I want us to think about this from God's perspective. I want us to think about it from the way that God views it, and to realize that what we have become very comfortable with, what we've become very accustomed to in our society, is really very badly contrary to what the Lord had established marriage to be. The institution of marriage has been under attack for quite a while now.
So-called progressives have tried to change its definition, and superficially at least, it might look as though they've succeeded. But as Pastor Don Green will remind us today on the truth pulpit, you can't change what belongs to God. Hello, I'm Bill Wright. Don is beginning a series called A Refresher on the Family, and today begins a message that serves as a refresher on marriage. Don, why is the upcoming lesson so important? Bill, it is important because Scripture gives a high place to marriage between a man and a woman, and that's true even though our age will be marked as the one that largely abandoned the institution of marriage. Marriage is God's plan for the family, and it is his picture of how Christ leads his church. We need to set aside the corruption of our day and drink the pure milk of God's word for his glory and for our good. Stay with us today as we study marriage on the truth pulpit. Thanks, Don.
And friend, let's get started right now as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's word on the truth pulpit. Let me start with a definition of marriage. Marriage is that God-ordained institution. Marriage belongs to God. That's why we don't have the freedom to redefine it in our day and age.
It's a height of arrogance for men to try to do that, as if it belongs to men and not to God. Marriage is that God-ordained institution in which a man and a woman covenant with one another to live as husband and wife in an exclusive, monogamous relationship for the remainder of their earthly lives together. Marriage is an open-ended vow that I'm going to be with you until death do us part.
Those words are rightly part of a marriage vow ceremony. From that definition, I want to give you four major points about God's plan for marriage, and we're going to look at several Scriptures here together today, kind of surveying what some of the key Scriptures of Scripture say. But first of all, we want to say this, is that our first point is that marriage is a permanent union. Marriage is a permanent union. God's ideal, God's plan for marriage, was that it would be a permanent relationship not subject to being severed. And to start there and to kind of flesh that out, I want you to turn to the book of Genesis chapter 2, to a familiar passage. Genesis chapter 2, marriage is a permanent union, and therefore must be treated seriously.
Marriage is a permanent union. Genesis chapter 2, beginning in verse 15, let's say. We'll start with a little bit more context than perhaps it's normally approached with. You remember that God had created Adam and placed him in the garden and given him responsibilities. And here in verse 15, the Lord God took the man, put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and to keep it. Just as a side note, you see there that work is not part of the curse.
Work was a good thing before even the fall. God gave Adam into the garden to cultivate it and to keep it. And he went on in verse 16, the Lord God commanded the man, saying, From any tree of the garden you may eat freely, but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die. Now look at verse 18 here. Then the Lord God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him.
God created us as personal relational beings, and he saw Adam alone in the garden and said, This is not good. I need to act. I need to intervene. I need to do something here. I know what I'll do.
I'll make a helper for him that is suitable for him. And so we see in the verses 19 and 20 that various animals were paraded before Adam. He named them all in verse 20, but at the end of verse 20, for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. So verse 21, the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept. Then he took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which he had taken from the man and brought her to the man. The man said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken out of man. Verse 24, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. One of the things that we need to see right from the start, beloved, is that in contrast to the shallow, superficial, temporary nature of marriage in our present-day culture, we see the preeminence that God gave to it. It was almost a crowning mark of creation itself, occupying a cornerstone place in creation and at the start of the Word of God. Part of the trouble that we're experiencing with marriage in our culture today is the fact that it has been reduced to something sentimental and emotional between people, and we've lost sight of the creative ordinance that it is from the hand of God, that this occupies a place of preeminent importance in God's design for His creation. We have lost sight of the Godward, vertical focus that is in marriage, and that God had a plan in marriage that He intended this institution to represent.
We've got to stop looking at it from purely a human perspective and realize that the design of God, the imprint of God, was on this from the very beginning. And as we turn to the Gospel of Matthew, let me invite you to turn to Matthew chapter 19. We see our Lord Jesus Christ making this same emphasis. Matthew chapter 19.
These things all kind of build to a cumulative impact here. Matthew 19, verse 3. Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all? See, they reached the same point that we have, marriage treated lightly.
Is it lawful to divorce for any reason at all? And so by the time of Christ 2,000 years ago, it was obvious that they had lost sight of the exalted place that marriage held in creation. And Jesus answered them in verse 4 and said, Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.
In the Garden of Eden, God declared that the two would become one flesh. The idea from the beginning, continuing on to this day by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, is that marriage would be a permanent union, not subject to termination. Now, we understand that the Bible makes provision for divorce.
We're not addressing that. But the design of God, the intention of God, is for marriage to be a permanent union. That's our starting point.
And there will be a lot of application to draw from that a little bit later on. We sit next to our spouses, and we realize that we're next to somebody permanently. We're next to them as long as we live.
That is the approach. That is the one flesh, permanent union idea that God had and established marriage to be. As we look around and we see the proliferation of family law attorneys and no-fault divorce, and just the proliferation of divorce cases that are filed day by day, week by week, month by month, we have to realize and feel a collective sense of recognition and sadness that what is going on about us is a violation of what God's intent was. And what I mean by that, what I want us to see is I want us to think about this from God's perspective. I want us to think about it from the way that God views it, and to realize that what we have become very comfortable with, what we've become very accustomed to in our society, is really very badly contrary to what the Lord had established marriage to be.
We just have to realize that the fact that we're accustomed to it does not make it good. The fact that we are accustomed to it does not make it something that we should view with a sense of approval, because marriage was intended to be a permanent union. What God has joined together, let no man separate. That's the idea of God's plan for marriage, first of all. Now secondly, marriage is an exclusive union. Marriage is an exclusive union. Permanent monogamy was the standard.
One man with one woman until death separated them. And that's what underlies the commandment in Exodus chapter 20, one of the Ten Commandments, you shall not commit adultery. This is the authoritative law of God, you shall not commit adultery. Woven into the Ten Commandments was this protection, this shield, this negative command to protect marriage from the invasive forces of betrayal, of disloyalty, of infidelity. You shall not commit adultery.
This is designed to protect the creation ordinance of marriage. Now what's more, and where as we continue to follow through in Scripture, what's more and where some of the convicting sense of considering marriage comes, is that Jesus made it clear that when God forbade adultery, that he was looking for more than external purity in marriage. He was calling us to an internal heart purity as well. In fact, I want you to see this not only from the words of Jesus, but I want you to see it from the Ten Commandments. Turn to Exodus 20.
We find the Ten Commandments first given to Moses, and with Exodus 20 in front of you there, see in verse 12, honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the Lord your God gives you. And then verse 13, you shall not murder. Verse 14, you shall not commit adultery.
Now, it is evident that from the very beginning, God intended that to be more than simply the external physical act, that God was addressing our hearts in this as well. Look at verse 17 where it reads, you shall not covet your neighbor's house, you shall not covet your neighbor's wife or his male servant or his female servant. See, even from the beginning, even from the first disclosure of the Ten Commandments, God said you shall not commit adultery in the physical, external sense, but you shall not even covet to do it in your own heart, in the privacy of your own heart. Beloved, do you see, therefore, how exclusive the marriage relationship is meant to be?
How exclusive God has designed that and wired it to be. This isn't just a physical exclusivity that God calls us to. He's calling us to a mental, emotional, relational purity as well. That there is not even to be a desire to step out of that marriage relationship in any way, shape, or form. Jesus re-emphasized this in Matthew chapter 5. Turn over to Matthew chapter 5 with me.
Matthew chapter 5, Matthew 5, 27. You have heard that it was said, you shall not commit adultery, but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So from God's perspective, from the way that God designed marriage, there was supposed to be such a complete exclusivity between husband and wife that there wouldn't even be the desire to step outside that, that there wouldn't even be the wandering eye that would violate the permanent exclusivity of that relationship. Your spouse is meant to be the exclusive object of your deepest human affections.
That's the standard. That's how high and how lofty marriage is. That's how sacred it is. Sacred in the sense of set apart.
Sacred in the sense of unique, the unique affections of your heart when you enter into a marriage relationship. You did not only pledge to your spouse your physical purity, you pledged to your spouse your emotional exclusivity as well. And what does that mean for us in our modern sin-plagued society? That means that pornography is a violation of the marital relationship. It means that premarital intimacy is terribly sinful because that is designed for the marriage relationship alone. It means that all other manners of sexual expression outside of the marriage relationship are sinful and an assault on marriage. As men and women pursue their fleshly lusts outside of the marriage relationship, they are storming the citadel of what God established to be unique, holy, and precious. What we see when we walk through a supermarket counter is all an assault on that. And so we need to realize that this is more than just something tempting us personally into sin.
We need to see it more globally. We need to think more broadly and realize what a crime against God all of that is. Marriage is a permanent, exclusive union. Now thirdly, marriage is also an intimate union. An intimate union.
And I appreciate the forthrightness of the Scriptures on this point. Marriage is easily the deepest human relationship. You can't avoid that when you're living with the same person under the same roof over a period of extended time with an open-ended commitment to one another. Of course it's going to be personally, relationally intimate. And the marriage bed is designed to express that intimacy.
Follow me here. What we've just seen in the exclusivity nature of the union says that this intimacy, this physical intimacy, is not to be shared outside the bounds of marriage. But Scripture makes it clear that within the bounds of marriage, it must be shared together.
It must be shared with each other. And I want you to see this from 1 Corinthians 7. 1 Corinthians 7, verse 3. One of the good things about preaching is that you can address these things without it being too directly personal because so many people are listening.
And the Spirit of God can sort it out in your own heart and life on these things. What we're saying is that marriage is an intimate union. The marriage bed must not be shared outside of marriage, but it must be shared with each other.
1 Corinthians 7, verse 3. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise also, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
Clear references to the marriage bed, right? Verse 5. Stop depriving one another except by agreement for a time so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. He gives a little—see, Paul went on tangents himself here.
He goes off on a little tangent about an agreement that would be a small exception to what he's saying here. He says, stop depriving one another. Well, for time, for prayer, by agreement, okay.
But then, come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. You see, God commands us to share that intimacy with our spouses. It's part of the design of marriage. It's intended to be an intimate union. And so while it's not to be shared outside of marriage, it is fully intended to be shared inside the marriage bed. That intimacy should not be used as a weapon of punishment.
It should not be used as a weapon of payback for something else that went on. You've got to leave that stuff outside of the marriage bed and gladly, joyfully share that intimacy with one another. That's the design of God on marriage. Over in Hebrews chapter 13, it said, marriage is to be held in honor among all, Hebrews 13 verse 4, marriage is to be held in honor among all and the marriage bed is to be undefiled for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. And so God intended marriage to be an expression of the deepest of intimacy. It's an intimate union that expresses the relational unity that is expressed in the idea of two becoming one flesh. It's an intimate union by God's design, commanded to be shared with one another.
Now, with all of that, recognizing the vulnerability that that sometimes represents for people, you know, you've got a spouse that's hurt you, I get that. But fourthly, and what makes all of this work in the design of God is this fourth point, is that marriage is to be a loving union. Marriage is a loving union. Turn over to Ephesians chapter 5. Marriage is a loving union, Ephesians chapter 5. Marriage actually pictures the love that Christ has for his church.
And I know that you're familiar with this passage. Ephesians chapter 5. But just as human marriage is meant to be permanent and exclusive and intimate, so also the relationship between Christ in a spiritual way is permanent, exclusive, and intimate. We are in full union with our Lord Jesus Christ, and we're in a union with him that is dominated by his love. Ephesians chapter 5 verse 25, speaking to husbands, says, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her, so that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she would be holy and blameless.
So husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. And so as he's explaining marriage, he's explaining the relationship between Christ and the church, and there's this interconnection between the two that makes them perfect illustrations of one another. Christ self-sacrificed his own life for the sake of his church. His love nourishes and cherishes us, even to this moment, even as we're here under the teaching of his word. Christ is loving us, nourishing us, cherishing us, keeping us, preserving us all the way to the culmination of our salvation in heaven. What loving, total, thorough care he shows for us. Paul says the way that Christ deals with the church is the way that husbands are to love their wives.
It's a picture. And so God designed marriage to be permanent, to be exclusive, to be intimate, to be an expression of sacrifice and love one to another. That's a refresher on marriage. That's what marriage is supposed to be like.
Now, what does this mean for you? Let's talk about this to single people first of all. Talk to single people. Some of you are happy in your singleness. Some of you are tad impatient.
That's all right. But to you, I would say, let God's plan for marriage shape the kind of spouse that you seek. You see, if you approach marriage with this high, exalted view of what God intended it to be and realize that this is the biblical standard, don't let impatience compromise your standards. Don't let the passage of a calendar, the turn of a calendar, somehow diminish the level of conviction and commitment that you bring to honor this institution of marriage with the way that you approach the possibility of marriage. Charles Spurgeon said this, speaking about the idea of a Christian marrying a non-Christian, he said in his unique pastoral way, he said, You can never add to the comfort of any Christian man or woman to be unequally yoked together with an unbeliever. You are far better to remain in the cold of your unmarried life than to warm your hands at the fire of an unhallowed marriage." First of all, let me say that I know many of you singles are waiting patiently and committed to an elevated view of marriage and you're not going to sacrifice your pursuit just for the sake of a calendar that's turned once again. I appreciate that about you.
I realize you're swimming against the tide on that, not only in what culture and family expects from you, but even sometimes what your own desires would push you to do. But for you, God is going to honor your commitment to wait for a godly Christian spouse. That's Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, with some refresher tips on what constitutes a godly marriage. Don has more for you on our next program as he continues the series A Refresher on the Family. Join us then on the Truth Pulpit. Well, Don, while this radio broadcast is indeed a valuable tool to help increase biblical understanding, we have other great tools available too, don't we?
That's right, Bill, we do. Friend, we want to do everything we can to help you receive God's Word into your life, and so there's a lot of resources available for you to take advantage of on our website. We broadcast our church services Sunday and Tuesday over our live stream.
All of my weekly sermons are available for easy access via our podcast, and there are also free study guides for some messages to help you or your church group study God's Word on your own. You can find all of those things when you go to the place that Bill's going to point you to right now. Just visit thetruthpulpit.com and follow the links. That's thetruthpulpit.com. By the way, you'll also find a link to Don's Facebook page and information about church services at Truth Community Church. So if you're in the Cincinnati area, we would love to meet you. Again, visit thetruthpulpit.com for all the info. Now for Don Green, I'm Bill Wright, and we'll see you again next time for more from The Truth Pulpit, where Don teaches God's people God's Word.
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