Marriage in Scripture – Part 10: Him Only Shall You Serve

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Him Only Shalt Thou Serve

[Study Aired May 11, 2014].

While we have already mentioned a few of these relationships in passing, our study today will be dealing with various outside sources that can, and all too often do, interfere with and erode the marriage union. Two verses of scripture will guide our study:

Mat 4:10  Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.

That is Jesus’s assessment of our relationship to Him as His espoused wife. Reflecting that proper spiritual relationship, we are told this concerning our physical spouse:

Gen 2:22  And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.
Gen 2:23  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.
Gen 2:24  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:and they shall be one flesh. 

“One flesh” presupposes “one mind” that is working together for the benefit of one family. This is what we are told concerning our relationship with our spiritual husband, Christ:

Eph 5:30  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

Php 2:5  Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

“Him only shall you serve” is our goal both as individuals and as married couples. But all the adversities of life are given to prove us to show us whether we will obey our Lord.

Deu 13:3  Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

1Pe 4:12  Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

“The words of that prophet [and] the fiery trial” we will be dealing with today are the words of so many who give us perfectly terrible advice concerning our relationships with family and friends after we are married. The wrong “words of [a] prophet” can and will bring “fiery trials” and misery into a marriage.

When we consider that we are commanded to “honor thy father and thy mother” as one of the ten commandments which were written with the finger of God on tablets of stone, it should be abundantly clear that our parents symbolize those who we honor above all men on this earth until we leave our parents to marry our spouse. The fact that a man is commanded to “leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife” reveals just how sacred and how highly God Himself regards the marriage union. If we are to leave [our] father and mother and cleave to our wife, there should be no doubt about the irrelevance of any other physical relationship, when compared to the place our spouse should have in our lives.

“Him only shalt thou serve”, and “leave father and mother and… cleave to [your] wife” tells us that our physical lives should be wrapped up in the life of our spouse over all other physical relationships on this earth.

But we are “marred in the hands of the Potter” by design, and as that applies to marriage, this is what the words which “proceed out of the mouth of God” reveal:

2Co 12:15  And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved. 

Just as we should think of our physical spouse, the apostle Paul had just told this church at Corinth in the previous chapter:

2Co 11:2  For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

So we need to acknowledge what the scriptures reveal. The apostle was not appreciated by those to whom he had given so much. What that tells us is that we as husbands do not appreciate a Godly wife as we ought, and wives do not appreciate Godly husbands as they ought. That is the very reason for all of these admonitions.

As we discussed in our last study on the anger that “rests in the bosom of fools”, provoking our spouse to jealousy is something we need to avoid at the expense of losing our friends and relatives if necessary, for the purpose of  pleasing our spouse and strengthening our marriage union.

All the scriptural admonitions we will cover here are simply words which are proceeding out of the mouth of God via His apostles and prophets, and while they instruct us to do those things that work to strengthen our marriage, they are also telling us what we all will just naturally do before we learn to “serve… only… [and] cleave unto [our spouse]”.

Pro 8:34  Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

Luk 10:16  He that heareth you heareth me; and he that despiseth you despiseth me; and he that despiseth me despiseth him that sent me.

“Leave father and mother”

Since father and mother are mentioned first in scripture, we will deal with this obstacle to a successful and happy marriage first.

As with every commandment God has given to mankind, He gives us His commandments because He created us as creatures who are just naturally at enmity with those commandments. Hence the command to “Leave father and mother and cleave to [your spouse].

Many are the parents who cannot let go of a child, and many a son and daughter who cannot bring themselves to leave their father and mother. There are those who actually have convinced themselves that placing their mate ahead of their parents amounts to dishonoring their parents. That, of course, whether it is a personal misunderstanding or a cultural matter, is still nothing more than a lie of the adversary who has always excelled at twisting and misapplying the Word of God. We will never arrive at the Truth by pitting one verse of scripture against another verse of scripture. God will not tell us to ‘leave father and mother and cleave to your  spouse’, and then tell us that if we do that, then we are dishonoring our parents. The Truth is always to be found in the “sum” of God’s Word. The Truth is never to be found in subtracting one verse from the others while looking for its differences. Understanding God’s Word is a matter of addition, not subtraction:

Psa 119:160  The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever. (ASV)

So whether it is parents, friends, children, step-children or in-laws, no God-fearing spouse is going to permit anyone to come between him or her and their spouse.

No one is advocating that we never visit our parents and in-laws, what the scriptures do make clear that parents and in-laws are to become a distant secondary relation compared to our spouse. A wife or a husband will never permit a parent or an in-law to talk them into doing anything without including their spouse in the decision-making process. If there is any question about who should come first, let us all acknowledge that the scriptures tell us men to put our wives far ahead of father and mother.

Gen 2:24  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wifeand they shall be one flesh.

Mat 19:4  And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female,
Mat 19:5  And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh
Mat 19:6  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Children

The commandment we are given concerning our children, and their relationship to their parents is this:

Col 3:20  Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

Children, in God’s mind, are to be subject to both parents. This makes it absolutely essential that parents be on the same page concerning their children. Never, as much as is humanly possible, let your children see you and your spouse disagreeing concerning how to deal with your children, and never ever take the side of a child against your spouse in front of your child. Work out your differences in private.

Notice the context of this commandment for children to be obedient to their parents:

Col 3:19  Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

The reason we are given the commandment to be obedient to our parents is because we are not just naturally respectful and obedient to them. The reason husbands are told to love their wives and “be not bitter against them” is because husbands tend to fail to love their wives, and when that begins to happen, they soon become bitter toward their wives. Do not let that happen, and again remember, that what children see in their parents is what they consider to be normal behavior, and you are cursing your own children when you allow them to witness you arguing with your spouse in the presence of your children. Do not let that happen either as much as is humanly possible, and if you are in the habit of doing that, then repent and begin a campaign to overcome that destructive and sinful habit, which will work to destroy the love in your marriage and will at the same time ruin your child’s vision of what a marriage can and should be.

Your job as a loving spouse is to build up your spouse in the eyes of your children and in the eyes of the world. You do not ever, under any circumstance, talk down to your spouse. I feel so strongly about this because I am indeed chief of sinners in that regard, and as I look back on my own destructive ways, I have learned that the only person I was humiliating before others was myself. My demeaning of my wonderful wife, with her comparatively small vices, did nothing more than reveal me for the self-righteous, hypocrite I was at that time.

So I beseech and exhort you to learn from my sins and mistakes, and never speak down to your spouse in the presence of your children or anyone else for that matter. Speak always with respect, even if firmly, to each other when being firm is called for.

One more very common mistake in many marriages, is for a spouse to side with a child against the other spouse. Can any of us imagine Christ siding with any of us against His Father? No, of course not, and yet that is exactly what we are doing in type when we openly take the side of a child over our spouse. Again, do not let that happen in your marriage. [Note: A child should never be disrespected. Their opinion should never be denigrated, but gently explained to them why it is wrong – and there will be times your child is right. (Eph 6:4 …fathers, provoke not your children to wrath…) Kids are very astute!]

Ideally our children should be able to tell their children, as my father told me so many times, “I never saw my parents have an argument”.

Do not believe that lying adversary when he tells you these are unrealistic goals. Not only are they realistic, they are the only thing that works in a marriage and in a family. So ask God to help you to “love your wife, [and] submit to one another [and] to your husband, as unto Christ”. The “as unto Christ” applies to the husband’s love of his wife just as much as it applies to the wife’s submission to her husband:

Eph 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Eph 5:22  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
Eph 5:23  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

It is of utmost importance that we realize that children are never to be more important to you than is your spouse:

Col 3:20 Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.

As married couples, our parents are Christ and His Father, and they are of one mind. ‘Being of one mind’ is the secret to a happy marriage, and a happy and functional family, which will grow up to be a happy parents in happy and functional families.

Rom 15:5  Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
Rom 15:6  That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We will be coming back to those verses at the end of this study.

Friends, especially friends of the opposite sex

Married couples should have friends with whom they can fellowship, and if at all possible those friends should ideally be fellow parts of the body of Christ and fellow members of the family of Christ:

Mat 12:47  Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.
Mat 12:48  But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren?
Mat 12:49  And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 
Mat 12:50  For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Eph 4:16  From whom the whole body [including married couples] fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love. 

Eph 5:30  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

If we have “the mind of Christ”, those words will not be restrictive to us. They will be welcomed as words that have proceeded out of the mouth of God for our admonition and for the good of “[our] own flesh”:

Eph 5:29  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

It seems that it should be completely unnecessary to have to tell a fellow member of the body of Christ, and of the family of Christ, that he or she should not be spending time with a former boyfriend or a former girlfriend, but the scriptures tell us:

Jer 17:9  The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Those words are just as applicable to the body and family of Christ as they are to anyone. The fact is that the adversary has the commission of trying those who are to become the heirs of salvation, and we are therefore His prime target. If the Lord wills it, to show us how weak we are, the adversary has no trouble convincing us that our intentions are above reproach when the truth is that we are seeking only to serve our flesh by ‘ministering to’ an old boy friend or an old girlfriend. Let your wife minister to your old girlfriend if she is really interested in the things of the spirit, and you be the one to minister to her old boyfriend. Do not be unaware of the devices of the adversary:

2Co 2:11  Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. 

As we saw last week, ‘jealousy is cruel as the grave and burns like fire’. Let’s review those verses about jealousy:

Psa 79:5  How long, LORD? wilt thou be angry for ever? shall thy jealousy burn like fire?

Pro 6:34  For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.

Son 8:6  Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. 

We are not told these words for no reason. It should be clearly understood that old boyfriends and old girlfriends are not welcome in a marriage in the sense that those relationships continue as if marriage makes no difference. Marriage makes a huge difference in how and with whom we spend our time. Pleasing our spouse, as the earthy type of Christ, comes before all other physical relationships, and the distance needed between newly weds and old romances should be considerable and immediate, to the degree that is needed to keep your spouse from feeling any sense of jealousy.

While not usually as critical, friends of the same sex, are also to be secondary to your spouse. We men do not just announce to our wives that we are going out with the boys, or taking the weekend off to go hunting with them. Wives do not just announce to their husbands that they are taking off with the girls for the evening or weekend. That is not a Godly marriage. That is the ways of this world.

Brothers and sisters

Now let’s consider where our physical brothers and sisters belong in relation to our spouse. Having contended with a family member whose coke habit cost me and my family many hundreds of dollars in stolen power tools and lost days of work, I can tell you that your wife and children should come first in your life. It took three times for me to finally learn that lesson.

It is humiliating to look back at how foolish I was to allow that to happen to me and my family. Yet it is common for all of us to want to help our brothers and sisters, and we can easily become guilty of doing so at the expense of the welfare of our own family. Never let the needs and desires of your physical brothers and sisters take precedence over the desires and needs of your own spouse who is supposed to typify Christ in your life.

If any family member simply needs financial assistance, or a place to stay for a few days, consult your spouse first. Do not ignore his or her concerns for your own family, your own children and your own marriage. Make certain in advance that your efforts are greatly and deeply appreciated. Do not waste your time that could and should perhaps be spent with your own wife and children, and your hard earned resources upon an ungrateful physical brother or sister. Before you do anything for that sibling, make certain he or she truly wants to carry his or her own weight before you offer your hard earned money or your home to a self-centered ingrate who has no gratitude for your idealistic generosity. Do not bring a bad influence into your home when all your efforts are simply being taken for granted. Put the welfare of your own family, especially your spouse, ahead of any misplaced compassion you might be tempted to pour out upon a brother or sister who has no sense of gratitude for anything you do for them, and who has no interest in carrying his or her own weight.

These words apply to our own physical siblings just as much as the apply to our brothers and sisters in Christ:

Pro 5:15  Drink waters out of thine own cistern, and running waters out of thine own well.
Pro 5:16  Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets.
Pro 5:17  Let them be only thine own, and not strangers’ with thee. 
Pro 5:18  Let thy fountain be blessed: and rejoice with the wife of thy youth. 

Eph 4:28  Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. 

No, family members, parents, siblings or any physical relatives are not “strangers” until they come between a married couple. At that point they are indeed strangers who have no right to be where one’s mate ought to be. Never ever allow a brother or a sister to come between you and your mate who is supposed to be your own flesh.

Eph 5:28  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 
Eph 5:29  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:

When we put our spouse above our physical family, we are actually placing Christ in His proper place as the center of our lives. Those verses are speaking of husbands and wives, but this is what the next verses say:

Eph 5:30  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
Eph 5:31  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 
Eph 5:32  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church

If Jesus Christ were your husband, would you put you parents before Him? Your Children? Your brothers or your sisters? Your friends? How about your pets? That is right, there are married couples who think more of their pets than they think of their spouse. There is no doubt a reason why that is so, but two wrongs will never add up to one right. We may think we would never put anyone in this world ahead of Christ, and yet in type that is exactly what we are doing to Christ when we allow anything in this life to come between our spouse and us.

Eph 5:32  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Adult children

There is one more source of stress within many marriages. Many of us have raised our children without the benefit of knowing anything about all the Biblical admonitions concerning how to properly nourish our marriage, or how to rear a child in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Many of us have lived our married lives without the benefit of ever having heard the Biblical admonitions of Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3, and are now dealing with the fruit of having been ignorant of all of the principles revealed in the scriptures that help us to have a functional marriage, and to set a Godly example for our spouse and our children.

These admonitions are very basic to a successful marriage and a functional family:

Eph 5:22  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
Eph 5:23  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
Eph 5:24  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Eph 5:25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;

The rest of Ephesians 5 is addressed to the husband upon whom God has placed the leadership of his wife and his children. He has not given that position to the wife, even though, as with the story of Deborah, wives are many times closer to God than their husbands, and are leaders by default.

Colossians simply reiterates these very basic principles:

Col 3:18  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
Col 3:19  Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

This all being the case, there is another source of stress within a marriage which is becoming more pronounced as the job market becomes more and more restricted, and that is parents who are feeling that they are being forced to help their adult children who have lost their jobs or who have gotten a divorce, or who may simply not be mature enough to hold down a job for one of a thousand reasons. What are Godly parents to do when confronted with such situations?

The answer, once again, is contained in the principle revealed in:

Gen 2:24  Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Do anything you and your spouse can agree upon to help your adult children, but let your spouse, the type of Christ in your life, be first and foremost at all times and under all circumstances.

You both love your children so consider what your mate has to say about how far you should go in helping your adult children. But be honest with yourself about your own children. If your child cannot hold down a job, then do not put the physical needs of an adult child who simply has some hard lessons to learn, ahead of yourself or your spouse. When you do so you are doing nothing to help that child, and you are doing nothing to strengthen either your marriage or your child, and we will all reap what we sow.

We must be honest with ourselves about our children. If our child is what the scriptures call “the slothful man, [or a] sluggard”, then this is how that child is described:

Pro 26:12  Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him.
Pro 26:13  The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.
Pro 26:14  As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.
Pro 26:15  The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.
Pro 26:16  The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.

It is always “the sluggard [who] is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason”, and indeed there is more hope of a fool than of him. I recall my days as a remodeling contractor. I was always having to talk my crew into going to work on days when there was a possibility of rain. Ninety percent of the time, it would not rain at all, or else the rain would last 30 minutes, and it would be over. Do not enable a slothful man or a sluggard, especially if that man or woman is your own child. Any adult who cannot meet his or her own daily needs is in need of experiencing some of the pains and troubles that are this life.

Job 14:1  Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble.

If you love your child, you will insist that he carry his or her own weight, pay his or her own bills, and feed themselves as the scriptures command us:

2Th 3:10  For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. 
2Th 3:11  For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
2Th 3:12  Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. 

“We command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness [you let your adult children] work, and eat their own bread.”

When we enable our children to remain dependents, we are robbing ourselves and our spouse of our own substance for the sake of enabling our children to remain as dependents upon us and upon society, and this is what the scriptures have to say about taking part in robbery in any form:

Pro 29:24  Whoso is partner with a thief hateth his own soul: he heareth cursing, and bewrayeth it not.

“He heareth cursing and bewrayeth it not” is telling us that we continue to do what we know we should not do:

Rom 7:16  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.
Rom 7:17  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
Rom 7:18  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.
Rom 7:19  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 
Rom 7:20  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

We will continue to “do that I would not” until we have experienced enough pain to make us appreciate how good it feels when we quit banging our head against the wall, returning to our own vomit and our wallow in the mire.

Pro 26:11  As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.

So we ought to help our children when it is proper to do so and when the assistance rendered is mutually agreed upon with our spouse, and when our assistance is not simply enabling a slothful child to remain as a dependent child upon ourselves and upon society.

Conclusion

This life is full of hard decisions which require knowing what is the mind of God. Being of one mind, and that ‘one mind’ being the mind of Christ who had the mind of His Father, is the secret to our personal relationship with our spiritual husband, as well as the secret to the type of that spiritual relationship, which is the relationship of a husband and a wife.

Here is just how important it is that a husband and wife have “the same mind”:

One Mind

Rom 15:5  Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
Rom 15:6  That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2Co 13:11  Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.

Php 1:27  Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;

Any married couple who are “likeminded one toward another according to Christ… may with one mind and one mouth… stand fast in one spirit with one mind striving together” to confront every assault which the adversary will attempt to bring against this physical union of marriage. But Sandi and I are proof that our heavenly Father is able to save you and your marriage out of the mouth of that roaring lion known as the adversary with all of his wiles.

I will close this study with one more verse from the apostle Paul, who was acutely aware of this secret to the success of our marriages and of our marriage relationship with Christ:

1Co 1:10  Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

Our next study is the last in this series on marriages. It will be on the devastating affects of selfishness, and the subtle ways we use to justify getting our own way to the detriment of our marriages.

Men have certain ways of being selfish and abusing their wives, and women are just as guilty. We will discuss those ways we use to get our own way, and Lord willing, we will come to be of one mind in seeking to please the Lord and do all we do in His way.

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