We want to talk about practicing Christian marriage this morning. So, open your Bibles to Ephesians chapter 4, Ephesians chapter 4. This is a, a foundational text on the doctrine of repentance, and repentance is the real secret in the practice of marriage. You’re going to have plenty of opportunity for repentance in marriage but repentance if you set your mind on repentance and realize that all of life really, in the Christian life, all of life is repentance.
Repentance is going to bring you in marriage, the greatest joy, the deepest gratitude, as all of us grow in grace, in the grace of Christian marriage. One of our favorite figures in church history is Martin Luther, and for many many reasons, he’s one of our favorites. But the Lord used him, obviously to recover and clarify the doctrine of repentance for the church. One of the key doctrines which was at the heart of the Protestant Reformation.
It was about eight years after he nailed the 95 Theses to the Wittenberg door, and it was in 1525 when Martin Luther was 42 years old that he married Katharina von Bora. Martin Luther had been a monk. Obviously, he practiced as a Catholic monk, practice clerical celibacy. So, he’d never been married, but neither had Katharina. So, after she was converted, she escaped her convent and, and found refuge in Wittenberg which is where she met Martin.
She was 16 years his junior and as she met him and got married to him. Well, she had her hands full with a good doctor. Martin wrote, “There is a lot to get used to in the first year of marriage, one wakes up in the morning and finds a pair of pigtails on the pillow which were not there before.” And that was saying something for those pigtails to be on that pillow because Martin had to admit “before I was married the bed was not made for a whole year and became foul with sweat. I worked so hard and was so weary I tumbled in without noticing it.”
Katharina had her hands full, and she was not about to put those pretty pigtails on that pillow until some things were cleaned around there. But Martin and Katharina enjoyed more than 20 years of a, a very happy, lively marriage together. They had six children, two of whom died very young. They had an active, very active home of ministry service. She was incredible wife and worker and, and even helped in some of the industry and providing some, some money and income for a minister’s household, a, made meals around the table. And a lot of Martin Luther’s conversations that happened around the table found their way into books and things that he would write.
He called her Kette, which is, I’m not sure if I’m pronouncing that right in German, Kette, but it’s a pun on a shortened version of her name, Katya or Katie. Kette means chain referring to her as a ball and chain. He had a lot of pet names for her, that was one of the favorite, but it was no put down really. Katie was, really was, an anchor for Martin. She not only kept him grounded and anchored down in all the best ways, but she also kept him healthy, even provided a, a home, an environment, that he would thrive in and that he might be even more used of the Lord.
Those new churches, those young marriages in the burgeoning Protestant movement. I mean breaking free from a thousand years of Roman Catholic domination over the mind. They didn’t know how to do life and marriage well. They had no history. They had no understanding of what real good marriages looked like and so, this was used of the Lord mightily in helping to establish these young Protestant churches and the young Protestant movement.
We have some of the most beloved quotes on marriage that come from Martin Luther, and we have Katie to thank for that, because there would be none of those quotes if she had not come into the picture. Martins Luther says this, he says “The first love [he’s talking about romantic love, there’s two come together] the first love is drunken. So that we are blinded and drawn into marriage and after we have slept off our intoxication.” He says, “then comes the real marriage love.” Isn’t that true?
He says, “Let the wife make the husband glad to come home and let him make her sorry to see him leave.” Isn’t that a sweet one? “The Christian is supposed to love his neighbor, and since his wife is his nearest neighbor, she should be his deepest love.” Then he says this, “There is no more lovely, friendly and charming relationship, communion or company, than a good marriage.” Isn’t that true?
I know for those senior saints among us, um, those who’ve been widowed and enjoyed long happy marriages, that’s exactly what you’ll find when you talk to them. They’re the ones we want to look to, look up to, seek advice from. You young married people if you don’t have an older couple in your life that you go to for counsel, seek for advice, ask questions of them, just sit and listen, buy them a dinner, buy them a cup of coffee, whatever it is. If you don’t have that in your life, you’re not well connected enough to this church. So, get to know some of those folks.
Well, Martin Luther had an opportunity to practice repentance in the context of marriage. Going back to his 95 Theses that I mentioned, in the first 4 of those 95 Theses Luther started out with the doctrine of repentance. This is where he started when he nailed those Theses to the Wittenberg door. This very first of the 95 says our Lord and Master Jesus Christ, when he said repent, the Lord willed that the whole life of believers should be repentance.
In that Theses he was citing Matthew 3:2 and Matthew 4:17, wheree the Lord said, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,” and his intent in that Theses was to clarify what the Lord meant by repent. Because, in the translation of the Latin Vulgate that was commonly used by all the priests by the Catholic Church, they didn’t get that word right. Repent was translated due penance. So, he needed to clarify that.
In the second and third Theses, Luther made it plain and clear that by repentance the Lord was not referring to an external act of piety. Some work of penance that would earn the absolution of sins like almsgiving, and prayers, and charity, and buying indulgences, and all the rest. “Repentance, [he said], is not externalism, not human works of piety to merit the forgiveness of sins, but also, [he said], neither is the Lord advocating and calling for our repentance. He’s not advocating for a merely inward piety. Consisting in mental ruminations and a ponderous musing about the divine.
“Repentance has nothing to do with living a monkish life of navel gazing or empty fruitless spiritual contemplation. Repentance is neither of those things. External formalism or internal rumination. Repentance is something that bears real fruit. Visible actual fruit that can be seen, known, watched, observed.” In fact, in the third Theses Luther said, “Nay, there is no inward repentance which does not outwardly work diverse mortifications of the flesh.” And he goes on to the four, in the fourth Theses to say, “Repentance consists in hatred of self.”
It’s going back to Luke 9:23, right? Jesus said, “If anyone come after me, let him deny himself.” That’s what he’s referring to. Repentance consists in hatred of self. That is the hatred of the fallen nature. An, he says, “It results then, in the mortification of sin, and produces the fruit of new spiritual life. That repentance continues, [he says], until our entrance into the Kingdom of heaven.”
Again, when our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said repent, he willed that the whole life of believers is to be a life of repentance. So, the whole life, which for married couples is, the married life. Whole life is a life of repentance. We’d say that another way for married couples. Repentance has worked out in the context of our marriage. If you’re married, I hope you see that as a wonderful, blessed gift of God, that you get to work out your life of Christian repentance in the context of holy matrimony.
That you can work out your repentance within the covenant bonds of marriage with another creature that you become intimate with. Because it is a gift. It’s a gift from God to be able to do that together. If that’s his blessing for your good, for your sanctification. I also hope you see that this message, a message that marriage is the context of your Christian repentance, that you see that as completely countercultural, because it is, completely countercultural.
God has given the institution of marriage, as we’ve been saying, he’s given that institution for our formation. To mature us, it’s to shape and mold us, and sometimes being shaped and molded doesn’t feel good. It makes demands of us. It says you can’t say that anymore. It says you can’t live that way anymore, but you can live this way. And as we’re pushed forward along the path of sanctification and repentance, though it doesn’t feel good at the outset, what we’re pushed into, is green pastures and still waters given to us by the Lord. But we have to be thrust out of what we find to be comfortable. We find to make better sense to us sometimes.
“Let the wife make the husband glad to come home and let him make her sorry to see him leave.”Martin Luther
You don’t have to be married long to realize how true it is. That marriage is that gift. An institution that’s there to shape and form and mold you and sanctify you. You realize how difficult that can be when you’re stubborn, when your heart is hard, when you’re ignorant of certain things, when you have trouble understanding. It is a difficulty, but it is a blessed difficulty given to us by the Lord for our holiness in order that we might find happiness.
The world has been saying quite the opposite. It’s been saying, shape and form the institution of marriage to fit yourself. Conform marriage to your desires. Make it what you want it to be. Let it conform to your wants, your pleasures, your expectations. I wonder how much of the world and its message sometimes, how much of the worlds culture has gotten into us?
Paul admonished the Romans, “Do not be conformed to this world,” and again I wonder how much is the world conforming us to its image and affecting our thinking. From Disney’s princess movies, to romantic comedies. From teen romances, to reality shows, to all the lifestyles of the rich and famous. From the, all the blended families we see, to alternative lifestyles and different ways of doing family.
Subtly, powerfully, the culture intends to form and shape us, to mold us, into, conform to its distorted image. To feel weird because we’re doing what the Bible tells us to do, because we’re doing what actually makes sense, what actually has rational, reasonable, solid truth, justification. The world wants to make us feel odd, outsiders. When really, they are the ones who have sub, subverted all of God’s truth about everything, including marriage.
So, as Paul wrote, “Don’t be conformed to the pattern of this world, but instead be transformed by the renewal of your minds, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” No longer conformed to the world transformed by the renewing of the mind in order to test, prove, discern God’s will in order that we should do it, in order that we should practice it. What is that, but another way to describe the doctrine of repentance?
So, we’re going to jump into Ephesians 4 here. We’re going to unpack repentance and apply repentance specifically to the institution of marriage. We’ll just do an overview of Ephesians 4:17 to 32. And let me just say a couple words about that overview. First, even though we don’t have time for a full, in-death, in-depth exposition of the text, I’m just gonna hit the high points here as we go through, make some applications. But I trust that you’ll see, what I’m saying is faithful to the true meaning of the text. What I’m saying does come out of a study of the text.
I’ll leave it to you to judge what I say, whether or not it’s faithful, whether it’s true to the text. But I pray that it is, by God’s grace. I’ve done the homework. And secondly. Even though I’m gonna be applying this text to the marriage, to the marital situation, I trust that all of you will see the implications of this text that go way beyond marriage, outside of marriage, to all relationships. This text applies to you who are not married as well. So, whether you’re a single, widowed, divorced. If you’re not married all of this is gonna apply to you as well.
“You don’t have to be married long to realize how true it is. That marriage is that gift.”Travis Allen
So, I, I’m getting a jump start on what I’m gonna say next week and Sunday morning, Sunday night. These are principles that deal with Christian living. These deal with the outworking of repentance to, so that we make progress in sanctification, so that we grow in holiness. So, what I’m saying to the married, I am saying to all. What God says to the married, really, he says to all. Don’t check your brains at the door and that, let me just switch that around. As I speak to those who are not married next week, that doesn’t give you married people permission to vacation, take a break mentally, because everything that I say to them applies to you.
Okay, fair enough, let’s get into our outline, an outline that really does follow the process of repentance. And here’s the first point which we see in verses 17 to 19, Ephesians, chapter 4. Here’s the first point, stop doing marriage like Gentiles. Very simple number 1, stop doing marriage like Gentiles. And you say, but I am a Gentile and that’s right. So repent. And stop living like one. That’s the point.
That’s what Paul says here in verse 17, “Now this I say and testify in the Lord that you” remember he’s writing to Ephesians, who are, most of them not Jews, they are Gentiles. He says, “I say and testify in the Lord you must no longer walk, as the Gentiles do.” How do they walk? How do they live? How do they practice, go about the course of their life, “in the futility of their minds? They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to the hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality. Greedy to practice every kind of impurity.”
That’s not a pleasant way of looking at the world, but that is the truth. That is how God sees the unbelieving world. Feudal thinking, fruitless reasoning, wandering around in darkened understanding, bumping into objects in the dark, tripping over them, falling over them, hurting themselves, hurting other people. Darkness comes because of spiritual separation from God, alienation radically from God. Because they are unregenerate, they are dead in trespasses and sins. And they ha, therefore have ignorance about the truth.
It’s a willful ignorance. It’s a willful blindness. And the result is callousness, a hardness. They are sensual, that is, they live by their five senses. They live to please the self, the senses, and they’re driven then into impurity. They’re driven by an insatiable greed. That is what Paul calls the Gentile life. And as Christians we obviously don’t want to live that way, but listen, how often do we seek that counsel? How often do we let what they say affect the way we live our lives? How often do we go searching for their advice?
We have to stop listening to Gentile counsel, stop listening to worldly advice. Psalm 1 opens the whole psalter with this admonition. “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but [what] his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” The council of the wicked, the ways of sinners, the seat of the scoffers.
That is exactly what Paul is describing here in Ephesians 4: 7-19. With these words like futility, darkness, alienation, ignorance. That’s the world, they have nothing for you, believer, nothing for you, Christian. With regard to life and godliness. Any advice that they give you with regard to life and godliness, family raising, fam, and, children, raising your children, whatever. Is going to lead to sensuality, it’s gonna appeal to sensuality, it’s gonna be driven by greed, it’s gonna lead to the practice of impurity. So, stay away from it.
First bit of practical advice, you can jot down if you want to put a sub-point or something here. First bit of practical advice here for husbands and wives, let me be very clear. I’ll say it in today’s vernacular, stop googling the advice of the world. Stop Googling it. I mean, if I said that sentence twenty years ago or thirty years ago, googling, what would they think of that? But how quick are we to turn to the world when we have questions? To Google worldly advice an, and then accept often uncritically, many times blindly, accept a host of their assumptions and their presuppositions and their biases and their prejudices against God, against his word, against true spirituality?
Don’t go to the internet for counsel and I’ll be even more pointed here, be very careful about the influence of professing Christians, and authors, and bloggers, and podcasters, and all the rest. I say this not because I’m just making it up. I mean I really have seen over my years in ministry, decades of being a Christian. I have seen this error so many times enter into, especially with young people in the church. People in their twenties, thirties, forties. They are enamored with people who have the next best thing, and they’re too young to realize it’s a fad that’s been tried many times before. Whole generation of Christian young people kiss dating goodbye on the council of a twenty something author who became an evangelical celebrity.
Josh Harris was elevated way too quickly and hard to understand this, but he was platformed by much older pastors. Men with sound reputations for faithfulness who ought to have known better, and he was elevated to the spiritual detriment of many in that generation. This young man, he was raised as a Christian celebrity. He was really the poster boy for an evangelical kind of hipster purity culture. Kind of a kind gentle Christianity, but he has since abandoned the faith.
He has apostatized in a very public way and today he’s making his living by trying to deconstruct evangelical faith. Another generation of young men learned manhood from an angry, crude, fight club kind of pastor. I put air quotes around pastor because he wasn’t a pastor, named Mark Driscoll. Many young men adopted his angry and I’ll just say, misogynistic ways, his abusive style, his prurient speech, a worldly swagger that he carried through his, so called ministry.
He loved a familiarity with the seedier side of culture, and in the end that movement hurt a lot of people. It exs, it blew up and fell apart and brought reproach on Christ’s fair name and turned many from the truth. After the fiasco up in Seattle, another, there’s another one right now underway where he’s taken up a residence again and started pastoring again in the Phoenix area. But his false version of manhood put a whole lot of massive obstacles in front of women, stumbling blocks in front of women to cripple their walk.
Women, who gave themselves to all of that he taught, all that he said. Now they think because he said, I believe in complementarianism. Now a whole lot of women think complementarianism is a bad idea because they look and associate that with him. Many are loathed, trust any man again. Many, many in that church are loathe to trust any elders, any leaders, any pastors. Many women have been hurt. They’re very reluctant to subject themselves to that or, even in marriage.
From Josh Harris to Mark Driscoll, there are always going to be teachers who are ready to capitalize and make merchandise out of people because of the cultural drift going on in society. There are many, even now offering a false version of manliness. They try to provide angry young men with biblical justification for, to be cigar smoking, whiskey, drinking, gun toting culture warriors that get into fights all over the internet.
Paul tells Timothy have nothing to do with irreverence and profane speech. Nothing to do with silly myths. With what the King James version calls Old Wives fables. The N, NAS translates and expands that to worldly fables fit only for old women. I’m sorry old women that’s not meant to point to you if you don’t follow old fables, but Paul says to Timothy rather discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness. Godliness is the word eusebeia, eusebeia, and it means piety.
I don’t know if you’ve been listening to some of the bloggers recently, but they decry piety. Piety, piousness as if it’s a bad thing. Listen, the Puritans love the word piety. They love the word pious because it means godly, godliness. I’m not talking about a false piety. We’re not talking about an evangelical, pharisaical, self-righteous piety. We’re talking about true piety.
Godliness that’s the goal. So many young marriages, so many young families in this church, which is such a gift of Christ. But I just implore you. Don’t waste the early decades of your marriage, of your child rearing years by following the advice of your peers. By following their blogs and podcasts and videos, so much of it is fad-driven or often worse. It’s well meaning, but it’s undigested, untested stuff. They don’t have the time and experience to test what they’re saying to you. Comes from people who they themselves are still in the early years of life, marriage and family.
“Fear the Lord, turn away from evil, be humble, seek counsel.”Travis Allen
One of our elders likes to say this, “I don’t trust anybody under the age of fifty.” I happen to be just over that, so I’m thankful. Couple of our elders, yeah, you know. Paul says in first Thessalonians, 5:21 he says, “Test everything, test everything, hold fast to what is good and abstain from every form of evil.” How do you do that? As a young married person? Back to Christ’s gift to the local church, Ephesians 4:11. Go back to Christ’s gift of godly leadership.
Christ has given you, young families, young marriages. He’s given you, wise pastors. He’s given you shepherds, faithful shepherds, teachers in this church. Talk with them. Talk with them regularly. Get into their lives, get into their homes, know them. Let them know what you’re digesting. Don’t hide it from them. Bring what you’re learning, what you’re thinking about, what you’re consuming as far as digital media, podcast blogs, all the rest.
Bring it to them for their own scrutiny for their counsel, for their interaction, and don’t come in there with an agenda as if you’re right and you’re just going to prove it. Come in there with humility. With a teachable spirit, a meek spirit, “Don’t lean on your own understanding,” Proverbs 3:5. “Don’t be wise in your own eyes,” Proverbs 3:7. Fear the Lord, turn away from evil, be humble, seek counsel.
It’s those who fear the Lord who recognize their own spiritual maturity. It’s those who fear the Lord who questioned the, their young twenty, thirty, forty something judgment and they seek the council of the spiritually mature of those who know them in their local context, in their local church. They defer to that older, wiser judgment and they learn to follow wisdom. Knowledge alone puffs up. Love, takes knowledge, applies it for life and godliness. Love learns wisdom. Love does that all for the sake of edifying others.
Here’s a second bit of practical advice for husbands and wives, in light of what we’ve been saved out of, which Paul has described in Ephesians 4:17 to 19. Be kind, understanding, patient, gentle, with one another’s weaknesses and sins in marriage. If I just put that point simply, go easy on each other. Go easy on each other. Be gentle with one another’s sins and weaknesses. Be gracious with each other.
The fall, as we can see in Ephesians 4:17, 19, the fall has messed us up hasn’t it? All of us, none of us are immune from the effect of the fall. It’s adversely affect our thinking, our feelings, our affections, our, our volition, our willing. Sin has shaped and distorted our personalities and more than that, sin is so interwoven into our masculinity and our femininity that sin takes the gender differences that God designed for our good and sin exacerbates, frustrates us to no end, doesn’t it?
Takes time to recognize all that’s there. It takes time to unpack the source of all that sin, which is pride, self-centeredness, unbelief. Takes time to get down to the root and see the connection to all the fruit and the symptoms. We plant out in the, out in the garden and realize how long it takes for that tree to grow from the seed, to the sapling, to the full-grown fruit bearing strong tree. If it takes time for a tree, where our lives are compared to a tree, our spiritual lives are like that.
And so, women be patient with your husbands. Be patient with them. Look to God, do what’s good, don’t be fearful or intimidated. Your husband will change. Its guaranteed, if he’s a Christian. We said this in our last message, last week. Let him see your godly example. Twirl around the home and do your work. And let him see your godly example while you pray for his growth to maturity.
He didn’t enter into your marriage a full-grown husband. Just perfect leader. He has to learn it. He’s got all the tools by God’s design. He’s got it in his DNA, but he’s got to practice it. It’s got to come out overtime. It’s gonna be some clunkiness along the way. Be patient with your husband. He’s going to learn overtime to appreciate the gift that God has given him in you. As he learns how to benefit from you, how to live with you according to wisdom and understanding. How is it, learns to appreciate your counsel?
Men, same thing. Be patient with your wives. Allow time for their mental processing for their communication style, which is going to be different than yours. As they express their concerns about their world, about all the practical details of life and marriage and family. Be patient with them. Be gentle, be kind. Give them time to express their thoughts to you so that you can help enter in and speak to it and shape it and just sometimes just listen and say nothing.
See your wife as God’s gift to help you, provide a feminine perspective. Martin Luther needed it. We do too. We do too. She’ll give you good godly counsel, so be patient listeners. Curious students of your wife. Whatever you don’t understand initially, learn to ask good questions of her in order to discover the good counsel she’s trying to give you. And be sure to thank God for her. More we can say on that, but let’s just keep moving through the text.
Stop doing marriage like Gentiles. That’s the first point. Here’s a second point instead, verses 20 and 24. Practice marriage as regenerate Christians. Number two, practice marriage as regenerate Christians. Born again Christians. Verse 20 says, in contrast to the Gentile way of living, says, “That is not the way you learn Christ.” There is nothing from that world that has anything that pertains to this life, this world, now, that has nothing to do with Christ.
“Assuming [verse 21] that you have heard about him and we’re taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,” that’s actually more present tense, so, “be being renewed in the spirit of your minds, [and then] to put on the new self, [verse 24] created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Those who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit according to 2 Corinthians 5:17, they are new creations in Christ. This new self, verse 24, is “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” So in other words, that is to say, what Adam lost in the fall, Christ fulfilled, Christ restored for us, and Christ renews that image in us by the indwelling Holy Spirit, by the power of the word. And he fulfills that in us.
This regenerated life. The born-again person. He’s put off the old self. He’s being renewed in the spirit of his mind. He has put on the new self. This outlines true repentance. It starts verse 20, by, in verse 21, by hearing and understanding the truth. It’s truth that does the work. It’s truth that provokes. It’s truth that comes in, convicts. It gives us understanding. It illuminates the mind. It helps us to, to have understandings so we’re not ignorant, but we’re actually informed.
Understand the truth and then second put off the old self. Put off the old self, one, as soon as we understand the truth, we’re like, get rid of that. That is not helpful. Everything I learned from the world, everything I learned, my upbringing from the world is garbage. Throw it away. Put off the old self and then be being renewed in the mind. That is to continue to understand what was wrong with this thing you’re mortifying, and what it is to put on in its place. You’re renewed in your minds who understand not only the what but the why of the Christian life, and then put on the new self. That is the pattern for repentance.
That’s actually the pattern of everybody who initially repents and comes to Jesus Christ initially for salvation. That is the same pattern that has to be worked out through the rest of the life. That’s the practice of Christian marriage as well. It’s a practice of any relationship. So, several points of practical counsel to give you for husbands and wives and the practice of marriage. And for those of you who are not married at this time, just consider these as points of counsel for the practice of repentance in your life, okay.
First, you start with the truth. Understand the power of the truth to renew your mind and change your life. Understand the power of the truth to renew your mind and change or transform your life. Verse 20, hearing about Jesus, that’s the truth, being taught the truth in Jesus, that is critical for repentance. It is vital for growth in godliness. That is the sap flowing through the tree that feeds the branches and bears the fruit. So, avail yourselves of the regular means of grace.
Listen to the ministry of the word, come nearer for the discipline and the ordinance of the local church. Attend to the Word of God. Learn from the gifted shepherd’s given to this church, watch your heart and be sure that you’re worshipping God, that you’re obedient to Christ. And you’re attuned to the growth and maturation of the spirits fruit in your life. Another point of council for marriages, number two, let’s talk about making some proper assumptions.
So, let’s make some proper assumptions. I’m just gonna run through very quick list here. I won’t enumerate them, but just start by assuming that the power of gos, of the gospel that’s at work in your life is also at work in your spouse. Assume the power of the gospel is at work in your spouse. Your job in marriage is to live your Christianity, practice your conspiratorial life, and trust that God is working in hers or his as well. Don’t try to confront everything you see. Don’t try to fix everything you see in the other person.
“Watch your heart and be sure that you’re worshipping God, that you’re obedient to Christ.”Travis Allen
Realize God loves your spouse more than you do. He’s saved your spouse. He’s working on him or her. Your spouse’s growth. That’s his responsibility to work out before the Lord. That’s her responsibility to work out before the Lord. So, be patient with your Christian spouse. Let the process of sanctification happen. Occupy yourself primarily with your own repentance, your own sanctification, and in love be mindful of one another’s progress in maturity. Be one another’s encouragers, prayer partners. At times you are going to need to step in and convict, confront.
If you’re not married to a Christian. Pray. Learn to wait well. Even if you’re not married to a Christian, if you’re in a mixed marriage. Married to a non-Christian, listen, God has still given you the gift of marriage, the gift of companionship, the gift of a protecting providing husband who cares for you. The gift of a, of a helpmeet and a wife who loves you, who wants to serve you. So, pray for her, pray for him and learn to wait well. Enjoy that good gift of marriage. Because marriage is a good gift no matter if the partners in that marriage are saved or not.
Any suffering that you endure for the sake of Christ, look James 1:2 to 4, “consider it all joy,” right? There’s a lot more to say on that, just need to move on. Another assumption, you can make about one another, about your spouse, comes from verse 24. Assume that you are new in Christ and that he or she is new in Christ and your spouse’s fundamental nature is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
Men assume your wife is trying to help you, that she is not trying to hurt you. She’s not trying to intentionally irritate you with anything. Women assume that your husband loves you. Even if he provides contrary evidence. Assume that he loves you, even if his words seem hurtful in the moment. That’s why we’re engaged in lifelong repentance. Because even a sinning spouse draws out our own sin and allows us to see what our hearts really look like. An gives us an opportunity to repent for ourselves.
Stands to reason we’re going to see the old self show up from time to time. That happens in marriage. The more you look past an outward offense. More you trust in what your eyes can’t see in the moment. That is that God is in fact doing a good work in you and in your spouse. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to the com, day of completion in Christ Jesus.” If you’ll make that the working assumption in your home. You’re working assumption about your spouse. It will make a remarkable difference. Trust me.
Man, assume your wife’s best intentions for you because she’s created after the likeness of God and true righteousness and holiness. That’ll help you repent of impatience and anger. Women assume that the same thing your husband, and that’ll lead you to repenting of your own fear and worry and anxiety. A third point of council here is, let’s set proper expectations about the process of change.
Let’s set proper expectations about the process of change and mainly, here’s the main one, change takes time. Remember the tree illustration, change takes time. Since you understand the formative power of your marriage, that God instilled into it by his design, embrace that. Practice that. That is to say, maybe take the long view of marriage. Don’t try to get it all done this month or next month. Know that you’ve got by God’s grace, he’s merciful, if he allows, you got years together.
More will be done overtime imperceptively to you, and it’s best to look at the, even your own, your own spiritual condition, and your own progress in sanctification and your marriage. It’s best to look at it in hindsight. Five years into the future, look back and see what has God done over all that time. So be patient with the process, take the long view, know that God is working whether you perceive that or not. Do what you can to slow down the pace of your life. The pace of your pursuit so you can enjoy it.
Enjoy it, realize the change takes time. This isn’t all going to be solved today. It’s not going to be solved tomorrow. Be patient. Enjoy the ride as you let the spirit and his word sanctify one another. Also, be gracious with each other. Just exercise patience, meekness, gentleness. Practice forgiveness quickly, mortify sin as we said in verses 17 to 19, practice repentance verses 20 to 24. And that’s gonna take a lifetime, isn’t it?
To mortify all the sin, to practice repentance, take the long view, when it’s necessary to deal with one another’s sins do so in the gentlest, most patient, kindness manner that you can. But quite honestly, there’s a lot that you can let go. Martin Luther wrote this, he said, “It is impossible to keep peace between man and woman and family life if they do not overlook each other’s faults. But if they watch everything to the smallest point, for who does not at times offend. Things must be overlooked. Very many things must be ignored that a peaceful relation may exist.” End Quote.
That’s not saying shirk sin, let all sin go. That’s not, that’s not, what he’s saying. He’s saying, don’t be nitpicky. Don’t be niggling. Don’t be critical spirited with each other. That’s what he’s trying to say. Further, since you understand the formative role of the institution of marriage. Learn to recognize and appreciate and rejoice in the difference of God’s design in each one of you. Rejoice in that difference. Men and women really are different. Not because of social convention, not because little girls are raised playing with dolls and boys are raised playing with guns. That’s not the issue.
They do that, they play with those things, they gravitate toward those things because they’re different. It’s not just biological differences, but it’s matters of perception, it’s matters of perspective, it’s in matters of feeling and reasoning. Which means what is intuitive to one is not intuitive to the other. Those are differences that are not there to irritate one another. They’re there to appreciate one another. Their aspects of God’s good design. They’re created by his wisdom, his eternal wisdom. They’re put there for his glory, for our good.
So, learn to love learning about each other. That’s what she should do on date nights. If you don’t have date nights, once a week or so, once every couple of weeks, men repent. That’s part of your repentance. Go have a date night every week or every couple of weeks. Take that girl out. Enjoy her. Even if you don’t have money, it doesn’t take money to have a date night. Go to a park, walk around and you ask her questions. In fact, I’ve got, if you email the office, maybe we can put it somewhere. I’ve got a list of fifty questions that you can ask your wife. Okay, fifty questions.
Shoot, I mean, you’ll have what date nate, you’ll get through one, two. You ask her questions and learn about her. Women does that sound good? Date night, him getting to know you? You can say Amen, you can stand up and cheer. You know, I’m just. So learn to love learning about each other. Look for the creativity and wisdom of God and how he formed your spouse, how he put her together. How, God put your husband together. Learn to appreciate how God continues to use your spouse to shape you, to form you, to help you mature and grow. It’s one of the unique joys and challenges of marriage.
Alright point one, stop doing marriage like Gentiles. Point two, practice marriage as regenerate Christians. Here’s point three, and this is the last one, three, practice marriage as repenting Christians. Practice marriage as repenting Christians. Paul takes the repentance model that he just gave us in verses 21 to 24. Learn the truth of Christ, put off the old self, mortify sin, be renewed in the mind, and put on the righteousness and holiness of the new self in Christ.
Take that pattern, from those previous verses and then apply it in your life, put it to work in your marriage. That’s what follows in verses 25 to 32. Five common areas of sin. Five common areas to work out repentance in, for all Christians. And these sh, five areas, of, common areas of sin and repentance, believe me they show up in marital life. Show up in non-married life too so this is for everyone. But in each of these 5 areas, these basic areas of repentance, you’ll see the pattern of verses 22 to 24. What to put off, what to put on, and the biblical reason why.
Put off, put on, a biblical reason why. The reason for putting off and putting on indicates a renewed mind. And that finds. That’s found in the biblical reason in the right motivation for repentance. Okay, so first bit of counsel here for husbands and wives is in verse 25, be truthful with one another. Be truthful with one another. “Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.”
Be truthful with another. It doesn’t mean just don’t tell lies to each other, even though that’s certainly true. There’s a definite article in the language here that talks about, the lie, the lie. Put off, put away, the lie, put off the lie, and let each one of you speak the truth. What is, the lie, that he’s talking about? It’s that Gentile way of thinking in verses 17 to 19. It’s putting off the thinking of the old self that it says in verse 22. Put that off, put it away, that is a lie.
We have to stop speaking with one another according to that old way. Stop thinking according to that old mentality. There is nothing in the old self that’s gonna help us forward in the life of the new self. So don’t give that old self garbage any place in your conversation. Don’t talk about it. Don’t talk from that perspective. Instead, here’s what we need to put on, speak truth to one another. Truth is the food that feeds the growth of new life.
The biblical reason for putting off the lie, putting on the truth. Speak truth with your neighbor, for we are members of one another. Neighbor love, member love. We’re to love our neighbors as ourselves. Married folks, as you heard from Martin Luther, your spouse is your closest neighbor. And more than that, you’re members of one another. That is to say, members, fellow members of Christ body, the church, so your union with Christ is actually your deepest identity. The most primary identity you have in life is not your marriage identity, it’s not being a husband, being a wife. It’s your union in Christ. It’s you as a Christian.
So, if you are married to a Christian woman, that’s what makes you closer than any other marker of identity, because that’s the one that’s gonna last for eternity. Men love your wife as your own body, Ephesians 5:28. Women you’re one flesh with your husband, belonging to one another. You need to guard how you speak to each other. You need to guard what comes out of your mouth. That means you gotta guard what goes into your mind because “it’s out of the overflow of the heart that the mouth speaks.” “Guard your heart with all diligence [proverbs 4:23] for from it flow the issues of life.”
Guard what goes in, in order that you make guard what comes out. The lies of the world are powerfully corrosive, subtly deceptive. The truth of God is the powerful, restorative, deeply mi, mind renewing, transformative, life giving, sanctifying, word of God. Second bit of counsel for husbands and wives, verse’s 26, 27, be righteously passionate about godly things. Be righteously passionate about godly things. Look what it says there, you’re going to scratch your head as you hear that point, and then read this verse.
“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down in your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Little footnote here. This does not mean when it says, don’t let the sun go down on your anger. It doesn’t mean if you’re having a conflict, husband and wife, stay until all hours of the morning to get that thing resolved. Don’t do that. The later it gets, the more your brain is not functioning correctly. What this means is deal with your anger quickly, but the issues of difference of opinion and conflict, that can wait till morning, that can wait till next week. Don’t argue all night.
Why do I say that to you? Guilty here I stand. Uh, early on in marriage I took that verse to mean exactly that. No, honey, we’re not going to bed yet. We’re going to resolve this right now. Don’t let the sun go down on this, sh, she’s like, but it says your anger, no, I said, no, this, you’re making me, this is making me angry. So, we’re going to do. She appealed in wisdom. Didn’t have a receptive vessel.
So, take note of the positive command there and this is why I say this bit of counsel. Be righteously passionate about godly things. Take note of the positive command. It says we are to put on, be angry, be angry. It’s not the first advice that comes to our mind when it comes to anger, right? We think of anger as inherently sinful as something to rid ourselves of and for good reason. Human anger is usually neg, a negative passion that we need to mortify and abandon.
For many of our expressions of anger, we do need to repent and rid our lives of what we call frustration, or irritation, or I’m bothered. Nah, just call it what it is. That’s anger. You’re angry with one another. You’re not just frustrated; you’re just not concerned. You’re angry, there’s seem, seething forms of anger like bitterness, and indifference, and giving the silent cold treatment. There are outbursts of anger like wrath and arguing. There are malicious forms of anger like slander, and envy, and jealousy.
Anger, ungodly, unrighteous anger is insidious. So, we need to put off all unrighteous forms of anger, which typically don’t they, stem from feelings of hurt. When we’re hurt, we don’t deal with our hurt in a righteous way. Sometimes they come from a desire for control. We want what we want and when we don’t get what we want, we, well want to murder the other person, right?
That’s what James 4 says. The pattern of our old self is to strike back. It’s to sulk. It’s to harbor bitterness. It’s to stew in our angry juices and keep and rehearse our list of offenses and ready to recite them to one another in a moment’s notice. So, Paul says we need to deal quickly with all those unrighteous forms of anger. Don’t let the sun go down without going to God, confessing sin, asking for forgiveness, and recommitting to repentance of sin.
When we don’t do that, we give the devil a foothold. We give him a step up and step into our marriages. We don’t need that. We don’t need any help messing things up, so don’t give him an entrance. Helping a murderous enemy enter into our homes and wedge himself into our marriages and separate us. Allow them to use us to flail away at one another. Don’t do that. Deal with your anger quickly. Don’t let the sun go down on it. What’s the put-on aspect here? What’s the positive element in this command, be angry?
The command here is about being passionate about what offends God. Being passionate about what pleases God. Were to be zealously opposed to the lie of the previous verse, zealously opposed to all the things in verses 17 to 19 that can be in us. We’re to be zealously opposed to all that because it offends God. In this verse were to be angry about the work of the devil. About his insinuation to our marriages. Were to be angry about all that opposes God. All that tempts to stumble, all that tries to lead us into sin. All the tempts, all that leads our spouse into sin.
We need be angry about that. Be angry about what offends God and if you’re angry about that and about those kinds of things, listen, you’re going to put the crosshairs first on your own sinfulness. You’re gonna look at your own heart first and then you will see clearly to spot the sin in other areas of your life and marriage. Remember what Jesus said, take the log out of your own eye and then you’ll see clearly to take the speck out of your husband’s eye or the speck out of your wife’s eye.
Listen, be angry. Means be angry about what offends God and that starts with your own sin first. Let your own sin anger you and drive you to mortify it and to put on righteousness. Third bit of council for husbands and wives, verse 28, be generous with what God provides through your work. Verse 28, be generous with what God provides through your work. “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.”
What’s that got to do with marriage? A lot. The home can so easily turn into a place of covetous possession. The money that God gives you through your job can so easily be hoarded, not shared, but hoarded. Food not shared but devoured. Rest not shared, but kept to oneself. That’s the same attitude that drives a thief, doesn’t it? Heart of covetous desire, heart of greed, self-centeredness. That’s why a thief’s repentance isn’t complete. Only when he stops stealing, only when he gets a job, only when he brings home a paycheck.
He can refrain from stealing, get a job, earn an income and still be ruled by greed. As many of us can be. The thief is no longer a thief when he’s motivated, not by a heart of greed, but by a heart of generosity. When he loves to share. When his heart of greed is replaced by a generous heart, eager to give, eager to bless with resources. When he holds nothing tightly with his fingers and grab, grasps onto stuff. When he actually let’s go and gives freely.
That’s when a thief is no longer a thief. That’s when a thief has worked out repentance. That’s when any of us who have a heart of greed and covetousness. That’s what we have worked out repentance. Husbands and wives, I know the curse has made work difficult. It’s frustrated us. Men we still are going to eat our bread through the sweat of our brow. It’s difficult. It makes life hard, but work is a pre-fall gift of God.
And so, our work is a stewardship from God. The income that we get from our work is a stewardship from God. It’s for the provision of our families, take care of our God given responsibilities. But listen to our homes and our incomes are to be shared. Our tables should be an opportunity to show hospitality toward other people. Extra income is an opportunity to give to God’s work and to care for those in need.
This has everything to do with marriage. And if you want to study what that should look like in your home, go back and look at Martin Luther and his wife Katerina. Beautiful picture of that Christian home, freely giving, freely sharing, freely bringing people in. Practice hospitality, be generous.
Number four, verse 29, so so important this one. Be edifying with your speech. Be edifying with your speech. “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” The word corrupting is sapros. It means rotten. Think of rotten, decaying, putrid fruit, or what I’ve come upon before a pile of dead, rotting fish.
Man, there is nothing that smells worse than that, and seeing bugs and stuff crawling around in that. That’s the picture that should be in your head when you think about what can come out of your mouth. Corrupting speech, speech that decays, speech that corrodes. Obviously, this prohibits swearing, fol, foul language, dirty jokes at the very least. But more to the point, it refers to the opposite of what one must put on.
What one must put on is speech that is good for uplifting, speech that’s edifying for building up, not for tearing down. So, wives just practically. You may think your husband is a big strong guy. He’s impervious to pain. Words don’t hurt him. Listen words, do hurt. Hurtful words leave a longer impression on the soul than any beating a man has ever endured. That old quip sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. That is not true.
Not according to Proverbs 18:21. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” Use your tongue to build up. Wives, a sharp tongue, a critical spirit, that is corrosive. It’s cutting, it’s eviscerating, your sharp retort might make you feel good in the moment but, you’re undermining the very thing you want most, which is a strong, godly, confident leader. Don’t undermine his leadership with your tongue.
Husbands, when you criticize your wife. When you make complaints about the dinner, when you make that little joke about her being late all the time and doing too much makeup or whatever it is in the morning. Whatever it is that irritates you in the moment that you want to make a little snide remark about it, or a little joke about, or a little criticism. Listen, you’re crushing your wife’s spirit. You’re eroding her confidence. You’re making her shrink back in insecurity. Isn’t righteous, don’t do that.
We have to be committed to mortifying the critical spirit. We have to see the anger and the grumbling in our hearts as the most wicked of all sins. Any complaint, any criticism and anger. It’s not our spouse that’s to blame. It’s not anyone else. It’s their own sinful hearts that are to blame. Anger, resentful bitter words corrode and decay and discourage. So much rather put on edifying speech. Amplify the words that build up our spouses, that give strength in the moment and encouragement for real things.
God has given us tongues to speak with. He’s given us hearts to cultivate the fruit of the spirit. So, our words are a stewardship for which we’re gonna, gonna give an account. So let your speech encourage one another. Wives, voice respect and encouragement to your husbands. Build them up. Watch how your words strengthen them. Lift their shoulders, lift their chins. Send them out the door ready to conquer the world. Do that.
Husbands, you voice appreciation for your wife, you adore her, cherish her. In the words of Paul and Ephesians chapter 5, show tender and voice tender affection for your wife and just watch what God does. How she perks up, how her face lights up, how there’s a little glint in her eye, a spring in her step. Your words have power. So be truthful, be passionate, be generous, be edifying, and finally verses 30 to 32, be grateful and gracious.
Be grateful and gracious. Verse 30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and all slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.” Since you are both sealed by the spirit for the day of redemption, each one of you belongs to God.
Marriage is his gift to you. And since it’s his gift to you that husband, that wife is on loan from God to you. Your marriage isn’t for your own selfish ends. It’s not primarily to fulfill your desires for happiness. It’s not for you to realize your fullest potential. Your marriage is a stewardship and your spouse is a gift. God’s love to you. Your spouse belongs to God belongs to God by right of creation. That’s his image, in him, in her. Your spouse belongs to God by right of redemption as well. It’s Christ blood that washed him, washed her, white as snow. It’s the spirit who sealed him, it’s the spirit who sealed her for the day of redemption.
The indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit is the mark of God’s ownership on that life. So, consider your spouse as a gift of God’s grace, a reason to give thanks. Handle your spouse with great kindness. Great care. Be gracious with one another and rejoice in your love for each other. Again, it’s Luther who wrote this, “The love toward one spouse burns like a fire and seeks nothing but the person of the spouse. It says, I do not desire what is yours. I desire neither silver nor gold, neither this nor that. I desire you yourself, I want you entirely or not at all. All the other love seeks something else in the person of the loved one.”
Listen, love seeks the person. That’s why all these sins in verse 31, bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, all malice, they have no place in the church and if they have no place in the church, they have no place in Christian marriage. Instead, verse 32, it’s kindness and tender heartedness and forgiveness. These are the virtues that are practiced among forgiven people. Kindness, tender compassion and eagerness, and a swiftness to forgive each other, not hold on to any offenses. These are vital for two redeemed sinners who live in the covenant of marriage.
Give thanks for the marriage that God gave you. Don’t look around at others, envying what you think they have, that you don’t. Keep your eyes on your own spouse, on your own marriage. Find contentment and joy in one another. Be content, be grateful with your life, your circumstances, content with your job, content with your finances, content with your marriage. All its unique blessings, all of its unique struggles. You get to do that together. Your marriage is a stewardship for which you’re gonna give an account. Enjoy the marriage God gave you.
It is a temporary earthly institution, but it is a very precious gift. You’ll do that, enjoy it, when you stop doing marriage like Gentiles. When you practice marriage like Christians, when you practice repentance in your marriage, be truthful, passionate, generous, edifying, be grateful and gracious with one another and watch how God uses this blessed institution of marriage to shape you in conformity to Jesus Christ.
Let’s pray. Our father, we thank you so much for this gift, the institution of marriage. We thank you for all that we’ve learned over the past weeks. About the, the design, the purpose, the telos of it. We thank you for those of us who are married for giving us to one another. We thank you for the model and the example that a marriage is, in each, each person in the marriage, the husband, the wife, also being a model and an example to others who are not married. Pray that our marriage is in our church would glorify the relationship that Christ has with his church. We pray that we would be gracious with one another and rejoice in your work in our lives. And give ourselves wholly and fully that your plan, to your design, to your perfect will. We love you and thank you in Jesus’ name. Amen.