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Is Your Marriage Too Far Gone? JD & Veronica Greear

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
January 23, 2024 5:15 am

Is Your Marriage Too Far Gone? JD & Veronica Greear

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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January 23, 2024 5:15 am

Struggling in marriage? JD and Veronica Greear offer real-life hope. Re-learn the transformative power of the gospel in healing deep wounds.

J.D. and Veronica Greear are two of FamilyLife's guest contributors to the all-new Art of Marriage group study! To learn more or order your copy, visit

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Connect with JD and Veronica Greear and catch more of their thoughts at,Also find them on Instagram.

Listen to their podcast "Ask Me Anything"

Listen to Summit Life through his radio podcast, a daily, 25-minute program with Pastor J.D. Greear:

And grab their book, Essential Christianity in our shop.

Intrigued by today's episode? Think deeper about Marriage.

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The gospel is going to teach you to think of yourself first as sinner and only secondly as sinned against.

Which doesn't mean you don't have to deal with where they sinned against you, because that's a conversation you need to have, but it means you do so out of the context of, I will never have to forgive you of anything close to what God has forgiven me of. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at This is Family Life Today. So, if you were talking to some newlyweds, and they were like, we're Christians, we want to live out the gospel in our marriage, what would you say? I'd say you will live out the gospel in your marriage.

Don't worry. It's going to happen. One way or the other. No matter what.

But you'll have to be faced with a question, can you give grace the way Jesus has given us grace? That will be the pinnacle of when you can learn to do that and love lavishly. That's a powerhouse marriage. Yeah, we've got JD and Veronica Greer back in the studio.

You already heard them laughing over there at our comment. In fact, I didn't even know I was going to ask you that question. I just thought of this. But yesterday I preached at a church, and my big idea was every relationship in your life will eventually die without forgiveness. At some point, you're going to have to forgive.

Would you guys agree? And again, let me introduce you. You know, Pastor Summit Church in North Carolina, four kids, married 38 years. No, 23, right? Twenty-three.

We got married in 1980, so it's easy to know as well. What's your podcast? My podcast? So Summit Life is our preaching and teaching podcast, and then I have another one called Ask Me Anything. That's the one I wondered about. Yeah, a series of questions that we just get from listeners that I was like, I just need to start turning on the mic.

That's great. Ask Me Anything. Well, we're going to ask you this. How would you counsel that newlywed couple that says we really want to live out the gospel? Ann gave her answer.

Do you have another nuance on that? What's it going to look like? I would say, I mean, yes. So I do think you are going to live out the gospel. I mean, what's that mean, though? What does that mean?

Okay. Yeah, let's take this out of the Christian language sort of ethereal realm. I would say there's going to be days where, there's going to be days where it feels like this person is the problem in your life. And if that person was not creating the problem in your life, your life would be great. That's how it's going to feel sometimes. It felt like that about me. I felt like this about him. I have actually said those words. The problem in our marriage is Dave. And when he would get his act together, we would be great.

Yes. A hundred percent that's going to happen. And I don't think I really thought that was true going into marriage. I'm kind of a...

I didn't either. I can be a little Pollyanna-ish. Everything is going to be great.

It's going to be great. And so I think I would say to that person, do you expect that? And in that moment, are you willing to say, no, God is at work in my life and this is actually his will for my life.

This right here. Him being the problem in my life, in my view right now. Your husband, in other words.

Yes. Your husband being the problem to you is actually designed by God for something that he is trying to do in you. And if you can say that, can you actually take it even a step further that I say thank you for that?

I'm telling you, we could end right there. Because honestly, think of your marriage, think of the husband-wife relationship you have right now. And think like, Lord, can you thank the Lord for that? And he wants to use the situation you're in right now, he wants to use it.

Right. So it took me a little while to get there. Me too.

It took me a couple few years to be like, oh no, this really is something he's doing. And for a while, I just, well, I don't really want that. I don't actually, I want it to be happy and blissful and rainbows over here. And I'm fun. I don't, why aren't you having fun? And he is like, you are going to burn us down.

You really are. I mean, isn't it true? And you don't, you don't see it coming. Did you think that you're going to burn us down? Oh, he thought that about me.

Yes. And I was like, I'm trying to have a good time. But you don't seem to be having a good time. My biggest thing in all this, it was about three years in our marriage, maybe two or three. It was, it was, it was early. You're going to burn us down. And so we go in to see a counselor, not because we're on the last leg yet, but just because we needed to see a counselor.

Well, at least she did. Yes. That's how it is, right? I first told him we should see somebody. He said, well, you can see somebody.

Because I'm okay. Anyway, after, after really kind of expressing to this counselor who was a Christian counselor, just some disappointment and some anger, frustration we had with each other. And, you know, over the course of an hour, he said something that I think, you know, we slap the words life changing way too quickly on things.

This one, from the perspective of 20 years, really was life changing. He said, you know, I think the problem with both of you is, he said, both of you think of yourselves as first sinned against and second sinner. He said, you know, the ticker tape in both of your brains is on the other person's flaws.

And the flaws you're pointing out are mostly correct, you know, that they do have those flaws. He said, but the gospel is going to teach you to think of yourself first as sinner and only secondly as sinned against. Which doesn't mean you don't have to deal with where they sinned against you, because that's a conversation you need to have. But it means you do so out of the context of, I will never have to forgive you of anything close to what God has forgiven me of. And he said, that will change how you relate to each other when you think of yourselves as first sinner. I'm the man in Jesus's parable that was forgiven 10,000 talents.

And now I'm being asked to forgive $1.50. You know, and it changed, I think, both of us to say, I'm going to expect that we have to show grace in this relationship because that's the kind of God we serve and he showed grace with us. Yeah, I mean, that's so good because, you know, we get married and our eyes are on them, not us.

At first, it's great because they're so amazingly wonderful. Yeah. And then we see stuff.

I was talking about in the sermon yesterday how when you get married, you see all the good and you just think it's always going to be that way. And a year ago, Ann took me to Vegas and we saw John Legend. And he's got this song we all love, you know, all of me. Yes.

Such a good one. I'm not going to sing the whole thing. All your curves and all your edges, all your perfect imperfections, right?

And we're just like, oh, it's so beautiful. But here's what happens. You get married and you're married maybe three months, like you said, six, three years or six months or whatever. So you come sort of like half of me loves none of you.

All your quirks and accusations make me want to take a vacation. It switches. It totally switches. I mean, we usually do that at the beginning of our marriage thing. And you see the couples go, we're not the only ones? Yeah, right.

Because everybody's laughing, but there's truth in that. But what you said about seeing the sin in me first is where you start. That changes everything.

Were you guys able to start doing that after that counselor? None of these things are like, you know, you like say it one time and everything's different. Yeah, but it's daily. You know, D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, the old preacher, used to talk about the importance of preaching the gospel to yourself every day. And so, yes, we preach the gospel to ourselves each day and we're telling ourselves that.

And we've grown in it. You know, there's still moments where I'm angrier about her sin than I am mine. You know, but I will say that now I can say 23 years in the marriage that I never knew what it was like to love a sinner until I got married.

And I'm not talking about Veronica. I'm talking about God's love of me because I'm realizing how much grace there was that God showed. And that's part of what we've been talking about. It's ultimately the gospel that makes you a better spouse. And we're talking about your book, Essential Christianity, the heart of the gospel in 10 words. Now, is this the word refusal?

Is that sort of what you're talking about? As I read it, I thought it's about sin and the world's broken by sin, but maybe I missed it. You can get there.

You can get there. But specifically, it raises a question that, you know, and we're going to switch gears a little bit here, but the question that a lot of people in the midst of deconstruction ask, which is, well, if there really is a God, then why doesn't everybody believe in him? You know, why are there so many intelligent, you know, very moral atheists in the world and or people from different religions? And what the apostle Paul explains is that ultimately that what our head ends up believing, our heart is conditioned to believe. And the problem, he explains, is in the human heart. And it's not better information or better education.

It's a transformation of the heart. And so what we need as fallen sinners is not better technique, better education. What we need is transformation. And that's only going to come through the gospel.

The way you get there when you're talking about marriage is I know that we can go to all the wonderful weekends, you know, weekends to remember and these incredible, you know, whether the family life or other things. We need the power of the Holy Spirit renewing us in the gospel. That's what Paul says in Romans. And I talk about that in this book is how, you know, the pivotal point of the book of Romans is in Romans 12, one where he says, therefore, the first 11 chapters of Romans are all about the gospel. Yeah.

The last five chapters of Romans are all about how you should live. Therefore. Yeah.

Yeah. How you should treat your spouse. And the hinge between those two sections is the word, therefore, in light of what God has done for you. This is how you can then begin to come toward one another. So, I mean, when you get to a place in your marriage where you feel and maybe you haven't felt this. I know I've felt this. I can't. I can't love her like I know I want to and I should.

And I've preached this and I know this from the word of God. But right now, I'm just it's almost like I'm stuck. I need the power of God. I don't know if I want it right now, but I need it. Have you ever been there?

And if you are, how do you navigate through that? I think one, so you should always own that. Always own that to God first and say, I don't really want this.

I know I need it, but I don't really want it. Can you help me? So you're being truthful.

Yeah. Can you help me want that? Can you help me?

Can you change? So I do that a lot in my life, not just in my marriage. Like, help me want the right things. So I think that's the first thing and being really honest about your feelings. Second thing is, and this is more on maybe a little bit more of a like action.

That's an action, too. But this is more on an action day to day basis. You know, if you do like one thing, loving, that starts to change slowly.

This is a long term thing you're going to be doing here. This is not going to be fixed in a day or a week when you're just at a real difficult place. But, you know, your feelings do follow your actions. This is assuming this is kind of a base level of conflict. Like this is, I think that it's important to obviously say like there's some situations this would not be applicable to.

That are outside the realm of an average sinner married to an average sinner. No one's at risk here. You're not talking about abusive situations. No. Right. Right.

And if you think you could be, you should get help immediately. So in that situation. But, you know, I think your actions start to dictate your feelings. Yes. That's good.

Yeah. You know, the law, whenever you think about how you ought to act, that's what the Bible refers to as the law. You know, it's the standard of righteousness. And it has a protective purpose in us so that even when I don't feel like it, I will obey the law. You know, God's law, because that's just, you know, it's much better for for myself and the people that I love if I am obeying God's laws. But the law is not, you know, in that sense, I call it the curb.

It's a curb to curb your behavior. But it's also a mirror to reveal what your heart is not. And so when I find my heart, you know, craving selfishness where it should crave generosity, when it's craving, you know, stinginess where it should be, you know, feeling feelings of love. Yes, I go ahead and do the loving thing.

That's the law. But my heart is crying out saying, God, I need you to to change my heart so that this stuff becomes instinctive to me where I just do it because I mean, Jesus never had to force himself to obey. His heart always desired that. And what God wants, you know, I always explain this in a sense of Christianity. God's not just after obedience. He's after a whole new kind of obedience and obedience that grows out of desire. And obedience where you love your spouse because that's what you do.

You love your spouse because your heart, your heart loves it. Martin Luther talked about the dilemma of the great commandment, the great commandments that we love God with all of our heart, love our neighbors ourselves. He said the dilemma of that commandment is God is commanding you to do something that by definition cannot be commanded.

He said, you think about it. He said, if you if you if you love something, you don't need a command to do it. You never have to command me to eat a steak, take a nap, you know, watch football or kiss my wife.

I just, you know, I desire those things. He said, Luther said, he said, the other side of that is if you don't love something, then no command can ever make you love it. So what you're doing is as you're obeying that, you're crying out to God saying, God, I'm obeying and I need you to transform me from within so that I become the kind of person who does righteousness because I crave righteousness and I choose love. And I choose love because I feel love and I am love.

I've shared on here before, but times when I want to treat or be kind to and I'm not being. And I have to ask literally in that moment, God, I my heart has been transformed. I am in Christ. So this isn't behavior that should match who I am in Christ, but it is matching who I was before. But I mean, even for the listener says, God won't be in that moment. He will meet you in that moment. And again, it could look different. There are times I've shared before sitting on a park bench in a public thing.

We're in some fight years ago and I am wrong. She's already told me 18 times, but I am at the point now where I realize I've said things that were hurtful and harsh and I'm sitting on this park bench and she's sitting right here. And I know all she needs from me is tenderness. It's like, preach the gospel to myself. God, you've been tender to me.

I need to be tender to her. And everything in me is like, I can't do it and I don't want to do it. I remember sitting there and watching all these people and we're in public, so you can't really like, so you're sort of hiding this thing.

All these people are walking around and they're smiling, laughing. And here's what I'm thinking. You bunch of losers. You're not happy. You're just faking it. You know, everybody's feeling what I feel. But I'll never forget. I don't know why it's so clear in my mind. I'm like, God, I can't muster this up in myself.

And I know I need to love her like she deserves to be loved. Would you give me that right here right now? And he did. It's like, there are times where God will take a hard heart and if you really repent and say, I'm wrong, I need you to do it. There's transformation.

That's already yours, but to experience it in that moment. And again, it doesn't happen every single day, but it can. And that's sort of what you're saying. That's the gospel. Yeah.

I was going to say there's something about our obedience of following what God has called us to do in the gospel. Because I just got over being sick for about six days. And when you don't feel well physically, everything's hard. It's like your eyes are on yourself and your pain.

So true. And I thought of that. I was walking last night and I felt dry spiritually. And even when you're dry, it's that part of, but I know that I'm going to get in the Word. I'm going to do and obey what God has called me to do and obey because I've had years of doing that. Knowing that even when my heart doesn't feel like it, because I have something physical going on, I'm still going to spend time with Jesus, read the Word. Because it is the gospel and it is our hope as we spend time with him. He renews our mind.

He renews our hearts and he transforms our thoughts and our hearts instead of conforming to the world. Right. Yeah, absolutely. Talk about, I mean, one of your words is struggle. Yeah.

And what I wrote down in my notes beside it is there's a new me that needs to be embraced and an old me that needs to be left behind. So there's this, we're talking about right now. I like that battle. That struggle. Is that what the gospel looks like?

Yeah. I mean, it's one of the most encouraging chapters in the book of Romans to me personally. And essential Christianity is not a commentary on Romans, but it's just taking these questions that Paul is raising in them and re-asking them in modern day terms. And one of the things Paul basically says is, if Christianity is true, why is it so hard?

Why is it that after I've learned the right things and chosen the right things, it still comes as such a struggle? And what he's going to explain is that the way that God saves us is he gives us a new heart, but that new heart is within what he calls the flesh, which is the old body. And the bad news is that this flesh, this sinful flesh is going to be with you until the day that you die. And it's going to remain every bit as sinful as it ever was. And the moment you stop dying to it, it will take you into, it could be all the old sins.

It could be worse than the old sins. It's kind of depressing. It is depressing.

Here's depressing slash encouraging. John Newton wrote the song Amazing Grace when he was 86 years old. There's a little book of letters that you can read.

It's called The Letters of John Newton. And it's got one that he wrote to another younger pastor in his 30s when he was in his 80s. He said to this other pastor, he said, you know, he said, I find it depressing sometimes because I thought that by 86, I would no longer struggle with all these different sins. He said, those, some of those desires in me are stronger and more sinful than ever. And depressing, I'm like, at 80?

Like, really? Seriously, I thought at that point I was just going to sit around and hum, you know, but he said, what I've realized. Is that God allows us to continue to struggle against the flesh because growth in grace is not getting past a point where you need grace. It's growth in your awareness of how badly you do need it. And so God will let certain temptations stay with you and certain struggles because he doesn't want you this side of the resurrection to ever get to a point where you feel like I'm good.

I got it. Paul's thorn in the flesh. Yes. He wants you to still be able to sing Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me. And I even felt like, you know, the context of marriage, that's part of what, you know, there's nothing that reveals my sinfulness and selfishness more than my marriage.

It's just, and God uses it as a crucible to say, hey, here's how bad you needed saving and you continue to need saving. Yeah. And at the same time, isn't it true that I remember Tim Keller writing this in the meaning of marriage, that part of the purpose of our marriages is to become like Christ. And he uses our spouse as like a sharpening brother sister, really, that comes alongside and says, I see things. I love you.

I affirm you. But I see something and nobody else sees it. The congregation doesn't see it.

They think you're awesome. But I see it. And so it's a gift because it's making us like what Keller says, our glory sells. When we're in glory, face to face, we're going to be finally like him when we're on a journey to then.

Is that what you've seen even in your own marriage, this sharpening taking place? Oh, absolutely. We're pretty opposite in just sort of how we approach life. Our values are the same, which is what has sustained us.

Right. But our approach to life can be pretty different. And so I can make him crazy.

He can make me crazy. And having to hash these things out and how we're going to parent, how we're going to run our household, how we're going to run our schedule, how we're going to do trips, how we're going to just everything relate with people in the hashing out is I'm also a conflict avoider. And he's like, why would you ever avoid it?

You should just get after it. So we've had to learn like that's that's kind of where that that medium way is actually better for us. Some of the strengths are complementary. And that's just how God makes us. Right. And then some of them are where you just the other spouse reveals your own sinfulness and selfishness. Because whatever you know, you've heard this before, whatever your virtue is, is your vice. And so she loves people immediately. And that's the most important thing in the world.

I mean, that's a beautiful part of how God made her. The vice is, you know, you're not getting from point A to point B. So my my virtue is we're going to get to point A to point B. But it is who do we run over?

Who do we not think about? And so there's both a complementary nature and how God made us. But there's also a revelation of un-Christ likeness that comes to the other one. Right.

Yeah. So that that has been really good for I mean, he has made me better in all of those things. And I've made him better in all those things. And as we're talking about Romans, what's your favorite verse? What do you think, JD?

I love I'm deeply moved by it. It's just Romans 1.14, where Paul says, I'm a debtor to those who have never heard. And that image. That's been since college. Really?

Yeah. Because you think about like debtor means you owe somebody, you know, you're under obligation. You're no longer free. If you owe the credit card company, you know, tens of thousands of dollars, then you're not free to do what you want.

Your money, in a sense, belongs to them. And, you know, Paul said, when it comes to the gospel, when I think about the gift that God gave me and how much I didn't deserve it, I owe it to those who have never heard to have a chance to hear. And I tell college students, we have a lot of them that go to our church.

I'm like, you know, your generation, Gen Z, millennials also, that they're moved by justice issues and they should be, you know, we need to be involved in justice issues all over the world of all kinds. But according to Paul, the greatest injustice that has ever taken place is for somebody to know the gospel and then not share it with those who haven't. And so when Paul goes from verse 14 to say, I'm not ashamed of the gospel of Christ because it is the power of God unto salvation to everybody who believes. And when I think about like what the gospel has done in our marriage, when I think about how it saved our marriage, I think we could say that. I'm not sure where we'd be if it hadn't been for coming back to the gospel.

We might be a statistic in divorce. But when I think about the way I've seen it work in people's lives, you know, just like there's nothing greater to give your life to than to knowing the gospel, teaching it to your kids and making sure everybody this generation knows and has a chance to believe. When I typically think about sharing the gospel, I usually think about going to people outside the walls of my home and my church in order to do so. But I love that reminder that sharing the gospel can and should happen all the time with the ones we love the most because we're never drawn in by God without being sent out by him.

It just so happens that sometimes that sending out looks like a conversation with your kid on the end of their bed over ice cream and homework. Man, I just love that important truth from JD. I'm Shelby Abbott, and you've been listening to David Ann Wilson with JD Greer and Veronica Greer on family life today. JD has written a book called Essential Christianity, the Heart of the Gospel in 10 Words. This book really explores the transformative power of the gospel in addressing life's really profound questions and rediscovering the joy and depth of the Christian faith for modern individuals. You can go online to get a copy at and click on the today's resources link. Or you can get the link in the show notes. Or you can give us a call to get a copy at 800-358-6329.

Again, that number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. While you're on, there's a little button at the top of the page that says donate now, and when you do that, you become a partner with us. There's different types of partners who give to the ministry at family life. There's one-time gift partners, and then there's monthly partners.

The cool thing about being a monthly partner is when you do, you become a part of a group with some exclusive benefits. You get insider ministry updates about new products, pre-releases, and exclusive viewing opportunities. You get access to our new curated topical library from some of the most compassionate minds across the ministry, and when you do sign up to become a monthly partner, you get a free weekend to remember gift card. So I really encourage you to hop online, go to, click on the donate now button at the top of the page, and become a monthly partner to help make this ministry what it is by continuing to reach marriages and families. Now, coming up tomorrow, JD and Veronica Greer are back to talk about building gospel-centered marriages in ministry. What does it look like to embrace vulnerability, intentionality, and community support? The Greers are going to be here with the Wilsons to talk about just that tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of David Ann Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor-supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-01-23 06:56:24 / 2024-01-23 07:08:22 / 12

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