Sunday, June 12, 2011

Marriage and the Gospel - we forget/don't believe

Get used to me talking about forgetting and remembering because it will be a recurring theme on this blog. That is because we Christians are always forgetting, forgetting what has occurred previously. You know, things like, justification. Or redemption. Or propitiation. etc.

As promised, I read the Gospel truths that were being applied to marriage from Friday's post (Married? There's a Gospel for that.) to my wife. What we both noticed is that we are both well-acquainted with these Gospel truths. The problem is that in the day-to-day, hour-by-hour moments of marriage, we forget to remind ourselves of what we know. And it's not just that we forget, we also don't believe i.e, we lack faith and deny God's promises to us in Christ. That is a serious issue.

I attached the list again. Go down the points and think of the problems that occur or even plague your marriage. What do we see? If we're honest I think what we see is that in certain moments we forget/don't believe that we are completely (important word... "completely") forgiven by the Father in Christ, we forget/don't believe that we are new creations in Christ (what we believe is that we are what we are in our marriage, what my wife refers to as "big, fat sinners" and that's pretty much not going to change for us and it's certainly not going to change for "that" spouse of mine), we forget/don't believe that we are accepted by God because of Christ's sacrificial death in our place (cuz, yeah, I'm a big, fat sinner, that's my identity), we forget/don't believe that the power of sin is broken in our lives, we don't have any hope in our marriage because we have become discouraged over the preceding points, and we forget/don't believe that God's Spirit is at work in us or in our spouse. This is what really causes us to lose hope, right? We don't believe that he/her will ever change. Then we try to change them and we see where that gets us... And when we lose hope, we believe that things will never change, that the power of sin is not broken, that we are not forgiven or accepted ... anyone recognize this cycle? anyone? anyone? Bueller?

I like to keep things simple, so here's a simple thing we can do. We need to act like what we are (adopted children of our heavenly Father who share all of the blessings that Christ has) and start believing in the promises of God in the verses below. This starts with a prayer of repentance for our unbelief and sins committed against our spouse and an attitude of humility and acknowledgement of desperate need. Then reading those verses, over and over, again and again and asking God to plant them deep in our hearts where real change can take place. Are we all ready to do this? ... or are you liking your current situation so much?

  • Because of the gospel, Christians have become new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17). Therefore, in our marriage, our past does not define us, confine us, or determine our future.
  • Because of the gospel, we are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). Therefore we can live free of all guilt and condemnation for every sin, and we can trust that God, in his mercy, will be gracious to us.
  • Because of the gospel, we can forgive, just as Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). Nothing done against us compares to our sin against God. Therefore all offenses, hostility, and bitterness between Christians can be completely forgiven and removed.
  • Because of the gospel, we are accepted by God (Romans 15:7). Therefore we are not dependent on a spouse for who we are or what we need.
  • Because of the gospel, sin’s ruling power over us is broken (Romans 6:6, 14). Therefore we can truly obey all that God calls us to do in our marriage, regardless of any circumstance or situation.
  • Because of the gospel, we have access to God through Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). Therefore we can at any time take any need in our marriage to the One who can do all things.
  • Because of the gospel, we have hope (Romans 5:1-4). Therefore we can endure any marital difficulty, hardship, or suffering, with the assurance that God is working all to our greatest good (Romans 8:28).
  • Because of the gospel, Christ dwells in us by his Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:13-14). Therefore we are confident that God is always with us and is always at work in our marriage, even when progress is imperceptible (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).
  • Because of the gospel, we have power to fight and overcome remaining sin, which continues to dwell and war within us (Romans 7:19-21, 24-25;Galatians 5:16-17). This indwelling enemy represents the essence of what is called the doctrine of sin.

  • JLS

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