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Planting Hedges in Marriage (Part 3 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
June 22, 2022 4:00 am

Planting Hedges in Marriage (Part 3 of 4)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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June 22, 2022 4:00 am

“Looking out for number one” is often touted as an effective way to survive or get ahead in a competitive environment. But find out why such selfishness—as well as laziness—is actually detrimental to marriage. Join us on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


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We've all heard that if you want to get ahead, competitive environment, you've got a look out for number one today on Truth for Life. Alastair beg explains why selfishness as well as laziness is actually detrimental to a marriage might begin this evening by quoting from the letter that I received from state it is signed but is actually anonymous.

Apart from the first name I it came as a result of the radio programs will be apparent from the lantern, it simply reads Alastair two years ago this month, I discovered my wife of 16 years and been involved in two separate long-term affairs and was now involved in yet another sparing you all the typical details. I was devastated. I was angry and yes I was the last to know to add to an already unbelievable situation. My wife and I had three daughters, ages 4 to 11.

In addition, I was the worship leader and an elder in our local church this last affair involved a man in our fellowship. Not an uncommon story.

I know the uncommon part of this story is that two years later my wife and I are still together, healing wounds and cherishing our girls now four of them. The most amazing thing happened during these two years. While I had more advice from more friends, parents, church friends, my pastor and best friend gone still managed to reveal his advice. It was love and forgive.

Honor me I know that through it all, regardless of the outcome. I guard will be there.

That's where DFL comes in every morning while driving to work. My radio invariably ended up on the station in the city in which he lives during your program.

While I had to get used to the accident. The messages were crystal clear and never failed when I was at my lowest. Your words seem to speak directly to my heart. When others told me to leave her and that no man could live with such betrayal. You brought forth words on Hosea and forgiveness and follow friends talked of new starts you spoke of covenant on long-suffering bottom-line Alastair, I just want to say thanks. My friends and family threw me a lifeline of hope and support. But I wanted to let you know that through it all. You seem to be the thread of truth revealing many things in the word and always striking that cord of renewal and refreshing. Thanks, but I wanted to read that because it is possible for us in pondering these issues and then confronting so much of the chaos that is around us possible for us to begin to believe the only way out is to throw in the towel to chuck it to believe that there really is no hold no possibility for restoration and for forgiveness and for renewal when in point of fact, the Bible says the absolute opposite of all of that and it is from that framework that we were looking last time these various hedges as we put it. Hedges of protection which we want to have in our lives in order that we might be saved from their potential of ship wreck and we came at the end of our time. Last time to this whole matter of sacrifice which we said we would come back to leaving it by my paltry endeavor to make use of baseball as a useful analogy and we concluded they are suggesting that this provides a somewhat helpful picture within the framework of marriage. Insofar as the greatest joys in marriage as outlined here in Ephesians 5 are really to be found when partners are learning to put their spouses first when husbands and wives are giving themselves for the well-being of their partners and that kind of self-sacrifice on the part of the husband demands servant leadership and on the part of the wife demands submission to her husband.

Now this is all very well except for the fact that we face a major roadblock in trying to fulfill this obligation in the major roadblock is frankly selfishness, our sinful natures fighting against the patterns of Ephesians 5 fighting against the fact that God in his word knows best and speaks clearly and the challenge of being obedient to God's word is further enhanced by the fact that many of us have lived much of our life invaded by psychological theory, which has suggested the reverse of what the Bible teaches many of us have been brought up to believe the pagan notion that looking out for number one is an essential tenet of life.

It is the key to psychological stability to mental wholeness. If you like.

It is the key to success in business and in other arenas, and it certainly is absolutely vital when an individual is planning to engage in marriage. Interestingly, Paul describes what is offered increasingly as a cure in our generation. Paul describes that very thing as a disease and so it is that a preoccupation with self-esteem and self-love are largely nothing more than a gloss for the issue of selfishness. And so it is that as we begin to meet with young couples who have been schooled in self-assertion grown up being constantly told that they are quotes somebody that they are they are quotes own person. It is increasingly difficult to bring such individuals to a biblical understanding of the nature of marriage.

Such individuals come with the expectation of the husband-and-wife must each live as their own person and joint endeavors are entered upon not on the basis of biblical principle but on the basis of compromise so that the key to success in marriage is not in discovering God-given roles by the key to success in marriage is learning how to be a compromise or know what again is offered as a recipe for success. The Bible says is a recipe for failure because self centered individuals who have had this reinforced at home and sadly, in many cases also at church who live absolutely committed to putting themselves first are going to have an unbelievably difficult job in applying the principles which are here before us and this dreadful preoccupation is sadly reinforced from poop. It's all across the world on the basis of the mistaken understanding of Matthew chapter 22 and verse 37 and following.

And you may just care to turn to Matthew 2234 they silenced Sadducees and the Pharisees got together and they decided they would test Jesus with a question and in Matthew 2236. They said teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the law now. Interestingly, in this little passage, people tell us that her three commandments and I want you to follow along with me carefully and see if you think there are three Jesus replied, love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.

This is the first and greatest commandment says one and the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

What would seem this from a cursory reading that are two commands and it is honestly perfectly clear that Jesus saw that there were two commands.

That's why says this is the first and this is the second and he actually does not mention anything about 1/3 yet contemporary perspective is that there is 1/3 command here that it is inherent somehow in it and that is the command to love ourselves. Not so the assumption which underpins the command to love our neighbor is that we already love ourselves. That's why we watch. That's why we close. That's why we brush our hair.

That's why we care for ourselves. That's what Paul is saying in Ephesians 5 nobody violates their own body and less somehow or another there losing their mind. But anybody who is sensible and just living life cares for themselves.

They have unnecessary and rightful sentence of love for the flag that God has made them in his image and is given and the privileges of life, etc. now says Jesus it is that same approach, which is then to be applied in a self giving way and I not only did I mention in the love of my neighbor and so it is that the language of sacrifice is absolutely foundational to Christian living, and to every expression of Christian living and in the language of sacrifice is so much now simply a part of missionary biographies, many of which are largely unread. If you want to read about a life of sacrifice as being foundational to Christian living and effectiveness than apart from the Bible, you really need to go on by old missionary biographies because it would seem that there is only there did these people understand those who are tempted to pursue a good self-image will always be destined to disappointment, while those who seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness will discover that is a byproduct they will not entertain exaggerated ideas of themselves, but they will gain a sane estimate of who they are and what they are under God and therefore the one thing that they are the past, the most wonderful husband that ever walked the streets or the most adorable bundle that could ever have had the designation wife, but the will of a sane estimate of themselves and they will know that there full of foibles and risks and quirks and all kinds of things that unless sacrifice will become the very rocks upon which this relationship must inevitably fund her. I loved ones. This is radical in our contemporary environment Howard Hendricks writing on it has a wonderfully purple passage in one of his books and I quoted many people are in love only with themselves. The smallest package in all the world is the person who is all wrapped up with himself. But in true love a person thinks more of the happiness of others and he dies of himself. If a young man can come into marriage with his paramount passion in life to completely satisfy his wife and if the girl can come into marriage with her sole and exclusive purpose.

The satisfaction of her husband and both are sold out to satisfying Jesus Christ, then you have the ingredients for an ideal Christian marriage and of course if you take the antithetical statements, then you have the ingredients for absolute chaos, how it is surely obvious from even a cursory reflection upon the marriage vows that they demand a level of self renunciation which is staggering and its implications, and therefore that must be applied on a daily basis and the question that needs to be fazed by each of us is when is the last time that an action on my part was most obviously an expression of sacrifice for the well-being of my wife. I remember I told you taking the garbage out does not qualify because it is unlikely that our wives are standing in the kitchen window looking at is going down the driveway stirred by our great act of self giving that may be that that is so, but for our wives. The fact that we put down on obviously large file of potential homework that would be a distraction in order to listen carefully to her describe the events of the afternoon, that were important and pressing to her may well be seen as far more sacrificial than the things that we've determined our little sacrifice for thinking about us in important hedge media with another one. I want to call it imagination. Imagination before stating what I mean by this. I want to make it very clear what is not being said when the catechism asked the question what is the seventh commandment teaches part of the answer provides as follows, since both our body and soul are a temple of the Holy Spirit.

It is his will that we keep both pure and holy. Therefore, he forbids all unchaste actions, gestures, words, thoughts, desires, and whatever may excite another person to them. When is talking about this matter of adultery. Now, what possible implication does this have well the issue here is imagination that catechism clearly addresses and negates the contemporary nonsense which is increasingly prevalent, which addresses the idea of images and pictures, particularly physical or sexual imagery as being a basis as a means to marital harmony and newspapers and magazines combined with the television talk shows to say again and again and again with one relentless emphasis that such things are both normal and harmless.

The Bible says that such things are clear violation of biblical teaching and what it encourages is a form of voyeurism actually reduces one spouse to what is simply nothing more than a mechanism for fulfillment of lustful thoughts and when Job, for example, declared I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl.

He not only committed himself to righteousness, but he left as an example that we should follow in his steps not only in relationship to someone who is other than our spouse, but also in relationship to our spouses themselves out in using the word imagination as an important hedge to be dealt with. I'm not referring simply to this, but also to the totality of marriage I want us to spend a moment to debunk the idea that righteousness is a synonym for boarding. That righteousness is a synonym for boring that holiness equals boring that that the right way of doing things is if you like the most lousy way of doing things because that is the lie which is constantly foisted upon those who would seek to uphold any kind of biblical standard and so it is that if there is going to be success and growth and effectiveness within marriage.

There needs to be about our marriage is a creativity that is endearing and is occasionally extravagant. Now we didn't overstate this, but in seeking to avoid overstating it. We don't want to fall foul of the opposite extreme. And somehow or another embrace a rather dull approach to it all.

Why do I mention this well simply because in watching and in careful listening, I have concluded that there are many marriages which are frankly dull doll really doll and while routine in and of itself needn't be equated with boredom.

It certainly is possible to fall into the trap of going through certain motions activities again and again to the point of disinterest and disenchantment.

I think that I think I am honestly as I grow older interested in change for change's sake. I know people say we don't believe in change for change's sake. I'm never really thought out why we don't. But if I'm honest in assessing who I am and what I have.

I think I believe in change for change's sake. I like changing stuff.

I like it when I come down the stairs and the couches. The long way around it doesn't phase me. I like it. I don't expect my wife to applaud. In my sermon. I was now my wife believe this, that'll be a very special day.

Cedar needs to be an dynamism about growth is always a dynamic about growth. Is it really maturity is it maturity, which keeps us from stopping in the course of our day to buy a card. The way we used to do when we were college students and grab a cup of coffee and sit down and just rate on the card to our wife search our husbands to tell them just how appreciative we are of their friendship. Just how much we enjoyed our recent trip just how glad we were when all the kids went to the football game the other night.

You see, I don't and we can excuse the absence of that, on the grounds of maturity and I keep bumping up against these men, who tell me you know where we are beyond that stuff we we we move beyond that sometime avoids or it's a deeper thing for us now that I talked to the wife than what a clue what they're talking about. The fact is that laziness and taking our partner for granted, often squeezes out the kind of creativity that marked our courtship, not referring for a moment to superficial expressions of imagination that are often promoted by self-interest or by guilt, the kind of bizarre stuff you read about in books really stupid things to start about little things that keep the home fires burning because when the the other factors are in place, the carefulness and the devotion etc. then these little things have a part to play where the other aspects are not there meaningful communication devotion. You know that the commitment to the whole shooting match, then let's not kid ourselves that you note 20 minutes with a card and a coffee shop is going to fix the problem because it sure is.

But it never ceases to cause me some of the deepest pain of all in pastoral ministry. When I have to sit and listen to a wife, tell me how when her husband took her lover. He all of a sudden became Mr. imagination and they will always say to me where to get this stuff from how it was always an intrusion to meet for lunch when I suggested it and now it's not a problem in the fact of the matter is that it is rooted in selfishness and it is rooted in sin and sometimes I have to say to the wife as I seek to help both she and he to come to repentance and faith this with others. I try and help them put the train back on the tracks. It's not uncommon for the wife to have had a real blind spot in relationship to this as well and actually to have been devoid of much meaningful imagination on her own part today as Alister Greg has challenged us to love our spouses, sacrificially, and creatively, no matter how long we've been married. You're listening to Truth for Life. Our current book recommendation is a book called gospel shaped marriage goes along with the securities were hearing from Alister subtitled the book is grace for sinners to love like saints. The book looks at what it means to submit to God's authority and to Christ's love in marriage.

It describes the joys and benefits. Couples experience when their love of Christ is central to their life together, you can request your copy of the book gospel shaped marriage. When you donate today to give simply tap the book image you see in the mobile app or visit us online at if you prefer you can call us her number is 888-588-7884 by the way, if you have a recent high school graduate or a college student in your family.

We have a terrific resource that can help them stay on track in their relationship with Jesus while they're at school called the new city catechism.

It's a collection of 52 short questions and answers that explain biblical truth is one question and answer for each week of the year. Find the new city catechism online Truth for Don't forget all of Alister's teaching is free to download and to share generous giving received from blisters like you is what makes this possible. So if you give monthly or if you make one-time donations. Thank you on behalf of the many who listen without cost from locations all around the world. Bob Lapine, so how can we avoid getting stuck in the rut of a dull and boring marriage. Find out tomorrow as you join us for the conclusion of today's message. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life with the Learning is for Living

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