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1151. Four Things You Need to Know Before You Say “I Do”

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University
The Truth Network Radio
December 27, 2021 7:00 pm

1151. Four Things You Need to Know Before You Say “I Do”

The Daily Platform / Bob Jones University

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December 27, 2021 7:00 pm

Dr. Steve Pettit continues a series entitled “Divine Design” with a message titled “Four Things You Need to Know Before You Say ‘I Do,'” from Ephesians 5.

The post 1151. Four Things You Need to Know Before You Say “I Do” appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.

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Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. Today on The Daily Platform, we're continuing a study series entitled Divine Design, which is a study of biblical manhood and biblical womanhood. Today's message will be preached by BJU President Steve Pettit. I'd like to ask you to take your Bibles this morning and turn with me please to the book of Ephesians, Ephesians chapter 5. We'll actually look at a number of verses this morning, but we will make our primary focal point on these verses towards the end of the message. Last time we met together, I spoke on some basic principles concerning marriage and the things that I had learned as a college student by studying the 24th chapter of Genesis and those principles became guideposts for me and they were very helpful.

I hope it was helpful the last time you were here that you were able to hear the message. Today I'd like to continue to be practical and I want to talk to you about four things that you need to know before you say I do. Now there are going to be a number of you that are going to be married here in the next three or four months or the next six months and in some cases, a number of you will be married in the next year to year and a half. And so as you enter into this marriage relationship, there are some things that you need to understand.

So I'd like to just make them very simple, they'll be very simple things this morning, very practical and I hope very helpful. The first thing I'd like to say this morning that you need to know before you get married is that marriage actually requires work. If you want your marriage to work, you actually have to work at it. Marriage is not a hallmark movie.

Somebody said a hallmark movie is a movie shown on television that has the same basic plot as 50 or more other movies on the same network. Marriage is not a hallmark movie. Marriage is more like a long sports season where you have ups and downs, frustrating practices, nagging injuries, great wins, tough losses, the need of occasional motivational speeches, periods of exhaustion during the season and times you want to quit the team. That's really what marriage is more like. If you want your marriage to work, you have to work at it.

The Bible says in Philippians 2 13, work out your own salvation. Now think with me, if spiritual growth requires diligent effort, then surely this would include building a good marriage. And when you get married, you need to decide from day one, even not from the marriage, but from the dating and through the engagement in everything that's involved that you build on the right foundation. Maybe you ask this morning, should love be this hard? It would seem like it would be more natural. You love each other.

You want to be with each other and you like each other and therefore it should be more simple. We have the tendency to believe the movies that when people meet that perfect one, they live happily ever after. So who has a happily ever after marriage? I read recently about a married couple once upon a time who celebrated who they were celebrating their 25th marriage anniversary. They had become so famous in their city for not having a single conflict in their marriage for 25 years that the community wanted to celebrate it. And so the local newspaper editor comes to the celebration and he wants to find out what's the secret to their happily ever after marriage. And so the newspaper editor asks a question.

He says, it's unbelievable. How is it that this kind of marriage can be possible today? And so the man looked at this editor and he said, well, it actually all started in our honeymoon. He said, when we went on our honeymoon, we decided to go horseback riding one day. And so my horse was pretty good, but my wife's horse was a little sketchy. Well, while we were riding on the trail, my wife's horse got spooked suddenly and threw my wife off the horse. My wife got up from the ground, patted the horses back very kindly and calmly said, that's your first time. Well, she climbed back on the horse and she continued with the ride. And after a while it happened again and my wife was thrown off the horse. And this time she got up, kept calm and said to the horse, that's your second time.

And she continued to ride. When the horse threw her off the third time, she very silently took a pistol out of her purse and shot the horse. The husband said, I shouted at my wife, what are you doing? You killed this poor animal.

Are you crazy? And she looked at me and calmly said, that's your first time. Well, we've lived happily ever after ever since. That's about the only happily ever after marriage. If you want marriage to, to work, you got to work at it. Today, the divorce rate hovers around 50% of all marriages. So why do people get the divorce? And you can go online and Google in the number one reason people get divorced and you'll find out it's money or unfaithfulness or incompatibility or irreconcilable differences.

But I think the primary reason is a lack of initial investment on both sides. You have to be invested in your relationship. And when you get married, you don't think that way because you like each other.

I mean you like each other like you like hot dogs and hamburgers and movies and all kinds of stuff. But then after a while you're married, you find out you don't like each other about certain things. Mr. Benson said to me this morning, it's like the woman who got married and she thought she married her knight in shining armor on a white horse.

And five years later she realized she married the horse. And so sometimes you find out there are things about each other you don't like. So you have to work at it. And if you're not committed to working at your marriage, it's not going to work.

So that's the first thing. Number two, if you want your marriage to work, if you want to get married, you need to understand that not only does marriage take work, but marriage is all about change. You need to think, we have a tendency to think marriage is all about love and that's okay, it's not wrong as long as you define love as changing. Because that's what has to happen. You actually have to become different. You have to become different as a person.

And nothing changes a person more than getting married. A number of years ago I was working with our evangelistic team and I got really, and actually it was at the end of the semester and they were actually about to leave the team and I'd come to like, some of them had been traveling with me two and three years and to be honest with you, I was so frustrated with them. I was frustrated with the fact that they were so immature and they irritated me.

And one day I met with them and I remember it was in the back of the church in the baptismal room, this little room with a table we were meeting there and I sat down, I looked at them, I said, you know what? I said, just go get married. And they looked at me, well five out of the six of them were getting married within the next two months. And I said, it's time for you to get married because I've done everything I can do with you and it's not going to work. You got to go get married.

Why? Because when you get married, you got to change. You have to change. Getting married doesn't solve your problems. Getting married reveals your problems because guess what? The person you get married to finds out what you're really like. It exposes the real you. It brings out your fears, your self-centeredness, your insecurities, your natural inbred anger and irritations, your laziness, your expectations, your family traits, your frustrations, your demands, you're bent towards manipulation.

You get married, you come into this marriage and you find out how each other thinks. When my wife and I got married, my wife grew up in a family where when the gas needle, that was back in the days when they had gas needles on the gas tank in the car. When the gas needle got down to one half, her dad always filled it up. So one half means half empty. And that was the way she thought about it.

And then she married me. I never kept my gas needle at half. I thought, why waste money on gasoline? I always kept it slightly above E. Number one, I didn't want to spend the money.

Number two, I love the thrill of beating the odds one more time. And so we got married and my wife came in one day and she was, my wife was going to go out shopping and she came back in after she went out to the car and she says, the gas is on a quarter of a tank. I went, oh, you got plenty of gasoline.

You can ride around all day long. Don't worry about it. Well, she did that for a while until one day she ran out of gasoline in a bad part of town. And so it created no small stir among the brethren.

And you know what? I had to change. It wasn't my, I could have said, it's your fault.

Where's your faith? Because we always have a tendency to blame the other person for the problem. But I was the problem. I had to change. Marriage is maximum exposure and it's all about change. Traditionally, one of the classic purposes of marriage was to change men. In the past, men married knowing that it meant a great deal of personal alteration. Marriage meant that the man had to settle down. A man would have to learn to conduct himself in a new and more interdependent relationship that would require mutual submission, support, and teamwork. The Bible says in 1 Peter 3 7, husbands dwell with your wife according to knowledge. That means to live with your wife and to focus on her and on her needs, to become sensitive and understanding to meet her needs. Unfortunately, many men are about as sensitive as an 18-wheeler Mack truck.

So they have to learn. You have to understand each other's needs and you have to understand each other's fears. Do you ever stop to think what is the greatest fear of a woman and the greatest fear of a man going into marriage? What is the greatest fear of a woman? Generally, the answer is her greatest fear is abandonment. She's afraid her husband will abandon her. And that abandonment doesn't necessarily mean divorce.

It could be things as simple as neglect, distraction. I mean, he's really interested in you before you get married and you get married and after a while he becomes disinterested or other things begin to capture his attention. He becomes irresponsible and soon there's a distance between the two of you and it can lead all the way to divorce and ultimately to another woman coming into life. So the fear of a woman is abandonment, so therefore what's the husband to do? He's to provide security through love.

Perfect love casts out fear. The husband has to become the protector. He has to become the provider. He has to become the spiritual leader of the home. I'm going to be frankly honest with you, the greatest threat to my marriage, the greatest threat to my marriage externally is working at Bob Jones University. You know why?

Because it's so demanding. And my wife and I for the first 35 years of our marriage pretty much were together all the time. I was an evangelist.

We lived in a trailer. We traveled together. We worked together. We did stuff all the time. Now I'll leave sometimes at 7, 6.30 in the morning, come home at 10 or 11 o'clock at night and do that day after day after day after day. And do you know what happens over time?

A distance takes place. And so the biggest threat to my marriage is working here at Bob Jones University. I'm just being honest with you. And so therefore even after 38 years of marriage, you have to pay attention. And a man has to pay attention to his wife. So what's the greatest fear of a man? The greatest fear of a man is not abandonment, it's embarrassment. That is somehow his wife will embarrass him physically, socially, publicly, intellectually. And the wife therefore has to learn to treat her husband with respect and honor and encouragement.

A wife should be the cheerleader in the home, not the criticizer. When I would come home from work when I was a youth pastor and my girls were small, 3 and 1 year old, they would always meet me at the front door because my wife would hear me pull up in the driveway and she would say to the girls, daddy's home, daddy's home. And then I would open the front door and the girls would be standing there and my wife would be standing there and the little girls would scream, daddy's home.

And you know what? I loved it. I was being embraced.

I was being welcomed home. Perhaps that's why men get angry with their wives. Husbands love your wives and don't be bitter against them.

Why? Because of so much embarrassment. So what we have to do is we have to understand that marriage requires change. And if you are thinking about getting married and you don't want to change, then think twice about marriage. Because you enter into it with the willingness to serve and become a different person. Then number three, the third thing I'd like to say is this, that you can actually be happily married.

I want to say that for your own benefit. A lot of young people today often have a misperception of marriage and happiness. In some places they become very pessimistic.

Why? Because you've heard people say that almost everyone they know who's gotten married aren't happy. And with so many divorces, why risk it?

And it's just better to wait for the perfect person. Somebody said marriage is a three ring circus, engagement ring, wedding ring, and suffering. Somebody says what's the difference between love and marriage? Love is blind, marriage is an eye opener.

And so it's almost as if you hear these horror stories of people get married and you think man I don't want to go through that. And I think it's important to know that many who struggle to be happy in their marriage are struggling because of a couple of reasons. Number one, the first reason is because they haven't been married that long. In other words, when you hear somebody say they're not happy in marriage, how long have they been married? Three years. Wow, that's really long.

Three years. Do you realize, folks, that good relationships take a long time? A good marriage has to mature.

There will be always struggles throughout your marriage, however, many of the deeper struggles are when you're younger, maturing, and you're having to overcome yourself. When I was a student here at Bob Jones, I lived a couple of years with a wonderful, precious widow lady named Mrs. Leonard Haynes. She was a godly woman. She had been married to a doctor and he had passed away.

She had raised five children. And one day I asked her, I said, Mrs. Haynes, what is the key to marriage? And she looked at me and she said, the two bears.

Bear and forebear. You know what she said? She said love requires a lot of patience. If the first practical definition of love is love is patient and kind, then that's exactly what you have to learn in marriage.

You have to learn to be patient and kind. I would say in the 38 years of my marriage, the most difficult year was my sixth year of marriage. It really wasn't my wife's fault. It was totally my fault. But what happened is over time and circumstances, God began to deal with me about my wrong thinking and it was based on expectations.

I had certain expectations in marriage and my wife was not fulfilling those expectations. Fact is one day, I remember, we were traveling down the highway and we were coming out of Cincinnati, Ohio into Kentucky. We were making our way up I-75 and my wife turned to me in the truck. We were traveling.

I was an evangelist. And she looked at me and she said, you know what? You want something out of me I can never give you. Only God can give it to you.

Boom! That's exactly the way I felt. Because I had expectations and my thinking was wrong because I was selfish. And oftentimes what marriage does is it roots down into the core of your being and starts bringing out some of that ugly selfishness that's there that your parents couldn't get out.

That not even you could get out because you had to be put in a circumstance to see what's there. And God broke me over a major area of selfishness in my life. Two-thirds of those who are unhappy could become happy within five years if they'll just stick it out, stay married and grow and mature. It took me ten years in marriage to understand that everything I wanted to see change in my wife's life was simply a mirror reflecting what needed to change in my life. When I would look at my wife wishing she would change that, what God was saying is here's a mirror of yourself, you are the one that needs to change. Because folks, you can't change anybody else including your wife, but you can change yourself by the grace of God.

And every time I pointed a finger at my wife, I wish you would change that, I have three fingers pointing back at myself. And it's a lesson that you have to learn about life, that it takes time to change so you have to give yourself the time. And that's why often times people are unhappy.

But there's a second reason. And that is I believe that often times people struggle to be happy in marriage because of the fact that they have a wrong understanding of the purpose of marriage. Traditionally, what was the purpose of marriage?

Think about it. Traditionally marriage was to create a structure for lifelong devotion between a husband and a wife. Marriage was viewed as a solemn bond, a commitment where each person set aside their own desires and interests in the favor of the relationship. In marriage, children would be brought into the world and a family was created and that family became a place of stability where children could grow up and thrive. And the two people in marriage could serve the common good, they could be a blessing and a benefit to the community and ultimately marriage became a representation of Jesus and his church. If I could sum it up, the meaning and fulfillment in marriage is found through self-denial, through giving up your freedoms and binding yourself to the duties of marriage and family. That's been the traditional viewpoint of marriage. And you know a lot of people have rejected that because it seems oppressive.

Because it's actually not about you. However, the viewpoint of many people today is different. They have a more non-traditional secular mindset and in this viewpoint, the meaning in life can only come when an individual is free to choose the life that most fulfills him or her personally.

So what does it look like? Well, they want a marriage in which they can receive emotional and sexual satisfaction from somebody who will simply let them be themselves. They want a spouse who is fun, intellectually stimulating, sexually attractive with many common interests and who on top of it all is supportive of their goals and of the way they're living now and will not put a lot of demands on you. They're looking for a spouse who's put together, somebody who's low maintenance, without many personal problems. They are looking for someone who will not require or demand significant change. They're looking for the ideal person who is happy, who is healthy, who is interesting and contented with life. You could say it this way, they're looking for the perfect one. One writer said, never before in history has there been a society filled with people so idealistic in what they're seeking in a spouse and if you don't think that's true, then watch The Bachelor or The Bachelorette.

On second thought, don't watch it. But what is ironic is that this non-traditional view actually puts a bigger burden on a person because they have to be perfect and if they're not perfect, they're rejected. How can two people be compatible together who are not perfect?

And the answer goes back to point one and point two. Marriage takes work and marriage requires change. And I just want to say to many of you, many of you sitting in this room, you have been blessed to grow up in a Christian home where you have observed not a perfect marriage but you've observed a good marriage, a happy marriage. Perhaps there are more of you who have this example that has been set before you than any other university in the world because you grew up in a Christian home. However, many of you have had negative examples. Does that limit you?

Absolutely not. My own parents were divorced. My dad definitely was not happy in marriage towards the end of it. So, is there a possibility for us to have a good marriage? And the answer is yes and that leads me to the last point and that is there is a secret to marriage. And what is the secret? Ephesians 5 verse 31. For this call shall a man leave his father and mother and shall be joined unto his wife and the two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery.

But I speak concerning Christ and the church. Paul is telling us that there's a secret to marriage. What is a secret? He calls it a mystery. A mystery is a wonderful, unlooked for truth that God is revealing through His Spirit.

And he calls it not just a mystery but he calls it a mega mystery, a great mystery. So what is the great secret to marriage? And Paul tells us, he says the answer to marriage is the Gospel. If you understand the Gospel then you understand how marriage is to work. For what does Paul say to the husband and the wife? Husbands love your wife even as what?

Christ loved the church. Wives, what are you supposed to do? Reverence your husband as the church reverences Christ. In the Gospel message, what do we have?

We have the secret to marriage. Paul saw, one commentator said it this way, Paul saw that when God designed the original marriage in Adam and Eve, He already had Christ in the church in mind. If God had the Gospel in mind when He established marriage in the Garden of Eden, then marriage can only work to the degree that it is close to the pattern of the Gospel. Because the Gospel gives you the pattern and the power of marriage.

The Gospel says this, you're more sinful and flawed than you could ever imagine. And the Gospel says you're more loved and accepted than you could ever imagine. In marriage, two flawed people can grow in love together through Christ's love. The Gospel fills our heart with God's love so that you can handle your spouse when they fail to love you as they should. Because your security is not found in your spouse, your security is found in God's love for you. We are free to see our spouse's flaws and yet still love them and accept them.

Why? Because God loves us and God accepts us. And through marriage we gain a greater understanding of the sacrifice of Jesus. Jesus gave of Himself, He denied Himself for us. And we begin to understand that because marriage requires long suffering.

And that's exactly what happens. You put up with, you suffer. And in that suffering, you learn to love. And the Gospel will provide the power you need to live this life through our relationship with Jesus Christ. That's the secret to marriage. So let me conclude with this.

Let me recommend three things. Number one, I recommend, highly recommend, that you memorize two passages of Scripture. Ephesians 5, 25 to 33. If you haven't memorized it, you need to memorize it. If you get married, you need to memorize this. And then you need to memorize 1 Corinthians 13 verses 4-8, love is patient and kind, love is not, bond is not itself, so forth. I would recommend, you know why? Because when you get married you're going to wear those verses out.

You're going to run them through your mind over and over and over. Secondly, I recommend highly that when you get married that you in your very core of your marriage commit yourself to the local church. There's a tendency to get married and then sort of church is over here and yeah, we'll figure that out. I want to say to you from the very start, if you're committed to marriage you're committed to the church.

Why? Because the church and Christ are a picture of marriage. You can't separate the church from marriage. If you do, it will create all kinds of problems in your life. When you get married, you need to be committed to the New Testament local church and then finally, you need to commit yourself to spend time with God in prayer and the Bible every day.

Why? Because that's the means of a grace filled, loving life. My wife said to me one day, she said, Steve, I am so glad you pray. I said, why are you glad I pray? She says, because when you come out of the prayer closet, you're a lot nicer than you were before you went into the prayer closet. The hope for marriage is grace.

And that's the way that it works. And I believe if you'll take these simple truths that God will bless you with a happy marriage. Father, thank you for your word. Thank you for your grace and bless what's been said today in Jesus name. Amen. You've been listening to a sermon preached by Bob Jones University President, Dr. Steve Pettit about biblical manhood and biblical womanhood. Join us again tomorrow as we continue this series on The Daily Platform.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-04 11:36:55 / 2023-07-04 11:47:17 / 10

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