Towards the end of last week, I sat in my office, numb with disbelief. Within 48 hours, I had received news that two different couples who are dear friends of ours were having serious marital troubles. In both cases, there were outside influences involved. In both cases, marriage had become routine and dull, and eyes began to wander to entertain thoughts of being with other people.
My heart is broken for these families.
In Ephesians 5 we see Paul making the connection that the husband represents Christ and the wife represents the church in the marriage relationship. Marriage was not created for our personal happiness, but rather to be a mirror image to the world of Jesus Christ. Therefore, marriage was created by God to be an image of Christ to the world.
Satan has declared war on marriages. Why?
Because he desires to destroy the very image of Christ.
From the very beginning, Satan has declared war on marriage, seeking to destroy this living image of God. It began with Adam and Eve. God gave the commands for them to live by to not eat of the fruit of the tree. And Satan the first husband and wives eyes off of the commands of God and placed them on themselves. Satan approached the woman first.
“He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” Genesis 3:2-6.
Adam and Eve had a good life before the fall. They had everything they could ever want. But the fruit that is forbidden is always the most tempting. Regardless of all that Adam and Eve had in the garden, Satan began to take their eyes off of everything that was good and began to make Eve think that something forbidden would make her happier than she currently was.
Satan blinded her eyes from the blessings in her life with the lie of a more fulfilled life if only she would ignore the commands of God. And Satan does the same thing today. There is no reason for him to change his strategy because humanity keeps falling for the same deception over and over again. Satan’s plan for wrecking marriages has not changed one bit. Because we keep falling for the lies.
In the garden, it was the lure of forbidden fruit that Eve thought would promise a better life. Today, it is the lure of other people outside of marriage. Satan begins to dull a husband or a wife to the blessings of family, and begins to elevate an awareness of selfish needs that they falsely think will make them happier.
As in the garden, but more in a 21st century context, Satan lies and whispers to a husband or wife, “Did God really say, “What God joins together let no man separate?” Surely there is a loophole for your situation. Surely God wants you to be happy, and right now you are not happy. Not to mention your spouse is currently not living up to your expectations in marriage! And you deserve better!” Then ever so coincidentally, Satan will guide the eyes to someone else with the lie that this person will make their world complete.
And just as our first parents in the garden, so many couples buy this lie…hook, line, and sinker. With no regard or thought to the devastating consequences that will follow. They don’t consider the emotional scaring that will be inflicted upon their children. Ive spoken with many adults who were products of parents who divorced, and all of them that Ive met have admitted that they were negatively and emotionally effected by divorce even up to their adult years. They don’t consider the consequences because in their spiritually blindness, the can see nothing but the flaws of their spouse and the lust of their flesh.
“So these nations feared the LORD and also served their carved images. Their children did likewise, and their children’s children—as their fathers did, so they do to this day.” 2 Kings 17:41.
Carved images are anything other than God and His Word that we look to for fulfillment. And when a husband and a wife replace the commands of God with their own carved images, they set an example for their children, and their children’s children. The choice to destroy a marriage has a ripple effect that has the power to span generations. If Satan can destroy one marriage, then he potentially scars the image of Christ within the family line for years to come.
At its core, Satan deceives husband and wives by distorting their image of the cross. Jesus prayed in the garden in regards to His impending crucifixion, (Matt 26:39) “Father if you are willing take this cup from me. Yet not my will, but yours be done.” There was nothing in Jesus that felt like taking upon Himself all the sins of the world and then enduring the wrath of God that you and I deserved. It has been said that if Jesus were to have called upon the Father to just take Him to Heaven and had refused to die for our sins, He would have been justified in His actions and we would have been deserving of our damnation. Yet Jesus said, “Not my will, but yours be done.” Not what I feel like. Jesus made the choice to give His life for sinners who did not deserve it.
The irony in the christian life today is that everyone says they want to be like Jesus. Every Christian would attest that we should seek Christlikeness.
We worship God for His mercy upon us. Yet we refuse to show our spouse mercy.
We worship God for His forgiveness to us. Yet we refuse to forgive our spouses for hurting us.
And we worship God for His grace and faithfulness. Yet we refuse to show grace to our spouse and hinge faithfulness upon the hook and measure of our own fulfilled happiness.
The question every couple must ask is this. Am I growing more Christlike on the easy days of marriage when my spouse is meeting all of my expectations. Or am I growing more Christlike in the hard seasons. When Im having to dig deep.
God gives you an imperfect spouse so you will learn how to give grace.
God gives you a spouse that will need to be forgiven so you will learn forgiveness.
God will give you a spouse who does not meet all of your expectation so you will learn how to love unconditional. Thus, you become like the God you Worship!!
The lie in the culture is that the vow of “For better or for worse” really only means, “Until Im not happy anymore.” The gospel truth is that marriage was designed by God and was never created for the purpose of fulfilling your happiness. Marriage is a grace of God and a means of sanctification. Marriage was designed by God to point to His own relationship with His people and to grow us in Holiness. Marriage was designed by God to make us more like Jesus.
I heard a pastor once say that if the grass ever begins to look greener on the other side, its only because you haven’t been there yet. Because what is the common denominator of every soiled field you have lived upon….it is you.
For all of those reading who are going through a rough patch in marriage, I plead with you not to give up. And if you are a Christian and know someone who is believing the lies of Satan pertaining to marriage, fight will them through using prayer and the word of God. To give in to the lies of Satan is to doubt that God can indeed make all things new for those who are in Him. The saying “Put your trust in Jesus” has become so cliché in our world today that it has literally been gutted of its meaning.
Do we really believe that Christ has the power to heal all things? Do we really believe that our marriages, especially in the hard times, are God given graces to make mold us more into the image of Christ? Do we look at marriage, as the apostle Paul did, as being a glorious mystery that embodies the marvelous truths of the Gospel? Or is marriage merely a worldly contract designed to meet our ever changing desires. Will we as believers give in to the Satanic lies of self centeredness and therefore willingly sacrifice every previous blessing as well as any future graces God desired to bestow to us in marriage? Or will we choose to love our spouses, even on the hard days.
If you are letting your feelings lead your actions, you are allowing the enemy to deceive you as was Eve in the garden. And your actions will lead to heartache and misery. Your emotions will follow your actions. If you choose to love even when your feelings may tell you otherwise, then in time, loving emotions will follow. And if you put your trust in the all powerful King and Lord of all things, your scars from the hard patches will serve as beautiful reminders of truth of the Gospel, thus making your marriage stronger than it ever was. Don’t give up, and put your hope in Christ. For He is able.
“He (Satan) was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character; for he is a liar and the father of lies.” John 8:44.