31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Reflection On This Scripture
In verse 31, Paul takes his readers back to the beginning when marriage was established. He quotes Genesis 2:24, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” The woman was created by God from one of Adam’s ribs from his side. She was meant to be close to him and by his side. When a man leaves his father and mother, he is to cling to one woman, and it is only then that they are to become one through sexual intercourse. This mystery refers to Christ and the church. In other words, your marriage is to be a reflection of the relationship between Christ and His church. Throughout the Old Testament we see scriptures that point to a future covenant between God and people. The first Adam’s bride is Eve, given away by God himself. Jesus is the second Adam according to Scriptures, and His bride is the church, given away by God himself (John 6:37). Yahweh and the people of Israel were in a covenant pointing to the future covenant of Christ and the church (See Isaiah 54:5-8; Jeremiah 2:1-3; Ezekiel 23, Hosea chaps.1-3). In the New Testament, Jesus calls himself the bridegroom in Mark 2:18-20 & John 3:29. The first marriage and every marriage thereafter was purposed to reflect the union of Christ and the church, but sin entered the world through the first marriage and has affected all marriages thereafter.
We live in a culture that does not value marriage. Our culture is more concerned about having a career, buying a first home and a car before the word marriage comes up in dating relationships. Our culture does not value sexual intimacy inside of marriage, and tells us that anyone can marry anyone and have sex with anyone, so long as they love each other or do not hurt anyone. The reality is, Satan hates marriages and will do everything that he can do to destroy marriages because in doing so, he knows we will taint, misrepresent and destroy our testimony of the glorious, beautiful, intimate, loving relationship between Christ and His church. The enemy does not want the world to see Christian couples working together in a loving, forgiving covenant that mirrors a loving and forgiving God towards His bride. If you’re a believer who’s married, your marriage is constantly under attack and there’s nothing more that the enemy wants than there to be enmity between you and your spouse.
How can we display God’s glory in our marriages? The answer is grace. The ultimate display of grace was shown on the cross when Jesus died for the church – the very same church that sinned against him. Grace is treating others better than they deserve. We did not deserve salvation, yet Christ willingly gave Himself up for us. He gave us what we didn’t deserve – grace – and gave Christ our sin and poured out His wrath on His Son. Christ saves His church by grace, He blots her sins out by grace, He sustains her by grace and is perfecting her by grace! Grace sustains the covenant of Christ and His church, and He’s the one who gives it…always. Christian spouses therefore should be experts in being gracious to one another. Grace in Christian marriages forgives wrongdoing and bears each spouse’s sin against the other. But it doesn’t stop there. Grace also empowers change in spouses so they can decrease sinning against each other. We are to continually be seeking to forgive our spouse when they sin against us and seek to change through the powerful, transforming grace so we can sin less against our spouse.
The reason we have divorce in the church is because at least one spouse believes that divorce is better, and the only path to happiness. Not so! The lifelong commitment to be in covenant where spouses sin against each other but experience forgiveness and grace is much sweeter than divorce. Is your marriage in a tough spot? Are you considering divorce? God hates divorce. He is grieved when the two people that He charged with the stewardship of displaying His glory to the world in their marriage distort it, mar it, and taint it when they decide it is best to back out of a covenant.
If your marriage is hanging by a thread, consider Christ’s faithfulness to His church. Christ forgives the church over and over. He loves her unconditionally. He initiates the love…all the time, and because a man and his wife are children of God, they are to seek being conformed to Christ and His image and mirror Christ in their marriage. When was the last time you forgave your spouse as Christ forgave you? When was the last time you initiated reconciliation with your spouse just as Christ seeks it with you when you sin against Him?
Marriage is not about “staying in love.” Marriage is about faithfulness to a covenant. If your marriage is ultimately about staying in love and being happy, you will have an extremely tough time staying in love and being happy. That is because marriage is not an end. It is a means to an end, namely, to display the relationship of Christ and His church. Marriage is primarily for God’s glory and your sanctification. Will you stay happy and in love when your spouse ages and doesn’t look as young as your wedding day? Will you stay in love and be happy when your spouse sins against you? Will you stay in love and be happy when your spouse cheats on you? Will you stay in love and be happy when your spouse loses their job and you lose all of your possessions and file for bankruptcy? Will you stay in love and be happy when your spouse cannot satisfy you sexually due to a disability? Will you stay in love and be happy when your spouse is hooked up to a breathing machine and you must take care of them every day for the rest of your life? What if you get married and the next day your spouse is disabled for life? Are you willing to spend your entire life with them in that condition?
Basing your marriage on happiness and staying in love is dangerous, because there will be one day where you will not feel these emotions. That is why marriages are based on Christ’s love for His church and not human emotions. Forgive your spouse and bear each other’s sin just as Christ forgave you and bore your sin. Let your marriage display the glorious Savior and how He treats His church.
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