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Marriage that Works - Marriage - A Holy Covenant, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram
The Truth Network Radio
March 1, 2024 5:00 am

Marriage that Works - Marriage - A Holy Covenant, Part 2

Living on the Edge / Chip Ingram

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March 1, 2024 5:00 am

What does it take for a marriage to remain strong? Communication? Trust? Respect? Love? Today on Living on the Edge, Chip Ingram will share that there’s something more foundational and more essential to a strong, lasting marriage than all those other aspects.

Main Points

God's instructions for a great marriage

  • It requires mutual submission to God and each other. - Ephesians 5:21
  • You need to know how to love your mate.
  • Your marriage has an even bigger purpose than your happiness.

Marriage is a holy covenant

  • A covenant: An agreement and guarantee one person makes with another.

A covenant marriage involves three distinct aspects:

  • Leaving
  • Cleaving
  • Becoming "one flesh"

Since marriage is a covenant and not merely a contract...

  • Divorce is not an option. - Malachi 2:14
  • Adultery is a serious covenant breaking offense. - Proverbs 2:16-19                                    
  • Sex before marriage is a violation of this holy covenant. - Hebrews 13:4
  • Same sex relationships are forbidden as a violation of God’s design. - 1 Corinthians 6:9; Romans 1:26-27
Broadcast ResourceAdditional Resource MentionsAbout Chip Ingram

Chip Ingram’s passion is helping Christians really live like Christians. As a pastor, author, and teacher for more than three decades, Chip has helped believers around the world move from spiritual spectators to healthy, authentic disciples of Jesus by living out God’s truth in their lives and relationships in transformational ways.

About Living on the Edge

Living on the Edge exists to help Christians live like Christians. Established in 1995 as the radio ministry of pastor and author Chip Ingram, God has since grown it into a global discipleship ministry. Living on the Edge provides Biblical teaching and discipleship resources that challenge and equip spiritually hungry Christians all over the world to become mature disciples of Jesus.

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Do you wish your marriage was more, you know, more fulfilling, more intimate, more exciting? Do you wonder if it's possible to have a good marriage?

Well, let me tell you, there is hope and there is help. Stay with me as we discover how to strengthen your marriage like never before. Thanks for joining us for this Edition of Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram. Chip's our Bible teacher for this international discipleship ministry focused on helping Christians live like Christians. And in just a minute, Chip will pick up where he left off in our series, Marriage That Works, with the remainder of his talk, Marriage, a Holy Covenant. And let me encourage you to stick around after this message as Chip shares some practical steps you can follow to protect this sacred bond.

You don't want to miss it. All that, go to Ephesians chapter five in your Bibles as we join Chip with today's talk. Marriage, what is it? In our day, it's sort of a conditional contract. I will marry you. We may make up our own vows.

We can say whatever we want. But in terms of pragmatism in our day, marriage is I'm absolutely committed to you no matter what until I'm not fulfilled or it gets very hard. Let's look at what marriage is from God's perspective. His design demands that marriage is a holy covenant. Malachi chapter two verse fourteen. This is a group of people that is strayed far from God. It says, you ask why? It's because the Lord is a witness between you and the wife of your youth.

You've been unfaithful to her though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. In the context here, you can read Malachi. If you go to Matthew, just go left.

It'll be right there. God is explaining why there's judgment, why their fields aren't producing crops, why their animals are miscarriaging, why their enemies are winning. And they say, why God? Where are you?

How come my life doesn't work? God says, because you've forsaken the marriage covenant. So let me tell you what a covenant is. Marriage is a holy covenant. A covenant is an agreement and guarantee one person makes with another. It's a solemn agreement with binding force. Jot in your notes Ecclesiastes five verses four and five.

Very powerful. The wisest man in the world said this, when you make a vow, do not be late in paying it. For God takes no delight in fools. It is better not to vow than to vow and not pay. The idea of a vow, when you said before God and these witnesses till death do us part in sickness and in health, that's a vow before God. That's very serious business to him. Now we may redefine it and say, I was only kidding.

Or, you know, I feel not emotionally like my knees aren't really feeling very good. And, you know, things are really hard. The vow is what keeps you in the relationship to work through those things. It goes on to say, we see that in the Bible, God made a very serious agreements when he established a covenant, which represents a serious occasion where the parties involved seal their promises by the midst of a cutting. And the idea of a covenant, literal word in Hebrew means to cut. And the idea was there's blood. In other words, blood, there's life in the blood.

So there's blood here and blood here and they come together and it's like an all or nothing most serious commitment. We say we make a commitment to one another and no matter what, no matter who, no matter circumstances, we will never violate this. That is a holy covenant. And I've given you four examples in scripture.

Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. And if you study all four of those covenants, what you find is they have four characteristics. One, it's initiated by a vow. You can jot this down if you want or just remember.

Second, the conditions of the relationship are outlined. Then it is ratified by blood and there's a symbol then to remind you that forever and ever and ever, this is an unconditional, irrevocable commitment that you've made. And so through scripture, the very first time we find it is with Noah. And God says as he's judging the earth and violence and sin, he says, I'll make a covenant with you. And the conditions are Noah, you worship me and you do it in this way. And then as soon as he gets out of the ark, he slaughters some animals, there's blood, he builds an ark and then there's the sign of the rainbow.

I'll never ever judge the world by water again. Or Abraham, God makes this outrageous. He says, Abraham, I want to have a special relationship with you. I want to take one man, create a nation. I'll make it as vast as the stars to the sky and the sand to the sea.

I'm going to do something supernatural and amazing because I'm going to create out of you a sort of a nomad, nothing type person, one of the greatest nations on the earth so people will see who I am. And then here's the conditions. You must follow me and obey me and keep my law. And Abraham agrees. And then he has this amazing experience in Genesis 17 where God tells him to take these different animals and he cuts them in half and there's a dripping of blood between them and he sits down and he waits till sun sets and then a fire comes and the spirit and the presence of God burns through and he seals this covenant. And then here's the sign.

Circumcise all your males. This day forward it'll be a sign that you are my people and I am your God. And we have then the same thing happened with Moses and the law and the sign is the Sabbath. And then we have, you know when you hear the word New Testament, you know what testament means?

It's a synonym for covenant. God made this vow I so love everyone who breathes upon the earth that I'm going to send my only son fully man and fully God to come and live a perfect life and teach and heal and raise people from the dead and authenticate and reveal who I am, the Father, full of grace and truth. And after he does that he's going to die upon a cross and he'll be raised from the dead and who so ever would believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life. There's the vow. The condition you must receive, turn from your sin and receive Christ as your savior to have eternal life.

It was ratified how? Jesus shed his blood. The symbol, the moment a person turns from your sin and receives Christ the spirit of God is a down payment.

Actually the Bible calls it a deposit, a guarantee, living inside of you. And so this is very very serious stuff. Lady came up and she was sharing her story last night and it went something like this. She felt really bad about it and she'd been married a long time and she eventually filed for divorce and as she sat last night she realized I didn't have any biblical grounds for divorce and she kind of wanted to work through it a little bit and came up and basically said a lot of sort of mild excuses of how unfulfilled she was and I thought I've been there. And then it was kind of like but I know God's just a really nice guy and he probably is winking at this one and it won't matter too much, right?

And I would have loved to have said, right? But I can't. In Leviticus, God after making the covenant says, if you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain and season and the ground will yield its crops and the trees and their fields will have fruit. I will grant peace to the land.

No one will make you afraid. I'll remove the savage beast from the land and the sword will not come near you. I will look upon you, he says, if you keep the covenant, I'll look upon you with favor and I'll make you fruitful and increase in numbers and I will keep, this is God speaking, I will keep my covenant with you. He goes on to say and then I'll walk among you. I will be your God. You will be my people. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt so that you can no longer be slaves to the Egyptians.

I broke the bars of your yoke. I enabled you to walk with your heads held high. This is God saying, I had a plan, I had a design, I'm the engineer, I love you, I delivered you, I want to be with you now. We made a covenant about how we're going to do life together.

And if you keep it, woo, because I love you, I've got some restrictions and some things to follow that allow you to get the highest and the best for me. But then it goes on, but if you do not listen to me and carry out all these commands and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, then I will do this to you. I will bring upon you sudden terror and wasting disease and fever that will destroy your sight and drain your life. You'll plant seeds in vain because your enemies will eat them. I will set my face against you and you'll be defeated by your enemies. If after I do this you still will not listen, I'll punish you for your sins seven times over and I will break your stubborn pride and make the skies from above like iron and the ground beneath like bronze. In other words, life's going to be hard and it won't work. And if you still remain hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, I'll multiply your affliction seven times over.

And it goes on, he says this two or three more times. Some of you sitting in this room are thinking, you know what, I think I love God, how come my life's not working? How come my job's not working? How come this is going wrong? How come my kids are going that direction?

How come this is happening this way? I got news for you. You violate God's covenant. Is He loving and kind and willing to forgive?

Absolutely. He's also just and holy. And we have a generation of Christians that have blown off.

There's not a nickel's worth of difference between the Christian marriage and non-Christian marriages. And if you can't figure out why you're having a lot of problems, maybe today the lights come on. But here's what you got to know. There's hope. But the hope isn't trying harder. The hope is getting back to the designer, the engineer, the blueprint, and saying, God, you know, for some of you, you don't even know what the design is.

I mean, if someone gave me a Ferrari, I'd tell you what, I wouldn't know what to put in other than gas. And so God is going to help you and me understand this is how I designed it, because I want spiritual, soul, and physical oneness and intimacy at such a level that your neighbors and your friends and coworkers would say to you, like, man, you've been married like quite a while. Yeah.

You're going on a date. Why? You pray together? Yeah. Your kids actually like you? I mean, you're like, like you talk about your wife like you're hot for her. Why? Because I am.

Where do you get that? Everyone else is trading in new models. Everyone else is just trying to figure out how to get for them, only to find out that the outside isn't nearly what it was promised to be. Marriage is a holy covenant initiated by a vow and ratified by blood. Let me give you a definition for marriage.

Are you ready? Marriage is an irrevocable commitment of unconditional love toward an imperfect person. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram, and he'll be back to continue our series, Marriage That Works, in just a minute. But let me quickly tell you that we are more than a broadcast ministry. We're supporting pastors globally, developing helpful resources, and sharing the gospel with this next generation.

So if you'd like to join us in these efforts, become a monthly partner by going to, and thanks for your support. Well, here again is Chip. That's what marriage is. That's what a holy covenant is, an irrevocable commitment. Well, what's it look like? Three distinct aspects of this, and we'll develop these later, but I want to give you the picture of, okay, then how does it actually work?

It's real serious. Genesis 2.24, for this cause a man will leave his father and mother, will cleave to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. The leave is a separation from. God's blueprint is you leave former relationships, former family, financial strings, emotional strings, and when you have a problem, you don't run to mommy, you don't run to daddy, you don't run to friends, you say, this is really, really hard, but I'm going to leave them, and my new focus is you. In Indonesia, when a young woman is going to get married, she takes her dolls, and she takes the things of her childhood, and she invites all of her girlfriends, and they have a little party, and she looks at all the different things that she had, and then there's a bonfire, and she burns it. And she realizes her old life is gone, and there'll be a new life where she's leaving her family, and there's a new family that's going to be created. So you leave, and then you cleave. The word is a picture of epoxy glue. It's a picture of a coming together where you are stuck together. It's where, I mean, if you took a pint of my blood, and a pint of Teresa's blood, and put it in a beaker, and then mixed it up, you'd be hard-pressed to know whose is whom, right?

That's a picture of this. It's your lives. It's not just that you live together. It's that you actually become one, and so there's no more me or her.

It's always us. There's no more I. I cleave together with her, and then the result is you become one flesh, and notice the tense of that verb. It's a process. I've been to counseling to become one flesh. I've read books to become one flesh.

I've had to stop at different intervals of my life, been totally stuck and not known. What do I need to do to go to a mentor to become one flesh? Becoming spiritually, soul, and physically one flesh, when you come out of baggage, let me just tell you this. It'll be the hardest work you'll ever do in your life with the greatest reward.

The hardest work. 99% of the marriages in this room would be amazing 18 months from now. If you said, you know something? I know I got to put bread on the table, but this one thing I'm going to do. I'm going to figure out how to get close to God, and I'm going to figure out how to get close to you, and whatever we need to deal with, we're going to deal with. We're going to learn to resolve our anger. We're going to learn to communicate. We're going to talk. We're going to read books together. We're going to take walks. Whatever we need to do, that's what we're going to do, and I'll guarantee this. You do that for 18 months, and you'll come back, and you'll say, I cannot believe what we now experience, and instead what we want is a shortcut.

Instead, what we want is a quick fix. It doesn't work that way. Because marriage is a covenant and not merely a contract, there's four very specific implications. Number one, divorce is not an option. Malachi 2 14, we've read in verse 16, God goes on to say, I hate divorce.

Now, I do understand that there are times, in fact, I'm one of those people. There are times when divorce is unavoidable. I think there's two very clear biblical times when God allows for divorce, and I do understand this, okay? I understand there's a lot of people sitting in this room that you've had a divorce, and you're thinking to yourself, my mate wasn't sexually unfaithful, and they were not an unbeliever who abandoned me. And if those are the two stipulations for divorce, then I messed up. And what I want you to know is, when you divorce without biblical grounds, of course there's consequences. But it's not the unpardonable sin. And God forgives that just like he does affairs, and sexual sins, and stealing, and lying, and murder, and I have a whole book of men and women who've done really not healthy things that have been forgiven and then been greatly used and greatly loved by God.

But I will tell you, divorce is not an option. I remember my very first difficult, painful, you know that moment, and if you're married, you know, and if you're not married, you'll get this later as God would allow. But it was the first big major whoosh that Teresa and I had. And I was hurt, and wounded, and angry, and I slammed the door, and I got in my car, and I drove out there, and I thought, man, I've got the wrong person. I can't believe she said that. I can't believe she did this.

What's wrong with her? And I mean, I just want it out. And I thought, these are terrible feelings. But I've never, when I've gotten real close, especially to men and we've talked deeply, I don't know a man I've ever met that someday didn't feel like, man, I want out of this.

And it got so angry and so hurt. And what happens is, the moment you start thinking of that, options start coming to your mind. Other people start looking better.

You stop working as much. And I remember God brought a picture to my mind about covenant and what it meant. And I had a friend who discipled and helped me, he was a bricklayer, and I had this picture where my wife lives, it's a mountain. You walk right out of the door, and I mean, it's all rock, and someone cut out all the rock, and it's about a room, 10 by 10, and there's a little spring of water, and there's an exercise bike, there's no TV, and there's plenty of food. And then Teresa and I walked into this 10 by 10 room, and my friend the bricklayer with big hay dot block, he just started filling in the doorway.

And then he waved, and then he just filled it in. And I'm in this 10 by 10 room with Teresa. And yeah, I mean, I can sulk, I can go to this corner, and she can go to that corner, there's plenty of food, I can even get a workout if I want to. And I can spend my time going, you know, she's not very sensitive to me, and she's not very affectionate, and I don't know what to do in the end.

And she can be over here going, boy, he's not very sensitive, and all he does is think about, you know, sports and this and that, and I can't believe it. But you know what, when you're stuck in this room, at some point you say, this isn't any fun. So whatever it needs to do, I guess we better sit down and talk about how we get this resolved.

And I remember that word picture became covenant for me. And what I've known, I can share anything with my wife, and she can share anything with me, because what we both know is, no one's going anywhere. That's why living together doesn't work. That's why intimacy can't happen if you think there's an exit clause. Divorce is not an option, and it's the key to intimacy. Second, adultery is a serious covenant breaking offense.

Proverbs 2 talks about, it's where people end up on a pathway to death. No one wins when there's adultery. Third, sex before marriage is a violation of this holy covenant. Marriage should be held by honor, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and the sexually immoral. And so if you're living together, or if you're single and sleeping around, or if you're not single and sleeping around, or if you're logging on to websites, stop it. So I need to know God's will.

Here's God's will. Stop it, and then repent. That kind of sex is not about love. It's about you. It's about lust.

It's about things that are broken inside of you. And you just need to say, okay, is it hard? Really hard. I mean, some people will need to go home, and by the way, you don't have a meeting to break up, you know, you call and say, this is over. And that's, is that hard?

Is there security issues? Is there what about, what about? Absolutely. Now, you just have to ask, what kind of marriage do you really want? And finally, same-sex relationships are forbidden as a violation of God's design. 1 Corinthians 6, 9, and 10 says, Do not be deceived. Neither the sexually immoral, or idolaters, or adulterers, nor men who have sex with men will inherit the kingdom of God. God has equal opportunity judgment on heterosexual and homosexual sins. That's not what's best. That's not what delivers intimacy and grace and the kind of relationship he wants.

So any type of sexual activity that will harm you and keep you from getting the best, God says, don't. And there are guardrails, because he loves you. And the first step is always to turn and repent. And say, God, I need help.

And you won't be able to do it on your own. And if some of you just feel like, oh my lands, I'm so far away, could you please hear God's heart? He didn't bring you here to make you feel bad.

He brought you here to make you aware so you could stop, turn, be forgiven, and get on a new path. If you're single, to prepare for the kind of relationship he wants, that's great. If you're married, to keep working at it. And if you're divorced, if there's any possibility of reconciliation, to even ponder that. You're listening to Living on the Edge with Chip Ingram, and the message you just heard, Marriage, a Holy Covenant, is from our series, Marriage That Works.

Chip will join us in studio to share some insights from today's talk in just a minute. Are you looking to strengthen your marriage or lay the groundwork for a healthy relationship in the future? In this 10-part series, you'll get helpful marital advice through Chip's study in Ephesians chapter five.

Discover the biblical basics to creating and maintaining a deep intimate bond with your spouse. If you've missed any part of this series, Marriage That Works, catch up through the Chip Ingram app or at Well, before we go any further in today's program, here's Chip.

Thanks so much, Dave. I want to take just a moment to talk about something today that's very important. God, to my amazement, and it humbles me, is using Living on the Edge in incredible ways.

And I just have to tell you, we get testimonies from people about restoration, and healing, and God using them to help other people. And then I want to tell you very, very candidly that we are very serious about using the money and the resources that God gives very carefully and very wisely. But I also want to bring to your attention that it actually takes money for airtime and these teams that create these resources and all the things that happen behind Living on the Edge. There's a group of people with costs involved that allow you to hear me, or be in a small group, or get teaching.

And here's who I'm talking to. If you have been helped, encouraged, I mean literally blessed by Living on the Edge, and you happen to be one of those people that has never given financially to the ministry, I just want to just pause and say, would you consider partnering with us to help us help other people? And maybe it's a one-time gift, maybe it's a small amount that you want to do monthly. I don't know. Here's the deal. Would you just be willing to say, Lord, do you want me to do this? And for some of you, you can't. That's fine.

But just ask that honest question. And if God leads you to give, I will tell you we'll use it wisely, we'll invest it in ministry, and we're going to help a lot of people. So thanks for prayerfully considering to do whatever God chose you to do.

Thanks, Chip. Well, if you're already a financial partner, thank you. With your help, Living on the Edge is ministering to more people than ever. But if you're benefiting from Chip's teaching and haven't yet taken that step, now would be a great time to join the team. To send a gift or to become a monthly partner, go to or call us at 888-333-6003. That's 888-333-6003 or go to App listeners, just tap donate.

We appreciate your support. Well, Chip, in the past couple of programs, you've described how marriage is a covenant as opposed to a contract. And today you gave us four radical implications of understanding why God created it that way. Would you take a minute and review those and then give maybe a few next steps we can take to protect the covenants we've made? Well, Dave, there's four specific implications for a covenant marriage, and I went through them rather quickly. But number one, divorce is not an option. Now, we're not saying, as I taught, that it can never happen and people can't break the covenant, but divorce is not an option.

The fact that we're not getting along, that changes the whole world when divorce is not an option. Number two, adultery is a serious covenant-breaking offense. Three, sex before marriage is a violation of God's holy covenant. And four, same-sex relationships are forbidden.

I mean, those are very, very radical thoughts in the church. Those are things that people are challenging right now. But when you see this relationship as a holy covenant that represents God's heart, it is that level of commitment that takes you through the thick and the thin and the difficult and the pain. And what I've learned over the years is people bail out under pressure, and what the culture has done has given us lots of good reasons when we can bail out and how it's going to be okay.

But if you would just interview all those people five years after that divorce and after the breakups, they would tell you, boy, life is not better. And so this covenant is always about grace and protection. Now, the last thing you said is, what's some next steps? Number one, I would say make it a priority to work hard. And as I teach through this series, people that have never heard me teach on marriage, I'm going to be real honest, real candid. We had big struggles. We came from dysfunctional homes.

I mean, our parents loved us, but we had to work super, super hard. And so I would tell everyone, you really want to have a great marriage. You got to say, this matters. We're going to block off time, and we need to do this with some other people. And here's the deal. Marriages are falling apart and kids are getting destroyed. If you understand God's design, He will deliver you.

Get committed to your marriage, work hard, and see what He'll do. Thanks for that word, Chip. And in case you missed some of the points Chip just reviewed, they're pulled straight from his message notes, which is a tool available for every program. So let me encourage you to get this resource before you listen to us again. Chip's notes include his outline, the scripture he references, and fill-ins to help you remember what you're learning. They'll really help you get the most out of every program. Chip's message notes are a quick download at, under the broadcasts tab, app listeners tap fill-in notes. Well, for Chip and the entire team here, this is Dave Druey, thanking you for listening to this Edition of Living on the Edge.
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