It’s a Process Not an Event
About the Guest
Pastor H.B. Charles explains how a loving husband and a godly wife need to be yielded to the Holy Spirit for their marriage to glorify God.
Pastor H.B. Charles explains how a loving husband and a godly wife need to be yielded to the Holy Spirit for their marriage to glorify God.
It’s a Process Not an Event
Bob: When you’re experiencing challenges in your marriage, could it be because your focus is on the wrong thing? Pastor H.B. Charles thinks so.
H.B.: The key to a healthy marriage relationship is that I need to learn how to focus on my character and the other person’s needs. The difficulties in the relationship come because we are so prone to do just the opposite. I focus on what I need and what the other person is not doing right.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, September 8th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey; and I'm Bob Lepine. We’re going to see if we can all refocus a little bit when it comes to marriage—pay attention to the good things we see in our spouse and to deal with our own issues. We’ll hear more about that from H. B. Charles today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. You know, I think one of the reasons that a lot of couples find themselves challenged in marriage is because they think that, to make a marriage work, it’s going to require them to do all the work. The truth is—neither the husband nor the wife has to do all the work. There’s somebody else who will do the work for you.
Dennis: And that’s the One who created marriage in the first place.
If you haven’t heard Part One of this message, then I’d encourage you to go back and listen to H.B. Charles.
Bob: Yes; it’s online at FamilyLifeToday.com—you can go back and hear it.
Dennis: And he reminded us, number one, that God’s plan for marriage was established by Him. He designed it, and He knows how to make it work. That’s what you’re talking about, Bob, when you’re talking about how He can help two imperfect people go the distance. Number two, he talked about how God’s plan is based on God’s grace. He’s made it possible to be forgiven and to be able to forgive others.
And third, God’s plan is enabled—it’s empowered / it’s strengthened—by the Holy Spirit.
Bob: Yes; I was being a little tongue-in-cheek when I said you don’t have to do any work, because husbands and wives do have to participate with the work of the Holy Spirit; but He’s the power source for making a marriage work.
Bob: This is one of the things we spend time talking about at the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. A lot of couples don’t understand what’s at the core of God’s plan for marriage—they’ve never heard it clearly presented. In a two-and-a-half day getaway in a nice hotel, you and your spouse can relax, have some fun, and maybe come to a fresh understanding of what God’s purpose for marriage is. We’re going to be hosting dozens of these getaways in cities all across the country this fall.
If you sign up this week or next week, you can save 50 percent off the regular registration fee.
That offer is good for FamilyLife Today listeners. You need to insert the promo code: “SAVE50”—SAVE 5-0—put that in the promo code box when you sign up. If you have any questions, call 1-800-FL-TODAY and we can answer them for you; or look for answers, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. We would love to see you this fall at one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways.
Dennis: And maybe you know somebody you can bring with you so you can get a “two-for...” / you can get two couples for the price of one.
Bob: We’re going to hear, now, Part Two of Pastor H.B. Charles’ message about God’s design for marriage. As Dennis said, he’s talking about how God has given us the Holy Spirit to give us the power to make a marriage work.
H.B.: Some years ago, a group of pastors in a certain city were planning a gospel crusade. In one of their meetings, they were discussing who should be their speaker. Someone stood up and glowingly recommended the famous Chicago evangelist Dwight L. Moody. When it was time for discussion, one of the other pastors took offense to all of the commendations poured on Moody—
—he said, “You all are talking about Mr. Moody as if he has a monopoly on the Holy Ghost!” To which someone said, “No; we know that Mr. Moody doesn’t have a monopoly on the Holy Ghost, but we speak so glowingly about him because it’s obvious that the Holy Ghost has a monopoly on Mr. Moody.” [Applause]
This is what it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. There is a yieldedness, and an obedience, and a submission—a recognition of my dependence upon Divine help—allowing Him to have a monopoly over my life, and my choices, and my decisions, and my behavior as He leads me according to the Word of God.
You cannot carry out God’s plan for your marriage unless you are filled with the Spirit. It is a command, not a suggestion.
It’s for everyone, not just a few. God specifically expects, here, husbands and wives to be filled with the Spirit. It’s a process, not an event. We need to continuously/constantly be filled with the Holy Spirit. If I can quote Moody again—on one occasion, when he was asked, “Are you filled with the Holy Spirit?” he said, “Yes; but I leak.” [Laughter] Is that not true of all of us? Sometimes, in the middle of conversations, we need to pause, and repent, and seek God’s forgiveness for attitudes, and words, and choices, and desires—yield ourselves afresh to the influence, and the power, and the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
But how can you know that you are filled with the Spirit?
This is a controversial question in some circles; but if you just read through the progression of this text—after Paul’s command to be filled with the Spirit, it is obvious that one who is filled with the Spirit is not self-conscious about that fact.
I grew up in church / there would be testimony services. It seemed like, every time someone testified, they would testify about the fact that they were saved, sanctified, and filled. In the church I grew up in, they didn’t just say “filled with the Holy Ghost”—they leaned into it: “I’m fiiiiilled with the Holy Ghost.” [Laughter]
But nowhere in Scripture does anyone, who is filled with the Spirit, testify to being filled with the Holy Spirit—why? Because in John 15, verse 26, Jesus says, “When the Spirit comes, He will testify”—or bear witness—“to Me”; and in John 16, verse 14, Jesus says, “When the Holy Spirit comes, He will glorify Me.” The Holy Spirit, if you will, is the shy member of the Trinity.
When He shows up, He is always pointing to Jesus. When you are filled with the Spirit, it is not showing off your spirituality that will be the evidence of that—it will be / I think the progression of the text clearly shows us—it will show up in how you treat other people.
In verse 19, Paul says that if you are filled with the Spirit, it will shape your worship. You will be addressing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, and singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord. It will show up in gratitude—you will be giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But where verses 19 and 20 point us to the God-ward characteristics of the Spirit-filled life, in verse 21, he shifts the focus to the relational human characteristics of one who is filled with the Spirit. He says here—you will be submitting to one another, out of reverence to Christ.
Here is a call to mutual submission. We will see, in just a moment, that this looks differently in terms of each relationship in the God-given responsibilities there; but there was this overarching principle of submission, mutually one to another, reflecting the Spirit of Christ.
Philippians, Chapter 2, verses 3-5, says: “Nothing should be done among us to any selfish ambition or rivalry; but with humility, we should honor one another as better than ourselves. We should look, not after our own interests only, but after the interests of others, and have in us the mindset of the Lord Jesus Christ.” We are to submit to one another / we are to have an attitude of humility and submission toward one another.
In his book The Incredible Power of Kingdom Authority, the late Adrian Rogers says—simply affirming what Jesus teaches—that authority comes through submission. And he states it very plainly—that if you are going to get over what God has put under you, you must learn to get under what God has put over you. Paul will further explain that.
Fourthly, I want you to see that God’s good plan for marriage is established by God—it is based on God’s grace; it is enabled by the Spirit; it involves, fourthly, mutual responsibilities. [Uncertain of name] used to say that there are too many people who want to assert their rights but do not want to accept their responsibilities. How true is this in marriage relationships—we focus on our rights and not our responsibilities.
The key to a healthy marriage relationship is that I need to learn how to focus on my character and the other person’s needs / to focus on my character and the other person’s needs. The difficulties in relationships come because we are so prone to do just the opposite—I focus on what I need and what the other person is not doing right. But, here, we are reminded of the predominant focus of the New Testament on marriage—and all of Scripture—is on responsibility / our duty before God, not our rights.
James Moore, a preaching professor of mine, said it well—that: “You never find happiness by looking for happiness. You only stumble over happiness on the pathway of duty.” We must do what God has commanded us to do; and here, in the Scripture, God commands wives to submit to their own husbands, verses 22-24:
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as 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. As the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
Here, Paul uses that dirty word that no one likes—he calls here for submission. We don’t like the term—it’s a bad word in our culture—wives, husbands, parents, children / for the purposes here, employees and employers—but this is God’s plan for the home. I dare not apologize for the way God has established order, where the husband is the head of the home and the wife is the heart of the home. Listen, friends: “Anything without a head is dead. [Laughter] And anything with more than one head is a monster!” [Laughter]
This is God’s plan; because He wants, as you see here, your relationship and your marriage, as Christians, to be a miniature picture of the relationship between Christ and the church. So there is this intermingling here of discussion about husbands and wives and a discussion about Christ and the church; and here he is calling on wives to submit—of course, you are not to submit if there is a call to do something illegal, or immoral, or unbiblical. You must take Peter’s position that “We must obey God rather than men,”—Acts, Chapter 5, verse 29—but there is to be this attitude of submission / a willingness to follow under God’s command, and instruction, and plan for the home.
In fact, this assumes the influence that a wife has, which is made more explicit in
1 Peter, Chapter 3, verses 1-6, where Peter says: “Even if your husband does not obey the Word, by your gentle and quiet spirit you can influence him, even if he doesn’t obey the Word.” Here, we see the dignity and the power of submission as Peter will describe it for us—pointing us that God’s way is good / His plans are good.
Then he shifts, in verse 25, to give instructions to the husbands. When I was teaching this passage to my own church in Jacksonville, it’s like—when I was dealing with verses 22-24, it was like the husbands were the happiest I had ever seen them in church. [Laughter]
It reminded me when I would sit in my father’s ministers’ classes, as a boy, on Tuesday nights. He would tear apart one of the preacher’s prepared sermons, saying, “No; you totally missed the point of the text.” The other young preachers would laugh and giggle. One guy—every time he started, he would say, “I want to preach a piece out of Isaiah.” My dad would say: “No; son. You go prepare a sermon out of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.” All the little young preacher boys would laugh and say, “Man, Doc banned you from a whole testament of the Bible.” [Laughter] And though we had fun at one another’s expense, they didn’t laugh too much; because they knew when old man got finished with one, he was working his way around the room.
Here, Paul begins with the wives, like he is working his way around the room. What he says to husbands is even bigger—
—he says, “Husbands, we must love our 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.” He calls here for love. The word, love, here is an action word—it is a verb. It’s not about feeling—it is about what you do. It is a command. It is grammatically an emphasis that speaks of ongoing activity or habitual action; and it is modeled for us, husbands, by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.
The word here for love is the picture of God’s love for us in Christ. It is that sense of goodwill that causes one to act in the best interests of the one loved, even to the point of self-sacrifice, even if the one loved is not worthy of the love.
This is how God has loved us in Christ; and this is how God, in Christ, calls us to love our wives. He calls us to love our wives sacrificially / laying down our lives for them, even as Christ has given Himself up for the church—and not only a sacrificial love—but a sanctifying love. In these verses, 26 and 27: “…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].” This is the standard He gives us for loving our wives Paul can use, coming to you with the question: “Husbands,”—he asks—“is your wife more like Christ because she is married to you or in spite of the fact that she is married to you?”
But not only is there a call here to sacrificial love / sanctifying love, but gentle love.
In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own body—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.” Here, we are called to love our wives gently, showing love that nourishes and cherishes, in verse 29.
And then there is faithful love—again, verse 31, quoting Genesis, that “A man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
But fifthly and finally: Would you note that God’s good plan for marriage is established by God Himself? It is based on God’s grace; it is enabled by the Spirit; it involves mutual responsibilities—and finally, it beautifies the gospel of Jesus Christ / it beautifies the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Verse 32: “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.”
Here, in these verses, we are reminded, as I said earlier, that God’s plan is that, as Christians, our marriages would be a miniature picture of Christ and the church. Christ has loved the church / Christ has given Himself for the church. And by the power of the Holy Spirit—as they see our homes, our families, and our love for one another—the world should see a miniature picture of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There is bad news and good news here. The bad news is—that if you live out this life we are called / if you walk this walk you are called to—it is not going to be easy.
Not only are we sinners, saved by grace, that need to grow to maturity that makes it a struggle, but later, in the middle of Chapter 2, we will see that there is a warfare against our obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a real struggle that we are in.
But the good news is there is strength for the struggle. As you seek to carry out God’s plan for your marriage, there is strength for the struggle. We’re commanded to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. There is strength to forgive, strength to love, strength to submit, strength to sacrifice, strength to serve found in the gracious and powerful name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
An old man went to visit his daughter and his grandson as they were there. The little boy began acting up and the mother was impatient. She put him in the playpen and said, “Now you stay there till you learn how to act.” She left the room; the little boy starts crying and screaming. The old man can’t take it; so he picked the little boy up and went back to his seat and rocked the boy in his arms until the crying stopped.
But Mother came in and said: “Uh-uh, Daddy; this is my son! And if I tell him to stay in the pen, that’s exactly what I intend.” She took the boy from his arms and put him back in the pen and left the room. He began to cry again. The old man had to figure it out. He came up with an ingenious plan—he said, “She told me not to take the boy out of the pen, but she did not say I couldn’t get in the pen with him.” [Laughter] So he climbed in the pen and picked the child up and rocked his tears away.
God does not let us out of this covenant, and thank God He doesn’t. But whatever challenges you are facing, He’ll get in the pen with you if you trust Him and do His will. [Applause]
Father, thank You for Your Word—thank You for its truth, its wisdom, and its authority. And I pray, Father, that as we behold the wisdom of Your Word and seek to trust and obey what You have called us to, that we begin to put the puzzle of our lives together as You have designed it. Help us to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ. Draw to Yourself, here, those who should be saved; and help us, Lord, to walk the path of Christ-likeness that You called us to in Jesus’ name; amen. [Applause]
Bob: Well, again, that is Pastor H.B. Charles. What a great preacher; huh?
Dennis: He is. And he’s a good man too. I enjoyed having dinner with him one night.
I just have to encourage our listeners—you’ve heard us talk about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway now for 25 years, here, on FamilyLife Today. That doesn’t mean it started 25 years ago; it actually started 41 years ago, and it’s had over two million people attend. And you know what? Last year, we grew a bunch—we grew the most we’ve grown in almost 20 years, with record crowds in ballrooms all across the country. So, don’t be slow about signing up. These ballrooms do fill up, and why not fill it up with you and your spouse? Give him / give her a weekend she truly—or he truly—will remember.
Bob: It is a great getaway for couples just to have a chance to relax, to get out of the normal flow of life, and just look at each other and say, “How are we doing, and how can we do better?” and then to hear great communicators delivering solid instruction around marriage over the course of the weekend.
And of course, when you sign up today for an upcoming fall getaway, you will save
50 percent off the regular registration fee. In fact, you’ll need a promo code: “SAVE50” when you register, online. Or use that code when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY to get more information or to register over the phone for an upcoming Weekend to Remember. If you need to know dates and locations of all of the getaways this fall, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com. All the information’s available there. Of course, you can register online—remember the promo code: “SAVE50”; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY with any questions or to register by phone. And then come out and see us—come out and spend a weekend with us at one of our Weekend to Remember marriage getaways this fall.
Now, I hope you have a great weekend. I hope you and your family are able to worship together in your local church this weekend, and then I hope you can join us back on Monday. Our friends, Dave and Ann Wilson, are going to be here. They’re going to tell us about some of the challenges they experienced, early on, in their marriage, and how they ultimately learned to deal with those challenges. Hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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