KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE – 1 by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson
As you know very well we are in our series on the Sermon on the Mount. Many of y’all have shared with me that you didn’t realize how much was packed into this simple message by Jesus. No wonder, one time pastor of Westminster Chapel G. Campbell Morgan called it “The Manifesto of the King.” This morning we begin a new miniseries from Matthew 5 titled – “KEEPING INTIMACY IN MARRIAGE.”
Matt. 5:27 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.”
Overall Background: What we just read is the 2nd of the 6 Antitheses that Jesus gave in His sermon. The first one, as you remember, was, “You have heard that it was said…‘You shall not murder…But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause…” Now the second one – “You have heard that it was said…‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. It’s amazing to me that right after raising the bar on murder, Jesus turns His attention towards adultery! I would’ve expected Jesus to raise the bar on pride or greed or faithlessness or prayerlessness. Instead, he raises the bar on marriage.
This is very important to understand: While our culture is doing all it can to degrade, downgrade, and devalue marriage, God has always tried to uphold, exalt, and honor marriage. Ever since the beginning of time human beings have tried to tear down this God-given institution of marriage. By the way, the assault has never been so intense as it is at this point in history. What is needed is a biblical, Christ centered, Holy Spirit enlightened, God honoring, world denying, Devil defying view of Marriage.
Question: What do you think about marriage? What image comes to your mind when the word “marriage” is spoken or written? Do you look at it positively or negatively? Does it bring up good emotions or bad emotions? How is your marriage right now? Where do you get your understanding of marriage? Hollywood? Washington? Media? Friends? Family? Community? If it is coming from anywhere other than the word of God, your understanding is warped/distorted/skewed. To make a marriage what it was intended to be, you need not just 2 people but 3 – man, woman, and God. To have that third person in your life, you have to come through Jesus Christ. Are you saved?
What we’re doing this morning is laying out the foundation for this series. Without the proper foundation, you will be unable to understand why Jesus raised the bar on marriage. 3 things about marriage:
I. MARRIAGE REFLECTS GOD’S IMAGE.
Genesis 1 26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Background: Before God ordained the church or any human institution He established marriage. Why did he establish marriage? Was it simply for our benefit? To enjoy each other; to have companionship; to have children; to fill the earth. Yes, He did it for those reasons but the primary reason was much more. It was to give us a glimpse of Himself.
Listen again to verse 26 –“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…” Did you notice how God repeatedly refers to himself in the plural? Some people have tried to argue that it is an old Hebraic construction or some Royal “Us.” Not true. If that were the case, we would see it every time that God referred to himself. Instead, when God is getting ready to give us a glimpse of Himself, He refers to Himself as “Us” and “Our.” What does that tell us about God? It tells us that God is more than one person.
But, just when you think God is multiple gods, listen again to verse 27 – “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him.” Did you notice that it doesn’t say – “so God created man in their own image; in the image of God they created them. Why not? Because even though God is more than one person, he is still one in being and essence. He is still one God. It’s a mystery. We can’t really understand it but we can illustrate it. How? Ice, water, and vapor? No. Shamrock? No.
God’s illustration of Himself is the Marriage. First, God made 2 similar but distinct human beings. Listen once again to verse 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Think about it – a man and a woman are fundamentally the same but we’re also different – emotionally, physically, and physiologically. In our culture, we are relentlessly trying to neutralize these factors by psychologically brainwashing our perceptions and physically mutilating our bodies. We’re not progressing but regressing! It is not a sign of being advanced but a sign of becoming a savage or barbaric. But in God’s creation it is man and woman, same in essence but distinct in person.
That’s only part of the illustration. Listen to Genesis 2:24 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” When a man joins to a woman in marriage they are together reflecting the likeness of God. God is more than one person and yet one being and essence.
Question: Why is same-sex marriage such an abomination to God? Why does Paul refer to homosexuality as the last step on the way down? Because it fundamentally misrepresents the image of God.
For e.g. Does it bother you when people misrepresent or misunderstand you? So also it bothers God when we misrepresent Him! It makes him angry! He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because they misrepresented him.
Here’s a question – why didn’t God just come out and say, “I am Trinity – There’s father, here’s Son, and over there is the Holy Spirit. We’re three in persons but one in essence”? Why go through all this trouble with marriage? Because its like a newborn baby crying for food. What do you do? Either the mom nurse’s the baby or feeds a bottle of milk. Why don’t we just give him a baked potato with extra butter and sour cream and a nice juicy steak? That would hold him/her for a while! Because the baby is not ready for it. So also, God in His divine wisdom and plan knew that too much information would have overwhelmed us. So He revealed Himself in bite size. Just like marriage it takes times to understand and grow into the knowledge of that Oneness of God.
II. MARRIAGE IS GOD’S GIFT FOR COMPANIONSHIP.
Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
Background: Up to this point God kept saying “It was good” but now “It is not good.” Since He made us in his image, in his likeness, He knows how we function. God is Trinity. There is companionship in the Godhead between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. God knew that Adam needed fellowship as well. Of course, God fellowshipped with Adam but Adam needed someone on his level. Hence, God decided to make a helper comparable to Adam. Listen to verse 19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. Meaning: None of those animals made the cut. Adam realized that he could not connect with any of them emotionally or physically. God knew that but He wanted Adam to get it.
Genesis 2 21 “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.” Adam did not know what was happening. He was asleep and thank goodness for that! If it was up to us, who knows what we would’ve come up with! 22 Then the rib (it just means a portion from his side and not necessarily a rib) which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman…” The actual word is “fashioned.” It means that the woman was built for a unique purpose. “…and He brought her to the man.”
The big question is how would Adam receive this woman. She is made from him. She is like him but she is different. Listen to Adam’s response: 23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Not only is Adam approving this new being, He is also demonstrating a powerful principle for all Adams to come. Eve had done nothing so far to gain Adam’s acceptance but he chose to accept her as God’s perfect gift for him.
Question: How do you accept your spouse? Husbands – do you accept your wives as God’s perfect gift for you? Wives – do you accept your husbands as God’s perfect gift for you? Do you base your acceptance on their performance? Do you base your acceptance on their past? As an act of your will, you must receive your spouse as God’s perfect gift for you. It is easier said than done. Only by the grace of God you can do that.
III. MARRIAGE FULFILLS A GREAT MYSTERY.
Ephesians 5 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her…31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
Background: This is one of the most profound passages in the entire Bible. Marriage is described as a great mystery. It is compared to the relationship of Christ and the church. Just as husband is the head of the wife so also Christ is the head of the church. Just as the church is subject to Christ so also the wife should be to her own husbands.
Listen carefully – Marriage is a physical demonstration of a spiritual reality. The way I lead my life should reflect the way Christ leads the church. The way my wife submits to me is how the church should submit to Christ. Our model for marriage is not parents, grandparents, some romantic movie, some romance novel, or even our personal fantasy. Our model for marriage is Christ’s relationship to the church.
Application: What are you basing your marriage on?
This might be a tough message for some of you. You’ve been through divorce, separation, and a difficult marital situation. This message is not meant to add more guilt and pain to you. This is to remind you that the only marriage that comes to perfection is the one of Christ to His church. Even here, the only partner who is truly faithful to His part is Christ and not the church. Many times we are unfaithful, unwilling to submit, and downright ungrateful but He still loves us.
Application: No matter where you are ask God for His grace in your marriage. Are you saved?