As we all approach Easter, we should take time to dwell on the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. That is what the season of Lent is all about.
But do you understand how important the Gospel is to your marriage? Yes, we want both husband and wife to experience salvation through faith in Christ and have a personal relationship with Christ. But how should the Gospel impact our everyday lives as husbands and wives? And is the Gospel truly impacting our marriage regularly?
In this post (Part 1), and in two upcoming posts (Part 2 and Part 3), we will share how the Gospel can and should impact our marriage relationship. These Gospel truths are taken from a book entitled, Love that Lasts, written by Gary and Betsy Ricucci. Our desire is that you, not just read them, but pray and ask God to make them everyday realities in your marriage!
The Bible tells us that when we are reconciled to God through Jesus Christ, we become new creations! Many of us as Christ-followers know 2 Corinthians 5:17, but is the truth of that verse revealing itself in my marriage as a husband or wife? Am I allowing things from my past to define me, or things that have happened in the past in my marriage to define me?
Let’s be clear. Things from my past or from past events in marriage can and do shape and influence me, but they do not define me! Our identity in Christ is who we are: beloved, forgiven, redeemed, adopted, etc. As husbands and wives, let’s ask the Lord to help us daily walk in the truth that we are new creations and not defined or confined by past events or present circumstances. In addition, let’s ask the Lord to help us see our spouse as He sees them and be an instrument of grace and help in their life of following Christ!
#2: Because of the Gospel, we are forgiven (Ephesians 1:7). Therefore we can live free of all guilt and condemnation for every sin, and we can trust that God, in His mercy, will be gracious to us. (1)
In James 3 we are told that “we all stumble in many ways”. We all mess up – it’s the honest truth that is often hard to admit to others. A Christ-followers right response to messing up is humbling myself and seeking forgiveness and reconciliation with God and others. But another common response to messing up is guilt and shame. And these two responses often lead us to places that hinder our walk with God and our relationship with our spouse.
We can live free of guilt and shame as Christ-followers, if we simply trust God’s path for us when we mess up – the path of humility, confession of sin, and the seeking of forgiveness. It is also very helpful to recognize the lies of the enemy about guilt and shame and to renew your mind with the truth of who you are in Christ.
So husband or wife, acknowledge the things you have done wrong to the Lord and to your spouse. And trust God that He truly forgives you and empowers you to walk in freedom and not guilt and shame. Finally, if you sense your spouse is living with guilt or shame, pray for them and ask the Lord for a chance to talk with them about this – not in a condemning way, but in a way that brings the grace of the Gospel to bear in their life and in your marriage.
#3: Because of the Gospel we can forgive, just as Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). Nothing done against us compares to our sin against God. Therefore all offenses, hostility, and bitterness between Christians can be completely forgiven and removed. (1)
Forgiveness is vital to marriage and all relationships. But not the world’s version of forgiveness or even the idea of “forgiving and forgetting”. The forgiveness that God calls us to in marriage can only be truly experienced if we have actually experienced ourselves the overwhelming grace of God when He forgives us in Christ – this is the heart of the Gospel. We who deserved judgment and condemnation for our rebellion against God are declared “not guilty” because of the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus. And it is that grace that we are called to live out in the everyday hurts and disappointments we experience in marriage.
We really like what the authors say: ALL offenses…between Christians CAN be completely forgiven and removed (emphasis added). The resurrection power of the Gospel, that lives in every Christ-follower, allows us to forgive even the most heinous acts against us or others. Your forgiveness of the other person is not dependent on them, but only on your obedience to the opportunity to demonstrate the Gospel by extending God’s grace to them. And please remember that forgiveness and reconciliation are not the same thing. God is calling you to forgive, and empowers you to do that. Reconciliation is dependent on both parties’ cooperation.
So, are you struggling with forgiving your spouse? We are not saying this is easy, but it is possible because of the Gospel. Take time to ponder the overwhelming grace of God in forgiving you ALL your sins: past, present, and future, in Christ. Then ask the Lord to help you take steps to move out of bitterness and unforgiveness and into the freedom that comes with extending grace, in Christ-centered forgiveness of your spouse.
ADDITIONAL: If you or someone you know is struggling with forgiveness, please take time to download, print, and read this linked article by Tim Keller. It has been a great help to many husbands and wives we have shared it with over many years.
(1) Love that Lasts, authored by Gary and Betsy Ricucci. Crossway Books, 2006.
Written by Glen Solberg, Abiding Marriage, 2022. As shared in the introduction and in sources, the three main points are from Love that Lasts, a book by Gary and Betsy Ricucci. Please send any questions or comments to us at info@AbidingMarriage.org