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FOR THE LORD GOD OF ISRAEL SAYS THAT HE HATES DIVORCE….Malachi 2:16a

INTRODUCTION

In these last days, there is an epidemic of divorce in America. It is commonly reported that one marriage in two ends in divorce. There is an assault on marriage in this country. Some have promoted easy divorce and we now have others who advocate no marriage at all.  The various ideas of non-marriage both heterosexual and homosexual, resulting in an attitude of ungodly behavior, has brought about our even greater assault on marriage and ultimately on the family which is more widespread than that of Sodom and Gomorrah. Why are we seeing this in our day? The most basic reason is that this country and this people have forgotten the Lord God who has created them and all things!

God not only made all things but has also established marriage, for He said, “it is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2 :18b). God made them (male and female) one, for He seeks “Godly offspring”(Malachi 2:15b). Thus, we see multiple lies about marriage and this orchestrated attack on marriage and on the family. From 1973, when the Supreme Court decided it was permissible for the mother to kill her own baby in Roe v. Wade, to the present, it is estimated that approximately 60 million American babies have been killed, while they were still in their mother's womb. More Americans have died in their mother's womb than in all the wars in which America has fought. From “the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli,” these battles are nothing when compared to those battles little babies have fought in their mother’s wombs. God’s Word gives the command on marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33. The requirement for men and women is stated as follows:

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Eph 5:22-33 ESV)

Every divorce involves a violation of these commands! Either(1) a wife who is not in submission to her own husband as unto Christ; and/or (2) a husband who does not love his wife as Christ loves the Church and gave Himself for it. It is hoped that a brief look at this epidemic may help some to avoid the epidemic of divorce.

 

  1. THE COMMAND TO WIVES

It must be noted that this is a command to wives as well as husbands. It is not a suggestion. It is a definite command. "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.  Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands” (Ephesians 5:22 – 24). First, looking at the command to the wives, this is part of the solemn vow and covenant for life, to become “one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). The purpose, of course, is stated that [God] “seeks godly offspring…" The Lord God is seeking the people to be His own. The command to the wives to submit themselves to their own husbands is one part of this great plan.

The Westminster Confession of Faith (XX IV .2) states, “marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife, for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and of the church with a holy seed.…" In its simplest form, God's plan for marriage is that the man and the woman should “complete each other” (Genesis 2:23). Thus, they are enabled to share in the creative work of making new people. Clearly, God defines in His word that His people should marry only fellow believers (1 Corinthians 7:39).

In this fifth Chapter of Paul's letter to the Church at Ephesus, the definitive statement is made that “the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church, and he is the savior of the body" (Ephesians 5:23). This is a clear definitive statement. It is not left for debate as to which person is in charge. While neither is inferior to the other, the husband is charged with the responsibility of being the head of the wife. With the rise of the so-called “feminist agenda," these roles have become increasingly clouded. There has been an effort on the part of those involved in the “feminist agenda" to make the wife the dominant partner or head of the family, indeed, even to the point of dissolution of the family. It is the wife, or the mother, who is constantly said to have “the right to choose" whether to abort her baby. The pretense given is because it is “her body". Obviously, such a statement is the epitome of being illogical, because it is not the life of the mother that is being aborted, it is the life of the child. Thus, it is NOT “her body". She is making a decision to murder her own child. Moreover, the husband has no say so in the matter. The description includes the fact that the wife is to submit to her own husband. The submission is to be as the church submits to Christ! No true believer in Christ who is in submission to the Lord Jesus would dare assert that he or she is superior to the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, as the church is in submission to Christ, so also is each wife to be in submission to her own husband in everything.

 

  1. THE COMMAND TO HUSBANDS

Again, it must be noted that this is a command and not a suggestion. “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loves the church and gave himself for her, that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:25 – 27). The command that is given to the husband to love his wife is greater than the command that is given to the wife to be in submission to her own husband. Certainly it is easier to be in submission to one's husband if the husband is loving that wife as the Lord Jesus Christ loved the church and gave himself for her.

Note that the husband is commanded to love his wife even though she may be “unlovable". If we love our wives as Christ loves the church …., we must remember that “God commended his love toward us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8 KJV) Indeed, the husband is commanded to love his wife “that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word" ( v. 26). As the former senior pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, Alabama, said, “this is a beauty treatment for your wife.” We are sanctified by the Word of God. We are cleansed by the Word of God. Jesus said, “sanctify them in thy truth, thy word is truth" (John 17:17). Jesus’ blood and righteousness and the holy Word of God is making us like Jesus. He is sanctifying us, he is cleansing us, and he's doing so for a reason. That reason is that “he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (v. 27) In loving his wife in this manner, the husband is presenting his wife to himself as a glorious wife! She does not have any spot or wrinkle or any such thing! So even though at the time that the husband married his wife she may have had a spot or wrinkle or such thing, as he loves his wife as Christ loves the church, he is enabled to present to himself a glorious wife without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.

Finally, the result of both Christ's love for the church, and the husband's love of his wife, is that she should be holy and without blemish. A beauty treatment indeed! When you consider that before we received the Lord Jesus Christ we were all unprofitable and dead in our trespasses and sins, we have all gone astray and none seek after God, not one, and we are all children of wrath! It is the love of God that makes us into a “glorious church”!

As these holy truths are applied diligently, in holy reverence, we will begin to see the reversal of the epidemic of divorce. Indeed, God's Word tells us that this is a great mystery, “but [Paul] speaks concerning Christ and the church" (verse 32). Nevertheless, it is applicable to every husband and every wife who name the names of Christ.

Clearly, a non-Christian wife cannot submit herself to her own husband as she would unto the Lord. She does not know the Lord. Therefore, she cannot submit as she would unto the Lord. Equally clear is that an unbelieving husband cannot love his wife as Christ loves the church and gave himself for it, for he is still dead in his trespasses and sins, and has no concept of how Christ loved the church and gave himself for it. Therefore, it is our earnest, fervent prayer for Christian wives to purpose, determine, and submit to their own husbands as they would unto  the Lord. It is equally our earnest, fervent prayer that Christian husbands love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave himself for it. Notice that these two commands, when followed, resolve and settle the differences that can sometimes creep into a marriage. It is equally our earnest, fervent desire and hope that non-Christian wives and non-Christian husbands would recognize the love of the Lord Jesus Christ and surrender their will to the Lord's will in true repentance toward God and saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Finally, what does love look like? In Paul’s letter to the Church at Corinth we find these insights: vvs.4-13

“Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-13 NKJV)

We are instructed to love in this manner. One commentary/translation states clearly that “ [love] hardly even notices when another gets it wrong.” We should challenge one another and pray for each other that our love would be as Christ’s love for the church.

 

CONCLUSION

It was May 7, 1865, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in Newington, London, England,. The American Civil War had just ended. The Prince of Preachers, Charles H. Spurgeon, concluded his sermon on Ephesians 5:25- 27 with these words:

“It is said, he is to “present her to himself". Every day Christ presents his people to his father in his intercession. The Holy Spirit presents poor sinners every day in conversion to Christ, but there is to be a day, when Christ will present his glorious church “to himself." When he shall come, then shall be the wedding day. There shall be heard the cry, “behold, the bridegroom comes!" Then the virgins with their lamps trimmed shall go forth to meet him, and his church shall enter into the supper, to sit down and sup with him, and he with her. Today, the church is like Ester bathing herself in spices, making herself ready for Ahasuerus, her Lord and Master; today we are engaged, at the coming we shall be married. We are now waiting impatiently for him, then, we shall be in his embrace. Today, we waive not the crown, today we waive not the palm, but tomorrow when he comes, we shall be crowned with him and triumph with him. Let us long for his appearing. Let this bright hope sustain you in the dreary months of waiting, and the weary hours of fighting, “He comes! He comes!" And when he comes, he will be glorified in all his Saints, and admired in those who have believed on Him.

I would to God we were all members of his church. There is only one token of membership which is infallible, and that is, saving faith in Christ. If you believe in Jesus, you shall be without spot or wrinkle; but if you believe not, you are not of his church, and neither shall you be a partaker of his cleansing power nor of his glorious event.

God give you a new heart and a right spirit, and wash you with water this day by the word, for Jesus sake. May the God of all peace give you love and peace as Christ loved the church and gave himself for us. Amen

 

Your Brother in Christ,

Bill Gray

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