Faithlife Sermons

Marriage...take a look in the mirror

Big Issues  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  24:35
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Intro to big issue of what marriage is - this is the biblical view

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Introduction
Fish and chips - what is it about fish and chips that make them go so well together? You can have fish or you can have chips by themselves and they work well as individual items, but together…man alive that’s a match made in heaven.
So individually they are great, and they can stay separate with no bother at all, but put them together they are better than the sum of the individual parts.
And so it is with marriage - men are great as individuals and woman are great as individuals, and for many, as individuals they stay great and do great things and that works best for them. And for them they have many relationships within the church or other friends or family and there’s a lot to be praised about those relationships and there’s NOTHING WRONG with them.
But for some men and women, what works best FOR THEM is when they are together - and they are best together cos THAT’S when they WORK BETTER....when they’re together.
Pause
Today we’re looking at marriage and what the bible says about marriage.
But where to start in such a massive topic like marriage?
Well, today, for the first time in YEARS, I’m being more presbyterian than EVER and I’m doing a 3-point sermon.
And the points are around reflection, which is why I called the sermon -

Marriage…take a look in the mirror.

And what we’re going to see is that marriage is a reflection…a reflection of...
God’s relationship with himself
Christ’s relationship with the church
God’s promises to us
So...

Marriage is a reflection of God’s relationship with himself

Now we’ve got to go to Genesis to explain what I mean by this…Right to the start of the bible - Genesis chapter 1 and verse 26...
Genesis 1:26 ESV
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Now, we’re starting here for a number of reasons - firstly, notice the words that are used in verse 26…God says, ‘let US make man in OUR image’…now, to whom is he talking?
He’s talking to himself, but not like a madman - he’s talking to the trinity. Our God is 3 in 1 - three persons in 1 God - and that’s important to note here…before we even look at marriage we need to look at God - and not just because of what I’m about to say, but in general - God needs to come first in marriage, and we’ll get back to that.
But, looking at God, we see that God is relational. There is a relationship between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - 3 different persons of the trinity, each with a different role to play in the Godhead, and each one relating to the other in love - why? Because God IS LOVE. 3 persons, but each one perfect and fully God - this is something that will blow your mind.
How in the world can we understand how God relates to himself? Can we see this anywhere else in nature so we can compare it?
Well, yes we can - cos we can see a glimpse of it in marriage.
Cos look at verse 27...
Genesis 1:27 NIV
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
And so man AND WOMAN both represent, in some fallen way, the image of God - it’s not that God looks like a man, or that a man looks like God, but men and women, in their perfect state, resemble who God is.
And God is relational - God is LOVE.
And as a result, humans are relational - humans know what love is and they know what it’s like to be in a loving relationship. And this is what sets humans above the animals, because of their capacity to love and relate to each other…
And as people created in the IMAGE of God, what better displays God than an act of loving relationship between a man and a woman?
And this relationship, between man and woman best reflects the image of God…different roles, different biology and emotions, but each one complementing the OTHER as they SUBMIT to each other in a covenant relationship.
And of course this is GOD - different persons, different roles, but each one complementing the other in their relationship within the Godhead.
Pause
And so for many people - not ALL - there is a need for them to express this relational aspect of their character, and that’s what we do in marriage - and when it’s done RIGHT then THAT gives people a glimpse of God.
As husband and wife submit to each other and express their love for each other and complement each other, we get a glimpse into how God operates.
So...

Marriage is a reflection of God’s relationship with himself

Problem is that we live in a fallen world - and as a result, we don’t fully reflect the image of God - just look around you at all the broken and struggling marriages.
When we look at human marriages it actually resembles very little of how God operates. But that’s because we’ve left God out of our marriages.
Pause
Now, we’re going to come back to that, but the second point is that...

Marriage is a reflection of Christ’s relationship with the Church

And to see this, we’re moving to the New Testament where Paul tells us something of marriage in Ephesians 5...
Ephesians 5:22–24 NIV
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Then Paul, at the end of the section on marriage says this...
Ephesians 5:32 ESV
This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
So Paul gives us a pattern for marriage - it’s like how Christ relates to the church. Now, what in the world does that mean?
Well, Christ (the bridegroom) gave himself up for the church - he humbled himself and brought himself low in order to serve the church and ultimately be the atoning sacrifice for the church. And the church (the bride) worship and adore and serve Christ because of who he is and what he has done for the church.
Now men love verse 22 - I heard it all the time when I was growing up, from the pulpit and from chauvinist patriarchs in the church … ‘wives must submit to their husbands. The husband does NOT submit to his wife.’
That’s NOT what Paul is saying…Look at the preceding verse...
Ephesians 5:21 ESV
submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Submitting to ONE ANOTHER!!
And then look at the command to the husbands...
Ephesians 5:25 ESV
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,
Now tell me how Christ, giving up EVERYTHING for the church - submitting himself to death on behalf of his bride - tell me how that ISN’T submitting to the wife?
But notice what Paul’s asking of the husbands and the wives… Wives, submit to your husbands - husbands, love to your wives.
In that context, in Ephesus, women were running riot, in a sense. There was worship of a female goddess called Artemis. And her followers were not just for equal rights - they were for stomping down the men and making women the leaders.
So, as a man within the church and society, their ‘manhood’ was being threatened by these feminists. And what they would have craved, and needed almost to save face, was for their wives to submit to them. To show them that they WERE important - that would make them feel like they had their place, at least in the home.
And with the feminists running riot, the men would have been struggling to hold onto power and dominion, which also overflowed into marriage. Cos if they can’t have power in society, they’ll certainly demand it in the home. And so women - in that society, would have craved love and attention - more than anything else. They would crave and NEED their husbands to love them, to pay attention to them, to give themselves up for them - to forget their power and bravado and give them some love and attention.
And so what Paul is saying is this...
Wives - give your husbands what they NEED and Husbands, give your wives what they NEED
In other words, what he said in verse 21 - submit to each other.
Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her - husbands love your wives and give yourself up for her - give her what she needs…sacrifice what YOU want for what she NEEDS.
And wives, submit to your husband as the church submits to Christ - cos Christ gives the church what they NEED - he gave himself up so that they would have everything they need. So wives, give your husbands what HE NEEDS - sacrifice your own agenda and your own wants for what your husband NEEDS.
And as a wife and a husband BOTH do this then each get what the other needs without being selfish about it. And the relationship is stronger.
And so in this way we can see that...

Marriage is a reflection of Christ’s relationship with the Church

Pause
But once again we live in a fallen world and so are marriages aren’t perfect and marriages don’t really reflect Christ’s relationships with the church…In fact, there’s no such THING as a perfect marriage.
So we’re onto our 3rd point...

Marriage is a reflection of God’s promises to us

We’ve seen how marriage reflects the Godhead and how it reflects Christ’s relationship with the church…Now we’re going to look at how it reflects God’s promises to us.
And to do that we need to look at marriage as a covenant and not a contract. Let me explain...
In Hebrew terminology, you don’t make a covenant, you CUT a covenant. What happens is that a load of animals are killed and cut in half and laid out with a path between them. Then each person involved in the covenant would walk through the cut animals signifying that if either party broke the covenant then may what has happened to these animals happen to that person.
In Genesis 15, God does this with Abram - check it out yourself, but when God did it, it was ONLY God who walked through the cut animals. Now what does that mean?
What it means is that God took on the liability if HE broke the covenant (which he would never do cos he’s God) but he also took OUR liability if WE broke the covenant…and of course we did break the covenant which is why God himself - Jesus Christ was BROKEN for us when he died on the cross. Jesus took OUR liability for breaking the covenant.
What’s that got to do with marriage?
Well, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, ‘a marriage contract’…that’s NOT what marriage is. Marriage is NOT a contract, it’s a covenant.
What’s the difference? The difference is this - a contract comes from a place of mistrust - “I don’t trust you...so sign this contract saying you’re going to keep these vows. And the moment you don’t keep one of these vows then the contract is null and void and we’re over’ That’s a contract.
A Covenant says this, ‘I love you, and I promise to give myself to you - everything - out of my love for you…REGARDLESS of whether or not you keep your side of the covenant.’
And that mirrors what God did for us, by vowing to be OUR GOD regardless of whether we could keep up our side of the covenant.
And THAT is the God we love and worship.
Pause
So if we take all that and compare it to secular marriage, there’s a BIG difference.
Cos in society, marriage is often thought of as a man and a woman joined together in a contract with each other.
[show Marriage 1]
That’s ALMOST correct, but it’s not the FULL picture cos there’s something very important that’s missing.
Marriage, from the bible, is a man and a woman, joined together, not in a contract, but in a covenant relationship with each other UNDER GOD. In other words there are 3 entities in the marriage.
[Show Marriage 2]
And as we’ve already seen men and women aren’t perfect, and marriage ISN’T perfect…but here’s the thing...GOD is. And that makes a BIG BIG difference.
Now, look at this slide - the man has a relationship with God and the woman has a relationship with God. And they each have a relationship with each other. And as we put God in our relationship we have a single common purpose and goal - to glorify God. That comes from and stems OUT OF our relationship with God, which is why Paul said in 2 Cor 6:14...
2 Corinthians 6:14 ESV
Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?
Paul says that, because without a common goal the man and the woman are pulling in different directions - one towards God and the other towards whatever selfish thing they want - their career, money…whatever.
Back to our previous slide…
[Show Marriage 2]
So as we can see from this, as we feed from our relationship with God, it will influence our relationships with each other. In other words, as we enjoy fellowship and a good relationship with God, it will naturally influence our fellowship and relationship with each other…especially in marriage.
But we aren’t perfect - and as such there is NO perfect marriage. Which is why we’ve got to realise this...
[Show Marriage 3]
God is perfect - we aren’t. And the more we tap into his perfection through our relationship with Jesus Christ, the better our IMPERFECT marriages will be…We’re feeding of the perfect to influence the IMPERFECT - Channeling God’s perfection into our imperfect relationships.
So...

Marriage is a reflection of God’s promises to us

And so WITHOUT God marriages can struggle and fall apart and selfishness can creep in. But when we seek to glorify GOD in our marriages, our focus will be on HIM and our desire will be to be LIKE him. And if we’re LIKE him we will recognise that our differences COMPLEMENT each other, by doing that we will humble ourselves and seek the needs of the other person rather than our own wants, because that is Christ-like and THAT brings glory to God.
Pause
BUT that ALSO means that...
Marriages that DON’T reflect Christ and the church DON’T bring glory to God.
And Christ and the church are different, with different roles…and the Godhead is complementary - different persons relating to one another in love. And so by that logic, the two partners in a marriage MUST BE different…which is why marriage is between a MAN and a WOMAN and not man and man or woman and woman, because MAN AND WOMAN best reflects the Godhead and the relationship between Christ and the Church and THAT is what brings glory to God.
ALSO, while we’re on the subject... in a marriage, the man and woman come together and become ONE FLESH - metaphorically but also literally - cos when man and woman come together the 2 become 1 - just like the egg and the sperm become ONE BABY - 2 become 1 flesh…and once again, THAT can ONLY happen, BIOLOGICALLY, when a man and a woman come together - not man and man or woman and woman. And so, once again, marriage can ONLY be between man and woman - any other combination is not MARRIAGE - because 2 cannot become 1 unless they are man and woman.
Pause
So in marriage - in ANY relationship for that matter, take a look in the mirror…what do you see?
Do you see someone who is focused on God and making their relationship with Jesus their number 1 priority? Do you see someone who WANTS to live and love as Jesus lived and loved? Do you see someone who is willing to BE like Jesus and can humble themselves and submit to their husband or wife, sacrificing your OWN wants for their NEEDS? Are you feeding of the perfect in order to influence the imperfect?
I’m not sure if anyone can say they are, cos we’re fallen people…but God has promised to help us - so let’s, all of us, bring our marriages, our relationships, before the Lord now and ask him for more of his perfect love to allow you to work on your imperfections…This could change your life…it could transform your marriage.
Let’s pray.
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