GOSPEL OF MARK – ROBBY GALLATY – Program 31
By: Dr. Robby Gallaty
|By: Pastor Robby Gallaty; ©2011|
|“Leave and cleave” is more than just a slogan. God has a particular purpose in mind for marriage.|
Master’s Purpose for Marriage
We are walking through a four-part series on marriage. Last week we talked about the Master’s plan for marriage. This week the title is The Master’s Purpose for Marriage. Last week we saw God’s plan was this: that a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife and the two shall become what? One: one body, one unit, one mind, one purpose, to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ. This morning, I want to show you through the scripture that when God is glorified the most, it happens when a woman follows her husband and a man leads his wife as Christ would lead the church.
Now, I know there are some in here this morning, men and women, who are struggling in your marriage. I know that. And my aim is not to discourage you, it’s not to make you feel convicted in the sense of making you feel bad about your marriage. My aim is not that. The aim this morning is simply to encourage you, to give you a path to get back on. If you’re walking out of the will of God for your marriage, it’s to get back on the path and to follow the Lord and to serve him in your marriage and it will require both parties to listen. You know, it’s easy to say, “Well, Robby, you don’t understand. My wife is this way or my husband is this way.” No, we have to look within in order for God to work on the outside of our marriage.
Turn if you will to Ephesians 5:22. Let me just say right out of the gate that marriage in this context as we will see is for the sole purpose of glorifying God. Did you know that? I mean, your marriage was created to glorify God. Look at verse 22: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the [what?] Lord. [Look at verse 25. What does it say?] Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. [Verse 29] For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it [how?] just as Christ does the church.”
This morning we will approach marriage from a different perspective. We’re going to see that by imitating Christ, by obeying Christ, we glorify God in marriage. Friends, listen to me. Marriage exists more for God than it exists for you. Think about that. According to this text it shows us that marriage exists for the glory of God. Look at the first aspect of the text. We’ll divide it into three. The first one is this. We see the role of the wife glorifies God. The role of the wife glorifies God.
Look at verse 2: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” The role of the wife glorifies God.
Look at the two aspects of that. First of all write this down. You see the motive for submission. The motive for submission: Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord. When I say the word submission, what comes to mind? You think of dominance, right? You think of oppression, right? That what normally comes to mind. You think of suppression. But that’s not biblical submission. Biblical submission in the language of the New Testament is another word for subjection. It’s to willfully follow the husband.
Now naturally, people will say at this point, “Okay, well, who’s in charge of the marriage, pastor? The husband or the wife?” and guess what the answer is? Neither. It’s Christ who’s the head of the marriage, the same way Christ is the head of the church. And the key phrase there is—look at it in verse 22—as to the Lord. When the wife subjects herself to the leadership of the husband, she is actually serving the Lord. Wives, if you want to serve the Lord, you submit and follow the plan and purpose of your husband as he leads the marriage.
Now, she’s not required to submit herself to any other man but her husband. That’s what it says in the text—submit yourself to your husband. And it’s important to notice this. The head directs the body and in the same way in marriage, the head, who is the husband, directs the family. When the body is out of alignment with the head, it shows that there’s a major problem in the body because of paralysis or someone being crippled, that the head says one thing. The body doesn’t react a certain way. In the same manner, when the head is saying one thing and wife does not follow her husband in certain aspects, there is a serious problem in the marriage.
Now, let me tell you what verse 22 doesn’t say. Verse 22 says wives submit to your husbands. Now this is what it doesn’t say. It doesn’t say that wives should blindly follow their husbands in every decision if it doesn’t glorify God. That’s the key. See wives are to follow their husbands as they lead in the character and conduct of the Lord Jesus Christ. If the husband ever makes a decision that is different from the Word of God, the wife is obligated at that point to lovingly say, “I’m not following you in this circumstance because you’re not following” who? “The Lord.” It’s important to realize that because it’s not a blind submission where you just say, “I’m going to follow in any and every circumstance if he’s not following the Lord.” Why is that important? Because the husband is the one—men, listen—who will give an account for the family. So the motive for submission in your life—wives, get this—is to please God. You want to please God? Submit to your husband.
Notice secondly, that’s the motive. Look at the model for submission. Verse 23: “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
The husband is the head of wife. Now let’s look at that head because it’s kind of an interesting word. It’s used two times in the book of Ephesians up to this point and in both circumstances, it talks about one who has authority or one who is prominent. Look at verse 22 of chapter 1: “And he [talking about God] put all things under [Jesus’] his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church.”
And basically what God is saying is Jesus has authority over the cosmos and all the evil forces in the world. Go to 4:15: “Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head [here it is] into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped.”
And so the idea is Jesus is the head of the body and all the parts of the body submit to his leadership. Now what Paul says in this text is this: the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. Now, don’t get too excited, guys. It’s equal in value. Men and women are equal in value, different in function. Go to 1 Corinthians 11. This is the greatest passage to explain the difference between headship and value. Go to 1 Corinthians 11:3: “But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.”
Now, we know Jesus and God are equal, right? Jesus is not lesser in value to God. He is different in function to God and the same thing goes for the husband and the wife. Equal in value, different in function. The sentence the husband is the head of the wife is not a command. It’s an indicative. It’s an explanation. It’s not a command—husbands be the head of the wife. What Paul’s saying is, husbands, you are the head of the wife. The question is what kind of leader are you? See, you don’t choose to be the head, you are the head. And the question is what kind of leader are you? You should never be domineering over your wife. You should never be overbearing over your wife. The idea here is the husband is the defender of the wife. He’s the protector of the wife. He’s the one who looks out for the interests of the wife. Your wife is precious so respect her in the same manner.
Now, the wife should follow the husband is everything—as I said earlier—when he follows the character of Christ. Christ alone is the supreme authority and you, as the wife, will understand if your husband is following the command and the ways of Christ. Gary and Betsy Ricardi say this, “One of the best wedding gifts that God gave to you was a full length mirror called your spouse. Had there been a card attached to your spouse, it would have said, ‘Here’s to helping you discover what you really are.’” Isn’t that the case, right? I mean, your wife or your husband is a full length mirror to help you and direct you and guide you.
“But, Robby, you don’t understand. My husband is a deadbeat. Robby, you don’t understand. My husband is an unbeliever. Robby, you don’t understand. My husband is lost. He doesn’t exemplify the character of Christ so how can I love him and submit to him?” It’s a great question, right? It may be you. Peter knew that you’d ask that question. In fact, he knew it so well that he wrote about it in 1 Peter 3. Let me show you 1 Peter 3:1. What does the wife do when the husband is not leading in a godly manner? He gives a great illustration on what to do.
“Likewise, wives,” talking about submission to authority. He just got finished talking about servants. Now He’s going to the household: “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see [here it is] your respectful and pure conduct.”
This is what Peter is saying. You will win over your husband with your behavior because you will be the walking Word of God. How does this happen? In two ways: when you submit to him, the Lord of the universe, the God of creation convicts his heart through two things. Pure conduct. That is when you get free from sin in your life. Wives abstain from immorality in your life. Seek righteousness. And then, secondly, pure conduct. That’s a conduct that lines up with something and actions that please the Lord. So Peter says if your husband’s lost or he’s not following the Lord, your conduct through submission will lead him to the Lord. That’s the role of the wife in the marriage. It glorifies God. When wives submit to the husband, it glorifies God.
But, husbands let me show you your responsibility. There is a great responsibility of the husband which ultimately glorifies the Lord. Let me give three aspects. The mandate—actually, two big aspects and a few sub-points. The mandate of love, write it down. The mandate of love. “Husbands, love your wives….”
Now when you think of the word love, what do you think of? Happiness. What else? Joy. What? Sacrifice. You think of bliss, right? Love is blind, right? You think of that. Biblical love is different than worldly love. In the world, love is conditional. It’s based on things. If you do this for me, then I’ll love you. If you look this way, then I’ll love you, right? In the world, love is based on attractiveness. It’s based on physical beauty. It’s based in wit. It’s based on appearance. It’s based on certain things. But the problem with that love is it comes and it goes.
Biblical love is different. The problem with worldly love is it will dissipate when he or she looks a different way or acts a different way. Biblical love is unconditional because biblical love stems from God, which God’s love is unconditional. His very nature is to love. In the marriage, a husband’s love for his wife should never be based on her attractiveness, on feelings, on emotions or conditions. Biblical love in the marriage—husbands, come real close—is based on a command from God to love your wife. That’s what it is. Why do I love my wife? Because God commands it. That’s a command in the text.
Look at it. Husbands, I command you to love your wife. Yes, looks and beauty, enjoyment and kindness are crucial parts to the marriage. I understand that. However, they’re not the spiritual basis for your love. To follow the Lord Jesus Christ is not only to know him and to love him. To follow the Lord Jesus Christ is to love who he has commanded you to love. Even if your wife’s attractiveness disappears over time, you’re to love her. That’s the mandate of love.
Secondly, look at the model of love. We break it up into three sections. First of all, we see selfless love. What kind of love should we have, men? Here it is. Watch it. Selfless love. Verse 25, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her….”
Jesus did not love others because of what they could do for him. If you think about it, think about it. Jesus didn’t need anything or anybody to love him. He was complete in God. He was God. He had all the divine attributes and resources of Heaven within himself. He didn’t need anyone to love him. He didn’t need anyone to serve him. So he loved people unconditionally. Man could do nothing for him because he was God and he still loved them. If you’re loving your spouse because of what he or she or what she can do for you or the way she treats you or if she cleans the house or she washes the dishes or she pleases you in some form or fashion, then you don’t love your wife the way Christ loves the church because your love for your wife is conditional. Jesus loved the church, as we heard earlier, sacrificially. Jesus died for the church. Men, let me ask you. Would you die for your wife? I mean that’s really what it gets to. That’s the heart of the matter. Would you die for your wife? It’s a selfless love.
Secondly, it’s a sanctifying love. It’s a sanctifying love. Look at verse 26: “…love your wives, as Christ loved the church…that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
Notice the word in this text is the sanctifying agent in the life of the believer. When the husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church, he actually assists in the process of purifying his wife and protecting her from defilement. Did you ever think about that? That it is your job, husbands, to be the caretaker and the gatekeeper of what enters into your marriage and to your house and, specifically, to your wife. It is your job to do that.
Now, let me just say a side note here. This is not just to married couples. This is to those who are single as well. If you want to please the Lord and you’re in a relationship, men, you will not lead another woman to enter into sexual immorality for the poisoning of the body before the marriage covenant. Amen? You will not do that. Women, listen to me. If a guy tells you that he loves you or it’s meant to be with you and him together, that’s not the kind of love that God has for you. That’s not a kind of love that stems from the Lord. Guess what? Next week, we’re going to talk about purity in marriage and purity in your own life as well for engaged couples. You know, it’s easy to get engaged and say, “Well, we’ve already been engaged and so God’s going to honor our marriage” and then they enter into immorality together. Friends, whether you’re engaged or you’re single, until you have entered into the marriage covenant, you should abstain from any kind of immorality.
There is a selfless love. There is a sanctifying love. The man is the gatekeeper of the home and he protects the wife from defilement. But thirdly, look at this. The sympathetic love: “In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.” What did Jesus say? Love your neighbor as your what? As yourself. Well, you can insert the word wife in there. Love your wife as you would yourself. “He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’”
See, when it comes to loving your spouse, you have no excuse. God gave you the opportunity when you were single to either remain single or to get married and he even gave you a choice in the matter. Think about it. He said, “I’m not going to tell you who to pick. You can pick anybody you want. But if you pick someone, you have to stay with that someone and love that person forever.” That’s what he says.
I want to make a statement to you. You can’t love God the way God intended you to love him if you’re not loving your wife the way God intended you to love your wife. You can’t say, “My relationship with God is great but my relationship with my life is sour.” You can’t say that. You see, the relationship between God and your wife is connected. Jesus gave us two commands: love God and love others as yourself. How can you love a homeless man on the street if you don’t love your wife? Men, how can you love someone from another culture or another country if you don’t love your wife? How can you love an addict or an alcoholic or someone who is in an immoral situation in your life if you don’t love your wife? Your marriage, men, is the training ground to teach you how to love other people. Did you catch that? Your marriage is the very institution that God set up to teach you how to love. Love was not something that was given to you when you said, “I do” at the steps of the altar. Love is something you have to grow into.
One of the things that will ruin your marriage quicker than anything is sin. See, when sin comes in a marriage, it will hinder the relationship. I’ve asked myself the question after last week. Why is it that when we get married, we stop dating our wife and we just go along as business as usual? I’ve talked to another man about this and what we’ve figured out is this: when you’re dating someone, you’re constantly hiding heinous sin, right? You’re putting on a façade and you’re trying to keep them from really seeing who you are. So you put on an act and you act a certain way…oh, that doesn’t bother me, no way. But the moment you get married, you let the veil down, and you start acting the way you really—this is true—you start acting the way you really are, you start saying the things you really want to say and you start doing things you want to do and you stop letting Christ rule and reign in your life and you let sin invade the marriage. There is nothing that will ruin a marriage more than sin coming into your marriage.
Gary Thomas said this in his great book on marriage called Sacred Marriage. Write it down. Sacred Marriage, Gary Thomas, an incredible book on marriage. He says, “I have heard men say, after leaving their wives for another woman, these words, ‘The truth is, baby, I never loved you.’ This is meant as an attack on their wife saying, in effect, ‘The truth is you’ve never been lovable.’ But to put it in a Christian context, his confession is an utter failure to be a Christian. If he hasn’t loved his wife, it is not the wife’s fault that he hasn’t loved her. Jesus calls us to love even the unlovable. He calls us even to love our enemies. So the man who says, ‘I’ve never loved you,’ is a man who’s saying, essentially, ‘I’ve never acted like a Christian.’”
Friends, love’s not a feeling. As the pastor who married Kandi and I said, “Robby, you don’t fall into love because if you fall into love, you’ll fall out of love.” Amen? Couples don’t fall out of love, they fall out of repentance. Write that down. Couples don’t fall out of love, they fall out of repentance.
We’ve seen the role of the woman in the marriage is to submit to the leadership of her husband. We got that. We see the responsibility of the husband in marriage to love his wife as Christ loved the church. Now, I’ve been tempted to put application points in here to say that you need to do this and you need to do that and, wives, you need to do this and, wives, you need to do that. But I want you to depend upon the Lord. You know what you need to do in your marriage and if you don’t know what you need to do in your marriage, you need to ask about it, right? I mean that’s it. God will lead you through that and direct you by the Holy Spirit.
Now the question is, we know the role of the wife. We know the responsibility of the husband. But, Robby, what is the purpose of marriage. Do you know that your marriage is a representation of the gospel? Did you know that? Your marriage is a representation of the gospel, which actually glorifies God when it’s done in the manner in which God has laid it out to do. Look at verse 32: “This mystery [of the marriage] is profound….”
I love that word mystery. It’s been a secret, hidden for years. The Old Testament saints missed it because it’s a mystery. I’m saying that the marriage refers to Christ and the church. Don’t miss this part. If you miss anything else, come in close: “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
C.J. Mahaney said this is his marriage sermon, According to the Plan, “The key question in marriage is this: will we approach marriage from a man-centered view or a God-centered view? And for some of us, we have to change view. In a man-centered view, we maintain that our marriage is comforting as long as it gives us our desires, meets our expectations and pleases us. In a God-centered perspective of marriage, we persevere in our marriage because it brings glory to God and points a sinful world to a reconciling Creator.” A very different approach to marriage.
See, in the Old Testament, the Old Testament saints did not see what marriage was really about. Friends, God didn’t just stumble upon the ordinance of marriage. He didn’t just say, “Well, I’ve got a guy here and I got a woman. Well, let me see about putting them two together.” Before the foundation of the world, God had pre-ordained that the man and the woman would come together as a picture of the gospel. It means that the man and woman, through their marriage relationship, would display how God interacts with his people. Feel the weight of that, that your marriage is actually a presentation of the gospel and in the Old Testament they actually miss this. They didn’t see that that was what God instituted marriage for.
Now, that doesn’t happen in the world today because some people get married because the woman gets pregnant, right? Some people get married because they want a tax break on their taxes, right? We can save money if we get married. Some people get married because it’s just the natural thing to do. We’ve been going out for five years and so I think we ought to get married. No! God has orchestrated the institution of marriage as a sacred covenant, as a way of preaching the gospel. Women, you are a picture to the world of the church and men, you are a picture to the world as the husband of Christ and how Christ interacts with the world.
Feel the weight of that great responsibility you and I have in the marriage covenant. Every one of our marriages preach the gospel. See, you don’t choose to preach the gospel. You don’t choose to display the message about how Christ reacts with his people. You do it. It just happens. You are a living example of how God interacts with his people to your children, to your co-workers, to your family, to your unbelieving friends, to your neighbors. You are a picture of how God interacts with his people.
So let me ask you, what kind of representation have you been? How have you displayed the gospel? I tried to say it better but I couldn’t. Dr. David Platt says it this way, “Wives, if you sleep around on your husband, you are saying that Christ is not satisfying enough for his people. Wives, if you disrespect your husband, you’re saying that the church does not respect Christ. Wives, if you don’t follow your husband, you show the world that Christ is not worth following. Husbands, if you desert your wives, you show that Christ deserts his people. Husbands, if you ignore your wife, you show that Christ wants nothing to do with His people.”
Do you see what’s at stake here in the marriage covenant? Do you see what’s happening in the marriage? What happens is when we don’t follow the plan that God set up for marriage, we actually defame the name of God, defame the name of Christ when we flippantly approach marriage. What if God created marriage not to make you happy, but to make you holy? What if God created marriage not for you but for him? See, you can change your marriage today if you begin to look within.
You know, it’s easy to point the finger. You don’t know who I’m living with or you don’t know what he did. No, friends before you point the finger, you have to look within. What do you need to change? See, you can’t change your spouse but you can change you as you submit to the Lord and allow God to work in and through your life, God can change you.
I think the key to this passage is what happens right before the passage. For us to truly understand wives and husbands, we have to go back to verse 15. And you should never hear a sermon on this passage without the context preceding the passage because Paul gives us the key to how we should operate in our marriage. Look at verse 15: “Look carefully, then, how you walk or live. Don’t walk as the unwise, but the wise. [You’re believers. Act like it, is what he’s saying.] Make the best of the time because the days are evil. [Do something about it now.] Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the will of the Lord is and do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery but be filled with the Spirit of God, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ then submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.”