Part 2: The Gospel and Its Power to Transform Marriage
As a Biblical Counselor, I often see a puzzled look on the face of a husband or wife as I tell them how important the Gospel is to their marriage. Most people only think about the Gospel in terms of their salvation.
But the Apostle Paul, writing to people who were already Christ-followers in Colosse, said this: “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the Gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” Colossians 1:21-23 (emphasis mine) As Christ-followers we never outgrow our need for the power of the Gospel working in our lives and marriages.
We sent out Part 1 of this in April. So if you missed it, click here to read that post on our blog. We plan to share Part 3 in the next month or two. As we stated previously, these Gospel truths are taken from a book entitled, Love that Lasts, written by Gary and Betsy Ricucci. Our earnest desire is that you not just read them, but pray and ask God to make them everyday realities in your marriage!
#4: Because of the Gospel, we are accepted by God (Romans 15:7). Therefore we are not dependent on a spouse for who we are or what we need. (1)
If you have been born again by faith in Jesus Christ, then you are accepted by God. Romans 15:7 shares, “Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.” But how is that theological truth supposed to work on a “street level” in my life and in my marriage? Why is acceptance important?
In the original language, the word accepted can be explained as 1) to take as one's companion, or 2) to take or receive into one's home, with the collateral idea of kindness. So picture your acceptance by God as the Lord taking you for His companion. Or picture the Lord taking you into His home. Both of these are so personal. Showing us that the Lord doesn’t just “tolerate us”, but rather, in Christ, wants us near Him.
How could this work out in day-to-day marriage? There may be seasons when your spouse is distracted, depressed, or just unavailable for a variety of reasons. If you are fully dependent on your spouse to fulfill your desires, you may respond with anger or resentment toward your spouse in those seasons. But because the Lord desires for you to be near Him, you can go to Him in these seasons and feel His love and care. And He can give you grace and patience to continue to love your spouse in these challenging times. All because we are walking in God’s acceptance of us as His beloved!
#5: Because of the Gospel, sin's ruling power over us is broken (Romans 6:6, 14). Therefore we can truly obey all that God calls us to do in our marriage, regardless of any circumstance or situation. (1)
Hans Molegraaf, one of my mentors, taught me early in my biblical counseling training, about what he called “Rights vs. Responsibilities”. And while I do not have space to share that full teaching, it does line up well under the call to “obey God in our marriage, regardless of the circumstance or situation”. Here is what I mean:
When we read the bible verses in Ephesians 5 that tell a husband to love his wife, and for a wife to respect her husband, we can get our focus in the wrong place. Let’s say the wife is really desiring to grow in respecting her husband, but he is not seemingly showing any real actions of love toward her. It is tempting for her to say, “I will begin respecting him when he starts loving me!”. But although this is tempting, it is wrong. The wife should keep her focus on living out her responsibility (to respect her husband) rather than focus on her right (to be loved by her husband). And of course, the reverse is true. Rather than refusing to love his wife until she shows him respect, a husband is called to focus on his responsibility (to love his wife) and surrender his “right” (to be respected) to the Lord.
And how can we do that? We can only do that when the power of the Gospel is at work in us! On the cross, Jesus was praying for those who were responsible for His crucifixion. That is grace! And that is the power we have living in us, in the Person of the Holy Spirit. He can empower you to love when you are not getting respect, or respect when you are not being loved. When you do this, you are showing Christ-centered grace to your spouse and that kind of grace can bring real change in a relationship. I have seen it happen over and over in marriage counseling.
So, let’s walk fully in all God has commanded us to do as husbands and wives. Sin has no power over us, and the Holy Spirit’s power enables us to obey day in and day out!
IMPORTANT: The example above does not mean that we do not talk to our spouse about their lack of love or respect. Only that we stay primarily focused on what God has called us to d0, rather than being disobedient to God’s commands because of what our spouse is not doing.
#6: Because of the Gospel, we have access to God through Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16). Therefore we can at any time take any need in our marriage to the One who can do all things. (1)
If you are a Christ-follower and have been in church for even a short time, these verses are likely familiar to you: Since then we have a Great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16. These are precious words to our friend, Lorraine.
Lorraine has and is presently continuing to go through a long season of difficulty in her marriage. Her husband has been in a deep depression for almost 2 years, and she is really working hard to keep the marriage going. But she has been tempted many times to give up, especially when she often sees little or no effort from her husband.
What we love about Lorraine is how she comes back to God’s Word and finds hope in her time of need. She is consistently drawing near to the throne of grace to receive His mercy and grace for her daily life. This is such a real encouragement to my wife and myself as we watch her.
But as good as the promise of those verses is, I think the real foundation for it is found earlier when the author of Hebrews says, “…let us hold fast our confession.” The author uses that same word in the original language later in Chapter 10 when he says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.”. What is all this about “confession”?
It's our confession and trust in the nature and character of Jesus, our Great High Priest. And it dovetails with the phrase, “for He who promised is faithful”. Jesus, our faithful High Priest, who has reconciled us to the Father by the shedding of His blood, will give us what we need when we boldly approach Him with our needs. He is inviting us to come – issues with work, challenges in marriage, difficulties with family. We can bring it all to Him, remembering He is the One Who can do all things!!
ADDITIONAL: If you want to learn more ways the Gospel can and should impact our daily lives, please strongly consider getting a copy of The Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent. My copy is well-worn from going through its pages and Gospel truths over and over and over again!
(1) Love that Lasts, authored by Gary and Betsy Ricucci. Crossway Books, 2006.
Image by James Chan from Pixabay
Written by Glen Solberg, Abiding Marriage, 2022. As shared above in introduction and in sources, the three main points are from Love that Lasts, a book by Gary and Betsy Ricucci. Please send any question or comments to us at info@AbidingMarriage.org