What About Marriage?

We live in days of great confusion about morality, gender, rights, marriage.

We live in days of great confusion about morality, gender, rights, marriage. 

I thought it might be profitable in this era of confusion to meditate a bit on Christian marriage.  We must recognize that marriage is not just a Christian institution; it’s a human institution! Marriage was ordained of God before the fall of man; and thus, it was given to all men for all time, not just Christians.  However, today, let’s go beyond the basic institution of marriage to “Christian Marriage.” Just as God has called us to the “higher calling” in life, so we also have a higher calling in marriage. Ephesians chapter 5 is a great text for us as we consider what it means to be a Christian within the covenant of marriage.  I realize this epistle isn’t about marriage; it’s about living the Christian life. However, as marriage is a big part of our life, let’s study through this text with marriage in mind. 

Sanctification in Marriage. The need to protect Marriage

Ephesians 5:2, And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.1

Please consider carefully the phrase, “Walk in Love,” What does that look like? 

When you see a couple strolling along holding hands, you think, “Ahh, there is a couple in love,” but in reality they may not be in love at all.  They may just be going through the motions. “Walking in love” looks like Jesus! Note what Paul exhorts here, “As Christ also has loved us.”  Christ is our example. He walked selflessly.  If we want an exceptional marriage, we first need to die to self!  There are always marriage conflicts and life conflicts as two sinners come together under the covenant of marriage. These conflicts can be traced back to loving self.  James 4:1, Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? 1

When a couple constantly point their fingers at their spouse and spout a litany of grievances without owning their own wrong doing and bad actions, they are consumed by self.  To protect your marriage and to allow it to prosper, you have to overcome self!

Vs.6-7, Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them.1. Don’t be deceived by “empty words.” The secular view of marriage is just that, empty words that have no understanding of what marriage really is. To the secular world, marriage is optional; it really doesn’t mean much.  God’s view of marriage is that marriage isa divinely instituted lifetime covenant whereby a man and a woman become one.  Marriage literally means “joining.”  A covenant is an “agreement” we enter into, a sacred bond to love, honor and cherish one another until death do we part.  Marriage is something we should take very seriously, but also joyfully! It is God’s gift to us. It separates man from the animal kingdom and reiterates that we are indeed made in the image of God. There is a need for us to protect our marriage by not buying into the worlds view of marriage but rather keeping God’s view of marriage in the forefront. 

Vs.8-10, For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord. 1 One of the key phrases here is finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” What does God want our marriage to be?  As we view the Scriptures, it becomes pretty clear. (1) God wants two people to become one; one mind, one goal, one standard, one force. This doesn’t mean that Christian couples lose their individuality or don’t disagree or disappoint, but rather that they are able to overcome obstacles and walk this road together in unity because they love their mate more than themselves.

(2) God wants us to fulfill our God given “roles” as husband and wife.  Ephesians 5:23, For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.1

Headship does not mean a dictatorship. Husbands are to be heads of our home as Christ is the head of the Church. That means sacrificial love.  In the Christian model of marriage, we see husbands bearing the burden of life and wives coming along side to buoy him up. Think of riding a bicycle built for two. Both people are working toward a common goal, but only one can steer. 

Vs.14, Therefore He says: “Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light.”1

Our key phrase here is: “Give you light.” If you really want a good marriage, we have perfect instruction, the Word of God. We have perfect illumination, the Holy Spirit.  The problem is we usually want the other person to change rather than really wanting to work on changing ourselves.  God gives light, you must walk in it! 

1 Jn. 1:7A, But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.1 Who is the “we” here? Is this communing with God or fellowship with men? It works for both.  When we walk in the light, we have fellowship with God and that fellowship then translates into divine fellowship with fellow Christians, and hopefully our spouse.  If you want a thriving marriage, you have to intentionally work on it by working on you. This is the best way to protect your marriage from complacency, discord, and alienation. 

Edification in Marriage, or how to nurture your marriage

vs.15-16, See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.1

Paul exhorts us to walk carefully! The thought is not like walking on egg shells but rather to walk deliberately. Why are marriages falling apart?  People don’t walk carefully. They often take their relationship for granted; and then one day, it’s too late, the marriage is kaput.  We need to continually work on affection and submission. This is foundational to marriage. We live in dangerous times, and to redeem the time we need to make the best use of it.  We do that by loving well and selflessly. 

Vs.17, Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 1

Understanding…Lord is” What is God’s will for your marriage?  That’s easy, stay Married!  But even more important is that your marriage might glorify Him! When we walk well as individuals and as a couple, we are allowing our marriage to be what God intended it to be, a union that bears His image. 

Vs. 19, Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. 1

Are you saying we should “sing” to each other?  Well it wouldn’t hurt! I think the thought here is about the emotion of joy, to have a merry heart (Proverbs 17:22). 

Enjoy life together, Enjoy Jesus together! 

Vs.20, Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.1 Give thanks together! Count your blessings. Remember the good things and be thankful. Joy and thankfulness in marriage will nurture and strengthen your relationship. 

Vs. 21, Submitting to one another in the fear of God.1

“Submit” means to “come under” or put the other person above yourself! 

To nurture your marriage, you need to realize the perils and pitfalls that are out there and that many couples fall into.  Marriage isn’t easy-it’s work-but it’s also very satisfying when we participate the way God intended us to. God will use your marriage to reveal the weakness in your character that He might accomplish His perfect will in you. It’s not just about marriage!  It’s about sanctification. We nurture our union by putting the other person’s needs ahead of our own.  When both husband and wife are living for the other, marriage works! 

 

Glorification in Marriage. How to glorify God in Marriage.

How wives can glorify God in Marriage:

Key verses: 22-24, Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.1

Don’t get so hung up on the “submit” word and miss the key phrase, “As to the Lord” If a wife loves and honors her husband, she will come under His leadership and trust him to lead.  Let him be the head of the home. Allow him to carry the weight. In so doing, God is glorified. 

1 Peter 3:1-5, Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear. Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands.1

That inward adorning glorifies God!

How husbands can glorify God in Marriage:

Vs.25-29,Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.1

Again, don’t miss the key phrase here, “As Christ Loved.” That is sacrificially.  When we love our wives, we put their needs above our wants.  Husbands who love their wives in this way bring Glory to God.  1 Peter 3:7, Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.1

Here the key words are “understanding and honor.”  Husbands love and honor their wives when they realize that this is the woman God made just for him.  A husband’s attitude should be that his wife is God’ gift to him, just as Eve was God’s gift to Adam; and therefore, he values her. 

At the end of the day, marriage is all about glorifying God.  “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”1 1 Corinthians 10:31.  Including Marriage!

Your marriage needs to be about Jesus in you! 

Marriage is about two becoming one.  It is a metaphor of salvation. Vs.31-33, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.[1]

As we have become one with Christ, so we become one in marriage.  This is something we need to celebrate and make sure we are getting right by protecting, nurturing and glorifying God in marriage. 


[1] The New King James Version. (1982). (Eph 5:31–33). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Discipline of the Body

We have been working through the book Discipline The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot

It is my privilege to meet with a group of elders once a month to learn, fellowship and pray together.  We have been working through the book Discipline The Glad Surrender by Elisabeth Elliot.  This month we were discussing the discipline of the body.  Here are a couple of quotes from Chapter Seven of the book I thought were pertinent. 

Discipline, for the Christian begins with the body.” 

Isn’t that so true! From the discipline of the body comes all other disciplines. If we can’t rule over our own body, we probably aren’t able to discipline much of anything else. 

“We cannot give our hearts to God and keep our bodies for ourselves.”

If Jesus isn’t Lord over our bodies, then Jesus isn’t Lord at all. His dominion in our lives is all or nothing. He did not make us to live independent of Himself. He made us to be dependent and to worship and that begins with disciplining the fallen urges of the body.  I think Romans 12:1 is the optimal text here:

Romans 12:1, I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 1

The very act of presenting our bodies to Christ as a living sacrifice is an act of worship.  We are acknowledging Him as Lord and giving to Him what is rightfully His, our lives which includes the physical body.  So in presenting the body as a living sacrifice, we discipline the body.

Elliot covers four areas that the body needs discipline in:  1. Food.  What we take into our bodies and how much.  2. Sleep. The body needs rest and therefore we must discipline when we go to bed and when we get up.  3. Exercise. The body needs to move and we must be intentional in this. 4. Sex. The body is designed by God for reproduction within the confines of the marriage covenant.  To quote Elliot here, “If marriage is not included in God’s will for an individual, then sexual activity is not included either.”  I couldn’t agree more.  We must also then define marriage as a God given covenant between a man and woman. Elliot didn’t have to make that distinction when she was writing. How sad that we must.

It occurs to me as I look over this list, food, sleep, exercise and sex, that the world you and I live in has attacked each and every one of these areas of life to such a degree as to almost make it impossible to live the disciplined life.  Take our food, for example.  We have so much highly processes food that is so cheap and easily available that it seems impossible to avoid it.  This highly processed food is at the root of the obesity crisis in America.

As Christians we must consider what we eat and how much if we are truly presenting our bodies to God for His glory.  Moderation in all things is the key. Limit processed foods, eat vegetables, fruit, and meat and you should be healthy.

Then we have exercise. With the advent of modern technology, we have kids and adults that are addicted to games, television, phones, and social media.  That means that kids often don’t go outside and play; they stay in inside and sit. Our new neighborhoods are constructed with no yards for kids to play in and so they don’t.  We might send them to the park, but that also has its threats from drug dealers and gangs.  On the other end, we have people who are so enthralled with the gym that working out has become their idol and their body their temple, their place of worship. As followers of Jesus, we need to walk well, not just spiritually but physically!  Let’s be intentional to make sure we exercise the body.  When you go to the mall park as far from the door as possible.  That way you are giving prime parking spaces to others and you get in a walk.  Make exercise a part of your lifestyle, but don’t let it become an idol! 

Sleep also is under attack from technology.  We stay up late and watch the tube and wonder why we or our children can’t sleep.  The body was made to go to sleep when the light fades, so plan on turning off all the electronics well before bed time and let the brain settle down before lying down for the night.  It’s a great time to read a book to the kids or to settle in with a cup of tea.  Be intentional in preparing for sleep. 

And last, but not least, there is the issue of sex!  Where do we start in describing the attack of the culture on the sexual relationship? It’s everywhere and it is exploited to the place that it has become the driving force of the society. In many ways, we are reaping the results of the sexual revolution of the sixties.  The results are death and divorce. As Christians, we must guard the mind to protect ourselves from lowering this wonderful gift of God to married couples to something animalistic.  Discipline what you take into you mind for the glory of God. 

So you see, dear friend what we are up against when it comes to disciplining the body.  Everything is under attack and out of proportion.  We have gone from moderation to over indulgence.  So what do we as the children of God do?  We become even more intentional in disciplining the body. We don’t want to over react and become hermits; but we do need to realize that if we are going to bring our body under subjection, we have to recognize the threats of the culture.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:27, But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.1

His thought here of being disqualified from ministry was to be “benched,” unable to participate.  When we don’t intentionally rule over the body and its longings, we are then unintentionally worshipping ourselves rather than the God who made us. 

So there is a war out there for the mind and the body.  We have to engage the war for the good not just of the body but the soul. 

The New King James Version. (1982). (1 Co 9:27). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Revelation Chapter 8

If you haven’t checked out my Revelation Study, here is Lesson #11!

Lesson #11: Revelation Ch. 8

Chapter 8: The 7th Seal & 7 Trumpets

Vs. 1, The 7th Seal.  Now our view goes back to earth and the 7th Seal, which opens another view of the Great Tribulation.  This seal seems to contain the Seven Trumpets.  The Trumpets appear to show us the trials of the earth, while the last set, the Vials, show us the sufferings of men. 

Why do you think there was silence in heaven before the sound of the seven trumpets?

Vs. 2-5, Here we see the seven angels with their seven trumpets ready to blow.  Before they sound, this golden censer filled with incense is cast to the earth.  What do you think this implies? 

Vs. 6-7, 1st Trumpet, hail & fire, mingled with blood.  (Compare Ex.9:22-24)  This starts forest fires galore aided by great drought (11:6) and caused by the two witnesses.  1/3 of the land mass is on fire, 1/3 trees, all grass, scorched. 

How do you think these great plagues might affect the climate of the earth?

Vs. 8-9, 2nd Trumpet is a meteor as big as a mountain hitting the earth.  This pollutes the sea, turns 1/3 to blood.  (Divine Judgment).  1/3 of Sea life dies, 1/3 of ships are destroyed. 

How might this plague affect not only the sea but the earth’s economy as well?

Vs. 10-11, 3rd Trumpet, another falling body, “star” (possibly a hot mass of gases).

Wormwood is also translated hemlock (poison).  1/3 of drinking water is poisoned. 

How would this plague affect human civilization?

Vs. 12, The 4th trumpet.  1/3 of all light is taken away.

What did Jesus teach about this in Luke 21:25-26? 

Vs. 13, We should note that translations differ here.  Is this an “eagle” or an “angel”? The words are very similar.  It seems like an angel fits the context better.  Whatever the case, the message is more important. 

What is the message to the peoples of the world?

At this point in Revelation, we see the elders (who represent the redeemed) in heaven.  Meanwhile, the terrible wrath of God is being poured out on the earth in what is known at the Great Tribulation.  We believe this to be a seven-year period (the 70th week of Daniel).  The Revelation reveals the Tribulation period to us in three narratives.  The Seals, the Trumpets and the Vials.  We have gone through the seal judgments and trumpet judgments one through four.  The seals showed us an overview of the entire Tribulation, while the trumpets seem to show us how the earth especially is affected.  

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