Marriage: The Greatest and Most Sanctifying of Graces

“Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life up for her…” Ephesians 5:25

“In a similar way, you husbands must live with your wives in an understanding manner…” 1 Peter 3:7

Marriage is an institution that is ordained by God, a covenant before Him, and is designed to be a reflection of the Gospel. It is meant to last and designed for life. Marriage is something to be desired and pursued intentionally and bathed in prayer.

I love my wife, Kaitlin. She means the world to me.  Aside from my salvation, she’s the greatest gift from the Lord to me and being married to her is an honor, privilege and joyous blessing.  Marriage ought to be like that, should it not? I think so.

Marriage is something that I eagerly longed for.  I prayed and prayed that the Lord would provide for me a wife.  I was about ready to give up all hope, when He did just that.  And that’s when everything truly began and the most exciting journey started.

Right now you’re probably thinking, “Oh, here we go again.  Another blog post about marriage.  Why bother, I’ve read so many.”. Or perhaps you’re thinking that this is going to be some sales pitch or formula for how to obtain the perfect marriage.  It is nothing of that sort, let me assure you.

However, it is about something very special and crucial about marriage.  It is about what marriage can, and will always do, for you.  This is true whether you are a man or woman, mind you.  This post is all about how marriage is a means of sanctifying grace.  Marriage is one of many ways our Sovereign Lord and Father has chosen to conform us more and more into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:28-30).

Have I gotten your attention yet?  Well, I hope so, because I am about to be a bit transparent.  Ok, so remember how I said that I prayed and prayed for a wife and the Lord gave me one?  Well, that too quite a bit of time to get to that point.  But what I didn’t really fully comprehend is that I had not, and indeed have not, arrived at the final destination.  For you singles, and I dare say married folks, please be aware and careful that you do not find yourself thinking marriage is the final destination.  The state of being married is not the final destination.

The fact that a marriage is a covenant is a critical part of the journey.  A covenant is an agreement between two parties.  And this one has God as the witness.  When I and my wife said our vows, we meant them and fully intend to keep them till death do us part.

However, in order to make true on the promise to love, cherish, have hold and care for, there needs to be two very important lessons learned. These are still being learned, mind you, and the learning is part of the journey too.  But the two most important things are, 1) you’re both sinners and will sin.  And, 2) part of sanctification is the mortifying, or killing of, sin in your life.  It is a daily trust and faith exercise to put to death the old man and his old selfish nature and ways.  This is not something you can do on your own, mind you.

It is, however, only by daily reliance upon God’s Holy Spirit to do daily heart surgery,that you can kill whatever sin is getting in the way.   Trust me, marriage will reveal daily, just how sinful you are and how desperately in need of the God’s Gospel of grace you truly are.  There will be times when you feel like an absolute failure as a husband, and can do absolutely nothing right.  And that is a good place to get to, because it is true.  You cannot make it on your own strength.  You need that daily trust and reliance upon the Lord for His sustaining and empowering grace given by the Spirit.

I absolutely love my marriage, it is a testimony to God’s radical grace and healing work.  But, God is not done with it yet.  He has a plan.  He wants to conform us, individually and together, into the image of His Son Jesus.  And it is by way of sin killing and running daily to the Father, and throwing myself upon His mercy and grace found in the cross, that I can begin to grow up into an exemplary and Biblical husband, as 1 Peter 3:7 and Ephesians 5:25 lay out.

 Oh, and trust me, there will absolutely be follow up blog posts to this one. The conversation is only just beginning.   

Priorities

Every time I turn on the TV or read the news, there seems to be a new spin on what is happening in politics and religion and ethics.  I have read of many shootings and killings.  I have read of many lies and liars.  I have read so many sides to each story running around out there, that it is rather difficult to determine what is really happening.  The only thing I know for sure is happening, is that a sinful world is living and acting sinfully.  Quite honestly, I am growing tired the affairs of the kingdom of the world.  But the Bible tells me not to lose heart, and not to be surprised at the evil of the system of the world at work.  But I must get priorities straight and search the Scripture to determine how to live in this world.

When considering politics, and ethics, I believe that Romans 3:10-18 speaks clearly, and we can learn much.  All men and women inherit Adam’s sinful nature (affecting mind, heart, soul and incapacitating the will), thus they are unable to do anything pleasing to God.  Thus, regardless of party affiliation, all men and women apart from the grace of God in Christ Jesus, will never do anything pleasing to God.

Take the abortion conversation, for example.  Even the defense of the lives of the unborn, if done by an unregenerate man or woman, is like filthy rags to God and has no meritorious value in his sight.  So neither Republican nor Democrat parties are pro-God.  If they are pro-life, they are merely moralistic nice people,but still hell bound sinners.  Thus, sinners will sin and God will never be on the throne in their hearts, unless God has sovereignly chosen to save them and bring them into the kingdom by the means He has chosen — you and I through the proclamation of their fallenness and God’s grace in the Gospel.

Ultimately, our priority ought to be Kingdom work.  What really matters is the conversion of sinners and the expansion of the Kingdom into the hearts and lives of men and women from every walk of life, and not what political party one affiliates with.  And when one is converted, we must remember that we have a new nature, and are considered the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus by Christ alone and imputed to us by grace alone through faith alone.  We are now no longer hell bound sinners, but saints being progressively transformed into the image of Jesus Christ.  But it was not politics or economic growth strategy or theory that saved, it was the sovereign grace of God by the power of the Holy Spirit.  

Priorities, my friends. Remember that though politics can be important, and one must be an informed and discerning citizen, it is not through government and power systems that God’s Kingdom expansion takes place.  You cannot legislate morality in a society made up of sinners and ran by children of the devil.  Remember that revival and judgement will always be works of God’s sovereign grace, and begin in the church and family.  In the end, we’re all called to be on mission, advancing a Kingdom whose maker and builder is the God who uses the foolishness and weakness of the world to shame the wise.

There will be more to come.  It seems we’re heading into some turbulent times and tough topics will arise.  Just like the above subject matter.

The Gospel and Forgiveness

Till sin is bitter, Christ will not be sweet.

— Thomas Watson

To know the gospel means to know the reality of sin and the understanding that sin is not merely “missing the mark,” but rather offending God’s holiness, and thus reveals a lack of holiness and the separation from God. When the Spirit convicts the true Christian of this, then and only then can they truly understand forgiveness.

If you understand the gospel and forgiveness, then you will see how the two are perfectly aligned with one another and go hand-in-glove.  For example, in Luke 7:36-50, Jesus tells a parable about forgiveness. The moral of the story is “those who are forgiven much, love much.”  What is the point?  The point is that ff you are a Christian, you have been forgiven more than you’ll ever know. You’ve been redeemed and forgiven all your sins, past and present, and you’ve been rescued from the wrath of God and an eternity in hell. How much more could you possibly be forgiven?

Given all this, then my question is this: “How are you doing with the ‘loving much’ part?” We ought love all our brothers and sisters in Christ, and forgive them, unconditionally. Why? Because we’re loved and forgiven unconditionally.

Something to ponder dear friends.

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