The Effects of the Gospel on Marriage

Bible Book: Ephesians  5 : 19-33
Subject: Marriage; Christian Living; Home

This passage gives a vision of what marriage looks like according to the Bible. Marriage was designed to be a reflection of the saving love of God for us in Jesus Christ. What God institutes, He also regulates. Marriage was instituted by God, regulated by His Word, blessed by our Lord Jesus. Main enemy of marriage: sinful self-centeredness. Marriage is designed to refine our character.

Marriage “is to create a stable human community for the birth and nurture of children.”

#1 Factor concerning marriage – compatibility, above all meant someone who shared a “willingness to take them as they are and not change them.” (perfect soul-mate)

Today, marriage is too idealistic, based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment - fulfill their emotional, sexual and spiritual desires. Any 2 people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things means to be self-centered. For this reason, some will decide to remain single or cohabitate. “Reports conclude that cohabitation gives men regular access to the domestic and sexual ministration of a regular girlfriend while allowing them to lead a more independent life and continue to look around for a better partner.” STERNBURCH, “A Brutally Candid Oral History.”

To avoid marriage simply because you don’t want to lose your freedom - that is one of the worst things you can do to your heart.

C.S. Lewis said, “Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket - safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, unredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.”

We look to sex and romance to give us what we used to get from faith in God. Ernest Becker

He writes, “the love partner becomes the divine ideal within which to fulfill one’s life. All spiritual and moral needs now become focused in one individual. In one word, the love object is God. Man reached for a “thou” when the world view of the great religious community overseen by God died. After all, what is it that we want when we elevate the love partner to the position of God? We want redemption – nothing less.”

It is the illusion that if we find our true soul-mate, everything wrong with us will be healed; but that makes the lover into God and no human being can live up to that.

Some couples think marriage can be perfect in every sense of way. I heard about a Baptist Preacher that wanted everything to fit in place in their marriage. They even wanted a Baptist Dog.

A Baptist preacher and his wife decided to get a new dog. Ever mindful of the congregation, they knew the dog must also be a Baptist. They visited kennel after kennel and explained their needs. Finally, they found a kennel whose owner assured them he had just the dog they wanted. The owner brought the dog to meet the pastor and his wife. “Fetch the Bible”; he commanded. The dog bounded to the bookshelf, scrutinized the books, located the Bible and carried it to the owner. “Now, find Psalm 23,” he commanded. The dog dropped the Bible to the floor and showing marvelous dexterity with his paws, leafed through and finding the correct passage, pointed to it with his paws. The pastor and his wife were very impressed and purchased the dog. That evening a group of church members came to visit. The pastor and wife began to show off the dog, having him locate several Bible verses. The visitors were very impressed. One man asked, “Can he do regular dog tricks too?”

“I haven’t tried yet,” the pastor replied. He pointed his finger at the dog. “Heel!” the pastor commanded. The dog immediately jumped on a chair, placed on paw on the pastor’s forehead and began to howl. The pastor looked at his wife in shock and said, “Good Lord! He is a Pentecostal!”

The context of Ephesians 5:19-33 is not contingent on my capacity to live for Him, but His choice to live through me.

Whether you are a teenager, college student, young single, divorcee, or married couple, this truth is absolute truth.


Ephesians 5:32, “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

“great mystery” – some wondrous, unlooked for truth that God is revealing through His Spirit. The mystery (secret) is not marriage itself; it is the union of Christ and the church that is reflected in Christian marriage. Marriage reproduces in miniature the beauty shared between the Bridegroom and the Bride. And through it all the mystery of the Gospel is unveiled.

In v. 31 Paul quotes the final verse from Genesis 2:24 account of the 1st marriage. Then in v. 32 he gives us an extraordinarily great, wonderful and profound truth that can be understood only with the help of God’s Spirit.

The secret is Christ and the church, rejoicing in what he said in v. 25. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

It is the message that what husbands should do for their wives is what Jesus did to bring us into union with Himself. Jesus gave Himself for us. He gave us His glory and power and became a servant. He died to His own interests and looked to our needs and interests instead.

Romans 15:1-3, “We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification. 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me."

This is one of God’s purposes in marriage: to picture the relationship between Christ and His redeemed people forever.

“If God had the Gospel of Jesus’ salvation in mind when He established marriage, then marriage only works to the degree that appropriates the pattern of God’s self-giving love in Christ.” Tim Keller

Do for your spouse what God did for you in Jesus, the rest will follow.

This is the secret in that the Gospel of Jesus and marriage explain one another.

The Christian teaching does not offer a choice between fulfillment and sacrifice but rather mutual fulfillment through mutual sacrifice. Jesus gave Himself up; He died to Himself to save us and make us His. Now we give ourselves up, we die to ourselves, first when we repent and believe the Gospel, and later as we submit to His will day by day. Subordinating ourselves to Him, however, is safe, because He has already showed that He was willing to go to hell and back for us. This banishes fears that loving surrender means loss of oneself.

The Gospel gives the power and pattern for your marriage.

1. The experience of marriage will unveil the beauty and depths of the Gospel to you. It will drive you further into reliance on it.

2. A greater understanding of the Gospel will help you experience deeper and deeper union with each other as the years go on.

Marriage is a major vehicle for the Gospel’s remaking of your heart from the inside out and your life from the ground up.

The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the Gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The Gospel is this: we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time; we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will transform us.

Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws.

Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it.

God’s saving love in Christ, however is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The commitment and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.

Tim Keller

The hard times of marriage drive us to experience more of this transforming love of God.

The Gospel can fill our hearts with God’s love so that you can handle it when your spouse fails to love you as he or she should.