Commit Permanently

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Sermon Notes and Audio 

Scripture Focus- Genesis 2:18-25; Ephesians 5:18-33

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One couple’s classic love story came to an end that was befitting of their lifelong commitment to each other. Weldon Ingalls, 100, and Jean Ingalls, 94, passed away within hours of each other two weeks ago, eight months shy of their 70th wedding anniversary. Jean was diagnosed with cancer last October, and Weldon was by her side through it. A few weeks ago, Weldon was diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and his health began to rapidly decline. He died, and just hours later she died. They had two children, five grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren. People called them the lovebirds because of the sweetness of their relationship.

Commitment begins with a promise to be loyal. It is usually accompanied by a statement of purpose or a plan of action. In the family, the marriage vows before God are the statement of purpose that point to the plan of action. Commitment has fallen on hard times. People don’t seem to be loyal to much of anything- the church, their families, vocation- all are seen as expendable.

God has shown continually that He is committed to His people. From the beginning of time He was committed to His creation. God was committed to Abraham when he called him and promised that He would make of Abraham a great nation and through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. God was committed in sending His Son Jesus Christ down from Heaven to give His life for us, and to teach us what it means to know God. He has promised He will never leave us nor forsake us. God’s commitment to us, should be followed in the commitments we make to our families.

 When the people considered all the Lord had done for them they wanted to declare their allegiance to Him. God takes our commitments seriously. Joshua 24:15 But if it doesn’t please you to worship Yahweh, choose for yourselves today the one you will worship: the gods your fathers worshiped beyond the Euphrates River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living. As for me and my family, we will worship Yahweh.

 How are we to commit permanently to our families, and especially in marriage?

New York Times columnist David Brooks argues that there are three different lenses through which to think about marriage decisions—the psychological, the romantic, and the moral lens. Most of the popular advice books adopt a psychological lens. These books start with the premise that getting married is a daunting prospect. So psychologists urge us to pay attention to traits like “agreeableness,” social harmony, empathy, and niceness.

The second lens is the romantic lens. This is the dominant lens in movie and song. More than people in many other countries, Americans want to marry the person they are passionately in love with. But in their book “The Good Marriage,” Judith Wallerstein and Sandra Blakeslee concluded that 15 percent of couples maintain these kinds of lifelong romantic marriages. The third lens is the moral lens. In this lens a marriage exists to serve some higher purpose. Brooks points to Tim Keller’s book “The Meaning of Marriage,” where Keller argues that marriage introduces you to yourself; you realize you’re not as noble and easy to live with as you thought when alone. Brooks writes: In a good marriage you identify your own selfishness and see it as the fundamental problem. You treat it more seriously than your spouse’s selfishness. The everyday tasks of marriage are opportunities to cultivate a more selfless love. Everyday there’s a chance to inspire and encourage your partner to become his or her best self. In this lens, marriage isn’t about two individuals trying to satisfy their own needs; it’s a partnership of mutual self-giving for the purpose of moral growth and to make their corner of the world a little better. Adapted from David Brooks, “Three Views of Marriage,” The New York Times

Commit to the design God has given for marriage.

Genesis 2:18-25

God identifies Himself as “the Lord God” in v18 emphasizing His covenant relationship with His people. The design God has given for marriage is clear. After creation, God considered all that He had made, and declared it as “good” numerous times. God designed man and woman to be together in marriage- there is no such thing biblically as a man being married to a man or a woman being married to a women- that is the height of absurdity, and the height of sin.

V18 is the first time He says something is not good. . .

“It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”

God created man from the dust, and placed him in the Garden of Eden. He walked in perfect fellowship with God, in a perfect environment. What could he have possibly wanted? It was God’s purpose to make a “helper” for man as his complement. The Hebrew word for “helper” was used of God’s help for those in distress and for military assistance.

The woman was to be his “complement.” She was like a missing part in a jigsaw puzzle. Vv 21-22 God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place. The woman was made from Adam’s rib. As it has been said, she was not taken from his head to rule over him, nor from his feet, that he should put her down, but she was taken from his side that he would protect her, and keep her close to his heart. Then the Lord God made the rib He had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man. God as the sculptor built the woman, deliberately.

The man’s response- v23 This one, at last. . . literally- All right! Here, now! This one, at last! Adam was joyfully astonished when he saw the woman God had made.

 Commit to the intimacy God has given for marriage.

V23 This one. . .is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called woman, for she was taken from man.

God designed man and woman to leave their family of origin and bond together as one flesh.

V24 This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.

At this point, they had no parents to leave, but God is giving the guidelines for how he intends marriage to be.

Marriage is the primary relationship in the home- becoming one flesh through the sexual union. God’s design for sex is the relationship between a husband and a wife for procreation and also for pleasure. Anything that is outside of those boundaries is sinful- premarital, extramarital, and so on. The husband-wife relationship takes precedence in the home, not the family of origin relationship, and not the parent-child relationship.

Marriage is the permanent relationship in the home- you have your children at home for a season, but you are to bond with one another- cling to, hold on to, be glued to. Jesus said, Matthew 19:6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh, therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.

 Marriage is the exclusive relationship in the home- one man, one woman. God dealt with polygamy in the Old Testament but it is always descriptive and not prescriptive, it was never God’s original intention.

Commit to the roles God has given for marriage.

Ephesians 5:18-33

 In the OT marriage is used to picture the relationship of God and His people Israel. In the NT, Christian marriage is used to picture the relationship of Jesus Christ and His church. Marriage is an earthly picture of the spiritual relationship between Christ the bridegroom, and the church, His bride. The prerequisite to a biblical marriage is the importance of being filled with the Spirit of God, being filled with joy, being thankful for everything and being mutually submissive to one another.

To submit= to be subject to, with a humble and servant attitude. It requires laying aside rights and selfish interests, and seek the good of one another because we fear the Lord and are subject to Him.

The response of the Church to Christ- v24 . . .as the church submits to one another in the fear of Christ. Jesus alone is Lord over all.

The response of the Church to one anotherv21. . .submitting to one another.

Mutual submission does not negate differences in roles. We cannot deny the difference between male and female, nor the difference between husband and wife. The lie of the world is that biblical submission and role differences have something to do with our value to God.

Gloria Steinem the radical godless feminist has a new documentary series entitled “Woman.” She was interviewed about it and asked, “How do you see the future of feminism?” She replied, “The future is each of us finding our voices to say what’s happening to us and what isn’t fair. The voice of feminism is every little girl in the world and boy who says two things. One- It’s not fair. And two- You’re not the boss of me.” Rebellion is the attitude of the age, nobody is the boss of me. Steinem is on record as saying- A gender equal society would be one where the word gender does not exist, where everyone can be themselves.

Martin Lloyd-Jones: The real cause of failure, ultimately in marriage, is always self, and the various manifestations of self. Self is at the root of all problems in this world, not only individually, but on a national and international level. Any tendency to assert self at once conflicts with the fundamental conception of marriage.

God is the authority and He is the one who determines how society is to be ordered, how His church is to be ordered, and how the home is to be ordered. In marriage, the husband and wife are equal as persons before the Lord sharing in the grace of salvation. Every believer in Jesus Christ has the same salvation, the same standing before God, the same nature and resources, and the same inheritance. Yet there is an order and authority that reflects the Divine image. In matters of role and function God has made distinctions.

The role God has given to the husband in marriage is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. V25 Is the foundation for how a husband is to live. Love will have a humble, servant attitude and lay aside rights and selfish interests, to seek the good of another.

The main way a husband exercises headship is through sacrificial love toward his wife. Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. Jesus knew us including all of our imperfections, and sin, and yet gave Himself so that we might become His bride. Christ is the example of what love is. Husband- I would die for my wife if it ever came down to it. I’d fight to the death to protect her. The question is- will you crucify self, and love and serve your wife??

Husband, your goal should be to help your wife be all that God intends for her to be. Love your wife as your own body. V29 For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church.  If you care for your wife, you will seek to meet the needs of your wife- physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Husband, your job description is to love your wife as Christ loved the church.

The issue of authority doesn’t even need to come up very often in the home. A loving, sensitive husband will not force his wife to do anything against God’s will, and he will not push her into anything that is harmful or unholy. When there are disagreements, they should be worked through in love. The role God has given to the wife in marriage is to submit to her husband as to the Lord.

This is a voluntary submission of oneself. A husband is never to treat his wife as a servant but as an equal for whom God has given him responsibility. The husband and wife belong to one another. He has no superiority and she has no inferiority. So the idea is not subservience but willingly functioning in the home under the husband’s leadership. It applies even if the husband is not a believer, because even then the wife can demonstrate to the husband the power and beauty of the grace of God in the Gospel.

Christian marriages should be radically different from worldly marriages. In a Christian marriage, rather than competing with the husband or trying to manipulate him to get her way, the wife willingly submits, seeking to build her husband up in the Lord, and do all she can because she has been sacrificially loved and served well by her husband.

Commit permanently!

Be protective of your marriage.

Be positive and look for the best. Express your appreciation.

Be polite. Always talk to your spouse with respect.

Be playful. Laugh together.

If you are married, take a moment to recommit yourself to your spouse.

If your marriage is in some difficulty, pray for God’s healing power to come into your relationship.

If you are a widow or widower, thank God for the good memories and ask God for the grace you need.

If you are single by calling- thank God for His blessing in your life and look to Him for your strength.

If you are single by divorce, pray for an intimate relationship with God to fill the void in your heart.

If you are a single parent, ask God to bless and work in the lives of your children.

If you have not yet married, but want to, pray that God will bring his best to you in His own time and commit to the Lord that you won’t settle.