Friday, January 29, 2010

What If God Designed Marriage To Make Us Holy More Than To Make Us Happy?

"Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth."
(John 17:17)

"You had me at 'hello'." Do you remember that famous movie line from the movie "Jerry Maguire" starring Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger? Well, I feel the same way about the subtitle to the book "Sacred Marriage" by Gary Thomas: "What If God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than To Make Us Happy?" Just that subtitle grabs your heart and gets you thinking!

sanctify - –verb (used with object), -fied, -fying.
1. to make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate.
2. to purify or free from sin: Sanctify your hearts.

Our key verse from "Wash Me In The Water Of The Word" on 12/18/09 was Ephesians 5:25-27. I want to focus on a few phrases from that scripture: "make holy...cleansing...without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless."

"When you are married, your spouse is your primary tool of sanctification used by God." I remember these words of one of our pastors so vividly as he instructed a marriage class we attend early in our marriage. My husband -- my primary tool of sanctification. That is both awesome and humbling at the same time.

Both spouses are a sanctification tool in the Lord's hand for their spouse. Gary Thomas puts it like this:

"Loving something and purifying it go hand in hand. A husband who truly loves his wife will want to see her grow in purity. A wife who truly loves her husband will want to see him grow in godliness. Both will put growth in godliness above affluence, public opinion or personal ease.

What marriage has done for me is hold up a mirror to my sin. It forces me to face myself honestly and consider my character flaws, selfishness, and anti-Christian attitudes, encouraging me to be sanctified and cleansed and grow in godliness.

Being so close to someone -- which marriage necessitates -- may be the greatest spiritual challenge in the world. My appetites and lusts and desires are all in full view of my wife. This presupposes, of course, that I'm willing to be confronted with my sin -- that I am willing to ask my wife, 'Where do you see unholiness in my life? I want to know about it. I want to change it.'"

This is a lot to digest and take before the Lord. Let's challenge ourselves with these questions today:

1. Do I see my spouse as a sanctification tool in God's hand? Sometimes that tool is gentle; sometimes it really brings conviction with digging, twisting and banging...but all with a beautiful purpose: godliness and holiness.

2. Do I want to see my spouse grow in purity and godliness?

3. Am I yielding my heart to the Lord and allowing Him to use my spouse as His tool?

4. Am I putting growth in godliness above affluence, public opinion or personal ease?

5. Have I said to my spouse lately: "'Where do you see unholiness in my life? I want to know about it. I want to change it."

Ask your spouse to pray together regularly. Steep yourselves in God's Word because we are sanctified in His Truth (John 17:17). Pursue holiness and godliness together. "...pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness." 1 Timothy 6:11

"Both the One who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family." Hebrews 2:11

"But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God."

1 Corinthians 6:11

"...yield your hearts to the Lord..." Joshua 24:23

To do a deeper study on your own about sanctification, click here: Blue Letter Bible - "Sanctification".

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many." Hebrews 12:14-15



Sue J. said...

God has used my unbelieving spouse on many an occasion to bring light to my unrighteousness. Sometimes, it's just ranting, though. But God has been faithful to work in our marriage--for almost 20 years--to provide discernment and protection, because the sanctity of marriage is that important to Him.

Mom to 9 Blessings! said...

AMEN! Sweet sister Amen!

Sharing this post with Scott - he says this to those he teaches often!

Love you,

Nezzy said...

Preach it sister! I truly believe that if you are true to God, he blesses with both holiness and happiness. Hubby and I still have that moon eyed look and hang onto each others words after thirty seven years and eight grandchildren later.

Ya'll have a greatly blessed weekend!!!

Edie said...

This is an excellent post Sharon. It leaves me pondering much. Thanks!

Debbie said...

This is my first visit to your blog. I stopped by to congratulate you after winning the giveaway on Jill's blog. And now I see that Edie designed your blog too. She did a fabulous job on my Heart Choices.

What good solid teaching. I recently wrote a post on being a Titus 2 Woman. That is my desire. I think I will read more of your blog and follow.


Sarah Dawn said...

My sister in law just gave me this book, this week! I put it on the shelf, not knowing if I should read it. And then I found your post! Such a delight to pop in tonight.

Sarah Dawn

Jack Foster said...

Wow some great food for thought Sharon! Great blog and wonderful words... so are yours :o)

Warren Baldwin said...

Sharon, great post! I am familar with the book (someone loaned me a copy) but I haven't read it yet. You've motivated me to take it off the shelf!

Happiness is the goal for so many people, yet in the purusit of happiness we often do things that work against long term happiness. Discipline, honesty and prioritizing of values must be the bedrock of a real, deep happiness that comes much later after the hard work of trying to live right. Marriage is certainly one aread in life that deserves this kind of work. Holiness may not follow the pursuit of happiness, but there is a much better chance of happiness following on the heals of the pursuit of holiness.

2Thinks said...

Am currently reading this post with hubby. You are correct when you said there is a lot to ponder in each chapter- so true. It is a whole new way of thinking about the marriage relationship and the purpose of it and what part we are meant to play in it.

Good book! Good post!

John said...

I haven't been married to Carolyn that long and am still in the thrall of love and passion. :) We are very happy together and I am grateful to God for her. She's the reason I get up every day and the reason I rush home from work. I never think of her as unpure in any way but, of course, I want for her all that God has to offer and she believes in me and keeps me grounded.

Stacy Wittkamp said...

I am such a believer in this!
Early in my marriage, my Pastor asked the question, "Who chose your spouse?"

God did. Case closed!