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I’m not proud of what I am about to reveal. I am an expert in bad marriages. Some people want to get married, but never get the chance. I, however, have been fortunate to get a couple of opportunities at marital bliss. In fact, I was married and divorced twice before the age of 30. What makes this sad situation remotely palatable to me is that I was not a follower of Jesus Christ at the time. It would be another 13 painful years after my second divorce until I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.
Since my conversion 13 years ago, the Lord has done so much for me. He’s given me hope, life eternal, a purpose, and has changed me into a godly man. The Lord has also blessed me with a beautiful, loving wife for over 10 years! By God’s grace, I have been given another opportunity to have a successful marriage, one that would increasingly honor and glorify him.
Impacted by the Gospel
Today, God is also helping me grow in my understanding of how the gospel impacts our marriage. I have come to realize that a successful Christian marriage needs to have Jesus Christ at the center of it. I have also realized that having Christ at the center of one’s marriage doesn’t guarantee a perfect union. In fact, marriage exposes flaws and weaknesses that a person could easily cover up when they were single. Sin such as selfishness, immaturity, pride, and anger will come to the surface in any relationship. I am grateful that Jesus Christ addresses our flaws one-by-one through his gospel, thereby paving the way for a successful marriage.
When Kristie and I got married, we pledged to put Christ and his gospel at the center of our relationship and our marriage. We knew that, in being united in Christ, our goal should be to grow in Christ-likeness throughout our marriage. We are working on this every day, and it has been challenging, frustrating, and life-changing. In the process, I am learning three great gospel-truths and what they mean for marriage.
Three Ways the Gospel Impacts Christian Marriage
1. The gospel changes us as individuals.
When we first meet Jesus Christ, we come to the realization that we are sinful, broken, fallen, and desperately in need of a forgiving Savior. Despite our best intentions, we cannot overcome our old nature and our old ways, which are not conducive to a healthy, vibrant relationship with our spouse, let alone other important people. We need the “newness” of Christ to be become “new” ourselves.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
The gospel changes us individually by making us a new creation and showing us what forgiveness looks like. If God doesn’t provide a way for us to be forgiven, how could we ever forgive another person for their transgressions? In a marriage, there will be many transgressions, and over time a lack of forgiveness will build a wall between two people that is difficult to breach. The gospel changes us individually by reminding us how much it cost Jesus to save us from sin, so that we could become the faithful, loving, and selfless spouses we need to be every day.
2. The gospel connects us to Christ.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
I love the fact that I am connected to Jesus Christ. In the world today, we are connected to many temporal things. My connection to Jesus assures me that, with his help, I can glorify him and be a blessing to my spouse. Being connected to Christ helps me live in a godly and more loving way. If we walk by the Spirit, and use the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) as our template for loving our spouses, how much better would our marriages be?
Being a couple connected to Jesus also means that we are guaranteed his power, through his Holy Spirit, and do good works for his glory and our joy. We are also part of his body, the church, and each week we are blessed to gather and hear the gospel message afresh. These messages, carefully crafted and delivered by our pastor, remind us that we are part of Christ, and that he alone paves the way for us daily (Psalm 119:105).
3. The gospel connects us to each other.
There are several ways in which this is true. First, we must understand that God’s will is different for each of us. Marriage is not a given for everyone. The Apostle Paul stated much about marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, and encouraged those who were not married to remain so and focus on ministry for the Lord (vv. 7, 17). Second, Scripture tells us that the institution of marriage between a man and a woman was created by God (Genesis 2:24). Third, the marriage union is glorifying to God, especially when we live our lives for him in love, truth, humility, grace, and service to our spouses (Proverbs 18:22). And finally, it is so important to him that he uses marriage to describe our union with Christ. Revelation 19:7 states, “Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready.”
The gospel changes everything. It changes us as individuals. It connects us to Jesus Christ and his ways, and it connects us with our spouse.