Many people are not experiencing a marriage that consists of a loving husband and a happy wife. The problem is sin. Pastor H.B. Charles explains God's plan for marriage.
Many people are not experiencing a marriage that consists of a loving husband and a happy wife. The problem is sin. Pastor H.B. Charles explains God's plan for marriage.
Bob: You’ve read Ephesians, Chapter 5, before; right?—the passage about husbands loving their wives and wives respecting their husbands. Have you ever felt like that passage put you under the pile like: “How can anybody do that?” Pastor H.B. Charles says: “You’re right. It is humanly impossible.”
H.B: This passage about husbands and wives addressed the believers’ duty / the believers’ walk, in Christ; but this duty is rooted in—founded on / based upon—grace. This is not a duty for wives to submit to husbands and husbands to love their wives that is a duty that we carry out in our own strength, in our own energy, in our own might. It is based upon the good grace of God.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, September 7th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey; and I’m Bob Lepine. How can a husband’s love for his wife or a wife’s respect for her husband be fueled by grace?
Pastor H.B. Charles takes a look at that subject today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. I think a lot of couples today would have to acknowledge that their marriage relationship has been shaped more by what they see in the culture than by what they read in their Bibles. I mean, we are all influenced by what’s going on around us—what we see happen with other couples, movies, television—probably a lot more than by what we read in the pages of the Bible.
Dennis: And that’s why FamilyLife Today exists—to bring help and hope from the Scriptures to your home, in your most important relationships in life. Today, you’re going to hear a great message by a pastor from Jacksonville, Florida—H.B. Charles. He is going to speak from that classic passage in Scripture, Ephesians 5:22-33.
Anybody who knows that passage knows that it begins talking about husbands loving their wives; it talks about wives respecting their husbands / submitting to their husbands—but listen carefully to what he says, because he is going to unpack what God’s plan is for marriage.
Bob: And this is something that we spend time talking about at our Weekend to Remember®marriage getaways. We help couples understand what God has designed for us in marriage by understanding what the Scriptures have to say about our assignment / about the roles He’s given us. And the couples who come to the Weekend to Remember getaway tell us, Dennis, that that weekend—for a lot of them—provides some real course correction that has a significant impact on their marriage.
Dennis: And one of the reasons why it works, Bob, is because the men get in one room and we talk straight to them; and the women get in the other room, and the women talk straight to them. The women are wondering what we’re saying to their husbands.
Bob: Now, this isn’t the whole weekend.
Bob: This is just for one part of the weekend.
Dennis: It’s just for the husband and his responsibilities for the marriage and the family and just for the wives. It really is one of the most powerful two sessions in the entire weekend.
Bob: This week and next week, we’re encouraging FamilyLife Today listeners to attend one of our upcoming fall getaways. In fact, if you sign up this week to come to one of the getaways, you can save 50 percent. It takes 100 percent to make a marriage work; it only takes 50 percent to come to a getaway if you sign up this week; huh? [Laughter] You can sign up—
Dennis: Nice line, Bob. Nice line.
Bob: —you can sign up, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Find out when a getaway is coming to a city near where you live and plan to have two-and-a-half days just the two of you at a nice location, learning about marriage, and getting a little couple time.
Dennis: A little romance.
Bob: Every couple can use a little couple time. Again, you can sign up with the code, “SAVE50”—SAVE5-0. When you go to FamilyLifeToday.com, look for information about the Weekend to Remember getaway OR CALL 1-800-FL-TODAY.
As Dennis said, we’re going to hear a great message from Ephesians, Chapter 5, today from Pastor H.B. Charles.
H.B: We begin reading at verse number 22:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 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. Now, as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
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 by 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.
In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.
For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of His body.
‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
In his commentary on the book of Ephesians, the late James Montgomery Boice labels his comments on this section: “Loving Husbands and Happy Wives.” Then, he begins by admitting that he was somewhat embarrassed by that title because we live in a day and a time where there are very few, it seems, loving husbands and happy wives.
To a great degree, this is the truth.
There are so many people who have grown up without seeing a healthy, godly, biblical marriage and family life. There are many singles and married people who can’t count on one hand the genuinely loving and happy marriages that they know; and some have grown so cynical that, when they see a seemingly loving couple, they think to themselves: “It’s got to be a joke. They’ve got to be really hiding something.” Then, of course, many in our culture have a negative, confused, and unbiblical view of marriage, and family, and the home because of the ravages around us expressed in adultery, pornography, divorce, cohabitation, same-sex marriage.
What’s the problem? The problem can be answered very simply. The problem is sin—
—original sin, personal sin, remaining sin. In the Book of Genesis, Chapter 3, we find Adam and Eve’s fall in the garden; and in the aftermath of their rebellion against God, Genesis 3:16 says that the Lord said to the woman: “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” This verse introduces us to the battle of the sexes; and it points us to the real problem with marriage, and family, and the home. It is all rooted in sin, and disobedience, and rebellion against God.
The only hope for a marriage that is meaningful and pleasing to the Lord is to go to God’s good plan for husbands and wives—God’s good plan—
—that is found in the Lord Jesus Christ and revealed to us in the pages of the sacred Scriptures.
Marriage can be hard enough if you do it God’s way. Doing it God’s way is no guarantee that everything will work out perfectly; but it is impossible to practice meaningful marriage unless you have God’s plan—God’s picture / God’s design—before you and, by the power of the Lord Jesus Christ, live out the life that God has called us to live.
So, I want to talk to you about God’s good plan for husbands and wives. I would offer you five facts about God’s good plan for husbands and wives. The first thing I would note is the most obvious—that God’s plan—it is established by God—
—it is established by God. The principle I first mentioned helps us understand subjects in the Scriptures—it just basically teaches us that, if you want to understand something in the Bible, a helpful thing to do in your study is to go back to the first time the subject is mentioned in the Scriptures.
The first mention of marriage is found in Genesis, Chapter 2, verses 18-24. God has created the heavens and the earth over a course of six days. He announces a benediction over everything He creates, saying, “It is good.” Genesis 2, verse18, presents the first thing that God determined was not good: “It is not good that the man should be alone.” So, in a work of sovereign creation, God created woman from the man. Then, God gave the woman to the man to be a helper suitable for him.
Then, the chapter ends in verse 24 of Genesis 2 by making it clear that the narrative we have just read of a unique creation is actually presenting an abiding principle about marriage: “For this reason,”—the Bible says—“a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife and they shall become one flesh.” Here we have the foundational truth that will be repeated throughout the Scriptures; namely, that marriage is God’s idea. God created marriage, and God established marriage to be a covenant of companionship between one man and one woman.
In Matthew 19:3-10, when Jesus is questioned about matters of marriage, divorce, and remarriage, He answers the question; but there is an objection. He responds to the objection by pointing His listeners to what God designed in the beginning, quoting again, Genesis 2:24, reminding them that marriage is God’s idea.
God created marriage, and marriage has been designed to be a covenant of companionship between one man and one woman. This truth is affirmed, even in our text in Ephesians, Chapter 5, where Chapter 5:31 quotes from Genesis 2:24—Paul says, “Therefore, man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife and the two shall become one flesh.” This is God’s good plan.
The first thing we should say about it is that it is, in fact, God’s plan. What is that plan? We see here that God has established that marriage is to be your most important human relationship.
A man is to leave his mother and father—which up to this point is his most important human relationship—but he is to leave mother and father for the sake of the establishment of this new covenant in marriage with his wife. Jesus will later say, “What God has joined together let no man separate.” God establishes this relationship of marriage as your most important human relationship—more important, he says here, than father and mother—not to take precedence—or sister, or brother, or family, or friends—whatever it is. People often say, “Well, you know, blood is thicker than water.” Well, that’s not always true. First of all, blood is not thicker than water if that water is called baptism.
There is a covenant here that God has called the husband and wife to—a covenant of companionship.
And the marriage relationship is to be honored above everything. He says that the husband is to “cleave to his wife”—cling to his wife / hold fast to his wife—which is an emphasis on the fact that God has established marriage to be a permanent, lifelong commitment—“and the two shall become one flesh.” This is the mystical union of marriage being described that is deeper than we can comprehend. There is oneness in marriage that is established before God; but in very practical terms, this principle also teaches us that sexual intimacy has been reserved for husband and wife. “Marriage is to be honored among all,”—says Hebrews 13:4—“and the marriage bed undefiled”; but God will judge adulterers and adulteresses.
First thing we should know, then, tonight is that God’s good plan for marriage is, in fact, God’s plan—it is established by God.
The second truth I would commend to you tonight about God’s good plan for husbands and wives is that it is based on God’s grace—it is based on God’s grace. As we span out to consider the book of Ephesians, as a whole, there are two major sections. The first three chapters address doctrine; the last three chapters address duty. The first three chapters are about our wealth in Christ; the last four chapters are about our walk in Christ.
This passage about husbands and wives addressed the believer’s duty / the believer’s walk in Christ; but this duty is rooted in—founded on / based upon—grace.
This is not a duty—for wives to submit to husbands and husbands to love their wives—that is a duty that we carry out in our own strength, in our own energy, in our own might. It is based upon the good grace of God / the unmerited favor of God poured out to us in Jesus Christ. We are saved by His grace: Ephesians 2:8-9—it says: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not the result of works, so that no one may boast.”
God gets all the glory, but this grace that saves is also the grace that sanctifies. The grace that rescues is also the grace that transforms. The grace that forgives us in Christ is the grace that nurtures us in Christ. Here, we are reminded that we need grace, not just for salvation, but we need grace for obedience.
We need grace to walk the walk that we are called to in Christ. We need grace for marriage.
Over the years, being in pastoral counseling, I have, at points, tried to minister to couples through a crude drawing—I’m not an artist. I tried to make a point through a crude drawing when, sometimes, there is a failure or struggle to communicate the truth I’m trying to get across. I just draw a cliff. There is a stick figure at the top, and a stick figure lying down at the bottom of the cliff. Then, I say: “This is the problem with the relationship. There has been a separation.”
Then, I tie a rope from the figure at the top to the figure at the bottom. I say:
“The challenge you are in right now is that you are trying to save the relationship—trying to restore what has been broken / you are trying to bridge the gap—but there is this fear that, as you are trying to pull that person up, that person may pull you down with the very rope you are using to pull them up.” It’s a crude drawing, but it makes its own point.
I love it—at this point, when I’m explaining that about the fear of being pulled down, the person usually is like: “Yes; that’s exactly what’s wrong.” Then, I create another rope that just comes down, as it were from heaven, and tie it to the person at the top of the cliff. The point I want to get across is that there is no fear in reaching out to love—there is no fear in forgiving / there is no fear in being faithful to the calling God has placed on you and your marriage—when you know Who is holding you up, it is easier for you to reach out. [Applause]
This is God’s plan for husbands and wives. It is established by God, but it is based on grace. We love, we forgive, we serve, we submit; because we know Who is holding us up. Our sense of identity and worth is found—not in other people, whoever they may be—but in the grace of God.
God’s good plan for husbands and wives is established by God. It is based on grace. Thirdly, it is enabled by the Holy Spirit. I’m somewhat of a techy-guy, and I am a fan of Apple® products. I love my iPhone®. I can do, basically, anything I need; because it’s a magical device: I can listen to music; I can interact with my wife and children; I can check emails; I can journal; I can read the Bible and be reminded to read the Bible.
But as awesome and wonderful as this device is, there are times—after a day of travel or a long, busy day of work—there are times when this magical device goes dead. [Laughter] I don’t turn down Apple products / I don’t try to go get a refund—it’s a simple solution. I just get my charger and plug it up. Soon after it has time to charge, all of the functions are there again. It’s a magical device—it’s a wonderful device / it’s a useful device—but it was never meant to function in its own strength. When it’s running on its own power, it will not last.
It needs to be connected to a power source. Am I making sense?
This is true of marriage—but what God calls us to be and do in marriage is not to be carried out in our own strength. We will run out of power every time. So, we must be connected to a power source. So, these instructions that you will find for husbands and wives—these instructions are preceded by a larger exhortation in verse 18 of
Ephesians 5: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,”—“be filled with the Spirit.” The word here, filled, just means, in the Greek, “to fill.” [Laughter] It means to bring something to its saturation point / its level of containment—
—but when it is used metaphorically, as it is here, it denotes totality or exclusivity—that which is already full doesn’t have room for anything else. So, when Scripture speaks of us being filled with something, it means that thing is the dominating presence—the controlling influence or the driving force of our lives.
As you read in the Scriptures, you’ll see that you could be filled with a lot of different things; but here, the believer is commanded to be filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is to be the dominating presence—the driving force / the controlling influence of our lives. This is needed and necessary for us to live out the life God has called us to in our marriages. Mark it down: “The human spirit fails unless the Holy Spirit fills.”
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening to Pastor H.B. Charles talking about God’s plan for marriage from Ephesians, Chapter 5.
You stop and think about it—most of us, when we got married, we didn’t understand God’s plan. We just had The Beach Boys playing in mind—you know?—which is: “You know it's gonna make it that much better when we can say goodnight and stay together.” That’s all we cared about, back when we said, “I do”; right?
Dennis: That’s correct, Bob. I’m not believing you’ve found a way to get one of The—
Bob: —The Beach Boys lyric in there. [Laughter]
Dennis: Yes—get that in there. [Laughter] I just—but I want you to know, if you have not experienced the Weekend to Remember, now is the time to go to this powerful two-and-a--half day experience from the Bible—but very practical. It gives you plenty of opportunities to have private projects for you, as a husband and a wife.
And if you’ve ever wanted to go—and I’ve talked to you—I talk to radio listeners from all across the country / you come up, and you kind of shamefully admit that you haven’t been to the conference—well, you know, it’s not on me. I’m not the one making you feel bad about it.
It’s for your marriage; and it’s for your descendants, and your legacy, and for how you finish the race.
Dennis: Come join us for a Weekend to Remember and invest in the rest of your lives together.
Bob: And the reason that now is the time to sign up is because, this week and next week, when you sign up, you save 50 percent off the regular registration fee. So, it’s really like a buy one / get one free opportunity. I know marriage takes 100 percent. Right now, you can sign up for 50 percent and get all the benefit from two-and-a-half days of just being able to be together—to relax / to enjoy one another’s company. That’s what the Weekend to Remember is all about.
Sign up, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to take advantage of the special offer we’ve got this week. You will need a promo code, and it’s: “SAVE50”—SAVE5-0. So, enter that promo code when you register; or mention it when you call to register for an upcoming Weekend to Remember getaway.
And if you need information about where and when the getaway is being held—what city / what weekend—you’ll find it, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY for more information.
Now, tomorrow, we’re going to hear more from Pastor H.B. Charles about how we make a marriage work according to God’s plan and the key role that the Holy Spirit plays in a God-honoring marriage. I hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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