Wednesday, August 20, 2014

On-Target Christian Marriages - Colossians 3:18-19

Colossians 3:18-21 "Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. 

The aim of Paul's letter to the Colossians is to communicate that Jesus is enough. We have been looking at Colossians off and on these past couple of months and have noted such important subjects as spiritual maturity, sharing in Christ's ministry in the local church, the importance of believer's baptism and giving it all to Jesus. In today's post we will be looking at what I'm calling: "On-Target Christian Marriages".

Point of Application:
When the bullseye of your marriage is Jesus Christ, you've got all that you need to thrive amidst a culture that is increasingly hostile towards marriage. Understand though that in aiming at that bullseye, the enemy of your soul will be aiming at you! Still, keep your aim, since the Target of faith is also the Author of it! Thus our point of application for today's message will be: When your marriage is aimed at Jesus Christ, the marriage will have all that it needs to thrive. To flesh out what Paul is writing here in Colossians 3:18-19, we can note two primary thoughts:

1. God's design of marriage
2. God's designation for men in marriage

God has designed marriage around Jesus Christ. Colossians 3:18-21
Marriage was not derived from man, but from God. In the garden of Eden God presented Adam his wife in Genesis 2:22-25. Why is it that God instituted marriage? So that there could be a human relationship that could express something about and find its most complete expression in Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5:25-27 states - "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless." 

In the heart and mind of God the Father, we see ample testimony from scripture that He already had individuals marked out whom he would call and convict to compose the bride, the church. (Ephesians 1:3-11) That bride would be gathered over the centuries by the Holy Spirit, one person at a time, in order to complete what God had ordained for the pleasure of His Son. As Jesus came to this world to die for sinners, He came to pay the price for His church. (Acts 20:28; 1 Timothy 4:10)  

Why is marriage and family so huge in the Bible? Because something is communicated about the Person of the Son in relationship to His bride the church. The Christian family's target must be Christ because God designed the family around Him. Christian counselor Jay Adams notes the following three differences that mark Christian marriages and families from other types of families:

1. Christians admit their sins.
2. Christians know what do to about their sins by using the scriptures to deal with them.
3. Christians progress (more and more) out of their sins and (more and more) into righteousness.1

So what is an on target marriage? Our main point of application for answering that question has been: When your marriage is aimed at Jesus Christ, the marriage will have all that it needs to thrive. God has designed marriage to be around Jesus Christ, but notice another reason why the target of the Christian family must be Jesus Christ....

God desginated the man to lead his family like Jesus Christ.
One thing that sticks out in the major New Testament passages on marriage is how much depends on the role of the man. When you look at the commands of Colossians 3:18-21, every single one requires a Christ-centered husband or father to facilitate the opportunities for wives to willingly submit and children to lovingly obey. Consider each of the commands in Colossians, and how they are conditioned upon the man's level of Christ-likeness in the family.

1. What a husband must never do Colossians 3:19. 
When wives are told to submit to their husbands, that is a voluntary submission. What will be the one way to ruin the communication and companionship in your marriage? When you deal with your wife in such a manner as to degrade her. By focusing on what not to do first, we can then see more easily what must be done in facilitating marriages that are targeted toward Jesus Christ. Paul writes in Colossians 3:19 "Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them." That word translated "embitter" speaks of harboring resentment, growing harsh and getting down right verbally abusive. Men, you and I need to be careful how we treat our wives! 

As one wise Sunday School teacher told me one time - the wife is like a rose, whose petals of life require tender loving care, respect and dignity. Each time we say a harsh word or mistreat them, we pluck off a petal. Over time if a man continues to act like an oaf, he will end up with a wife whose petals are gone, and is nothing but a stem full of thorns. 1 Peter 3:7 "You husbands in the same way, live withyour wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered." Men, if you and I are not careful, our very prayer lives can be affected by how we treat our wives! There are undoubtedly warnings to heed. But now see what every husband must do as God's designated man to lead his family like Jesus....

2. What every husband must do. Colossians 3:18-19
What will ensure that the submission is done out of delight rather than simple duty. Plain and simple: when the husband is loving his wife as Jesus loves His church. Four times we read in the parallel Ephesians 5:22-33 passage that the husband is to love His wife. He is to love her sacrificially (Ephesians 5:25); spiritually (5:26-27); unselfishly (5:28) and sweetly (5:29). If a husband is loving his wife like Jesus Christ, then her role of submission will be a delight, not a drugery. 

Colossians 3:18 tells the wife to simply submit to her husband "as is fitting in the Lord." The husband is to be the type of man that will advocate activities and decisions within the home that are "fitting in the Lord." The only line drawn by scripture concerning how far a wife is to go in her acts of submission is one: Christ. 

Husbands, you and I ought to be the ones that encourage our families to go to church, reach out in love for Jesus' sake and lead our wives in prayer and children in family devotions. To be "fitting in the Lord" means "whatever alligns to bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ. 

Ephesians 5:33 states: "Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband." Husband, if you want respect, then you must love your wives as Christ loves His church. That is how it works. Consider the words of 1 Peter 3:8-9 "To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, andhumble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing."

Closing thoughts:
Thus our point of application for today's message was: When your marriage is aimed at Jesus Christ, the marriage will have all that it needs to thrive. To flesh out what Paul wrote in Colossians 3:18-19, we noted two primary thoughts:

1. God's design of marriage 
2. God's designation for men in marriage 2

1. Jay E. Adams. Christian Living in the Home. Page 12. P & R Publishing.

2. God has so designed marriage around His Son, being that it most completely reflects the Son's relationship with His church, for Whom He came to pay the purchase price. In all reality marriage is but a shadow of the Son's mission to die and raise from the dead for sinners, especially His people. (1 Timothy 4:10). We also noticed too that God has designated men to lead their families like Jesus Christ. We saw what men ought not to do toward their wives. Then we observed from the commands given by both Apostles Peter and Paul that husbands are to love their wives sacrifically, spiritually, unselfishly and sweetly. 

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