A Godly Marriage – Part 1

Good morning! What a privilege it is to come together like this and celebrate the gospel by singing, by enjoying fellowship with one another, by giving, by serving, and by sitting under the teaching of the Holy Spirit. It’s just another example of what a beautiful gift the church body is.

As you’ve heard us announce over the last several weeks, we are starting a short (2 week) series on the topic of marriage. Some of you are married and so practical application will be very straightforward.

But I know that many of you aren’t married and a series on marriage probably wouldn’t be your first choice. But I really want to encourage you to not check out over the next couple of weeks because what we’ll be talking about is completely relevant to you as someone who is not married. That’s true for a few reasons.

1) We’re looking at Scripture

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,” (2 Timothy 3:16)

2) Marriage is a picture of the bride of Christ & the beauty of the gospel

Paul, in talking about marriage says, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” (Ephesians 5:32)

3) You will probably be married someday!

And ultimately this is relevant for you because, although we’re talking specifically about marriage, the goal of everything we discuss at the Gathering is that we would fall more deeply in love with Jesus. That is our aim in this series, over & above everything else!

That we would see Him more clearly and that He would produce in us such wonder and worship that we couldn’t help but be drawn to repentance. That we couldn’t help but walk, joyfully, in obedience to what God has called us to.

And that’s something that WE MUST REMEMBER. We must continually remind ourselves that the gospel is what is central in our lives. And so, we must remain focused (like a laser) on THE GOSPEL.

I’ve always appreciated that about Paul’s writing. He was continually bringing people back to the gospel. For example, in 1 Corinthians 15, he writes to the believers, “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved…”

Paul’s encouragement was for them to remember, for them to stand in, for them to be rooted in the gospel. WHY? Why would they need to remember the gospel? Because they were professional forgetters.

And so are we! We constantly need to remember that the gospel is of primary importance in our lives. It is nothing short of the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. We must keep returning to the truth that we are made righteous by Jesus Christ, and by Him alone!

And that our ability to walk in anything life-giving is found in dependence on Jesus Christ. Our ability to walk in anything life-giving is found when we stand in the gospel. And that’s why my main idea this morning is something that you’ve likely heard before.

Because we’re not going to deal with a whole bunch of what’s new. My intent is to re-focus our hearts on what’s true. John Piper has said that “people become so enamored with what’s new, that we forget about what’s true.”

Well, here’s the truth: We can talk for days about “best practices” in marriage. We could talk about better communication, and disciplines in marriage, and family finances, and parenting, and God-given roles, and all kinds of other things. But if there is not a growing and on-going repentance in our lives, if our hearts are not saturated in & rooted in the gospel, then no amount of best practices will matter in a marriage.

To this point, one of the things that we need to learn is that we will love our spouse the best when we don’t love them the most. In other words, the more deeply we are in love with Jesus, the more we’re abiding in Him, the more our identity & hope & trust are rooted in Him, the more deeply we will serve & cherish & love our spouses. That will always be true! And that is a universal truth in our relationships. It applies to friendships, work relationships, our neighbors, everything.

So that’s how I’d like to start our time together this morning. I’d like to focus a little more today on “orthodoxy” — where I attempt to give you a gospel primer on marriage.

And then, next week, we can get into some practical application on marriage. So that’s the trajectory for this week & next. We’ll jump into that in just a minute. But first, let’s take a few minutes and pray for our time together in God’s Word.

When we talk about marriage, there are a number of different passages to choose from. We could go to Ephesians chapter 5 and talk about the complementary roles given to men and women in marriage. We could go to Genesis chapter 2 and discuss marriage from the beginning. There’s 1 Corinthians 7, Matthew 19, 1 Peter 3, and many other great texts that we could unpack together that would all be of great benefit.

But what I’d like to do this morning, instead of going straight to some of the more well-known passages is read a fairly obscure, often missed verse found in Hebrews chapter 13. If you have a Bible, I would invite you to turn there with me.

This is obviously the last chapter of Hebrews. And the author is doing what you would expect someone to do at the end of an important letter. They’re firing off a list of things that they feel are important. “Do this!” “And think about this!” “And don’t forget this!”

That’s a tendency in our communication; to bullet-point things at the end that we think are important. And so, what we find at the end of Hebrews is this encouraging list of instructions for the church. It says things like: “Let brotherly love continue”, and “don’t neglect to show hospitality”, and “remember those in prison & those who are mistreated.”

If you look down in verse 5, it talks about “keeping your life free from the love of money & living with contentment.” This list goes on, and I love the list because these are things that show us what it looks like to be filled with God’s grace. They are the fruit of the gospel!

I mean, a heart that’s been raptured by the gospel of grace looks like something. It’s not like God justifies us and then leaves us there. No, this new life looks like these things. We are saved to be a tangible display of the one who saved us. Our lives become a living picture of God’s beauty and glory to the world around us as we grow.

So we have this list. But right in the middle of the list, the author gives, what seems to be, a random encouragement. He writes this statement in the first part of verse 4: “Let marriage be held in honor among all.”

Now, why would the author include that exhortation? “Let marriage be held in honor among all.” I want you to think about this with me for just a moment. Because it’s true that this was written in a particular context, but it’s never been more relevant than it is right now in the world today.

What do we see in the world around us today, as it relates to the state of marriage? It’s not great on the whole. The family unit, and marriage specifically, has come under some pretty serious attack on the world stage. We see the state of marriage & family crumbling in many ways.

For example (I’m still learning about Indian culture, but), the culture in America is working very hard to redefine marriage right now. You don’t have to be a politician or a sociologist to realize what’s happening right now to attempt to re-draw the lines of gender distinction and what constitutes an actual marriage.

You don’t have to be a professional, you just have to turn on the news. It’s pretty obvious that that conversation is taking place right now in cultures all over the world. And it comes against God’s design for marriage & for the family.

And even where people do hold to a view of marriage that lines up with God’s intent, there seems to be a devaluing of marriage that’s happening as though it’s temporary, as though it’s not permanent, as though divorce is a viable exit strategy.

And so, what you end up with is a shallow view of marriage. A view of marriage which stands opposed to “Let marriage be held in honor among all!” Because, according to Scripture, marriage is something weighty, something that we are to treat as precious, something to be held in honor among all people. So the natural question is, ”Why?” In a world that has increasingly devalued marriage, why is it so important that we hold marriage in honor among all?

That’s a really important question because it gets us to the reason for why God designed marriage in the first place. You see, if you don’t know why something exists, how are you supposed to walk in that thing effectively?

So, here’s what I would say in answering the question: “Why is it important that we hold marriage in honor among all?” Marriage isn’t simply an arrangement between two people (like a contract). It’s not just what you do to take your relationship to the next level. It’s not something that we should take lightly. Marriage exists to magnify the truth, and the worth, and the beauty, and the greatness of our God. Marriage was created by God and it was created for God.

Just think about the scene that we see right after man is created in Genesis. We see a marriage, we see a wedding feast, Adam takes Eve as his bride. Which means that the first record of human existence was recorded against the backdrop of two beautiful things:

1) God Created all things for his glory
2) God instituted the Covenant of Marriage.

That’s how the story began — 2 become 1 flesh. It was deep love and affection, in the context of covenantal commitment. That’s why the Bible says, “Let no man separate what God has joined together!”

So marriage was created by God & for God, but marriage was also created to reflect God. It was created to reflect HIM to the world around us. I think that we tend to believe that marriage is primarily for us; that it’s primary purpose is God providing for us.

Now, it is true that marriage is a means of grace & provision for us. That’s what God said in the beginning. Genesis 2:18 — “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Marriage is a beautiful source of God’s provision for His people and an absolute gift. But, provision is not the primary purpose of marriage. Marriage exists primarily for the glory of God. And we must embrace that truth in our heart in order to have a healthy marriage.

By the way, that dynamic shouldn’t surprise us. The fact that the primary purpose of marriage is to put God’s glory — to put His covenantal love — on display, shouldn’t surprise us because that’s the sort of thing that God has been doing since the beginning.

Throughout Scripture, it’s pretty unmistakable that God’s provision for us isn’t primarily about us. It’s primarily so that He would display His splendor and glory to the world around us. Or I could put it this way. God blesses His people to show the rest of the world how amazing He is.

I think I’ve mentioned Psalm 67 in the Gathering before, but it bears repeating. We love Psalm 67:1. It’s the people of Israel actually singing to the Lord; crying out to Him, ”May God be gracious to us, and bless us, and make his face to shine upon us.”

We love that verse, don’t we? It warms the soul. But, here’s the problem: you can’t really understand Psalm 67:1 without understanding Psalm 67:2 because they’re inseparably linked. Just look at them together.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, so that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.”

Reading them together changes the tenor of the text, doesn’t it? “God, be gracious to us, and bless us, and make your face to shine upon us — not for our sake but so that your way may be seen among the nations. So that people would look at you and they would marvel.”

Brothers & Sisters, everything that God is doing in us — from awakening us to the gospel, to giving us new life in Christ, to adopting us, to making us co-heirs with Christ, to providing for us, to showering us with His grace & mercy — everything is to display His glory to the world.

And never is that truer than with the covenant of marriage! Yes, marriage is a gift. Yes, marriage represents gracious provision. But its primary purpose is to provide to the world a picture of what covenantal love looks like. Because that’s how God loves us; with a covenantal love.

As a pastor, I get to do a lot of counseling, which includes a lot of marriage counseling. And I can say this with confidence: every one of the conflicts that we deal with in our marriages comes down to pride & selfishness. It comes down to believing that we are most important and so we put our desires above everything else.

That’s why it is so critical that we understand that marriage isn’t primarily for us, it exists for the glory of God. It exists so that He would receive glory and so that His glory would be reflected the world around us. If we could just get our hearts around that truth, I really think it would produce a sense of on-going repentance in us. Where we would be driven to our knees in worship, humility, and repentance. And we would be way more likely to get over ourselves in the small things

Sadly, what we see in many marriages (even in the church) is people living like their marriages are their personal vending machines of happiness. Which isn’t surprising, because that’s the world that we live in. We exist in a culture that communicates that everything is about us. It tells us that we’re number 1, that we’re most important.

And when we believe that everything is about us, marriage becomes just another tool for us to be happy. But the truth is that nothing is about you! Everything is about the glory of God. And marriage will never fulfill you because only Jesus can do that.

Marriage is way more significant than a tool to make you happy or an instrument to help you achieve your personal goals. Marriage is meant to display the glory of God to the world. If you actually believe that (I’m not saying, “If you agree with that!”) and begin to give yourself over to that, it will produce covenant in your marriage (or in your future marriage, if you aren’t married now).

Covenant is the opposite of consumerism. Where we don’t understand that marriage exists for something far greater than our own happiness, where we don’t understand that marriage is a part of the mission of God, we will operate in our marriages like consumers. We will ask ourselves, “how can I derive the most benefit, with the least amount of investment?”

The world’s view of marriage is marked by consumerism. God’s view of marriage is defined by covenant. It is defined by cohesion, and unity, and oneness, and permanence, and deference to one another, and unconditionality. That’s how God sees marriage.

Here’s another way to think about this: “What is the motivation for marriage?” The truth is that we are always motivated by something. At any given time, no matter what you’re doing, you’re motivated by something. The question is, “What is motivating you?”

It is typical in marriage to be motivated by self, by comfort, by satisfaction, by happiness, however you want to put it. Where the bottom line is that you believe that your marriage exists for you.

When we understand that marriage was created by God, and it exists for God, for the purpose of displaying His glory to the world, It paves the way for our marriages to be motivated by mission. It’s no longer about me, it’s about mission. Which changes everything. It helps us take off the mask and not feel like we have to pretend like we have everything together in front of people But, instead, we see an opportunity to repent in front of other people so we can cast a spotlight on the glory & goodness of God!

That’s just one example of many changes that take place. The point is that, when we are motivated by mission, everything changes. And we begin to see our marriages as tools to proclaim the excellencies of Christ.

I’d like you to turn with me to 2 Corinthians chapter 5 quickly. This is where I’d like to end our time together.


Here’s the bottom line for us: where we have been reconciled to The Father through Jesus Christ, we have now been given the ministry of reconciliation. We have been made Ambassadors for Jesus Christ, as God makes His appeal through us.

As Peter would put it, because we are the called out people of God, our lives are now consumed by proclaiming the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness, into His marvelous light. Our lives are motivated now by mission. They are no longer motivated by self.

That impacts every area of our lives (work, friendships, relationships with neighbors, and how you see resources in your life), But it especially impacts the area of marriage.


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