Thursday, May 8, 2014

This is part 5 of the 'Cultivating a Godly Marriage' blog series.

Part I — The Meaning of Marriage
Part II — The Husband Leads with Love 
Part III — The Wife Submits with Delight
Part IV — The Couple Communicates Openly, Honestly & Frequently  



Part 5: the goal of marriage: the exaltation of God & the pursuit of your spouse’s Christlikeness

Marriage exists for and points to one ultimate end, the glory of God and the exaltation of Christ. As is the case for everything in the universe, the end of all things culminates in the preeminence of the Lord Jesus Christ. He rules as King over all things. He upholds all things. He created all things and all things exist through Him and for Him.

One misses the real meaning of marriage if one neglects to understand that God created marriage to manifest His glory. So, then, I want to spell out the preeminent goal (end, purpose, reason) for marriage in one glorious thought encapsulating two inseparable features: the magnificence of God and the resemblance to Christ.

1. The goal of marriage is the MAGNIFICENCE OF GOD.
As a child would put a magnifying glass up to an insect to make it larger so the wonder of marriage is to make the glory of God larger and sweeter. To rightly understand marriage is to rightly dwell on God’s glory. To understand the covenantal bond of marriage properly demands that one will savor the sweetness, delightfulness, and blessedness of the heavenly Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. To miss this connection is to misunderstand the meaning and goal of marriage.

The Christian marriage serves to broadcast the greatness of God so as to result in His glory. The glory of God is the greatest good. The glory of God is the loftiest goal. The Christian can have no greater ambition than to glorify God. This is the chief end of man and the preeminent boast of every Christian.

The marriage should magnify God for His delight. To bring joy to God should be the Christian’s preoccupation. The child of God always strives to delight his heavenly Father. And so, every Christian marriage should radiate the glorious beams of God’s majesty so as to delight God.

A godly marriage should magnify God for His praise. To praise God is the highest good. Everything everywhere should praise God. Indeed, everything that has breath is to praise the Lord (Psalm 150:6).

2. The goal of marriage is the CHRISTIAN'S RESEMBLANCE TO CHRIST.
As the moon shines the light of the sun so is the great beauty of Christians when they shine the light of Christ in and through them. Every Christian has Christ dwelling within him (Colossians 1:27; Romans 8:10). The greatest goal and chief end of all things is ultimate resemblance to Christ. Christlikeness consists of the goal of the Christian life (1 John 3:2).

When two sinners come together in the covenant-bond and lifelong-commitment of marriage, the grace of God in humility, in grace, and in forgiveness must be demonstrated daily. Every Christian spouse must remember that he is God’s primary tool for sanctifying the spouse. Again, you, O Christian husband/wife, are God's tool for sanctification in the life of your precious spouse. Just as when welding two metals together, fire and sparks fly up, so it is when two Christians come together in the life-commitment of marriage, the sparks of conflict will inevitably arise. But Christian couples must remember that heat and pressure and time results in the inseparable molding of those metals together. And so it must be in the godly marriage. Marriages grow as Christians live humbly, serve sacrificially, think selflessly, labor relentlessly, and serve one another with Christ’s attitude and love.

The tool of sanctification will teach you the necessity of selflessness. You will learn the demand for humility, confessing sin, repentance, and asking for forgiveness. You will learn the glory of giving forgiveness and granting a free and full pardon thus promising to never bring that offense up to the person again so as to hold it against them (nor will you dwell on it yourself or announce that person’s offense to other people). You will love unconditionally even when you don’t feel like giving of yourself to the other person for their benefit and welfare. You will commit yourself to them even in the hard, crushing, lonely, and stormy seasons of life. You will quickly learn to rely on prayer, fervent prayer, believing prayer, persistent prayer, prostrate prayer, intercessory prayer. You will have the importance of the local church and regular, active, personal, deliberate involvement (and sacrificial service) affirmed in your own heart and in your family’s calendar.

The Spirit of God ultimately brings about sanctification (2 Corinthians 7:1; Romans 15:15-16) but He uses means by which He accomplishes His work of grace in believers. One of the means that the Spirit uses in the process of sanctification is the relationship of marriage. The husband is not the ultimate agent of sanctification but he works mightily, striving with the enabling grace and transforming power of the Spirit, to help his wife grow in her walk with Christ.

Thus, the husband wants to sanctify his wife and make her more like Christ. He take the responsibility to do whatever is necessary to make her more Christlike. He will wean her from worldly distractions. He will protect the door of his home from worldliness zealously. He will utilize daily circumstances to teach extraordinary truths about God to his wife and family. He makes it his primary ambition in his life on earth to make his wife pure, clean, spotless, and dazzlingly gorgeous in holiness. One day standing before the throne in heavenly, the husband can present his wife forward before the Lamb so that He will be pleased and glorified with her spiritual growth.

All of this demands that the Christian husband and wife will carefully and deliberately guard what the other person sees, what they hear, what they watch, where they go, how they act, who they spend time with, how they spend time meeting and communing with God, their frequency and commitment to private and family prayer and worship. Every Christian has blind spots. Pride blinds us to our own sins, faults, shortcomings, and areas of growth. How important it is, then, for Christian spouses to love each other enough and to live with an eternal focus so as to shun worldliness and encourage whatever would promote godliness.

“Love wants only the best for the one it loves, and it cannot bear for a loved one to be corrupted or misled by anything evil or harmful. When a husband’s love for his wife is like Christ’s love for His church, he will continually seek to help purify her from any sort of defilement. He will seek to protect her from the world’s contamination and protect her holiness, virtue, and purity in every way. He will never induce her to do that which is wrong or unwise or expose her to that which is less than good” (John MacArthur).

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