Covenant Godly Living: (3) Covenant Fathers Part 1

September 22, 2002 / No. 3116

Dear radio friends,

Continuing today our series on “Covenant Godly Living” and emphasizing again what that means for a man, we come to the calling of a husband. I speak to you today on Covenant Husbands. The passage of Scripture on which I base my remarks is Colossians 3:19: “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.”

As our announcer said, “Doctrine determines life; belief dictates practice.” We read in the book of Proverbs, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” That is, the thinking of one’s heart determines how one will be. The belief, the pattern of thought of the heart dictates practice.

Nowhere is this so true in life as in marriage. Your belief of the truth of Scripture will determine how you live in marriage, your true belief, specifically your belief in what is called the covenant of grace. The covenant of grace, we have explained in the last weeks, is that bond of fellowship and friendship that God makes with us in Jesus Christ, in which He swears to be God to us and to be faithful to us, and in which He gives us the privilege of loving Him and serving Him.

That covenant of grace is reflected in the New Testament Scriptures in the terms of Christ and the church. Now, I say to you, your understanding of the biblical truth of the covenant of grace and your understanding of the biblical truth of Christ and the church will dictate and must dictate how you live in marriage. Specifically, your thinking on so crucial a truth as the love of God will determine and must determine how you live in your marriage.

If you picture the love of God as a changeable thing, if you picture the love of God as a conditional thing, your love in your marriage will be changeable, and conditioned upon the actions and words of the other.

But if you believe the truth of the Scriptures that the love of God is changeless, that the covenant of God is faithful, and that the bond of Christ and His church is an unbreakable bond of love, then you understand your calling to be faithful and loving in your marriage.

We read in Jeremiah 31 God’s statement, “I have loved thee with an everlasting love.” Now the clearest picture of the covenant of God is marriage. In fact, God has made marriage to be a picture of the covenant that He has made with His people in His Son Jesus Christ. Nowhere is that so beautifully expressed as in Hosea 2:19 and 20. Listen. “And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.”

The truth of the Bible is that marriage is given by God to be a picture of His bond of marriage with His people. The truth of the Bible is that marriage was originally created by God and still remains, according to God’s intention, to be a reflection of Christ and His marriage to the church. Therefore, our marriages have a perfect pattern, a perfect goal, and a perfect standard.

The truth of the Bible is
that marriage was originally created by God
to be a reflection of Christ and His marriage
to the church. Therefore, our marriages
have a perfect pattern, a perfect goal,
and a perfect standard.
Now, your believing these truths of the covenant of God as being an unbreakable bond, and the union between Christ and His church as being an everlasting marriage, will not guarantee all happiness in your marriage. It is not right now going to remove your sins and the devastation of your sin in your marriage. In your marriage, you are not immune from any trials and from any weaknesses and any shortcomings. But belief in the covenant of God does do this: it gives you grace, it gives you hope, it gives you humility, it gives you enduring, unconditional love, it brings you to enjoy the blessing of marriage.

But, you see, all of this must be internalized, by the power of the Holy Spirit. I can show you, and I can show myself, from the holy Scriptures the doctrine of Christ and the church, that Christ has loved the church and will not cast her away. I can show you the truth of an unconditional covenant of God established in Jesus Christ, dependent upon God’s own being as the faithful God. But, you see, all of that must be internalized in your heart by the Holy Spirit. And then it will be the determining factor in your earthly marriage.

Do you believe the love of God? Do you know that love of God as almighty? Do you know the covenant of God with you as an unbreakable bond sworn in the death of Jesus Christ? Then your marriage will reflect that. As a husband, you will initiate reconciliation with your wife. You will love her and you will give up your life for her.

The passage that I wish to speak on a little today, Colossians 3:19, is straight forward. “Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.” As we come specifically to it, I want to remind you that this is distinctively Christian teaching. Now, what do I mean by that? I mean this, that the Scriptures do not take their place alongside books on marriage. The Scriptures are not simply sage counsel. Paul is not simply saying, “Well, men, from my observation the best thing you can do is try to love her.” The Bible does not join human counsel on how you can learn to cope or decide what is in your best interest. No, this is distinctively Christian teaching, that is, it flows from the cross.

Specifically it is the word of the all-sufficient Savior. That is the theme of the book of Colossians. Christ is all sufficient. Therefore, we do not come to this Word of God and say, “But that’s not going to work for me, now. I need something more than that.” The theme of the book of Colossians, as I said, is the sufficiency of Jesus. Listen to Colossians 2:10. It is a wonderful passage, it thrills with power. “And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.” Colossians 1:17, “In him (that is, in Christ) all things consist,” all things hold together. This is the word of the all-sufficient Savior. In verse 17 of Colossians 3 the apostle began a new paragraph, in which he will speak of marriage, of wives and of husbands. But he is speaking out of the reality of the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the inspired apostle believes that Christ, risen from the dead, will provide the power and the ability to do this, to love our wives. “If ye then be risen with Christ,” Colossians 3:1, well, you will love your wife.

The apostle, further, believes that Christ will give your marriage the right goal, the right purpose. That purpose was stated in verse 17 of Colossians 3, “And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” The goal, then, of your marriage will not first be your happiness. But you will see your marriage subservient to another purpose: the glory of your God.

The goal, then, of your marriage
will not first be your happiness.
Further, the apostle Paul believes that Christ will also be the One who gives a true pattern for how you will live in your marriage. We read of that in verse 13 of Colossians 3: “even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” In Christ, you will be able to stoop low and to love in a humble, forgiving love.

God is addressing, then, Christian men who are husbands, that is, men who have been placed by God in the institution of marriage and given a wife. A husband.

Now, let us not forget all that we have learned about biblical manhood. Biblical manhood, we saw last time, is to have zeal for the Lord God. Again, in the words of the epistle, a man of God is one who knows that Christ has the preeminence, and that Christ is the One who has translated him out of darkness into His marvelous light.

A man of God, then, is mature. To be mature means that God is God to you, and you know how you must live before Him. Are you mature as a man? Single men, are you mature? Have you renounced yourselves, your earthly, fleshly ideas of a woman, and are you resolved that you will glorify God and obey God? If you do not have that maturity, I do not care how old you are or how much money you have, do not marry! First have the maturity of Christ.

But what is a husband? To answer that, let us turn to two passages of the Word which will give the answer.

First of all, Genesis 2:18-25. I trust that is familiar. There we learn that a husband has been bound by God to one woman, his wife, for life; and he is given the calling to care for her, to live with her, and to seek his life in her. God, in Genesis 2, had Adam first name the animals. And Adam observed that there was no help meet for him. Then a deep sleep was placed upon Adam, and out of his rib the Lord God made a woman and brought her to the man. And Adam said, “This is flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone. She shall be called Woman.” God said, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave unto his wife. And they shall be one flesh.”

What happened was this: God entrusted to Adam a woman, Eve, the mother of all living, so that Adam would cleave to her and she to him, that he would protect her and care for her and lead her and provide for her even as God was going to take to Himself a people to love and to cleave to and to lead and to provide for them.

A husband, therefore, is one who looks at his wife and says, “The Lord has given you to me to complement me, that I might seek my life in you.” Adam said, “Here are the giraffes and the orangutans, the tigers and the zebras and the lions. But, as wonderful as all of those animals are, they don’t supply my needs. For I have not been made simply to study zoology. Nor have I been made to find my completion in being a gardener in the Garden of Eden. I need a companion. I don’t need another me, not a male, two males, but a female, a woman, to be my wife, to be my companion. I need her for godly children and I need her for a sexual life to be one flesh with her in the love of God. I need my wife to complete me, to care for her, and to live with her (one woman) for life.”

Now, husband, God gave you your wife today. And He said to you, “Think of your wife as the perfect, God-ordained, and God-designed companion and help to you. That is the way you have to think, for, indeed, she is exactly that. We do not believe in chance. We believe that God controls and orders all things. And God brings to us our wives just like He brought Eve to Adam and, therefore, God says, “Whether you see it or even believe it in your heart, you must know that I have made her a companion and help for you, the perfect one for you.” Do you have wandering eyes? You are sinning against God.

Now you are to cleave to her. You are to cleave to her sexually. You are to be faithful to her and live with her. You are to give your wife your time. Your wife needs your time. Maybe there are all kinds of hobbies that you are interested in – night out with the guys, all types of things. Or maybe your work puts a lot of pressures on you. And if you like your work, you could be at it for eighteen hours a day or more. Then you have to learn to say, No! to that work and No! to your hobbies. You must give her your time.

The second thing is that a husband is the head of his wife. For that truth of Scripture, let me read to you from Ephesians 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.” And I Corinthians 11:3, “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man.” Now, what does that mean?

The Bible is calling us to look to the reality of Christ as the Head of the church. That means that God appointed His Son, in the flesh, from the counsel of eternity, legally to represent the church, to assume responsibility for the church, to rule, and to lay down His life for the church.

Husbands, do you know your Head, Jesus Christ? Do you know what that means? It means that He assumed out of grace the responsibility for you. It means that He rules over you always, with your best interest at His heart. It means that He leads you and nurtures you and gives you to grow. Now, be the head of your wife. Assume towards her the posture that Christ has taken towards you. Nurture and cherish your wife and be the head of her even as Christ is your head.

Now, note with me that you are the head of your wife. It does not say become the head of your wife. You are. It might be a question of what kind of a head you are. That we need to ask. But you are the head of your wife. Do not abdicate because this is hard, and do not neglect this. In other words, as a husband you are holding an office from God. That office is to be the head, under God, to your wife.

Now, what does that mean, specifically? I think it means two things. First of all, authority. That is on the forefront in Colossians 3:18, where we read, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.” We are going to leave that truth of the submission of the wife to another time. But it implies that a husband, as the head of his wife, has the authority from God to lead his wife in the ways of God. It means that, although your wife is your helpmeet and, therefore, you talk to her and you make your decisions with her, it means that you are the one who is to lead in your marriage.

A husband, as the head of his wife, has the authority from God to lead his wife in the ways of God.
But it means another thing. It means responsibility. To be the head of your wife means that you are responsible for your marriage, for your wife. The husband is the head of the wife. That is inescapable. Husband, have you ever reckoned with the fact that you are responsible for the state of your marriage? Do you begin by saying, “Well, if we have problems, it’s her fault”? You are the head and are responsible for the state of your marriage.

Now, husbands and wives both have their own sins. We must confess individually our own sins. As wives you have to go to God and confess your sins. No one can do that for you. And husbands must do the same. That is true. But whether the problem in marriage is due to the sin of the wife or of the husband or both, the point remains that the husband is responsible for the problem because he is the head. His is the responsibility before God for his covenant household. Do not enter into your marriage with an adversarial spirit of competition saying, “Well, the wife is over there and I’m over here. And we each have our own perspective. And we’ll just see who is going to get his way.” She is not your opponent. You are her head. You are to lead her. Do not say, “Well, she has her problems and I have mine. What we need is a counselor to split the difference between us.” Oh, no. Husband, you are the head. You are responsible.

When you come home tired at night and she says, “That son, that child, that daughter, I’ve had trouble disciplining her,” that is not her problem. That is your problem. You are the head of your household. Listen. As our Head, Jesus Christ assumed responsibility for our sins. Now you are given an office to reflect Him. You are the head of your wife. Take up your place. Do not come to God in your prayers and say, “Lord, it’s my wife. She….” Do not talk that way to God. The husband is the head of the wife.

Let us return to this next time. May the Holy Spirit apply and bless His Word to our hearts.

Let us pray.

Father, we thank Thee for Thy Word and we pray that, indeed, the Holy Spirit may place it upon fleshly tables of our hearts. In Jesus’ name, Amen.