Part 3: The Gospel and Its Power to Transform Marriage
It has been more than 25 years since the Holy Spirit convicted me of my sin and desperate need for redemption. The Spirit then showed me Jesus’ offer of salvation and redemption, and by faith and His enabling, I confessed Jesus as my Lord and Savior. That was the most pivotal day of my life – moving from death to life and from being God’s enemy to being part of His family!
But my need for the Gospel did not stop because I received salvation. I continue to need the Gospel daily so that He can grow me more and more into the image of his Son – a process called sanctification. As John the Baptist said, “He (Jesus) must become greater, and I must become less”. (John 3:30)
In marriage and other relationships, we need the power of the Gospel at work so that we can be transformed AND so God’s Kingdom can be built. So the question for every person reading this is: How is the Gospel changing you and your relationships today?
We shared Part 1 of this series in early April on our blog. So if you missed it, click here to read that post. And we shared Part 2 of the series in mid-May. You can click here to read or re-read it. 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!
#7: Because of the Gospel, we have hope (Romans 5:1-4). Therefore we can endure any marital difficulty, hardship, or suffering, with the assurance that God is working all to our greatest good (Romans 8:28). (1)
Having hope is critical as we follow Christ and grow in our marriage relationship. But why do we have hope? Romans 5:1-4 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”
These verses show us several answers to that “why question”. First, we live in hope because we have peace – peace that was purchased for us by Jesus’ blood and sacrifice. We who were once his enemies are now his adopted kids! But the verse goes on to say that, in addition to peace, we also have obtained access to God’s grace. This incredible grace not only radically changes our relationship with God, but it should also change our relationships with others – especially with our spouse. And finally, we live in hope because of the fruit that is produced by God in us, as we cooperate with Him in the hardships and challenges of life – that fruit is endurance, character, and hope. And don’t we all want those things growing in our lives and marriages!!
So husband or wife, the next time you are facing marital difficulties, focus on how God’s hope in you can change both your view and the way you walk in those difficulties. God has not left you alone in marital challenges, but has empowered you with His hope, peace, and grace!
#8: Because of the Gospel, Christ dwells in us by his Holy Spirit (Galatians 3:13-14). Therefore we are confident that God is always with us and is always at work in our marriage, even when progress is imperceptible (1 Thess. 5:23-24). (1)
Hopefully every Christ-follower reading this understands that the Holy Spirit came to dwell in him or her at the moment they trusted Jesus as their Savior. But how should knowing that the Holy Spirit lives in me change my everyday life as well as my marriage? A whole book might be written to fully answer that question, but here are two things to ponder.
Galatians 5:16-17 says, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” As a Christ-follower, you have a “superpower” living in you! And that superpower (the Holy Spirit) is the only power we have to live out the desires of the Spirit instead of our own desires. If I am having trouble following God in my marriage, I need to repent of using my own strength and humbly choose to be filled and empowered by the Spirit.
Second, as Christ-followers, we do not lack the love we need to walk as God wants us to walk. Romans 5:5 says, “Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” Did you hear that? God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. He didn’t just give us a sprinkle or squirt of His love. In the original language it can be translated “gush out” or “spilled out”. I get the picture of having a bucket of water poured out on my head on a hot day!
So let’s not use the excuse in marriage that we are not able to do something God has clearly called us to do as a husband or wife. The Spirit of God empowers us and fills us with His love – and that is sufficient for you and me today to walk in Christ-like ways with our spouse!
#9: Because of the Gospel, we have power to fight and overcome remaining sin, which continues to dwell and war within us (Romans 7:19-21, 24-25; Galatians 5:16-17). This indwelling enemy represents the essence of what is called the doctrine of sin. (1)
There is a statement I hear often from Christians: “I am just a sinner saved by grace”. And while that statement is absolutely true for a born-again Christ-follower, I think it often can lead a person to say “I am just a sinner” as an excuse not to fight remaining sin in their life. The Gospel gives us real power to overcome remaining sin! And while we will never be sin-free this side of eternity, we can and should continue to fight remaining sin in our lives. There are many places we could go in Scripture to see this Gospel power to fight remaining sin, but I will just focus on two. Romans 6:16-18 and 1 Corinthians 10:13.
Don’t you realize that you can choose your own master? You can choose sin (with death) or else obedience (with acquittal). The one to whom you offer yourself—he will take you and be your master, and you will be his slave. Thank God that though you once chose to be slaves of sin, now you have obeyed with all your heart the teaching to which God has committed you. And now you are free from your old master, sin; and you have become slaves to your new master, righteousness. Romans 6:16-18 TLB
I’m not sure I need to add a lot to all that Paul shared in these three verses. We can choose to be a slave to sin, but we don’t have to! You are free from your old master, sin! So use that truth to fight remaining sin in your life. As James says, “submit yourselves to God and resist the devil” and your flesh. You have the power to say “no” to sin!
But remember this—the wrong desires that come into your life aren’t anything new and different. Many others have faced exactly the same problems before you. And no temptation is irresistible. You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it, for He has promised this and will do what He says. He will show you how to escape temptation’s power so that you can bear up patiently against it. 1 Cor. 10:13 TLB
I love the truth of the phrase, “You can trust God to keep the temptation from becoming so strong you can’t stand up against it”! God always provides a way of escape from temptations to sin. So stop when you are tempted and call out to the Lord to show you the way of escape and then take it! He has promised to help us when we are tempted. Stand on that promise.
Our desire is that the nine Gospel truths that the Ricucci’s shared, along with our sharing on each of them, will truly help you to see how critical it is to allow the power of the Gospel to be at work in your individual life as well as in your marriage.
I will conclude this three-part series on the Gospel by sharing a quote from Tim Keller. Tim sums it up well: It is one thing to understand the Gospel but is quite another to experience the Gospel in such a way that it fundamentally changes us and becomes the source of our identity and security. It is one thing to grasp the essence of the Gospel but it quite another to think out its implications for all of life. We all struggle to explore the mysteries of the Gospel on a regular basis, but we should strive to immerse ourselves in it and allow its message to influence our life daily. (2)
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES ON THIS TOPIC:
9 Marks Online Post: https://www.9marks.org/article/why-do-christians-need-to-hear-the-gospel-every-day/
Ligonier Online Post: https://www.ligonier.org/posts/continually-washed-gospel
The Gospel Coalition Online Post: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/trevin-wax/the-gospel-as-an-operating-system-with-law-as-the-updates/
The Gospel Primer by Milton Vincent. Purchase a copy at this link: https://www.amazon.com/Gospel-Primer-Christians-Learning-Glories/dp/1885904673
(1) Love that Lasts, authored by Gary and Betsy Ricucci. Crossway Books, 2006.
(2) Tim Keller’s foreword in J.D. Greear’s book Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary
Image by congerdesign on Pixabay
Written by Glen Solberg, Abiding Marriage, 2022. As shared above 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 question or comments to us at info@AbidingMarriage.org