Text: Ephesians 5:25-33 9/25/2016
Main Point: Marriage and family are wonderful, glorious gifts.
Last week we pursued a biblical understanding of God the Father. We saw that fatherhood is one of the foundational attributes of God. He is preeminently a Father because he has existed eternally as Father and Son. God does not simply act like a father or pretend to be a father. God is a father. The fatherhood of God helps us understand salvation. In salvation, God adopts us, he brings us into his family. He provides for us, protects us, and gives us our identity. I am a child of God. In a real and glorious sense, every Christian is adopted. So, God uses our biological families to teach us about salvation. There is so much that is rich and encouraging about family.
Alongside the metaphor of family is another metaphor, the metaphor of marriage. Like family, God uses marriage to help us understand and enjoy salvation. But we need to be careful here because the metaphor of marriage is not equal to the metaphor of family. What I mean is, whereas God has eternally been a father he has not eternally been a husband. There is no God the wife. God is not a mother. There isn’t a fourth female member of the Trinity stuck away in a heavenly kitchen somewhere. Regarding the metaphors of marriage and family, while marriage is a powerful metaphor, marriage is secondary to family.
Today, in order to understand salvation, we are going to look at marriage and in order to understand marriage we are going to look at salvation. Let’s start with Ephesians 5:25-32
I. Marriage helps us understand and enjoy salvation
- God the Husband
We are meant to understand salvation through the metaphor of marriage. Since marriage is a covenant, it is right for us to connect God’s union with his people along the lines of covenant. A husband and wife covenant with one another in the same sense that God covenanted with his people. We start with the covenant to Abraham. God explains salvation with the metaphor of marriage and God explains his commitment to his people by entering into a covenant.
- A covenant is the commitment of one self to your covenant partner- Abrahamic covenant; Genesis 17:1-8
- Exodus- Exodus 24:7-8;
- The covenant God made with his people is best described with the metaphor of marriage- Ezekiel 16:8; Jeremiah 31:31-32
- Consummation in the end times- Isaiah 62:1-5 (54:5-8)
- God wants us to look at faithful fulfilling united marriage and understand that relationship is what it’s like to be adopted by God. God has committed himself to me. I commit myself to God. We will tolerate no competitors. Marriage helps us understand salvation. God is like a husband and his church is like his bride. Let’s look now at some specific characteristics of marriage. What is marriage?
- Marriage is a covenant of companionship
Seeing the covenant of marriage in Exodus 24:7-8; Ezekiel 16:8; and Jeremiah 31:31-32, it is important now to understand the purpose of the marriage covenant. Pay attention, we are not talking about spiritual marriage between God and his people but physical marriage between a man and a woman. In Genesis 2:18 we learn that woman was created because it is not good for man to be alone. Marriage was created to solve the problem of loneliness. Humanity is not meant to be solitary in the same sense that God is not solitary. God is Trinity; God is not lonely. Men and women get married because it is not good to be alone.
One of the purposes of marriage is to provide companionship therefore
- Marriage is the joining of two persons
In our day of loneliness and shallowness, we Christians have a great blessing for our neighbors. We have the right to pursue something more than roommates or siblings. God offers us more than a hook up culture. Intimacy, being known, companionship, and friendship are God’s intended blessings for marriage.
When discussing divorce and marriage, it is essential to understand how the two individuals become one flesh. Genesis 2:24 reports how a man shall leave his father and mother, cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. The union of a man and a woman which is secured in the covenant and illustrated in the act of sex is a major biblical idea. Oneness is the product of the covenant commitment, the giving of self, and this oneness is consummated, illustrated, and enjoyed through sexual intimacy.
Malachi 2:14 describes this one flesh union when a wife is described as your companion and wife by covenant. Covenant creates a marriage and marriage is for companionship. It is the companionship of two who become one. This joining is a mystery. Malachi 2:15 is a difficult verse to translate but the idea is simple. God is at work in husband and wife so be faithful to your wife. Because of God’s commitment to marriage, there are resources available for a marriage of companionship. God enables faithful fulfilling marriages. The Triune God is committed to your marriage. Protect and cultivate your marriage.
With the idea of covenant of companionship in mind let’s turn to Ephesians 5:25-32 and think about how marriage helps us understand and enjoy salvation.
Read Ephesians 5:25-32
To be precise and with the text we must say, salvation helps us understand marriage, but it’s safe to take the phrase both ways. Salvation helps us understand what marriage is supposed to be and marriage helps us understand what salvation is supposed to be. Notice in verse 25, how should a husband love his wife? Like Christ loves the church: with powerful self-sacrifice. And for what reason did Christ sacrifice himself? Verse 26, to cleanse and sanctify the church his bride. If Christ, loves his church with such purpose and power then, verse 28, husbands must love their wives with whom they are united in covenant. The union of husband and wife is so deep it can be said that loving one’s wife is loving one’s own body. Husbands, cherish her like Christ cherishes his church. Leave off all other relationships. Tolerate no competitors. Look at the love and devotion of Christ for us his church. Christ has committed himself to you, giving you everything you need to love your spouse. Love your bride like Christ loves his bride.
Let’s rehearse what we know so far. The Father, Son, and Spirit are united to their church; committed by covenant. Covenant helps us understand marriage and marriage helps us understand covenant. It is also true that the difficulties of marriage and dealing with the problems of marriage help us understand salvation. We can better understand confrontation and reconciliation in our marriages as we study God’s confrontation of, and reconciliation with, his covenant people.
II. Sin, adultery, and reconciliation help us understand salvation
The confrontation and covenant faithfulness of God after Israel’s sin help us understand and enjoy reconciliation with our Father through the Son after our sin.
- Adultery helps us to understand sin
- Jer 3:19-20
Notice how God uses the marriage and family metaphors to describe Israel’s sins. In verse 19, they are sons and God is their Father. In verse 20, their sin is not compared to a rebellious son but to a treacherous wife. Israel sinned against God. They acted like an unfaithful or deceitful wife. Sin is like adultery.
2. Hosea 1:2; 2:1-5
God amplifies the disgust of sin by taking it one step further than adultery. Here, in Hosea 1 & 2 their sin is compared to that of a prostitute giving away that which is the most intimate to gain basic necessities. In Hosea 2:5, Israel acts shamefully going after those lovers who she thinks provide for her needs. She lusts after those who will give her bread.
But who has been looking after Israel’s needs? God the Father, the faithful husband, provides for our needs. Hold onto the idea that Israel’s sin is described as adultery. Now to the New Testament and our sin.
3. James 4:3-5 (Ezekiel 16:6-14; 28-34)
Our first love and highest devotion belong to God who has given Himself for us and to us. He alone is sufficient! When we turn away from God and seek our identity or security in another we commit adultery against God. Sin is nothing less than adultery. We need a strong and mighty Savior. Just as adultery helps us understand sin
- Restoration after adultery helps us understand salvation
- Hosea 2:13-15 (Hosea 2:13-3:5; Ezekiel 16:59-63)
It was not the Baals, the idols and false gods, who had provided for Israel. It was God, their husband, who looked after them. Be in awe of the reconciling love of God. He could have left her. Israel had committed adultery and God had every right to send her away. In fact in Jer 3:8, the exile of Israel back into slavery is described as God sending her away with a certificate of divorce. But notice, please remember, the restoring and redeeming love of God the husband. She committed adultery, He sent her away with a bill of divorce, and then he pursued and reconciled.
Isaiah 62:1-5 must be read again here. Isaiah 62:1-5 give us the picture of reconciliation after divorce.
The adultery, the sin, the divorce, the exile, and the restoration are complete. We are no longer forsaken or desolate. God is not angry. God delights in the adulterous after atonement. He delights in the prostitute made pure. He takes her back. Marriage, adultery, and restoration all help us understand salvation. It is also true that God our father and Christ our husband help us understand marriage and divorce.
Let’s work now to apply these truths to our marriages.
III. Husband and wife are united in marriage (Mt 19:3-6; Eph 5:25-33)
In the proposed article on Marriage and the Family you find this phrase
- Marriage is dissoluble by death, sexual immorality, or abandonment by an unbeliever
In light of all that we have seen about covenant and marriage between God and his church let’s hear what God commands concerning our marriage covenants.
- Marriage is dissoluble by death- Rom 7:1-3; 1 Cor 7:39-40; Mt 22:29-30
- Death dissolves the marriage so it is permissible marry after the death of your spouse.
- Divorce is permissible, but not required, in the case of sexual immorality- Matt 5:31-32; 19:9;
- Remarriage is permissible after sexual immorality
- Marriage is dissoluble by abandonment by an unbelieving spouse-1 Cor 7:12-16
- It is permissible to marry another after abandonment by an unbeliever
- Those who are lawfully divorced can seek to marry again
- Believers should not divorce, but if they divorce, they are not free to remarry. Seek reconciliation (1 Cor 7:10-11)
Think biblically with me for a moment. Put aside your concerns for a moment and set your eyes on things that are above where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Think about your marriage in light of the gospel. If husband and wife have both been adopted by the Father, cleansed in Christ, and gifted with the Spirit then there are resources available for reconciliation. Work on it. Pray. Seek advice. Seek humility and change every possible thing you can change. Why? Your marriage is not your identity. Your salvation, your reconciliation to God is your identity. Your Father, Your Brother, and the Spirit are available to you. Reconciliation and waiting will be hard, heart wrenchingly hard. There is grace for you. But if two Christians do divorce they are not free to marry another. Reconciled and kept by God, wait for and pursue reconciliation with your ex. To be clear, let’s hear God’s word on marrying an unbeliever or one unlawfully divorced.
- It is sinful to marry an unbeliever or one unlawfully divorced (Malachi 2:10-2; 2 Cor 6:14-18; Matt 5:31-32)
It is difficult to bring a hard word to the church I love. Yet it is love that compels us (2 Cor 5:14). It is love that demands truth so there can be reconciliation with God (Jer 6:14; 8:11). In a group this size there will be people who are considering divorce. Surely we are tempted to find our happiness outside of God’s good ways; some will be tempted to divorce while others will be tempted to marry an unbeliever. In a group this size there are people who have committed the sin of unlawful divorce. We are all tempted to sin. We have all committed sin. If your conscience has been pricked this morning, if you ache over your struggle against sin, I have good news- 1 Cor 6:9-11
Sexual immorality causes divorce and unlawful remarriage causes sexual immorality. But there is a cleansing for you in Christ. Divorce and remarriage are not unforgiveable sins. Repent to God, put your faith in Christ (his righteous life, atoning death, and victorious resurrection) and you will be cleansed. If you are unlawfully remarried, I do not believe God wants you to divorce. Two wrongs don’t make a right. If that is you today, admit your sin, trust Christ’s atonement, and fight hard to rest in grace as you move forward in your marriage.
Church, these are monumental issues. Do not process these things alone. Get into a discipling relationship. Seek out a more mature believer who will help you. We all need it. I’m in these types of relationships. I need help with my sin and my marriage just like you. Send me an email. Give me a call. Drop me a note. I’ll try to connect you with a brother or sister who will help.
Jay Adams introduced me to the idea of marriage as a covenant of companionship