Are you having marriage problems? If you are, that’s actually quite normal. The Apostle Paul said: “…Those who marry will face many troubles in this life, and I want to spare you this.” (1 Corinthians 7:28) He didn’t say you MAY face troubles. He said you WILL. So if you’re struggling with marriage problems—that’s not unusual. But it’s what you do with those marriage problems that are important. And from what we see, the first thing you should do is to take those troubles to God. (That is because “He cares for you.“) And secondly, address the enemy of marriage.
So, who/what is the enemy of marriage? You might say that it is the devil and his evil forces. And yes, you would be right. The enemy comes to “steal, kill and destroy.” And your marriage is definitely targeted. So, be aware!
But there is another enemy of marriage that ALSO needs to be addressed. And you can’t repair what’s wrong in your marriage until you face that enemy. As Pastor Scott Engelman says:
“There is something wrong with every marriage. There is an enemy of marriage that we must recognize. And that enemy is within. It is the fact that we have idolatrous hearts. There is something wrong with every marriage because there is something wrong with the heart of every person who gets married.”
Recognizing the Enemy of Marriage
If we’re truthful, we would agree that this is true. But most of us will not admit that we have idols in our lives.
“Most of us think of an idol as a statue of wood, stone, or metal worshiped by pagan people. But the concept is much broader and far more personal than that. An idol is anything apart from God that we depend on to be happy, fulfilled, or secure. In biblical terms it is something other than God that we set our heart on. (Luke 12:29) It’s something that motivates us. (1 Corinthians 4:5) It masters and rules us. (Psalm 119:133; Ephesians 5:5) Or it’s something that we trust, fear, or serve. (Isaiah 42:17; Matthew 6:24; Luke 12:4-5) In short, it is something we love and pursue in place of God.” (See Philippians 3:19.) (From the Peacemaker Ministries article “Getting to the Heart of Conflict”).
“The truth is, idolatry is not only bowing down to statues, it is anything that means more to you than God does. It is manifested when getting what you want has become more important than what God desires for you. Simply put anything that you are loving, desiring, or serving more than God is an idol of the heart.” (From the Biblical Counseling for Women article, “The Idolatrous Heart”)
Idolatrous Hearts are the Enemy of Marriage
When we look at that definition, it’s easier to agree that we all have idolatrous hearts. We love what we love. And our lifestyle and values will reflect it. That’s why we need to line our values and priorities up with God’s. This will be a lifetime battle because life demands that we make daily choices. So it’s a matter of lining up, and realigning at different points times. And the same thing goes for our marriage. Everyday we are faced with choices to choose our marriage as a priority, or not. Sometimes we make wise choices; other times we don’t.
But it’s also important to look at the originator of idolatry. It’s the devil and his cohorts. We must recognize their plans for us—to destroy us and destroy our marriages.
That doesn’t mean that they are solely responsible for destroying our marriages. We have to give in to the temptations set before us for that to happen. That’s where our idolatrous hearts come in. But it’s important to recognize the danger so we can “stand firm in faith” against these evil plans.
The enemy knows that God has designed the covenant of marriage to be a living picture of Christ’s love for His church. For that reason, it’s a picture that is under attack continually. Unfortunately many of us are participating in this destruction—without ever realizing it.
Recognize the Enemy of Marriage
To help us better understand and identify the “enemy of marriage” and the effort put forth to tear apart our marriage (and other relationships), we’d like to share with you a portion of a 7 scene play titled, “Satan’s Agenda.” We posted this in a past Marriage Message a number of years ago. But we believe it bears repeating. (FYI: It is written by Geraldine Harris and Kristen Maddox ©Copyright 1998-2008. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission.)
First off, let us be clear here. The scene that we are sharing below is not written in the Bible. It is a fictional scene that we imagine could happen. But you can be the judge here.
We hope that when you are done reading it you’ll take the time to look at your own marriage. And then we encourage you to honestly answer the closing question that is posed.
The first scene of this play reads:
“Satan called a worldwide convention of demons. In his opening address he said, ‘We can’t keep Christians from going to church. We can’t keep them from reading their Bibles and knowing the truth. We can’t even keep them from forming an intimate relationship with their Savior.
“Once they gain that connection with Jesus, our power over them is broken. So let them go to their churches. Let them have their dinners, but steal their time, so they don’t have time to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ.’
“‘This is what I want you to do,’ said the devil. “Distract them from gaining hold of their Savior and maintaining that vital connection throughout their day!’ His demons shouted back, ‘How can we do this?’ ‘Keep them busy in the non-essentials of life. And invent as many schemes as possible to occupy their minds,’ he answered.
“‘Tempt them to spend, spend, spend, and borrow, borrow, borrow. Persuade the wives and the husbands to work 6-7 days each week, 10-12 hours a day, so they can afford their empty lifestyles. Keep them from spending time with their children. And as their families fragment, soon, their homes will offer no escape from the pressures of work!
“Over-stimulate their minds so that they can’t hear that still, small voice. Entice them to play the radio [or CD player] whenever they drive—to keep [different types of media] and their PCs going constantly in their homes. And see to it that every store and restaurant in the world plays non-biblical music constantly. This will jam their minds. Plus it will break their union with Christ.
“Fill the coffee tables with magazines and newspapers. Pound their minds with the news 24 hours a day. Invade their driving moments with billboards. Flood their mailboxes with junk mail, sweepstakes, and every kind of newsletter and promotional offering free products, services and false hopes. This will also keep them too busy to read their Bibles and other Christian literature that could help them in their everyday lives.
“Keep pictures of skinny, beautiful models in all the magazines and on TV and everywhere you can so the wives become dissatisfied with their own bodies. This will also help their husbands to believe that outward beauty is what’s important. Then they’ll become dissatisfied with their wives as well.
“Keep the wives too tired to love their husbands at night. Give them headaches too! If they don’t give their husbands the love they need, they’ll begin to look elsewhere. (And the reverse can be true as well.) That will eventually fragment their families!
“Even in their recreation, let them be excessive. Have them return from their recreation exhausted. Keep them too busy to go out in nature and reflect on God’s creation. Send them to amusement parks, sporting events, plays, concerts, and movies instead. Keep them busy all the time they’re awake!
Crowding Out God with the Enemy of Marriage
“And when they meet for spiritual fellowship, help them to leave with troubled consciences. Crowd their lives with so many good causes they have no time to seek power from Jesus. Soon they’ll be working in their own strength. They’ll be sacrificing their health and family for the good of the cause.”
“It was a great plan! The demons went eagerly to their assignments influencing Christians everywhere to have little time for their God their marriages or their families, and little or no time to tell others about the power of Jesus to change lives. I guess the question is—has the devil been successful at his scheme? You be the judge!”
Enemy of Marriage?
Can you see how this plan can work? We can become so busy with everything and everyone else to such a point that we neglect that, which is most important! God, our spouse, and our family can take a back seat to everything else if we aren’t careful. We MUST be on the alert! God warns us about this. Our priorities can get so easily turned around in the wrong direction. We often don’t see that idolatry is involved here; but it is.
If you’re having problems in your marriage, don’t lose hope. First, look to God to help you. Secondly, look within. Ask God to reveal to you any idols you are putting into your priorities above the love you should have for Him and your spouse. We encourage you to pray:
“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24)
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10)
At that point it’s important to note:
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)
And then as you confess the wrong that God reveals, plead to God:
“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love. According to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” (Psalm 51:1-2)
Next, pray to God asking Him how to approach your spouse. Approach only with God’s wisdom.
In closing, here are two supporting quotes. We will then end with scriptures as you battle the enemy of marriage. Please prayerfully consider each and know:
“Always keep in mind that the enemy of your soul is also the enemy of your marriage. Ask God to keep you both aware of the enemy’s hand trying to stir up strife and misunderstandings. Don’t allow it to happen. If it already has, declare that because God is for you, no one can be against even the two of you.” (Stormie Omartian)
“Your marriage is under bombardment by intruders in the spiritual realm. The only way to thwart those attacks is to humble yourself before God. And then stand firm in your faith. How do you humble yourself before God? One way is to believe what He says, and submit yourself to His guidance and direction. Then act on the truth He has revealed in the Bible. The truth is, you’re not alone in this battle. ‘Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.’” (1 John 4:4) (From: “Living in Love” written by James & Betty Robison)
Take counsel from the Bible:
“Be self-controlled and alert. The enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith.“ (1 Peter 5:8)
“Since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.“ (Hebrews 12:1)
May we will fight against the enemy of our faith—the enemy of marriage, rather than destroying each other and our marriages!
Steve and Cindy Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
To help you further, we give a lot of personal stories, humor, and more practical tips in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. (It’s available both electronically and in print form.) Plus, it can make a great gift for someone else. It gives you the opportunity to help them grow their marriage. And who doesn’t need that? Just click on the linked title or the picture below:
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