Sunday, September 14, 2014

Setting Your Marriage Free

Some fifteen years ago, our Christian marriage was in chains. Don’t get me wrong. We pretty much had a normal Christian marriage and normal Christian lives. Unfortunately, most normal Christian marriages are in chains; the bonds of the past, the bonds of selfishness and the bonds of sin. We found ourselves living out almost every area of our Christian lives as godly believers, but when it came to our marriage we were at an impasse. The one area of life that both Lori and I wanted to shine Christ the most, in our marriage, was locked in chains and we found no solutions in any marriage wisdom or books.

If you are a regular reader of Lori’s blog you would think that what broke our chains was wifely submission and loving husband leadership. Certainly this was the result of our radically changed lives, after the chains were broken, but submission and love cannot break any chains until hearts are changed.

Have you ever wondered what Jesus means when he says, “The truth will set you free?”
We often easily relate this to salvation where God provides a way for mankind to be set free from the penalty of death if we will only believe in the saving work of Christ on the cross. First, we must understand the truth of salvation and then we must believe, as God’s means of salvation comes not from any works we can do, but simply by trusting God at His Word, that all our sins were placed on the cross and our debt is paid. We are now set free!

Jesus goes into the synagogue and is handed the book of Isaiah as he reads these prophetic words about Himself, the Messiah ~

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives {Luke 4:18}. And again Jesus says, So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed {John 8:36}.

Why is it that we can much more easily believe God for our future salvation, than for some reason believing that we are truly free from the sin that so easily entangles us? God gives us the answer in Romans 6-8, some of the most important doctrine for Christians. Lori has asked me to write some posts to try and explain what unlocked our marriage and our spiritual lives in a way that no precept of scripture or marriage counselor could do.  The answer was found in some 20 various phrases and verses all reflecting the same spiritual reality in which believers are to walk: "Free from sin, dead to sin, alive in Christ Jesus!"

If you are coming along with us on this journey to the heart of a truly biblical marriage, I suggest you bring your spouse along with you by reading Romans Chapter 6 every morning for a week together. Then skip to Romans 8 and do the same. Try memorizing some of the key verses or the entire chapters. Trust me, it is not so hard to memorize a chapter, and placing these spiritual realities into your heart, mind and soul is the key to being set free in your lives and in your marriage.

The reality of Romans 6 says that we died with Christ when we were baptized into His death. Just like Christ was raised from the dead, so too we were raised to newness of life.
Our old man was crucified with Christ, so the body of sin might be destroyed. Now that we have died to sin we are freed from sin. These realities compel us to reckon ourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Furthermore, we were once the servants of sin, but because we obeyed from the heart this doctrine which was given to us, we were made free from sin and became servants of righteousness. Now having been made free from sin, and having become servants of God, the fruit we produce is holiness, and the results eternal life.

Romans 7 gives us the sad reality where far too many Christians lives and marriages are being lived… in the flesh. Paul explains his struggle to please God under his own fleshly power while trying to keep the law. This wallow in the mud of sin is a place where we as Christians can return, like a pig running back to its vomit, whenever we stop living in the reality of Romans 6 and 8.  

The reality of Romans 8 is perhaps the most important reality a believer must believe each and every moment of the day, especially in difficult circumstances faced in our marriages. It can be summed up quite simply ~

But you are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, 
if the Spirit of Christ dwells in you {Rom. 8:9}.

This must be the believers reality. We are indeed New Creatures in Christ who walk after the Spirit as we share in the New Life in Christ. No matter what our story, or circumstances, or who we married, that same Spirit of Christ is actually living in us and desires nothing more than that we would surrender to His will so that we might reflect the life of Jesus with all that we do and say in our marriages.

When we come to grips and face to face with the real Jesus who lives inside of us, sin quickly disappears. Some call it practicing the presence of Jesus each and every moment of the day, others call it walking in newness of life, or being filled with the Spirit. Which is it for you? Remember believer, you do have the Spirit of the living God inside of you and you bring Jesus to your spouse each and every moment of the day. If the results of your marriage are not going where you want them to go, it may well be that you, like us, for far too many years, do not yet really believe you are dragging Jesus into every disagreement, every conflict, every moment of selfishness you have in your marriage. You do not believe all of the promises of Romans 6 and 8 and instead are walking in the flesh, and not the Spirit.

There are no conflict resolution tools, or any marriage advice, that can substitute for reflecting the reality of the God of the universe living in and through one, or both, Christian spouses. Everything else found in God’s Word must flow from this important truth that God is at work restoring His image in you, and He has already done so, in Christ Jesus. There is no need to wait until God does any second work of grace, or fills you up with His Spirit, for you are already full and overflowing with all of the fruit of the Spirit. This reality does not depend on anything you must do but to believe God's promises, and allow the life of Christ to flow in and through you to your spouse, family and the whole world. 

And yes, if we truly believe we are alive in Christ and freed from sin we will accept the Lordship of Christ in our lives. His Lordship demands that we surrender our selves to all He demands of us, including the loving of our wife fully and sacrificially, and the absolute submission to our godly husbands, so long as we walk in righteousness. God knows what makes a one flesh marriage that binds husband, wife and Spirit all like the oneness displayed in the Godhead. Image if we had in our marriages the unity, peace, and love of the One God in three persons, all bound up in perfect faith and trust. This must be the ideal of a truly biblical marriage.