The marital relationship is supposed to be a place where your feelings are safe with your spouse. “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness” and the like are to be shared with one another. We are to live with each other in such a way that the love of Christ is revealed and reflected. Any contentiousness or strongholds of sinful behavior or attitudes to the contrary needs to be torn down.
God shows us all throughout the Bible, that we are to live our lives together in such a way that we communicate the gospel both with and without words —by our actions AND our words. We have to be mindful of both.
Tear Down Strongholds to the Contrary
As it tells us in the Bible,
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves —DO WHAT IT SAYS. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man, who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
“But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it —he will be blessed in what he does. If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:22-26)
“I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle. Be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Building Up Godly Strongholds
Are you living your married lives with each other in this manner? Is your marriage a place where you are “bearing with one another in love?” Are you tearing down ungodly strongholds, but building up ones that honor Christ?
That is what we hope to address throughout this year. Our goal is to help us all to make our marriages ones where the love of God flows freely. We see this as a year of “Choices/Changes.” It is a year where we hope to inspire all of us to work to tear down every “stronghold” of our married lives that “sets itself up against the knowledge of God.” We then “take captive every thought [and action] to make it obedient to Christ” (see 2 Corinthians 10:4-5).
Simply put, a stronghold is “a place having strong defenses. It’s a fortified place… a strongly defended place.” Sometimes having a stronghold in our attitude towards certain actions can be a good thing. That is when we strongly defend and do that which is right.
But when we strongly hold onto an attitude or behavior that “sets itself up against the knowledge of God” we need to tear it down and destroy it. That is our goal —to work on those areas of our married lives that are sinful strongholds. We need to make pro-active choices and changes that reflect the love of Christ in all we do.
To do this we need to define what sin is because “until we understand what it is, we’ll never take its consequences seriously” (Ravi Zacharias). And unless we fully recognize sin we may not see how important it is to root it out and destroy it. Susanna Wesley gave this definition of sin:
“Sin is whatever:
- Weakens your sense of reasoning…
- Impairs the tenderness of your heart…
- Obscures your sense of God, or…
- Takes away your desire for spiritual things.
“In short, if anything increases the authority of the flesh over the Spirit, no matter how good it is in and of itself—that to you is sin.”
We want to ask you: does any of your conduct fall within one of those categories? Really think about it. If so, you need to recognize that this is a sin. There are strongholds that need to be destroyed.
And another problem, is that people try to “normalize” sin by getting others to buy into it. This is something that Dr. Charles Swindoll warns us about.
“You need to recognize how the enemy of our faith encourages us to:
- “Notice another person’s sin more than our own.
- “Define sin as less heinous than it really is —perhaps regarding it as understandable, in some cases even desirable.
- “Explain sin as a legitimate reaction to life’s disappointments and therefore, worthy more of compassion than judgment.
- “Treat sin as something merely naughty, like a childish prank.
- “Evaluate sin as a merely regrettable path to legitimate relief from pressure and pain —a path made necessary by whoever designed the world.”
If you recognize any of these sinful strongholds in your thinking and your actions within your marriage we hope you will work together with us to tear them down. Make this the year of “Choices and Changes” —reflecting the love of Christ in every way possible!
Keep in mind:
“Your marriage is a tool and a test to deepen your love and reverence, trust and obedience for Jesus Christ. Your marriage is not about you. It’s about Christ —becoming as Christ.” (Emerson Eggerichs)
That should be our continual goal!
Cindy and Steve Wright
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