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The Spiritual Battle for Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
December 23, 2021 5:00 am

The Spiritual Battle for Your Marriage

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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December 23, 2021 5:00 am

Dr. Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff share about spiritual warfare against marriages, and how to combat the enemy’s lies with God's truth.

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Today on this best of 20, 21 Focus on the Family episode will be exploring an often misunderstood source of problems in marriage that is spiritual warfare Scriptures began with an marriage is Adam and Eve. It's important institution. It reflects the image of God himself, and so wouldn't it make sense if Satan wants to attack God that he would attack the thing that reflects his image. That's no renewal off explaining why you and your spouse may be experiencing some unexpected, perhaps even troubling conflict in your relationship Marine and her husband, Dr. Tim you off our guest today and your hostess focus president and author Jim Daly thanks for joining us on John for John this best of conversation with him ignoring really resonated with her listeners when weirded earlier this year and we received some comments in response. One woman said this is confirmation of what we have experienced we asked the saints to join us in praying for myself and my husband. Thank you.

Focus on the Family another comment was my eyes will be open now more than ever. This has confirm any thoughts I've had about the attacks of the enemy. We can allow the devil to have an inch.

I'm looking for chains to be broken in Jesus's name was her wonderful comments and of the new loss really did a great job of reminding us that spiritual warfare is real, very serious matter. The Bible has a lot to say about this topic more than we realize, that's right. In Ephesians 6 were told we wrestle against cosmic powers and spiritual forces of evil.

That's pretty straightforward and in first Peter five. Satan is compared to a roaring lion that seeking to devour us.

So if you haven't considered how spiritual warfare may be impacting your life, especially your marriage. You want to lean into the great content that Tim and Noreen will share with us today and Dr. Tim you off is professor of communications at bile University.

Also, the director of resources for the baila center for marriage and relationships is an author and podcast host and his wife Marine is the assistant director of chapel programs at viola. Together, they routinely speak of marriage conferences and Tim is written a book that will focus on today called defending your marriage. The reality of spiritual battle.

We can tell you more about that all the links are in the episode notes and Jim, here's how you began the conversation with Milos on this best of addition of Focus on the Family explain why we Christians be kind of clueless about spiritual warfare today. What's happening in our ability to discern that's really what it is the lack of discernment.

I think it has to do with what comes to mind when I say the demonic, I think most people are like how the demonic not immediately thinking to the top movies on Netflix write the conjuring paranormal experience were people getting dragged across a room person is levitating speaking and got her all Latin voices and so you look at that Newco. I don't have any part of that that is not something I want to dabble and I think that's Hollywood. At its worst. I died so I don't deal with it right at that's my idea of the demonic, then I'm staying a mile away from right and that is something that happens elsewhere.

Maybe you hear about in Africa or in Asia, but it doesn't happen in the USSR doesn't happen in the last and so we can dismiss it as something that happened in the past or in another location, but it doesn't happen locally and within our own families Eve Ray said that is a question that I will hear occasionally. What's the answer to that question. Do we see it in a different form or what is the answer to that question. Why think it cited relief work in Africa in the Atari Valley when the poorest regions, Africa and when we would go out son is Irma can got would gather us altogether and he would pray warfare partners and I had never heard of one before warfare prayer was simply we know we are sending out these dear workers out into a spiritual battlefield, and God protect them, and Satan listen to me when I say this you are not to touch them.

They are God's children. We send not God's power. You are not to touch them. We pray this in the power of Jesus's name not go and first of the team leader.

So I'm driving not going what is that like to be spiritually attacked, not even knowing what that would look like.

Like not having a concept of what that would look like and so I want to say it's more in the West that we struggle with this other parts of the world in different locations.

They take it very seriously and so when I start to research the book I started to really read the Gospels and then started to read what other notable Christian authors would say about this here's the number one fact that blew me away and I thought blank. I might need to write on this. So, according to some New Testament scholars 25% of everything Jesus had to say had to do with the demonic, so I say to my students at bile University.

Imagine taking 25% of everything Jesus said and just setting aside not paying attention to under pay attention to the 75% and my students are like, what's the 25% I sent has to do with demons in the demonic and spiritual battle and then I asked them what you believe in the devil. Everyone of them says yes and then I say don't doesn't make any difference in how you you treat your roommates does make any difference in how you treat your parents or a dating relationship for evangelism and virtually every one of these dear students pretty much says no does make a difference in how I go about doing my life. Yeah.

And of course you've written this book. Defending your marriage so you're taking this in the context of marriage, and I appreciate that. I think you know what I have observed is our inability to recognize and I think that's what happens in the Wesley like you said, they're far more attuned to spiritual battles in other parts of the world. I've had the privilege to travel as well so I've seen it and it's almost like I think Satan is pleased with the fact that he keeps us to just I guess disengaged with it. I know we just modernize everything we don't see it but in that context of of marriage in particular. Why do you think it's a target for Satan and why is he trying to accomplish the breaking of marriage is a big question the value of marriage is the first thing that comes to mind for Manning. We have the Scriptures began with an marriage is Adam and Eve. It's important institution it it reflects the image of God himself, and so wouldn't it make sense if Satan wants to attack God that he would attack the thing that reflects his image, and so to me it makes sense that this would be an object of attack me. Let me deepen this a little bit because I think the two of you had an experience you're going to a marriage seminar and this is how typically happens. I mean Jean and I will feel this at times, especially if I'm going to speak on marriage all of a sudden things are just not right at home. I irritate her. She irritates me. It's kind of odd delight comes out of left field and sometimes we might overplay that I don't know but I want your input. At other times I'm going.

Oh my goodness this is a spiritual battle he's attacking us right now and stop and pray and do the things that we need to do to remedy that. But what is that balance. If we could take our Western goggles off to recognize it's a satanic attack in our marriage versus it's our triggers. So going back to the first marriage I pointed out in Genesis will if you take a look at how the serpent attacks and many what's great about teaching a Christian University got some really smart professors yeah so you get to walk over to him and you get to say okay so when it said that the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field liking Hebrew. What is crafty mean.

It means subtle. So when when the serpent imagine the serpent walking right up to Eve and say Eve on three rebel against God.

I would never happen when it happened.

Eve would've turned and looked at him and said all of course not. No reason to rebel.

But then he comes as a serpent we knowing air near Eastern times serpents were these glowing things the shiny things and they don't acquaint them how we view snakes. We view snakes now after the fall as things to be worried about. Eve would've had no reason to be suspicious of the snake and other state talks well on this interesting editortalks but she is under no threat whatsoever, and then he starts to work in very suicidal ways. So now shifted. This would happen will be relieved of her found that marriage conference, Noreen has noticed for a couple days that there's a leak happening beneath our faucet and then she makes a tactical mistake saying honey can you look at and I like chart so now you know it's like leaving for LAX. It is working relieved we have were leaving five days before the flood, take the LAX is like craziness and Noreen opens that we literally leaving in five minutes and the leak is happening now. No kids that leak could potentially go all weekend, but we have no time we got to get LAX calculate the marriage conference. So now we get into the car and there's just tension. Their silence between us and you're kind of thinking what you're thinking I'm thinking a guy why didn't you take care of that the leak what we realized was it was a pattern of exactly what you are talking about that, irritability. The crankiness that why does it seem like every time we go way kids get sick things in the house break. We end up Deanna's bickering with one another and and then we stepped back and said perhaps there's something else at bay and I think you know the way you worded the question even to say is that our pushing our triggers, or is it spiritual battle and what I would like to say is it doesn't have to be one or the other and that it can be both what oftentimes the Christian vernacular. We talk about our flesh and then Satan, and they tend to work in tandem so to your point, our flesh usually moves in the direction that's satanic I would say that is against God in and we don't need to differentiate really is Giselle and he takes advantage rights advantage of our weaknesses.

He takes advantage of our sin. So when we open ourselves to those kind of things it gives him them the opportunity to get a foothold right and exasperate accelerate through fuel on the fire. What one observation I have. We have something called that the Roman know Ray vendor lawn has done the series with us for years, and one of the statements he makes and there's that going back to your point of the serpent and Eve is when sin entered the world chaos and of the world and that you know God and Jesus coming into this chaos. He's bringing God shalom his peace into the chaos and that's what were so that's our big mission as Christians is to bring his shalom into this chaotic sinful world.

This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and today were talking to Tim and Noreen Bill half they have studied as Jim said earlier this matter spiritual warfare and virtual battle and Tim has written a book defending your marriage contact is for your copy it's 800 a family or the link is in the episode notes Noreen, I want to come back your direction. Could you mention something that we didn't explore and that is this idea of a foothold for Satan. I think it's really important because I think especially in marriage. We don't stop and really understand how often were doing that and it's in our bickering are verbal spats or battles describe what a foothold is for Satan to get in between you and your spouse and what damage can be done because of it shortly.

No foothold is anything that gives somebody a position of power and influence similarly talk about Satan having a foothold and this is coming from Ephesians 4. It allows him to enter in has access and from there can like I said throw fuel on the fire and exaggerate and make exasperate make things worse. Even so, when we talk about a foothold, it can be even using that the version I do not let the sun go down on your anger, to not give Satan a foothold. So when we in for us.

That doesn't mean like we have to resolve conflict before the sun goes down like it's not a literal, but it means were not gonna let it fester. When I can let it take hold, because we know that anger in and of itself is not sin, but how we handle that anger and how we respond so if there's anger between us. If there's frustration or if likelier time that the very strengths that Tim has if they if I find them starting to become annoying. That's acute to me like I need to what's going on. Why is this thing that used to be so attractive so frustrating right now and what I want to do is I want to justify insights because of him. Rather than saying what why is my perspective change what's at work and I allowed Satan some Access to dwell on things and my holding things am I letting bitterness cement and letting those thoughts not holding those thoughts captive to Christ, but allowing them to develop in ways that are going to can can you to drive a larger wedge in our relationship rather than bringing us back together. Tim, you also write in your book about CS Lewis in the Screwtape letters, which is one of our favorites are logos we did a radio theater that's brilliant. We have some great BBC voice actors and that it's it's one of the best. I think that we did, but I would love the Screwtape letters. How did that connect for you. While we love the Screwtape letters as well.

We got a chance to performed as well was awesome. It showed me the subtlety of it.

Lewis is in the fine moments.

It's a demon working on a person for years getting an attitude. I member a member. The old lady who hurt T just had to be just right and she would sound picky personal papers teach us the last little bit and Lewis goes on forever because she is now not willing to accommodate anything other than what she wants and she would never admit that she would say.

I just like a good property. Can a woman just have a good cup of tea and the demon is causing her to be inflexible and that then will be used somewhere else with children, a church person but inflexibility is a great quality.

So when I started Ray Lewis, I realized maybe the demons that are working on me is such small things that I don't even notice. This is spiritual attack and he is setting a trap for me. Which goes back to the craftiness yeah that's what I think you that the whole Screwtape letters is such a great example. It's a creative envisioning of just how crafty it satellites little steps that we allow to happen and then you end up where you're too fussy about your tea, but and then that leads into everything you have think I got everything right in the mastery of Screwtape letters is from the perspective of Satan and his demons, and the other to manipulate drive people away.

That's what makes it so brilliant. Actually, when we look at those weapons. We talked a lot about the other guys weapons will we get some weapons to and one of the things that you talk about in the marriage relationship is the weapon of community and I'm speaking weapon is a positive thing right now.

Weapons don't line up with the other guys weapons. Ours is love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, mercy, community could be perceived in their in a relationship were made for relationship.

The other guys in the strife, jealousy, all the ugly side of humanity. So speak to the issue of community and wise that in Wharton for married couples, particularly, I think one of the strategies of the enemy. Can the isolation and so when you're in community. That's the antidote to isolation and even if you're just isolated together as a couple and you don't have anybody encouraging you. You don't have outside eyes on you saying like, hey look like you're struggling can we help or you don't have other couples were saying we struggle with that to you can begin to look at your marriage and I were losers.

Something is wrong with us. This isn't working. He's the wrong person. I'm the wrong person you come up with all these again lies that if you're not in community. Those lies can take root and you begin to believe them and you make decisions based on those lies and I think community can be that speedbump to letting those lies become embedded and then taking action on those yeah you mention community, but I think were so illiterate. Nowadays, if I could say that way that I'm not sure that we actually know what to do in community what you're talking about being in community and being believers in community, particularly is understanding the weapons of our warfare and even I think relate that to Ephesians 6 which is the spiritual weapons that we possess it in the defensive armor that we have talked about that component how we need to apply those things.

So here's the here's the cool thing when you're where at a university with people who study about their entire life that so we have a gentleman at Viola Dr. Clint Arnold who studied Ephesians his entire life. So I bought him many holidays and many hands with a legal pad just writing like a mad person. He said two things I will never forget is that you have to remind people, it was a letter we added the verses and chapter breaks just for easy reference. But it was a letter. So if you read the letter. His point is as clear as a bell. He's talking about Ephesians 5 about marriage and it bleeds seamlessly into armor the spiritual breastplate of righteousness, like shouting or fear of the gospel of peace and things like that but in the letter.

It is one continuous thought.

Meaning if you're going to do this thing called Christian marriage. You better get dressed because the battles at your feet spiritual battle but then he made a point, but what made the Roman army so effective. Two things made Roman army so effective.

One was their shoes that they were the first to put spikes in their shoes so they could run up mountains but when they stuck their foot in the ground you're not?

Background but they also locked arms with each other and not knees the Persians could not move them off the spot so the point that we make in the book is if you were to say to Paul, is spiritual battle just one Roman soldier is that the metaphor trying to use the owner know not the soldier, the cohort it's the group of Roman soldiers that were so powerful, so I think Paul is even there, suddenly saying this in families, marriages, one Roman soldier going is Persians would get obliterated, but a Roman cohort coming to gather is not to be moved off that mark and so first thing we did we got by all University we put together marriage group.

We had this group for now 16 years and it's just life-giving because you were talked about isolation Noreen you can just feel like you're the loser family that has a wayward teenager you're the loser family that is having a really hard time resolving this issue and that gets rid of all of it when in another couplet respect goes.

Are you kidding me are teenagers moving to ship them off. We do know what to do with these kids. I think Satan loses a great piece of ammunition there because like you're not alone. This is normal and then St. can't use anymore because you normalized it.

You gotta have that cohort with you and I get that it's frustrating. People don't know how to do it and so I say grab one or two couples and say let's read a marriage book. Let's read me a lot book. I think I logged thinking in the right you let me in here because were our time is done.

But it's something I often say that our marriages are a testimony to nonbelievers are watching us particularly and I think when you're in ministry like I am like you are. It's even magnified more so and I think in that way sometimes will get a be even more spiritual battle because if he can take us down. He wins a big big feather. How in that context do we get up every morning as a married couple remembering that our marriages are seen by our family members by those in church by the people we work with, etc., is that important even keep in mind, I think it is important to keep in mind that for me, the most important thing is that what people see in our marriage is a reflection of what's really there and what's in my heart individually. What's in Tim's heart individually. What's in our heart is a couple because I wouldn't want to do and I think the danger can be, especially for couples in ministry are couples that are yet in the public is that you begin to put on an external what you think it should run client. Even though, and then the internal begins to crumble. So as we get up every morning we we are aware of that of you know that people may be watching. People are making decisions based on what they they see, but the important thing is not what they see, it's what's in our heart, so that simply aiding what they say. That's one reason I'm actually really excited about the next generation because I think they comprehend authenticity better than the previous generation I could say that way and it you know that. Of course it's a blanket statement. I get that but we tended to project perfection in the live up to it rather than project brokenness and live that so that other people could come into relationship with Christ and I think that's what the Lord clearly says when you're low.

I am lifted up, and when you're broken. He's lifted up, and that's the story that's the power of the gospel. Not that I'm so good I'm doing it well. This isn't like a map test were taken and I'm in a student didn't miss any answers know this is about our need for him in every aspect of our life and I I hope that's where Nunnally Christian leadership goes with the entire church goes because I think that's the secret to moving forward in a better direction. That's the ingredients of revival.

I totally agree with the groups again. The group keeps us wrong, ground, and are in our marriage group keeps us grounded because the start of the high mighty you can't do that with other PhD's to stop it. That's what that really helps us stay grounded as a senior living out when they see us living out our daily life we can't be blowing snow will having a supportive community for your marriage is great advice. Especially when you and your spouse might be dealing with spiritual warfare and that's how we concluded this best of episode of Focus on the Family featuring Dr. Tim Mueller off and his wife Noreen. We really do recommend you follow up on this very important topic by getting a copy of the book by Dr. Mueller called defending your marriage. The reality of spiritual battle. John, as we said at the beginning. Spiritual warfare is something we cannot afford to minimize or overlook especially today in a culture that doesn't seem marriage as valuable or even necessary, as Christians, we have a responsibility to be a living witness of what God intended marriage to be and we need to be more intentional about loving our spouse well and getting good tools to strengthen that relationship. That's why I recommend every couple get a copy of Tim's book defending your marriage. This is a must-have resource and if you send a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today will put a copy in your hands.

That's how much we believe in the great content and it's our way of saying thank you yeah and let me mentioned as well.

Our online marriage assessment which gives you your spouse a good overview of what's working well in your relationship and maybe some suggestions for improvement. Contact us to learn more about the assessment domain and get Tim's book are number 800 232-645-9800 the letter a in the word family were stop by the episode's coming up tomorrow and inspiring message from Liz Curtis Higgs about the birth of Jesus. These stories had to have the miraculous, because we had to look at them and say only, nothing is impossible for God.

The NCV is God can do on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back. As we once more help you and Your Family Dr., Christ. I was shocked when she gave me the divorce papers.

I was so died I had reached my breaking point.

I was desperate for a shred of hope. So I called the hope restored team. It Focus on the Family they they listen to me and they asked about what was happening in my marriage. They encouraged me and my wife to attend one of their marriage intensive's for couples in crisis and they prayed with us.

They help me believe that my marriage could be saved agreed to go but was skeptical that anything can help us but the whole environment was so safe and nonjudgmental. I felt my heart start to open up as we work with the counselors. Both of us still have work to do in her marriage but for the first time in a long time we have hope again Focus on the Family's hope restored marriage intensive program has helped thousands of couples who thought that their marriage was over. Find out which program is right for

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