Friday, September 18, 2009

Covenant Truth in Marriage

What is God’s outlook on marriage?

From Genesis to Revelation, God’s heart never changes, never compromises on the issue of marriage. He enters into the very foundation because marriage was His idea. It was selected as an example of the relationship between Jesus and the church, God’s own people, and Himself. Do we demonstrate this wonderful, sacred relationship to others?

Jesus and the church are compared with one another because of the covenant between God and His people. We base our entire lives on covenant conditions yet we don’t believe our marriages are covenants. Marriage is not a contract, it is a covenant.

When we enter into covenant, we exchange all our goods; we give one another all we have. We pour into eachother unconditionally; all that is mine is yours. It is so important to understand this covenant. There are covenant rules we must follow but there seems to be a slow seduction that ensnares us and causes us to view marriage as no more than an exchange of names on a piece of paper.

Understanding Covenant

At the fall of man our covenant relationship was interrupted. Adam lost the belongings God had given to him by disobeying God and eating from the tree of good and evil. So when Satan tempted Jesus with the things of this world, they really belonged to Satan because of default on Adam’s part. Think about it - relationship was interrupted between Adam and God because he became disobedient and gave up his rights to rule and subdue the earth. At this moment, man entered into covenant with the devil of this earth. Satan became owner of what Adam had previously been given. The exchange was experienced through covenant. God wanted us comfortable in life, but through the fall of man, we entered into covenant with Satan and became his guests here on earth, therefore giving up our rights to being comfortable. Because God is a covenant-honoring God, He had to stick to His own rules.

How could God, through legitimate covenant exchange, redeem man now? It happened at the cross. John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, (Jesus) that whosoever would believe in Him, would not perish, (be eternally condemned to hell) but have everlasting life.” God loves us unconditionally, and through marriage, He asks for us to do the same for Him as well as our spouse. The Lord tells us others are won by our testimony, What kind of testimony will we have if we divorce our spouses? No one divorces a spouse they love, but one whom they hate. When God tells us to love everyone, this includes our possibly unlovable spouse. Love is the greatest gift one can give to another.

In Mark 10, Jesus shares the heart of God on the issue of divorce. Verses 2 through 9, Jesus tells the Pharisees the reason Moses said it was alright for people to divorce. It was because of the hardness of their hearts. Not because of sexual immorality, not because of abuse and certainly not because spouses were just not getting along. Jesus said this was not God’s way for marriages. From the very beginning God made man and woman to be joined together permanently in marriage. A man was to leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife therefore becoming one and said let no man separate what God has joined together.” I wonder sometimes what part of that last command we don’t quite understand especially when a couple firmly says, ‘But what about this or that?’ I think God shares His heart on this issue quite clearly. Moses allowed the people to write a letter of divorce because of the hardness of their hearts, but God says it should never have been so. He hates divorce as spoken in Malachi 2:16. This hardness of hearts flows down from our spouses to our children as well. It is not very often someone who is seeking divorce thinks of what it might mean to their children. Satan is not for marriages and he can care less about your covenant before God or your children’s best interests. He comes to tear down that which God wants to build. What matters most should be what God says on the matter of marriage and divorce. Often we find the hardest thing to surrender is our own personal reasons for divorce. God knows what is best for families and divorce should never be an option if our relationships are right with God.

Adhering to Marriage Covenant

The truth of marriage covenant can only be understood through the clear understanding of what being in covenant with God means. Choosing one sin over another that excludes us from this covenant we made with God and before God reveals we really do not understand marriage covenant. How can we determine which sin will it be that causes us to disobey the Lord’s command on this issue of marriage thus also causing our spouse to sin in this same manner and disqualifying our covenant with God? How can we say to God it is this particular sin that therefore causes us to default on our covenant with Him? When we divorce, do we simply wipe our spouse out of our lives? New spouses, new lives, same covenant; marriage just doesn’t work that way.

We have a tremendous responsibility to love one another as sometimes it is truly challenging. I remember the first 10 years or so of my marriage to my present husband. Selfishness, lust, physical and emotional abuse, adultery, pornography, and unfaithfulness brought my husband and I to our knees. Had it not been for God’s gracious power to heal, strengthen, forgive and restore us and our marriage we would be part of the 60% divorce statistic while planting seeds of divorce into our children’s and grandchildren’s lives and their future marriages. What kind of legacy would we have left them?

If you have been divorced, going through a divorce or thinking of divorcing your spouse, truly repenting and sincerely apologizing to your spouse as well as your children for a lack of love for one another, lack of obedience to the Lord and breech your commitment to the Lord and to the other parent is highly advised. Divorce is not an unforgivable sin and God reminds us there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus as in Romans 8:1. Get back into obedience to Jesus and put the past behind you with a new revelation of what covenant marriage really is.

Eternal issues are at stake involving marriage and divorce. Since all things are possible with Jesus’ help and we are more than conquerors through Him, we must allow God to heal our pain, the anger and sorrows, feelings of betrayal and choose to forgive. Fight for the restoration of your marriage. Stand in the gap for the spouse in conflict and if need be, separate yourself for a time as in the case of violence or abuse in the marriage. God urges us, “When you have done all to stand, keep standing.” Be encouraged! God said He would never leave you or forsake you and He meant it. Embrace your marriage for the covenant it is. Enjoy a deep and satisfying relationship with almighty God as well the one He has blessed you with.

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