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Pursuing Holiness in Marriage

Pursuing Holiness In Marriage

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
Ephesians 5:22-33

To the Christian family:

There is much to understand about the Christian life and how we, as believers in Jesus Christ, are to walk by faith in obedience to the Word of God. Even the most knowledgable Christians struggle to understand and apply the whole of Scripture to their lives. It is not a requirement of education. It is an endeavor to pursue Christ in all things. This pursuit will naturally overflow into the rest of your life, specifically regarding your disciplines, work-ethic, marriage and parenting. All followers of Christ need to understand that the pursuit of Christ is not an academic pursuit of knowledge. But instead, it is a life-altering commitment to leave this world behind and follow our Lord and Savior.

As a Christian who no doubt has a past full of sin and despair, let me assure you that you are not unlike any Christian man or woman who has lived on this earth. There can be times that people whisper things into our ear or times when our thoughts run amuck thinking, “My sin is so great that no one likes me.” We might even be tempted to think, “I am not an advanced enough Christian, so people will not accept me in the church.” This type of mentality is not from God, and it should be eradicated from your thinking as a follower of Christ. Although “All have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23), those who are “in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3) have been given a new life. 

“The old things have passed away, and behold all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This includes the sin that we have struggled with in the past. Although it is not an immediate physical change for all people, there is an immediate spiritual change from the desire for those “things of old.” This is where the Holy Spirit comes into your Sanctification. He is to convict you of your sin and to point you back to the Word of God in all things (John 14:26). Because of the work of Jesus Christ in your life, there should be new desires and a newfound joy in your life to pursue things that are Holy and upright above all else (Ephesians 1:4;4:1).
For most Christian families, the bandaid for their issues is to fix their married through therapeutic methodology. Cultural council will tell you to do more chores around the house, turn off the TV, put your phone away and focus on listening to each other’s problems more intently. Although these are great practices and good disciplines to incorporate into your life, these practices will be but temporary measures that will prove insufficient if left to themselves. Included in that cultural advice would be “community” or “council.” First of all, I would not advise to submit yourself to an unqualified counselor. This will prove more dangerous than productive (Proverbs 29). Secondly, even building “community” or committing yourself to the local body will not be the end-all-be-all of fixing your personal and marital issues. There is but one sure road of redemption for both your personal, spiritual life and your marriage, and that is to pursue Holiness and not happiness.

In His Sovereignty, God instituted two things on earth for His people: The Church and Holy Matrimony. And the most amazing fact about those two institutions is that they are to mirror each other. Marriage is to be a picture of The Church and The Church is to emulate a Biblical marriage. But more importantly, both of these institutions are to be a Gospel presentation in themselves. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is clearly displayed in the Biblical, local church. And in the same way, the Gospel of Jesus Christ should be clearly on display in the life of a Biblical marriage. 

The cultural coin-phrase of marriage is: “I love you, but I don’t like you.” This understanding of marriage is nowhere to be found in the Bible, and is an utter lie in regards to what God has deemed Holy Matrimony. This type of thinking leads to a completely subjective understanding of what “as Christ loves the church” means. Holy Matrimony is loving your spouse and liking them too.

We should first understand that marriage — like salvation — is a gift from God. We did nothing to earn our marriage. It is truly a gift of God. And in the same way that your Savior is a gift and your salvation as unearned, you should view your spouse and your marriage as an unearned gift of God. This transformative outlook in itself will immediately change the scope of your union together. You and your spouse are to be a direct reflection of the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Next, we must understand that Biblical marriage is not cultural marriage. In other words, Biblical marriage has been instituted as “Holy Matrimony,” whereas, culture marriage is deemed as a partnership — whether that be based on worldly love or convenience. The gift of marriage is to be Holy. This is to be set-apart. It is to be “a cut above” all other marriages. Holy Matrimony is, in itself, a picture of the pursuit of the individual Christian life found in Ephesians 1:4. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the Heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him from before the foundations of the world, that we should be Holy and blameless before Him.” This is the exact same language that we find in chapter 5, when the Apostle Paul is giving instruction on Biblical marriage. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Biblical marriage is to pursue Holiness. The idea that marriage is about making each other happy is a cultural idea of the union of a man and a woman. This becomes extremely subjective, and will also be a moving target that will suffice no satisfaction. The command that God gives to us in marriage is that we are to pursue His will and in doing this, we will please Him. To pursue the will of God will bring much joy to your life! And it will also cause God’s face to shine upon your marriage (Psalm 67:1).

In order for your Biblical marriage to pursue a collective Holiness, each individual spouse must be devoted to pursuing individual Holiness in his or her own life. This is a commitment. This is a constant battle to kill selfishness and pride and embrace the grace and mercy of God. The personal pursuit of Holiness is one that can only be found in the Word of God.
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