3rd Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful Marriage – Holiness
Hi, this is Pastor Ken thanks for joining me once again for the Monday Marriage Message where we search God’s instructions to discover how to experience a highly successful marriage. This is the third edition in our series 7 Biblical Principles of a Highly Successful Marriage.
In the first episode we discovered that compatibility is key to success in marriage. If we aren’t of like mind spiritually, marriage becomes exceedingly problematic. Ultimately the difficulty is the result of not having the same goals for the marriage. By God’s design, the primary purpose of marriage is to reflect who He is. When we choose to ask Him to unequally yoke us with an unbeliever that purpose becomes incredibly challenging to fulfill, and the lack of unified effort to that end will be the cause of much frustration.
In the second episode I shared the importance of understanding that your marriage is more about your relationship with God than it is about your relationship with your spouse. We looked at Ephesians 5:21-33 where the Apostle Paul wrote about the intricately intertwined connection between the relationship we have with our spouse and the relationship Christ desires to have with us. There, as in no other scripture I am aware of, the Bible illustrates that correct interaction in marriage is congruent with a right relationship with God. Finally, I mentioned that all of the commands concerning the best way to interact with our spouse come from God’s written word to us. It is not our spouse who gives the commands, they come directly from God. As such our obedience should be directed toward God. We interact with our spouse, but we do so in response to our God.
Today I want to focus on the 3rd Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful Marriage. When we consider the Great Analogy I just spoke of, it is important to understand that our marriages are the tangible, physical representation of the relationship between mankind and God. God is Holy and tells us in scripture that our response to His holiness is supposed to be our holiness. In Leviticus 20:26 God told the Hebrew People, “Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine”. In this scripture, God is saying that He has chosen these particular people as His own, just as a groom chooses a bride to be especially his for an uninterrupted lifetime together. Just a few chapters before, it is recorded that God reminded these same people that He had brought them out of a foreign land where they had been in servitude to another (the Egyptian Pharaoh) and had taken them to Himself, and was now taking them to the promised land. Leviticus 11:45 says, “For I am the Lord who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God; thus you shall be holy, for I am holy.” This language is incredibly analogous of a contemporary wedding for the time. In the Hebrew custom, just as Isaac, and Jacob had done, a groom would go, sometimes a great distance, find a bride, make her a promise of a home and then bring her back to his father’s house to be his wife. Here God has said that He went to the land of Egypt, claimed the people as His own and was now leading them to their new home that He had promised to them.
Additionally, God gave the people instruction. He told them that in order for them to be in a right relationship with Him as their Redeemer, they would have to live and act as He lives and acts. So, He told them about Himself and said “I am Holy, so you must also be Holy”. This may sound as if it were simply a command for spiritual perfection, but that would be an incorrect understanding. The word holy means many things. It means set apart, or set aside for a specific purpose. It also means to be kept undefiled. Certainly these meanings are congruent with a successful marriage. There are also some important noteworthy characteristics of holiness that are critical in highly successful marriages. God’s unchangeable nature, the fact that He is immutable is a result of His Holiness. Holiness is true. Holiness is faithful. Holiness is unwavering. God is all of these things, and if we are to be in right relationship, with Him, He says we must be these things as well. As God is true to us, we must also be true to Him. As He is faithful to us, we must be faithful to Him. Just as God is unwavering in His devotion to us we also must be unwavering in our devotion to Him. If the marital oneness between a man and a woman is completed by a Holy God, and is the Great Analogy of the relationship that Holy God desires to have with them, then the 3rd Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful marriage is Holiness.
Marriages that operate at a high level of success understand that the only way to do so is to operate with an uncommon high level of trust. I know full well that I am not the first to say that trust is key to a great marriage. That insight has likely been expressed as long as there have been those offering advice about what makes a marriage tick. Some might even look at my collection of 7 Biblical Principles of a Highly Successful Marriage and think that trust should have been listed as #1.
Correctly placed trust is much more than a high level of confidence. True trust is just that…true. This is because real trust is a two sided coin. On the one side, trust is something we place in someone else. On the other side of the coin, trust is that which has been placed in us. Genuine trust is the relationship between a trustor and a trustee. That being the case, absolute trust is only possible if it cannot fail. It is only obtainable when dealing with someone who is Holy. We know that we can trusty God 100%. God is 100% Holy. He is infallible. He is unchangeable and therefore His word is completely and totally trustworthy. There is nothing that He says that we cannot lean on completely. There is no promise He makes that we cannot trust wholly.
The problem we experience in our marriages is that we are not married to someone who is immutable. Human beings have the capacity, and often, seemingly a propensity for failure. Though we are created in God’s image, we are not perfect in all of our ways as He is. The fact of the matter is that as fallible human beings; we can only really know that someone is keeping their word to us if we can watch them do so with our eyes. If that is the case, and our imperfect nature dictates that it is, and if the 3rd Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful marriage is all abouttrust, then what are we to do? How can we operate within our marriages with a high level of success if we can’t really trust our spouse unless we are actually watching them? That sounds like a discouraging question but it comes with a truly encouraging answer.
When God told the Israelite people that they were to be holy as He is Holy, God knew that would only possible for them as a result of the relationship He wanted to have with them. Jesus told us, “There is no good in us”. God is good, but we are evil in and of ourselves. It is only when we invite God to dwell inside us…that we become righteous. God knows that we can only be holy if He indwells us, and so, by saying “I Am Holy, so you must be holy” He was imploring His people to allow Him to come and live with them. Peter wrote of the connection between the Hebrews during their exodus from Egypt and Christians being brought out of slavery to sin.
1 Peter 1:13-16 say this, Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy. Peter was essentially saying that holiness is possible for us because of the redeeming blood of Christ that purchases our freedom from sin. If we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior, and have invited Him to live in us, we have invited His Holiness to live in and through us. So, Peter says, now we have to live lives on the outside which are congruent with the Holy one who lives on the inside.
You might be asking what that has to do with a successful marriage. Everything. As a Christ follower, Christ lives in me. As a Christ follower, Christ indwells my wife also. I am still a fallible human being as is my wife. We both still have the capacity for sin. Our own ability to fail, leaves our 100% value as a trustee in reasonable question. In other words, as I stated before if she cannot see me with her own two eyes, my wife cannot put her absolute trust in me that I will always keep my word. Those who say that they can do this are either; simply fooling themselves, or they already understand that the 3rd Biblical Principle of a Highly Successful Marriage is holiness. If trust is critical for a marriage to operate successfully, and it is, and if absolute trust is not something rightly placed in a fallible human being, and it isn’t, then what can we do? Highly successful marriages place their trust in the holiness of their spouse. Where does that holiness originate? With our indwelling God. Highly successful marriages understand that they do not trust their spouse to never fail them, they trust their God who also dwells inside their spouse to never fail them.
For this reason, spiritual intimacy within a marriage is crucial. There must be a common understanding that each spouse is giving God the correct place of highest importance in their life. Real trust becomes possible when each spouse can see their counterpart investing heavily in their relationship with God. This necessary component of trust must be built at all costs. No other form of intimacy is more important or should be allowed to supersede the formation of spiritual intimacy in a marriage. How do we build spiritual intimacy? There are a number of ways to do so successfully. Pray together. Worship together. Minister together. Serve God together. Give to God together. Spend time with God together. These are a great start but are not intended to be an exhaustive list.
The last of the spiritual intimacy builders I mentioned was saved for last so that I could expound on its incredibly high importance. Each morning my wife Lynn and I spend personal time with the Lord. Some would call that our daily devotional time. It is the time that we each spend reading God’s word, and asking Him to show us new truths that will impact our walk with Him. The twist that makes it a wonderful spiritual intimacy builder for us, is that we do it at the same time each day and though we are reading in different places in the Bible, we are doing so in each other’s presence. We sit down in adjacent chairs in our living room and use the same parcel of time to press into God. I see Lynn investing in her relationship with her Lord. She observes me doing the same thing. It gives us the opportunity for much that is good for us, and our marriage. We can ask questions of each other as we desire the other’s input about that which we have just discovered. We can share with each other things that excite us from God’s word. Most importantly however, it allows us to see with our own eyes that the trust we have placed in the indwelling holiness in our spouse is secure.
When you recognize that the 3rd biblical principle of a highly successful marriage is holiness…the only source of real trust, you begin to understand why it is 3rd and not 1st. This principle isn’t possible if we don’t first make sure of our spiritual compatibility and second, understand that our marriages are more about our relationship with God than they are about our relationship with our spouse.
So now, trusting completely in the God who dwells in your spouse, and doing everything possible to build the spiritual intimacy in your marriage…go be awesome!