From the Pastorís Desk
Marriage Session 4
Iím not going to ask, ďHow many have read the print-out of session 3Ē.., because I hate to cause people to tell little fibs on Sunday. However, if you read the print-out of session 3 you will have seen the first part of this session. This material rightly belongs in session 3, but I simply ran out of time last lesson, so I had to cut it off. I went ahead and printed it in session 3, even though it will be given in session 4. Now, that makes perfectly good sense, doesnít it? Iím practicing for a political office. Not really!! However, we are intending to publish this series on the Internet. So with my eye toward that event, and my other eye on the clock, I typed session 3 as though it was going on the internet. If you want that information, you will have to get the print-out of session 3, because it will not be typed into the print-out of session 4. If you have read session 3, you may now take a nap. Well, some of you will take a nap anyway, whether youíve read it or not. Probably, even if you have read the material, it would be a good idea to hear it again. It is vital information, and absolutely needed if you intend to try to help others with their marriage problems, AND itís pretty useful for your own marriage.
1 out of 2 marriages end in divorce. Many divorces take place by or before 18 months of marriage. The average length of a teen marriage is 4 years. By the year 2000, over 50% - 75% of all children will be raised in a single parent home.
We need to bring to our attention some things weíve already looked at, and do some building on that foundation. Most people, when coming for counseling, say, ďI just donít see any hope for my marriage!Ē This is possibly where you are, and you too are saying, ďI just donít see any hope for this marriage.Ē Or ďItís really not much of a marriage, itís just two people living in the same house.Ē Listen my friends, if there is no hope for your marriage, then God is a liar...., but it is my guess that itís you, not God who would be the liar in this case. It takes two + God to make a Biblical marriage, and it takes two + God to correct a Biblical marriage. The truth of the matter is you have not been doing the right things marriage wise. As a matter of fact, you have probably done mostly the wrong things, AND often doing these wrong things while all the time pretending, or at least trying to fool others that yours was a Christian marriage. II Timothy 3:1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! Even in this aspect of the Christian life, many have an outward form of godliness in their marriage, but deny the real power of God. As a matter of fact, some have such a good outward form that sometimes even their closest friends would think that it was almost the perfect marriage.., BUT you know its only an empty shell, and far from what marriage should be.
My purpose in this course is not to take you by the hand and lead you through the steps of a good marriage, BUT instead to show the power that God has provided so you may have a godly marriage. As you know by now, IF you are to have a godly marriage, itís going to take some REAL power!! More power than either of you have. The worldís way of dealing with marriage problems is to go back into the past and find the ďstart of the problemĒ AND work through it from that point, OR take the most troubling problems and solve them first.
We MUST realize that usually the ďwayĒ we want these problems solved is NOT Godís solution. Often the solution we want is punishment for the other spouse for all the bad things they have done to me. PLUS, we want to ďget evenĒ, and see them suffer like they made us suffer. Romans 12:19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine (Godís), I will repay," says the Lord. If youíre looking for revenge, then you are taking that which belongs to God. You are stealing from God!! Donít compound your problem. You have enough sin to deal with now, do not add an even worse one to the pile.
James 4:1 Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires (lusts) for pleasure that war in your members? 2 You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. 3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures (lusts). If you are looking to get a marriage ďfixĒ to increase your pleasure, you are living in lust, and the fightings will continue, BECAUSE the source of those fights, squabbles and wars is your lusts. Donít increase those lusts by having the wrong motive and perspective for marriage correction.
Even the modern Christian counselors want to go back and find the cause of the problem and talk and walk you through it. They even have support groups composed of people who have similar sins, so these can comfort one another and help each other ďdealĒ with these sin. God is not all that interested in solving your most troubling problems. God is interested troubling you with what He sees as the greatest problems.., AND then God is very interested in having you follow His instructions in the solving of those problems.
You see the problem in this marriage is SIN. Your personal sin against God. These marriages problems are not just aggravations you have caused each other, AND your offspring. These are sins in which you have lied to God, cheated God, have set yourself up in the place of God, stolen from God, blasphemed God, and the list goes on and on. You must realize that what youíve done, and are doing is not just against one another. These are sins against God, and unless they are forgiven and forsaken, you will have to answer for them before Someone other than a divorce judge. You will have to answer before the God of All gods.
Psalms 51:1 Have mercy upon me, O God, According to Your lovingkindness; According to the multitude of Your tender mercies, Blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, And cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned, And done this evil in Your sight-- That You may be found just when You speak, And blameless when You judge. God by His mercy wants to ďblot outĒ these sins. God wants to wash you thoroughly from those sins. God wants to cleanse those sins out of your lives. You may be thinking, ďI donít really care about this sin stuff! I just want to get the marriage mess fixed, because itís causing me more grief than I want.Ē As we have seen in James, these wars and fights come from your desires or lusts that war in your members. As a result, you ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend the answer on your pleasures or lusts. Until there is the recognition that these things are sin, and the sin is against God, there is very little hope or help from God. This Psalm was written by David in the midst of a marriage problem he was having. When David was being confronted with this sin, his first response was to ďdealĒ with the sin, or to take care of the problem. However, before David could know the mercies of God and Godís correction within his life, he had to acknowledge his ďproblemĒ was a sin, and a sin against God. After acknowledgment of and forgiveness for his sin.., THEN and then only could he work on the solution of the problems that were caused as a result of that sin. Godís method is not for you to ďdealĒ, with or solve your sin or even understand your sin.
Another problem that modern Christian Counseling has created is that we donít want to call sin... SIN. We give our sins all kind of non-sin names that are long, hard to pronounce and that no one really knows what they mean. In that manner, we donít have to come face to face with our sin, or our Savior. Call it what you like.... but if you are not obeying the Word of God.... IT IS SIN !!!!! AND we must FIRST allow God to cleanse our lives of sin...., in Godís way. I feel sorry for anyone, whether counselor or friend, that stands in Godís way of dealing with sin in the lives of His children.
Hebrews 12:5 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: "My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." 7 If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? 8 But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. By the way, the Greek word for SCOURGE = To flog; To chew up with a whip (lit. To skin alive with a whip). One of the sure sign of Sonship of God is His loving hand on us in chastening. If you are living in unconfessed and unforsaken sin, AND are not receiving chastening.... Well, if I were you, I would check my Spiritual Birth Certificate.
Genesis 3:9 Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, "Where are you?" 10 So he said, "I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself." 11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?" 12 Then the man said, "The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate." Continuing on in the new revised and expanded version of Genesis chapter 3, I read... And God said, ďAdam, there is a definite pattern here. It is caused by your repressed childhood. Now the solution is quite simple. Just meet here under the therapy tree at 3:00 p.m. each Tuesday and Thursday. By then I will have my counseling hammock all set up and we can spend a delightful hour delving back into your tenuous past. It will take a little time, but stick with it long enough and you will find some real direction for your life. Oh, yes, Adam! Donít forget to bring that crystal with you, and your check book......Ē NO!! Instead, God quickly established the areas of responsibility. He declared the punishment for the sin.., and He provided the only way for redemption and correction. Notice, that in the mist of all this provision by God, Adam did the only manly thing he could do..... AND mankind has been following his example ever since. Adam blamed his wife for the whole nasty affair, and took a swipe at God while he was at it. Trying to find someone to blame has never changed a situation for the better, nor has it ever brought correction to a problem. Establishing responsibility and the means for correction does pave the way for proper change, and for a proper relationship in the future. It is not Godís method to ďdigĒ back into the past events and re-live all the mistakes. If that were His method, He would untrue to His own Word which says.... Proverbs 23:7 for as he thinks in his heart, so is he..... WHY would God want us to re-sin our past sins by re-thinking them?
Instead, we must establish a right relationship for the present.... THE RIGHT NOW !!! Then AFTER the relationship is corrected..., IF there are things that started in the past that are continuing into the present.., then and then only can we properly deal with those things. There is absolutely no way a couple can properly examine the things of the past UNTIL the things of the present are cared for and in proper order. As long as we are spending our time and energy trying to correct something that has already happened and CANNOT be changed, there will be no time or energy to live properly in the present so that we can have a bright-right future.
By the way, once a couple or a person takes care of the present properly, then it is often a joy for them to go back to the past to see the pit from which they were dug by the Grace of God, BUT if you look to the past in order to work your way through it, there is certainly NO joy in that.... only pain and frustration. Until God is in control of your present, you will not find any joy in the past. You will only be able to wallow in the garbage pit of the past. Psalms 40:1 I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry. 2 He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, And established my steps. 3 He has put a new song in my mouth--Praise to our God; Many will see it and fear, And will trust in the LORD.
The only ground you have to stand on is today
If today is not firm and solid....
Your ground will crumble and fall as you reach for the past
If today is not firm and solid....
You have no foundation on which to build tomorrow
Folks, Iím sure there are plenty of past sins in this relationship.., BUT there is nothing you can do about them unless you accept the forgiveness of God through Christ. We appropriate that forgiveness for ourselves when we see sin as God see sin, we acknowledge it and forsake it. If you are not willing to acknowledge, forsake, AND leave the sins of the past in the past, God has no hope to offer you, so therefore neither do I, AND we are all wasting our time. If you are not willing to accept Godís way, and do this in Godís manner.., you may as well head for the divorce court, and I back to my office. Then maybe we can do something with meaning for eternity. If that would happen, I would still love you both, BUT it would break my heart. I know thatís hard, BUT itís honest.., AND it is the only way. You BOTH must come to grips with whether you want to make this marriage work.., OR if you want to just keep hurting each other and sinning against God. THEN if you are really interested in dealing with sin Godís way, we can move on to another session. IF you are still interested in having it your way and trying to hurt the other.., there is no need for me to try to help with that endeavor.
Proverbs 10:11 The mouth of the righteous is a well of life, but violence covers the mouth of the wicked. 12 Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all sins. There are two important concepts in these verses. (1) The mouth can be a life giving agent, or The mouth can constantly promote violence. (2) Hatred stirs the pot of strife so it can never become calm, but love does try not expose sin, or keep it open for inspection and exhibition. It important to see what the Holy Spirit say about those who are involved in these activities: (a) The one whose mouth is a life giving agent is said to be righteous (b) The one whose mouth promotes violence is said to be wicked. It is good for us to know the meaning of some of these words. Stirs up = (Hebrew) To wake; To bring back from sleep or inactivity. Go back and read the verse with the meaning applied. Covers = (Hebrew) To plump as with a pillow i.e. To fill in the hollows. By implication to cover with clothing or secrecy. Go back and read the verse with the meaning applied.
When a person continually reaches back into the past to expose sins of their mate for the inspection of others, even the counselor.., I know it is not of love, but of hatred and lust. Real love covers (not hides) the sins of the one whom they love. Real love does not bring the sins of the other out for public inspection. Hatred tries to keep the pot stirred up and the sins of the other in full view for exhibition.
I Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins." Proverbs 28:13 He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy. In these verses we see two sides of the coin. We are not to attempt to cover over our own sins.... You see that should be the job of the one who loves us (Pro. 10:11). Our response to our own sin should be to confess (not publish) and forsake them (Pro. 28:13). When it comes to marriage correction.... the opposite is often true. We want to freely confess and proclaim our partnerís sins, while we cover our own sins. Thatís Satanís method, NOT Godís. I have had people come to me with a list of their spouseís sins that would choke a elephant, BUT you know, it is so strange.., they never have a list of their own sins!! You would assume they were perfect. Does that strike you as odd? I am here to tell you it is not of the Lord, nor is it Biblical.., so that only leaves three places as its source (1) The World (2) Their own lusts (3) Satan. Please keep in mind there are times when the past needs to be checked: (1) For forgiveness (2) As examples (3) For correction when it overlaps the present (4) For praise for what God has done.
I Corinthians 6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. Paul is not saying that he is happy about these folksí past. BUT that their past is under the blood of Christ. Even though they were those things, their present is taken care of in Christ, so they are no longer those things. If that is true (and it is) in one area of the Christian life, then it can be true in all areas of our Christian life... including marriage. Put that past under the Blood, AND forsake it BOTH in actions and thoughts.
A marriage will never have a future, as long as one or both partners are living in the past.
I donít know where you WERE, or what your marriage problems WERE. Godís hope for this marriage is NOT what you were, BUT what you are, AND what you will become. You must start NOW to have a right relationship with God, and your spouse. Plus, you must plan, provide and build for a proper future relationship. THEN if needed, make some corrections of the past.
(1) Make an HONEST evaluation of how you are using the past. It would be very good to write it down. Then after looking it over and praying about it.., tear it up.
(2) Make a list of 5 ways you can improve your relationship with your spouse in the present. As the months of improvement occur, continue adding to the list 5 items at a time.
© Clyde White
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