Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on November 15, 2015
Today marks our third Sunday on our sermon series on Marriage. As I have stated in the past, when I preach topically, like I am doing on marriage, I like to build upon each sermon. The reason I do this is first, because the topics are so immense, and second, to give perspective and foundations to what God is laying out in His Word. Very few people recognize how logically connected the Bible is. It is a book built upon premises that lead to one conclusion. So with that in mind, let us begin by reviewing what we have learned so far.
First, we began in the beginning and we observed from Genesis 2 that God is the creator, implementer, provider and joiner of marriage. Marriage is God's institution, created by Him for His will. We do not have authority over marriage. Culture does not have authority over marriage. Government does not have authority over marriage. Marriage is God's and God's alone.
With this in mind, last week we asked what is God's purpose in creating marriage? And not only that, but why did God, not only create marriage, but why did He make it so intertwined with the human condition? Why do all people, throughout all time, long for marriage? The answer as we saw in Ephesians 5 was the God created marriage to be a living display of the Gospel.
When we ended last week we spent a brief moment talking about that monumental effect this understanding should have on your marriage. Recognizing that the ultimate purpose of your marriage is to be a living image, or display, of the bond between Jesus and his Bride should change every detail of how your marriage operates. Today we will unpack some of those things.
What is the Gospel?
To start, if marriage is designed to display the Gospel, then the first thing we need to do is to understand the Gospel. It is one thing to say our marriages display the Gospel, it is another thing for your marriage to ACTUALLY display the Gospel? So, what is the Gospel?
The Gospel is this: We are all sinners. We have all rejected and rebelled against God. The punishment for our sin is death and the wrath of God. However, because God is love, he sends His Son Jesus to save us from this wrath. He saves us by living a sinless life and then dies in our place and absorbs God’s wrath as our substitute Because Jesus is sinless, and because He is the Son of God, He overcomes sin and death and is resurrected from the dead and is now seated at the right hand of God. He then promises us forgiveness and eternal life with Him if we repent (turn) and place our trust in Him as our Lord and Savior. Now many of you may ask, how does marriage reflect what I just said? In two significant ways: Covenant and Grace.
Covenant of Marriage
Let us begin by talking about covenant. When someone is born again and places their faith in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior they are forgiven. We are all familiar with this basic Christian principal. But what is going on when we place our faith in Christ? Why are we forgiven? Why does faith in Christ appease God’s wrath? Likewise, why do we receive eternal life and all of the rewards of Heaven? Romans 6:4-5 tells us.
And it is this union with Christ that saves us. We become one with Jesus and he can therefore take our punishment and we can receive his righteousness. Without this unity the exchange of our sin for His righteousness cannot occur. And we see this principle of union with Christ throughout the Bible.
This union is one that is not done by the will of man, but by the will of God. He is the one who fuses Christ with his Bride. You can see this in Jesus' High Priestly prayer to His father in John 17. In this prayer he is praying for us. Jesus prays in verse 20 and 21:
Jesus is asking God to make the elect Bride, the Church, one with Him. It is God who unites. And this bonding of God cannot be broken. Once you are united to Christ and become one with him you cannot be separated. This is one of many reasons that the Gospel is such good news, for what God has joined no one can separate.
In Genesis 2:24 it says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The Hebrew word for “hold fast” is debaq, which means to cleave, adhere, to be glued. When God chose to create and implement this institution of marriage, he did not create it to be casual; He created it to be binding.
In Matthew 19:5-6 Jesus reiterates this by saying, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” The Greek word that Jesus uses to quote Genesis 2:24 is kollao, which means to glue together, cement, fasten firmly.
And this is why we speak of marriage, not as a contract that can be easily broken, by as a covenant that withstands. For a covenant is not built upon terms and conditions, but is instead built upon a promise. For God, His covenant to us through Christ is that he will never leave us nor forsake us. This is the promise of the New Covenant sealed with the blood of the Bridegroom.
Likewise our covenant to our spouse should be the same, a promise that we will never leave nor forsake them. A covenant marriage is not susceptible to the ups and downs of life. A covenant marriage is built upon a promise, not upon a bank account, or busy schedules, or fleeting beauty. And it is a covenant marriage that displays the Gospel. On the other hand, a contractual marriage that is casually entered into and easily broken is a not a display of the Gospel, but instead is a display of the deception and lies of Satan. Hence why Satan spend so much time trying to destroy your marriage.
Covenant marriage is why we have vows during wedding ceremonies. The purpose is for the husband and the wife to make unconditional promises to each other. They are to declare that no matter what happens in this life, I promise to cleave to you, to hold fast to you...no matter what comes our way. Divorce should never be a word on the mouth of a Christian. Paul addresses this exact issue in 1 Corinthians 7.
The bottom line is that if you are married, you stay married. Now because of many of your hard hearts some of you might be saying, “Phil, you don't know what I have to put up with. You don't know my story.” And your right, I do not know your story, but God does, and his Word does not have a loop hole. However, many of you are looking for one.
One loop hole I have heard over and over again is the one that says, “But doesn’t God want me to be happy?” This type of question is a child of the health and wealth prosperity Gospel. It is the belief that God is a candy machine and he exists to make your life comfortable. This worldly way of thinking is the wide gate and easy way that Jesus tells us leads to destruction in Matthew 7:13.
When you read the Bible do you ever see God say take the path that makes you the happiest? No . When you read the Bible you see Jesus say pick up your cross, lay down your life, count the cost, put your hand to the plow, let the dead bury the dead, renounce all that you have. God desires his children to be obedient.
And this is what so few people understand, it is out of our obedience to God that true and eternal joy flows. All other happiness is counterfeit to the joy of being in step with your Creator's will.
The Power of Grace
And this leads us to the second way that marriage displays the Gospel. From beginning to end, the Gospel is all about Grace. This relationship with Christ is initiated, sustained and completed by the Grace of God. We deserve God's wrath, but we are given His Grace.
Grace is the backbone of the Gospel and it is the backbone to your marriage. Not only do you need the grace of God in your weakness, but you need to display the Grace of God when your spouse is weak. What do I mean by this?
What I mean is that marriage should be grace unleashed. The grace of God should be pouring into our lives and pouring out of our lives. What your spouse needs almost more than anything from you is your forgiveness when they fail to live up to your expectations, when they miss the mark, when they sin against you. And I am not just talking about the small sins like chewing with your mouth open, or nagging, or showing up a few minutes late, but I am talking about the big sins too, like adultery, drug abuse, an accidental death of a child. There is no sin too big for God to forgive, and there should be no sin to big for us to forgive.
However, because you are a sinner, in the midst of your spouses sin, you will want justification. You will want your pound of flesh. You will want vengeance, but what your spouse needs to see is not your wrath, it is God's grace. You need to forgive as you have been forgiven. And not only does your spouse need to see it, but your children need to see it, and your co-workers need to see it, and your neighbors needs to see it. This is how marriage is a display of the Gospel, it should be a display of grace.
And just like obedience, grace towards your spouse is not the end of the story. Grace in marriage produces fruit. This is the amazing power of grace, it transform, not only you, but your spouse. Loving your spouse when they are unlovable makes them become more loveable. If you don't believe me, try it for yourself. The next time your spouse sins against you, instead of biting their head off tell them that you love them. I guarantee those three words ringing in their head changes the entire mood of the night.
Now at this point, many of you may again be looking for a loop hole and saying, “But what if they never change?” How long should I forgive my spouse?” This same question was posed to Jesus.
Obviously, Jesus is not being literal here. Instead he is saying that you never stop forgiving. Forgiving, for a Christian, is like breathing, you never stop until your dead.
In conclusion, marriage is a living display of the Gospel. How? In two fundamental ways. First, it is a display of a covenant promise that we will never leave nor forsake our spouse. And second, marriage should be saturated in Grace. If the Church would embrace this two fundamental truths, our marriages would not be in lock step with the the world, but instead our marriages would stand out as salt and light in this decaying and dark culture.
So like all sermons, the ball is now in your court. You can reject what I have said and continue down the path of a casual/self-centered/angry marriage and see how that works out for you, or instead put your faith in God's good design for marriage, trust Him, and bear the fruit of God's blessings, 30, 60 and 100 fold.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on November 8, 2015
Today marks our second week in our sermon series on marriage. After last week, Tristan asked me if anyone had any negative comments about my sermon last Sunday, and I can honestly say no, but that doesn't mean that your weren't thinking them. I will admit, at times, I get somewhat passionate about God's Word. However, if you do find something I say disagreeable please come and talk with me about it. Don't just stop coming. My advice is that when you hear or read something in God's Word that you do not like, do not run from it, but lean into it, and allow God to lead you into all truth.
Today we are going to unpack the profound mystery of marriage. It is a mystery that I was not aware of until about five years ago, which is sad because I have now been married for eleven years. Perhaps this mystery had been taught to me when I was younger, but I didn’t have ears to hear.
Having said that, I want my hands to be clean as it relates to Cornerstone Church. I want everyone in this room to understand the ultimate, and specific reason as to why God created the institution of marriage. I want all of us to have our eyes on the purposes of God as it relates to marriage. I want us oriented with a proper trajectory so that our marriage reach the destination that God desires. However, before we read our text and unpack it, let us review.
Last week we examined the very first wedding ceremony as found in Genesis 2. This marriage was officiated by none other than God himself. In Genesis 2 we observed the foundation of marriage. We discovered that marriage is created by God, implemented by God, provided by God, and joined by God. No matter how you look at marriage, you can only reach one conclusion, it is Gods institution, not mans, not governments, not anyone else’s but Gods. God has complete and utter authority over this institution. Therefore, in order for us to have any hope of seeking answers in the mystery we call marriage, we must look in the Bible.
As we saw last week in Matthew 19, this is how Jesus approached questions on marriage. His preface to their marital questioning was, “Have you not read?” These words “have you not read” echo still today, and we, the Church, should pick up the baton and continue to pose the same question to ourselves, our family, our friends, our communities, and our government “Have you not read?” For the Word of God, the Bible, is the ultimate authority regarding all things, especially marriage.
Today, however, I want to ask the next logical question, “Why?” Why does an all-powerful, all knowing, perfectly Holy God, create such a mysterious thing as marriage? We can agree that God didn't have to do it this way. God could have chosen a variety of different ways that humanity exists, but he didn't. Our perfectly wise God, omniscient God, intentionally chose for a man and women to be joined in holy matrimony. Why?
Before we begin, I want to stress how important this question is of why is. Understanding the purpose of marriage determines whether your marriage flourishes or flounders. If you want you could exchange the word purpose for goal, and ask what is the goal of marriage? Keeping your eyes on the goal helps keep you pointed in the write direction. It helps you filter out things that either support the goal or interfere with the goal. It gives you a proper perspective in times of difficulty. It produces in you a motivation. Think of this question of why as our attempt to set a correct trajectory for your marriage. Too many of you have worldly coordinates plugged into your marriage, therefore instead of hitting the moon, you miss your mark and drift off into darkness. Understanding the purpose of your marriage is the key to satisfying your hearts longing that we unpacked briefly last week.
For the Glory of God
To answer the question of why let us start, once again with a foundation. If I were to ask you, why did God create the Universe, what would you say? Hopefully many of you, here at Cornerstone, would respond that God created the Universe for His Glory. We regularly cover this topic. The Chief purpose of all things is the Glory of God. How do we know this? Because God tells us this fact in His Word.
They question is do you see your marriage through this lens? Do you recognize that not only is marriage through God, but it is ultimately for God. Your marriage is for His glory. Let’s say that again, your marriage is for the glory of God. It is not for your glory. It is not for your spouses glory. It is not for your kids glory. It is not for this nations glory. Marriage is for God's glory.
So often we commit the sin of Romans 1:23 and we exchange the glory of God for the glory of man. When we do this, things start to fall apart. Why? Because the foundational rock the institution of marriage has been replaced by sand.
For the Glory of Jesus
Having said this, I think we can narrow the purpose of marriage down even more then the glory of God. Colossians 1:16 says this about Jesus.
Once again, is this how we think? When two people stand before God and are joined in Holy matrimony, are they ultimately doing it for Jesus? Do we live out our marriage for the purpose of Christ? Do we lay our marriage at the foot of the cross and say it is yours to do with it as you please?
My guess is that the answer is no. You do not view your marriage through the lens that it exists for Jesus Christ. Instead we approach marriage as if it is ultimately a gift for us. We are like little children that scream, “MINE!” We have bought into the lie that marriage is for the preeminent purpose to make us comfortable, or wealthy, or sexually satisfied. And when it fails to produce those things we think it is broken. This is the wrong way to view marriage, because ultimately your marriage is for Christ, not you. Using it to be your ultimate source of happiness will fail every time. Marriage is not a candy machine that exists for your passions and pleasures, it is an God ordained Union for the glory of His Son.
For the Pinnacle of God’s Glorious Grace
But once again, I think we can get even more specific then this. Yes, marriage is for the Glory of God, and yes, marriage is for Christ, but there is something more profound going on in the creation and implementation of marriage by God. Turn to Ephesians 5:22-33.
First, let us recognize what Paul is quoting. Paul is quoting the same text that Jesus quoted in Matthew 19. He is quoting Genesis 2:24. When Paul is attempting to teach on marriage and to unpack its purpose, he goes straight to God’s Word as the ultimate authority and foundation to the conversation. So once again we need to recognize that the two main people in the Bible who teach on marriage, Jesus and Paul, both see the Bible as the light upon the path when seeking answers about marriage.
The next thing we must see if this wonderful nugget of truth hidden in verse 32, “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” What is Paul saying? He is saying that this unity of husband and wife is a reference, or pointer, to the union that takes place between Christ the Church, those he died for and rescued from Hell. Verse 32 is saying the ultimate and specific reason why God created the institution of marriage was for it to be a living display of the Gospel.
When we think about this, this makes complete sense. In Genesis 1:27 we are told that man and woman are created by God in the image of God. Then in Genesis 2 He takes these two image bearer and joins them in marriage so as to image, or display, the most important truth in the Universe, the Gospel. God desires this image of the Gospel to cover the earth just like his image bearers. So once again we understand why marriage is a universal and cross cultural longing in humanities heart. Therefore, the primary and specific purpose of your marriage is to image forth the love between Christ and his Church. Ephesians 5 is not the only place you see evidence of this mystery. The bible regularly speaks of Jesus and His Church as the bridegroom and the bride.
And, once again, this makes sense. If as we already said, God created marriage for his glory, and he also created marriage for His Son, then it makes sense that marriage would point to the pinnacle of that glory of Christ which is the laying down of the Bridegrooms life for His Bride. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the apex of the Glory of God and marriage is its image.
The Overwhelming Implications
The realization that your marriage and every marriage is a shadow of the of the glory of God in the Gospel should have a monumental effect in your life. If the purpose of your marriage is to point to the Gospel it should change how you talk to your spouse, eat with your spouse, live with your spouse, and love your spouse. It should change everything about your relationship.
This is one of the greatest problems that marriages have. Couples have the wrong purpose for marriage in mind. They believe the purpose of marriage is the American Dream. They believe the purpose of marriage is economic freedom. They believe the purpose of marriage is sexual satisfaction. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. This is why your marriage is failing. You are trying to make marriage do something that is not its ultimate purpose. It is like trying to train an eagle to swim. Eagles are not made to swim, they are made to soar.
But this is what is beautiful, when you lay aside your idolatrous purposes and allow God to be the Lord of your marriage, out of your Gospel driven marriage will flow joy, contentment, peace, intimacy, love, and a thousand other Spirit given fruits. God will give you a taste of the Garden of Eden before the fall. The question, as always, is will you trust God? Will you trust God enough to reorient your marriage to be all about reflecting the Glory of God in the Gospel of Christ?
Next week we will begin to unpack the specific ramifications for embracing this Gospel centered purpose of your marriage, but until then, let us pray that God would push this mysterious truth deep into our hearts and deep into our marriages. Let us pray that God would make the Gospel the rudder of our union with our spouse. Pray that starting today every decision will be filtered through this glorious reality that our marriages are designed to point the World to the glory of God in the person of Christ in the manifest love of ransoming his bride.
Preached at Cornerstone Church Men's and Women's Breakfast on June 20, 2015
Open your Bibles to Hebrews 12:1-4. Let us read it, pray, and then wrap up or study on God's Design for Men and Women.
We forget that to be a Christian is to first and foremost recognize that we are sinful, fallen, desperately sick, broken creatures. Our life, prior to being born again is out of step with our Maker. When God births us into spiritual existence, our new inclination is to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” The power of the Gospel is to justify and to sanctify. Meaning that the death of Christ sufficiently pays for all of our sin, and there is nothing left for us to do so as to be reconciled to God. However, the Gospel does not merely justify us, it puts us into motion towards becoming in sync with God's will.
The gospel breaks the chains of our sinfulness and gives us freedom and desire to pursue what pleases God. This is the essence of or text this morning to “lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” This morning I want to talk about two things 1) The Race and 2) the Weights.
So what is this race that we are running? First, let us understand that the terrain for this race is not the streets of gold found in Heaven, but the muck and the mire of this World. God has ordained that the starting line for our life in Christ begins in a fallen world. This is not a perfect illustration but it may help, it is as if we are running in sand. And not only are we running in sand, but people watching us run are not predominately fans of ours. They are hecklers, scoffers, booers, perhaps at times, even obstacles. For some people, the race actually becomes a gauntlet of sorts.
This was the case for the cloud of witnesses that surround us that are spoken about in Hebrews 12:1. These cloud of witnesses are listed in Chapter 11 we are told their stories involve lions, sacrifice, war, torture, mockery, flogging, chains, imprisonment, afflicted and mistreated. Despite all those difficulties, they endured, they kept running the race.
So what race were they running? They were running the race of faith. It is a race that centered around the promises of God. To each of them, the word of God was proclaimed, God's will was revealed, strategy and design were laid out before them, and each one of them had a choice to make in their life, believe God and run the race, or not believe God and blend into the world.
We have spent months soaking in Biblical text seeking the will of God when it comes to men and women. Our study has led us to one single reality, God has a specific design for men, and God has a specific design for women. Both male and female are equal before God. God loves men and women equally and delights in men and women equally, but we have different callings.
I don’t know how you can walk away from this study and think otherwise, for we looked at scripture after scripture from the beginning to the end and it all pointed to an intentional God with an intentional design. Starting in the Garden, running through the Old Testament, examining the words of Jesus, looking at the early Church, reading the letters of Paul, and studying the remaining letters. All of it pointed to an unchanging God who has ordained unchanging roles.
So the question is no longer what does the Bible say about my role as a man, and my role as a women, for we know what its says. The question is, are you willing to run the race of faith when it comes these roles, when it comes to God's design? Are you willing to trust in God’s plan for you as a male, and God’s plan for you as a female? Are you willing to trust in God’s designed for marriage? Are you willing to trust God’s has designed for the home? Are you willing to trust God’s design for His Church?
At this point, this is really the question before us. Will you chose to run the race of faith? We have stared in the mirror of God’s Word, will we turn and forget what we saw? Will we run the race, or will we go sit in the stands? Or perhaps we will run for a little while, and then we will give up because it is just too hard in this day in age? Maybe the Word of God will sprout up in our lives, but it will be chocked out by the cares of this world, or persecution from your family and “friends.”
What I want to do this morning is to convince you, or remind you, that God’s design for male and female is not a burden, it is not a punishment. It is a design that God declared in Genesis 1:31 to be “very good.” That word good in verse 31 is “tob” which can be translated to pleasing, well, pleasant, delightful, glad, joyful, delicious, sweet. God’s design for men and women is a design that fits. It is a design that complements. It is a design that is harmonious. It is a design the best displays what God desires to be displayed.
I think we as Christians forget this. We see the walk of faith only as difficult, and we fail to see the joy, and peace, and fullness of a life when you are surrendered entirely to your Father. We forget that God promises that truth sets us free, and that there is freedom in implementing God’s design. We fail to recognize the fruit that will come from a life planted by the streams of God’s Word. We must recognize that the weight of this life, is not obedience, but disobedience.
What is the must regular response to the question, how have you been? “Busy.” That is the main response. “We are really busy.” You can see it in people's eyes, they are scattered in their lives and scattered in their hearts. This is a weight upon their shoulders. It drags them down. It makes the race of this life wearisome. I can't help but think the main reason for this is that we are out of sync with God's design for our lives.
Instead of men being at home and leading their wives and children, they are working 50+ hours a week, golfing, watching endless sports, or wasting their life away in a man cave. Instead of men stepping up and leading Church's they shrink in the back and make jokes about the women doing it. They send them out into the world to make money so that you can have a bigger truck. Men are universally failing to be the men that God designed them to be. Gone seem to be the days of valiance. Homes and Churches are now full of 40 year old adolescents.
Women, you have bought into the lie of feminism that equality means being the same. Equality does not mean the same. There is no doubt that men and women are different. Why in the world did we think we can fit them into the same mold? You have pursued the path of man, and you are now doing twice as much work and burning the candles at both ends. Your kids are being raised by secular strangers, and you and your husband are always fighting because the house is always a wreck, you never eat as a family, and the two hours you get the your children is spent carting them around to keep up with the world. And at the end of the night, the last thing you are thinking about is intimacy.
With all this said, we wonder why marriages don't last. And we wonder why Church's are slipping into liberalism, where anything goes. We have ignored, rejected, or twisted the Word of God.
But it doesn't have to be this way for us. We don't have to go the way of the world, and be deceived. We can chose today to lay aside every weight that is clinging to us and run the race that God has expressly set before us. Will it be easy? Absolutely not. God hardly ever calls us into things that are easy. The life of a Christian is described as a fight of faith. We must work out our salvation. We must strive down the narrow path. We must pick up our cross and follow Christ.
So this is my call as we end this series. Each of you make a concerted effort to live out what you have been studying. Pray that God would reveal to you areas that are out of sync with God's will. Then take steps in your life to fulfill God's design for you as a man and a women. It doesn't have to be all at once. Each month do something that moves you in the right direction.
Men, start seeing your home as your Garden of Eden and stand guard against Satan's attack on you, your wife, and your kids. Pay attention to what is on the TV, Computer, mailbox, and phone. Set loving rules and boundaries. Be willing to lay down your life for your wife by reducing your work hours, eliminating your TV time, or giving up a hobby or two. Start leading your family in prayer and devotionals. Look for ways that you can step up to the plate at Church. Encourage other men to be men. Make the choice to stop being apathetic, and instead choose to be a fellow solider in Christ.
Women, think about how you can come up along side and help your husbands and the Church. Be Holy Spirit like, who comes and goes without being seen, but you know that he was there because you can see the effects. Think about how you can make the dance more beautiful. Unleash your God given creativity and live, not as a slave to feminism, but as a slave to Jesus Christ. Make your home a gospel centered home, focus your attention on training up your children in righteousness. Love your husband, encourage your husband, respect your husband.
Lastly, let us, let God be God. Let us submit to Him above all. Let us not think we are entitled to a certain way of life that we believe is the best. Let us run the race of faith and trust in God's design, let us trust in God's Word, and let us endure for the joy that is set before us when we stand in the presence of our Maker and we here him say well done good and faithful servant.
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on April 6, 2014
Today we continue our walk through the greatest sermon ever preached, The Sermon on the Mount. The sermon was of course preached by none other than Jesus himself, and it is jam packed with no-nonsense truth. To use a phrase from John MacArthur, the Sermon on the Mount presents a picture of Jesus that you cannot ignore.
Today we are going to talk about divorce. Before we get started I want to say that I am completely aware that this sermon may make some of you uncomfortable, and I want you to know that my intention is not to make people feel awkward. My intention is to teach the Bible. My prayer this week and today is that I speak with gentleness and grace, but that I do not strip God's Word of its truth. Lastly, as I stated last week while teaching on adultery, we must start with the understanding that we are all sinners; you, me, and everyone that walks through this door. There is no place for self-righteousness here. So as we unpack this text and discuss the topic of divorce no one should feel that I, or anyone else, have a moral high ground over you or anyone else. We are all wretched and desperately need the Grace of God found in Jesus Christ.
Today, like always, we have a lot to cover, so lets get to work. Turn with me to Matthew 5:31-32. Let us read it, pray for God's Grace, and soak in God's Word.
You can easily get a sense of this pervasive tension when you look at our text today. 2000 years ago Jesus was addressing the institution of marriage. Why was He addressing it? Because the Scribes and the Pharisees had mad a mess of marriage. Just like we saw over the last two Sundays when looking at murder and adultery, Jesus as setting things straight.
In order for us to understand our text, we need to first understand marriage. In order to do that, we need to look at a couple other passages. First turn with me to Matthew 19:1-12
First, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that marriage is created by God himself. It is not something that humanity, or culture, or the government invented. It is a relationship intentionally designed, created and implemented by God.
The second thing we see it that this union of marriage is significantly strong. In fact, there is no other relationship on the planet between two humans that is stronger than the husband and wife. Not even the bond between parent and child is as strong as husband and wife. For a child leaves his parents and is unified with his or her spouse.
With these two points in front of us, the question is now, why did God design a relationship between a male and female that is so prevalent in the world and so strong between the couple? What is the primary purpose of God in marriage?
This question is rarely asked and rarely answered, and because it is not asked many Christians are succumbing to divorce. I think the reason this question is rarely asked is because we are too busy asking the wrong question. We are asking the sames questions that the Pharisees were asking, when can I get a divorce? We are wanting to know what box can we check on the certificate of divorce application form. The reason we do this, is because our hearts are hard, just like the Pharisees. We make marriage all about our pleasure, and not about God's glory. This is the central issue that Jesus was addressing in Matthew 5 and Matthew 19.
Our hearts are too much like the Pharisees and not enough like Jesus’. Instead of showering my wife with self-sacrificing love, and grace and forgiveness, I rain down on her self-justifying anger. Every fight that I find myself in with my wife is about my pride. It is about my agenda. It is about my pleasures. It is about me. My sin is the problem, but this is not what God had originally designed. Before the fall, divorce was not a word in Adam and Eve’s vocabulary. What God had joined, let no man separate.
So the question is still before us? What is God’s purpose in designing, creating, and implementing marriage? Turn with me to Ephesians 5:28. There is no one in the Bible that talks about marriage more than Paul, who by the way was not married. Interestingly enough, just like Jesus. So for all you single people, marriage is important to understand, and it is important because of what it displays.
Marriage is not a societal thing. It is not a cultural thing. It is a gospel thing. This is what marriage symbolizes, and this is why Satan hates it. This is why marriage is always under attack. A husband and a wife joined together forever, bound by God Himself is to be an image of Jesus’ unending love of his people, and this image of redemption is to cover the Earth. And Ephesians 5 is not the only place that points to this reality.
John the Baptist who was to set the stage for Jesus refers to Jesus as the bridegroom:
Listen to what takes place in Heaven after all the elect have been saved. This is the party we all long to be a part of.
I think God is making it abundantly clear what he is doing. He is telling us expressly and implicitly that marriage is a picture of the Gospel, and we should not be surprised that God has designed it this way.
For when God created he had a purpose in His mind. His purpose was not to create a random world with little to no meaning, but instead he created a world that pointed to the glory of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Let us know talk about this union. The union between Jesus and his people is unbreakable. It is eternal. It never fails. It never gives up. It endures. God himself has joined the bridegroom with his bride. Salvation by Grace through faith is a union sealed by God. Listen to these verses.
And this brings us full circle. This is why God hates divorce; because it blows up the picture of the Gospel. Every marriage that ends in divorce displays the opposite message that God intended. Divorce does not display that grace of God, it displays the sinfulness of man. This is why Satan is always attempting to destroy it.
Matthew 5 is not about adultery. It is not about the line in the sand, or the check box on the certificate of divorce. It is about your heart. Do you want to display the Gospel? Or do you want to display your sinful pleasures? Let us not repeat their mistake. Let us live the Gospel so that Glory of God shines forth in this lost and broken world!