any fun, but b/c He loves us & knows what is best for us.
There are 2 specific areas that every married couple needs to work hard to stay in bounds – Intimacy & Income – Sex & Money. There is not a married couple in this room today that has not experienced some sort of conflict in both of these areas at some point in their marriage. These 2 areas are intensely personal, intensely powerful, & intensely pleasurable, which is why Satan works overtime to bring trouble in these areas in our marriages. Every couple needs to know the boundaries that God has set in these areas & work hard to stay in bounds in these areas. To step out of bounds in these areas will, in the best case, bring disruption in our marriage; or, in the worst case, bring destruction to our marriage.
To stay in bounds in these 2 critical areas, we must:
- Trust God
- Talk to each other
- Turn away from the world
Stay in love – We stated earlier that the husband’s biblical place in the marriage is to love his wife. But, it’s no doubt that the driving force in a marriage is the love that the man & woman have for each other. And staying in love means that both the husband & the wife work hard at displaying their love for the other.
For many married couples, that passionate, all-consuming fire of love that they started out with has dwindled down to the point that it is barely a glowing ember deep in the ashes of a busy life. It’s kind of like the elderly couple when the wife asked her husband, “Why don’t you ever tell me you love me any more?” “I told you I loved you when we got married, & if anything changes, I’ll let you know.”
I’m not saying that all of us married couples need to be acting like newlyweds – unless you are a newlywed couple. But I am saying that we need to make sure that we are actively, intentionally, & regularly letting our spouse know that they are still the most wonderful person in our lives, & that we still love them w/ every fiber of our being.
How to do this? Try viewing your marriage like a garden. 2 important actions needed to keep a garden growing: Seeding & Weeding.
- Seeding – If you want to have flowers growing in your garden, you’ve got to plant & cultivate the right seeds. Same true in the marriage garden. If you want a strong, healthy, God-honoring marriage, you’ve got to plant & cultivate some good seeds – like honesty, confession, forgiveness, patience, understanding, tenderness.
- Weeding – Every garden has to be weeded regularly to get the harmful things out. In our marriage garden, we need to weed out our bitterness, unforgiveness, inattentiveness, blame-shifting, & wrong priorities.
Remember that God is the Author & Giver of His perfect love. And for us to stay in love w/ our spouse, we need to stay deeply in love w/ the Lord Jesus. Which leads to last point…
Stay in Christ – Not talking about staying in Christ as if you could lose your salvation. To be “in Christ” means that we have, by faith, accepted His free gift of salvation & now we are saved & saved forever. To “stay in Christ” means to abide in Him as Jesus taught in John 15. It means to stay in an intimate, growing, deepening relationship w/ Him. This is not just for a few, spiritually elite believers; it’s for EVERY Christ-follower. 1 John 2:4-6 (MSG) – “If someone claims, “I know him well!” but doesn’t keep his commandments, he’s obviously a liar. His life doesn’t match his words. But the one who keeps God’s word is the person in whom we see God’s mature love. This is the only way to be sure we’re in God. Anyone who claims to be intimate with God ought to live the same kind of life Jesus lived.”
Sinclair Ferguson – “In a nutshell, abiding in Christ means allowing His Word to fill our minds, direct our wills, and transform our affections. In other words, our relationship to Christ is intimately connected to what we do with our Bibles!” (http://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-does-it-mean-abide-christ/)