You must approach marriage in such a way that divorce will never be an option for you.
This is how you must think about your marriage, that you won't even entertain the thought for a moment. Thanks for joining us on the Truth Pulpit with Don Green, founding pastor of Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. I'm Bill Wright, and today as he continues teaching God's people God's Word, Don wraps up a refresher on marriage.
As he moves further into our larger series on family, titled A Refresher on the Family. Last time Don established some major principles that define a good godly marriage. He reminded us that marriage is a permanent union and an exclusive one. We'll also look at intimacy and of course love. Naturally, as our culture tries to redefine marriage, it also attempts to do the same with love itself. And that's why a firm biblical understanding is so vital to believers and to a healthy society as well.
So have your Bible handy, friend, and let's join Pastor Don Green now in the Truth Pulpit. You see, God commands us to share that intimacy with our spouses. It's part of the design of marriage. It's intended to be an intimate union. And so while it's not to be shared outside of marriage, it is fully intended to be shared inside the marriage bed. That intimacy should not be used as a weapon of punishment.
It should not be used as a weapon of payback for something else that went on. You got to leave that stuff outside of the marriage bed and gladly, joyfully share that intimacy with one another. That's the design of God on marriage. Over in Hebrews chapter 13, it said, marriage is to be held in honor among all, Hebrews 13 verse 4.
Marriage is to be held in honor among all and the marriage bed is to be undefiled for fornicators and adulterers God will judge. And so God intended marriage to be an expression of the deepest of intimacy. It's an intimate union that expresses the relational unity that is expressed in the idea of two becoming one flesh. It's an intimate union by God's design, commanded to be shared with one another.
Now, with all of that, recognizing the vulnerability that that sometimes represents for people, you know, you've got a spouse that's hurt you, I get that. But fourthly, and what makes all of this work in the design of God is this fourth point, is that marriage is to be a loving union. Marriage is a loving union. Turn over to Ephesians chapter 5. Marriage is a loving union, Ephesians chapter 5. Marriage actually pictures the love that Christ has for his church.
And I know that you're familiar with this passage. Ephesians chapter 5. But just as human marriage is meant to be permanent and exclusive and intimate, so also the relationship between Christ in a spiritual way is permanent, exclusive, and intimate. We are in full union with our Lord Jesus Christ, and we're in a union with him that is dominated by his love. Ephesians chapter 5 verse 25, speaking to husbands, says, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her, so that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she would be holy and blameless.
So husbands also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself, for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. And so as he's explaining marriage, he's explaining the relationship between Christ and the church, and there's this interconnection between the two that makes them perfect illustrations of one another. Christ self-sacrificed his own life for the sake of his church. His love nourishes and cherishes us, even to this moment, even as we're here under the teaching of his Word. Christ is loving us, nourishing us, cherishing us, keeping us, preserving us, all the way to the culmination of our salvation in heaven. What loving, total, thorough care he shows for us. Paul says the way that Christ deals with the church is the way that husbands are to love their wives.
It's a picture. And so God designed marriage to be permanent, to be exclusive, to be intimate, to be an expression of sacrifice and love one to another. That's a refresher on marriage. That's what marriage is supposed to be like.
Now, what does this mean for you? Let's talk about this to single people first of all. Talk to single people. Some of you are happy in your singleness. Some of you are a tad impatient.
That's all right. But to you, I would say, let God's plan for marriage shape the kind of spouse that you seek. You see, if you approach marriage with this high exalted view of what God intended it to be and realize that this is the biblical standard, don't let impatience compromise your standards. Don't let the passage of a calendar, the turn of a calendar, somehow diminish the level of conviction and commitment that you bring to honor this institution of marriage with the way that you approach the possibility of marriage. Charles Spurgeon said this, speaking about the idea of a Christian marrying a non-Christian, he said in his unique pastoral way, he said it can never add to the comfort of any Christian man or woman to be unequally yoked together with an unbeliever. You are far better to remain in the cold of your unmarried life than to warm your hands at the fire of an unhallowed marriage.
First of all, let me say that I know many of you singles are waiting patiently, and you're committed to an elevated view of marriage, and you're not going to sacrifice your pursuit just for the sake of a calendar that's turned once again. I appreciate that about you. I realize you're swimming against the tide on that, not only in what culture and family expects from you, but even sometimes what your own desires would push you to do. Good for you. God is going to honor your commitment to wait for a godly Christian spouse.
No question about it. Good for you, and this church fully supports you in that without qualification. You will never hear this pastor speaking jokingly about how you should hurry up and get married. Sometimes that's not within your control. Sometimes you don't have the opportunity. Sometimes you've had to sort through relationships and realize, you know what, this guy is not fit to marry. This girl was never right.
And you cut off the relationship at the cost of heartache. Good for you. Good for you. You're paying a price for being a godly Christian.
I commend you for it. On the other side of that, let me just say that if you're here as a professing Christian, you should not be pursuing an unbeliever. You shouldn't be dating unbelievers, someone who lacks the conviction to fulfill God's plan for marriage.
How could we do that? How could we on the one hand say, I love Christ supremely, I recognize the high exalted place that this has in His order, and I realize that our marriage is supposed to be a reflection of the love between Christ and the church. How can you take that intellectual understanding of marriage and say, okay, I'm going to pursue this with an unbeliever? That doesn't add up. You see, this starts to reflect on your own convictions.
It's a reflection of what you really love in your own life. Someone who lacks the conviction, someone who is not a Christian, cannot possibly fulfill God's plan for marriage with you. And if you find yourself trapped in a relationship like that, let this message be your opportunity to step out of it. Wait for a godly mate. God knows that you're single. Prove your trust in Christ by waiting for a spouse who shares your commitment to Christ and is committed to biblical marriage.
Wait. Just be patient and let God prove His faithfulness to you. That's for single people. This is exactly where a biblical understanding leads singles to think. Now, let me address young marrieds, those of you that have been married in the past 50 years, let's say, or maybe five or less. We have several young marrieds at Truth Community Fellowship, and I'm glad you're here. Your vows are still reasonably fresh on your mind.
Let me just encourage you with this. You must approach marriage with this mindset. You must approach marriage in such a way that divorce will never be an option for you. This is how you must think about your marriage, that you won't even entertain the thought for a moment, that you won't even give the soil of your heart room to receive that seed. Never let anything shake you from that conviction, that no matter what happens, that you're not going to initiate the thought and say, Well, maybe it's time for us to end our marriage. You won't do that because you're already grounded in the understanding that marriage is a permanent union established by God, and you won't accept that thought for where you're at right now.
You don't even entertain the thought. And let me say this, and this has helped me counsel people and think through things over the years. You carry that mindset of divorce is never an option. You do that for the sake of your spouse, to be sure. You know, and that's just part of the commitment that you give to your spouse, is that you think that way about your marriage. But, beloved, what I want you to think about is this, is that your commitment to think that way about your marriage transcends your spouse. This is the way that you think about marriage as part of your greater devotion to Christ and your greater commitment to be obedient to Christ in your life. You realize that this level of commitment, this exclusivity, is God's call on your life, and that his call on your life is for you to be faithful to that spouse no matter what. And so you carry on, you hold that unshakable conviction as a first order of your life that this is what I do for Christ who gave me this spouse, for better or for worse. And so you carry out that conviction for the sake of Christ and secondarily for your spouse. And when a serious problem comes up, you don't even consider divorce.
You don't even think about it. It doesn't even cross your mind, because you understand in the depths of your heart that your commitment to Christ means that your marriage must be permanent, exclusive, intimate, and loving. And sometimes you're going to live out that commitment in the midst of a somewhat hostile environment.
Sometimes your spouse is going to make it hard on you to carry that out, but beloved young marrieds, understand that. Your commitment to your marriage transcends the way that your spouse interacts with you on a day-to-day basis, because you've come back to Scripture, you said, this is what God wants. God wants me to obey him. I want to obey him because I love him, because Christ gave his life to save me from my sins. I love him. I want to do whatever he wants.
Whatever he asks, I'll do. And so marriage is part of that, and so I'm just going to continue on and be faithful and trust the Lord through this. And what that approach means is that when the problems inevitably come up, you look for the solution that will take you through the problem rather than out of the problem. Yeah, I understand, we're conditioned to run away from problems, to run away from pain.
For the Christian who embraces and submits to God's plan for marriage, the pain is secondary to the greater commitment to honor Christ in the way that he ordained marriage to be. And so if you're here, young married, middle married, whatever that means, in the midst of some hard times in your relationship, not right now, not necessarily even literally, but you need to have this discussion with each other as two Christians going through some hard times in your marriage, tension, all that. You need to look at each other and say to each other, you know, we might as well solve this problem because we're not going anywhere anyway.
We're not going anywhere. We've ruled out divorce is an option, and so we can't solve it that way, and this is too painful to keep living this way. Why don't we just solve this thing? Why don't we find a way to work through this?
Because it's not worth living in this sorrow. Someone...I can't remember where I read this. I have a number of marriage books on my shelves, most of them not all that helpful, but that's all right.
The one book said something that just came back to my mind that's very helpful. You need to think about marriage. You need to think about your marriage like this. There's you in the marriage, and there's your spouse in the marriage. There's the two of you, but you need to realize and understand that there's a sense in which your marriage is something that you're both working to protect. There's a third entity in the midst of you, and it's your marriage. It's your relationship. And so sometimes you subordinate your interests. Sometimes you forgive when you'd rather not.
Sometimes you make the sacrifice. Sometimes you make the first words of approach, not because that's what you would initially want to do, but you do it for the sake of this third thing called your marriage, the third thing of your relationship. You realize that there's something that transcends the two of you individually, and you both bring to the relationship the desire to preserve, protect, and help and cure that third entity, that marriage relationship. When you start to think about marriage like that, you're really starting to move in the right direction. You stop thinking about it purely on terms of what you want and say, well, what's best for our marriage?
That starts to change the dynamic a bit. So that's for the young marrieds. Let me address the long marrieds here, or the old marrieds, if you want to contrast young with old. Let's just say this, that your marriage is a barometer of your spiritual life. We're at 1 Peter chapter 3. 1 Peter chapter 3.
1 Peter chapter 3, we need to look at this passage, being just ahead of 2 Peter in your English Bible. 1 Peter chapter 3, chapter 3 verse 1, In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands, so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives. So this submission that we have toward Christ is reflected in the wives being submissive to their own husbands and sometimes holding their tongue.
My wife has been great about that over the years, and I'm grateful for as a result. Look at verse 7 as he addresses the husbands here. You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker since she is a woman, and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that, here's the point, talking about your marriage being a barometer of your spiritual health, so that your prayers will not be hindered. A Christian who's brought problems into his marriage before he reads his next theology book needs to make things right with his wife.
Theological depth, biblical knowledge is not a substitute for being a godly spouse in your marriage. And to you long-marrieds, I ask, over the course of your life, has your spouse known marriage as permanent, exclusive, intimate, and loving? Has your spouse known that? See, I'm not asking whether you've known marriage that way.
I'm asking whether your spouse has. God is more concerned in terms of your walk with Him, what you're bringing to the marriage, rather than what you're getting out of it. Many of you are a great testimony in your marriage. I'm grateful for that.
Few of you maybe need to be ashamed of yourselves, huh? Well, let's take this opportunity to reorient, to repent, and to be the spouses that God has called us to be. Let me address one final group here, the widowed and the divorced, those who are alone after marriage.
My boss gets quiet, I understand that. And for you, I just encourage you to remember Psalm 146, verse 9. Psalm 146, verse 9. The Lord protects the strangers, He supports the fatherless and the widow, but He thwarts the way of the wicked. God supports the widow in a unique way. You are the special object of the affection and attention of God, so much so that He points you out repeatedly in Scripture.
And you can draw near to your father even though your mate is no longer with you. God's design for marriage transcends marriage, really, when you think about it. When we really put it all together, marriage is a reflection of other things. It's a reflection of the love of Christ for His church. It's a reflection of the fidelity of God to His people. It's a reflection of the care of God for man in general. It's not good for man to be alone, all act, all intervene to correct that, so that he has companionship.
All of this is reflecting the loving, gracious character of God. Regardless of your marital status, pulling everybody into this final point of consideration here, when you think about the totality of what the Bible says about marriage, we're faced with questions like this. Are you a person of relational fidelity? Are you loyal in your relationships? Are you a person of sacrificial love?
Do you bring those traits to your most intimate relationships? Do your physical eyes and your heart desires set themselves on righteousness or on sin? All of these things transcend marriage. And so as we've been refreshed on the idea of what God has in marriage, we're brought back to the most fundamental point of them all. We all feel the weight of conviction on these things to one degree or another. It brings us all back to the fact that it humbles us and brings us back to the reality that I'm a sinner in need of grace.
And how grateful we are that our Lord not only provided for companionship in the garden, He provided for forgiveness at the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Where you have fallen short, where you've felt conviction in this time together around God's Word, don't run from that. Listen, the start of spiritual growth is when you stop running from conviction, stop explaining it away, stop saying that doesn't really apply to me, stop running from that and come back instead and say, Lord, your Word hit the mark. I've fallen short here. I need to repent. I need your forgiveness. Your closest relationships, your marital relationship, is inevitably going to expose your flaws, your spiritual shortcomings.
Let's close on a gracious word. Christ came to redeem us. His forgiveness and cleansing are available.
Proverbs 28, 13 says, He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion. And with that, Pastor Don Green concludes his message on marriage, part of a series titled A Refresher on the Family. We pray you've been edified and indeed refreshed in your understanding of biblical marriage.
Don will turn our attention to another important family issue, that of parenting, next time on The Truth Pulpit, so plan to be with us. Well, Don, the subject of marriage is important not only because of its obvious benefits to men and women. There are even greater spiritual implications, aren't there?
That's right, Bill. The Bible uses marriage to illustrate the eternal love of Christ for the church. You know, Christ loved us and gave himself up on the cross on our behalf.
He leads us and one day he'll welcome us into glory. It's a beautiful love that Christ has given to us. Marriage is designed to illustrate that love. And so even as society degrades marriage, you take it as your opportunity to make your marriage godly.
It is a central way for you to glorify your Savior. Thanks, Don. And friend, we invite you to visit thetruthpulpit.com for information about CDs and other helpful resources available from our ministry. There you'll also find a link to Don's Facebook page. Once more, that's thetruthpulpit.com. Thanks for listening. I'm Bill Wright. See you next time for more from The Truth Pulpit, where Don Green teaches God's people God's Word.
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