How are we doing today, Connect? My name is Mike Edmisten. I’m the pastor here at Connect, and I’m so glad you joined us today as we kick off a brand new series called I Want A New Marriage.
Now, I realize that not everybody here today is married. I realize we’ve got folks that are single, divorced, and widowed. And I know that, for some of you, a series on marriage isn’t exactly what you want to hear.
But here’s the thing, and I know you’ll agree with this. Marriage is in big time trouble in our culture today. Maybe you know that really well, because you’ve been through a troubled marriage in the past.
The church has to speak out about this, because God speaks about it in His Word. A LOT. When something is important to God, it has to be important to us. When He speaks about it, we have to speak about it.
And here’s the other thing…a lot of you who are single right now aren’t going to be single forever. You’re going to get married, or remarried. The stuff we’re going to talk about in this series really can set you up for success.
And for those of us who are married right now, here’s what I want for you. I really want you to have a new marriage. The title of this series has raised a few eyebrows. I told you a few weeks ago that it raised my wife’s eyebrows. She didn’t know anything about this series, and she walked in and just saw that logo on my computer screen. And she looked at me and said, “What???”
But here’s the thing. I really do want to have a new marriage. And I really want you to have a new marriage. I really do. I want you to have a new marriage.
Now, I don’t want you to have a new spouse. I want you to have a new marriage with the person that you’re already married to.
I’m going to pray for us, and then our band is going to set the table for this whole series for us.
You know what this series is all about? It’s about you never, ever having to sing that song in your life. This series is about putting divorce attorneys out of business. This series is about healing broken marriages. It’s about moving past the anger, or the hurt, or the disappointment, or whatever is harming our marriage, and finding healing and hope. And it’s about setting future marriages up for success.
I told you that the title of this series has raised a few eyebrows. Singing that song in church might raise a few, too. Because that song has no hope. Seriously, as you listened to that song, did you hear any hope at all? I didn’t. And that’s exactly why I asked our song to play it today, because that’s exactly how a lot of people feel: like they have no hope. That song is hard, and gritty, and raw, and honest, and real. But what it is not, is hopeful.
This series is all about chasing after some hope. But it’s not about a fairy tale. It’s not some pie-in-the-sky, Mary Poppins view of life and marriage. We’re going to talk about real life, real struggles, and real problems. But we’re also going to see that we have real hope.
Like I said, I want you to have a new marriage, but I don’t want you to have a new spouse. I want you to have a new marriage with the person you’re already married to. And the beautiful thing is, that can happen, because God is a healer.
But in order for Him to heal us, we have to listen to the truth. And we have to stop listening to lies. And there are all kinds of lies that people buy into about marriage. And when you listen to these lies, the train goes off the tracks.
So here is the question we’re going to wrestle with all morning. Am I going to listen to love or to lies?
Here’s what we have to understand. Satan will never love you and God will never lie to you. They’re both speaking to you, but you’ve got to decide who to listen to. Am I going to listen to love or to lies?
A lot of what we’re going to see in God’s Word today is hard. It’s tough, tough stuff. But it’s given to us by a God who loves us and who will never lie to us. It’s given by a God who really does what what’s best for us.
So who am I going to listen to? Am I going to listen to love or to lies?
Today, we’re going to spend our time exposing some of the lies that so many people believe, and we’re going to explore the truth that God has given us.
Lie #1 – Marriage will always be perfect.
Did you ever think about what weddings really are? I know a lot of people love weddings, and this is probably going to make you mad, but it’s true. You know what weddings really are? They are false advertising!
Think about it. At the wedding, he bride is glowing. She is absolutely radiant in her perfect dress, with the perfect hair, carrying the perfect bouquet. She’s just perfect.
Guess what, dude? Your new bride didn’t wake up looking like that. This gorgeous woman standing before you wakes up with crusty eyes, and crazy hair, and morning breath that could peel paint off the wall.
And then there’s the groom. He looks so handsome in that tux. He’s shaved up, cleaned up, and dressed up. And he just looks perfect.
I’ve got news for you sister…that’s not who he really is. This man who looks so perfect has some habits that might just disgust you. And this is true, too…on your wedding day, this man stands before you broad-minded and narrow-waisted. As he gets older, those two traits will probably reverse themselves.
The point is, as wonderful as weddings are, they don’t reflect reality. I’ve been to a lot of perfect weddings, but I’ve never yet seen a perfect marriage. That’s because perfect marriages don’t exist.
And the reason is simple. Perfect marriages don’t exist because perfect people don’t exist.
We used this Scripture last week, but look at it again. In Ecclesiastes 7, Solomon wrote, “Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20, NIV)
We’re actually going to be using a lot of what Solomon wrote today, here in Ecclesiastes and a ton in the book of Proverbs.
Look at what he said here. There is NO ONE on earth who is righteous. There is NO ONE who does what is right and never sins.
Guess what? That includes you. And guess what else? That includes your husband or your wife, too.
Here’s why perfect marriages will never exist. Because when you take one sinner, and pair them up with another sinner, you’re not going to get perfection. When you take one imperfect sinner plus another imperfect sinner, you’re going to end up with a lot of imperfection. And then when you add a bunch of sinful kids to the mix, it’s really going to get crazy.
But sometimes it’s hard to see that, especially in our culture today. Because we have access to social media. And it’s really easy to log on to Facebook, and start believing that all of your friends have perfect marriages. You see pictures of their perfect date nights.
You see the little love notes they post on each other’s walls, with the little emojis with the heart eyes and the kissy lips.
And it just seems like their marriage must be perfect.
And it kind of makes you want to post some emojis of your own.
Can I tell you the truth? Facebook is a liar. Sorry Zuckerburg, but it’s true. Facebook is a liar.
When you log onto Facebook, all you’re seeing are the love notes and the date night pictures from your friends’ marriages. But you’re not seeing the argument they had yesterday morning. You’re not seeing how the kids are really putting a strain on the marriage right now. You’re not seeing them worry about money. You’re not seeing them fight about relationships with the in-laws.
That stuff doesn’t get posted on Facebook. And don’t get me wrong…it shouldn’t get posted on Facebook. If you’re the person who processes all their marital problems via social media, you’ve got bigger problems than you even realize. You are hurting your marriage and your spouse in ways that you can’t even begin to imagine by publicizing all of that stuff.
But most people don’t do that. Instead, they just post the good stuff. But when all you see is other peoples’ good stuff, it can deceive you into believing that you’re the only one with bad stuff.
Here’s the truth…you’re not.
Your marriage is not the only one with struggles. Your marriage is not the only one that is flawed. Your marriage is not the only one that is far, far from perfect.
But here’s what happens when we forget that. We create even more problems, because we put crushing expectations on our spouse.
Your husband or your wife is not, will not, and cannot be perfect. But when that is your expectation of them, you crush them. And things don’t get better. They get way, way worse.
And they get worse because of the second lie that a lot of people believe.
Lie #2 – Denying the problem will make it disappear.
If no marriage is perfect, that means that every marriage has problems. But far too many people believe that if they just deny that the problem exists, it will go away. That never happens. Ever.
A couple of weeks ago, I had to take my truck to the mechanic because I needed new brakes. I know some guys who will install their own brakes. I’m not one of them. I’ll take on small repairs myself, but when it comes to brakes, I’m content to let a professional do it. When I push on the brake pedal, I want to KNOW that I’m going to stop. And to be honest, I have a lot more confidence in his work than in mine.
So I took the truck to my mechanic. I wasn’t happy that I needed new brakes, but I knew it was true.
So how do you think I would have felt if my mechanic had called me and said, “Well Mike, I looked over everything, and I just don’t think there’s a problem.”
I would have been furious, because I knew there was a problem! The whole thing would shake and the brakes would grind every time I stopped. The problem was obvious. But if my mechanic chose to just deny that the problem existed, would anything have gotten fixed? Of course not.
But there are a lot of people who would never take that approach with their car, but they take that approach with their marriage all the time.
Your marriage has problems. And if you don’t admit the obvious, you’ll never be healed. That’s hard, but it’s true. Am I going to listen to love or to lies?
Now, there are a lot of reasons why people don’t want to admit that there’s a problem.
Maybe it’s pride. We’re just too proud to admit that there is actually a problem.
But God warns us about that in Scripture. In Proverbs 16, Solomon wrote, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18, NIV)
If you’re too proud to actually own up to the issues in your marriage, you are setting the table for destruction. You are setting your marriage up for a fall, and it’s going to be a hard fall.
Let me ask something…has your spouse ever asked you to go to marriage counseling? Maybe they’ve done more than ask. Maybe they’ve begged. They know there’s a problem, and they want to do whatever it takes to solve it. But you keep saying no, because of your pride. People like you don’t need to go to counseling. It’s all because of your stupid, self-centered pride.
One day, your spouse is just going to stop asking. They’ll stop asking for you to go to counseling with them. Instead, they ask a different question. They’re going to ask you to sign on the dotted line of a divorce certificate. Because sooner or later, they’ll get tired of being the only person who is willing to fight for this marriage.
Pride goes before destruction. You can just as easily substitute the word “divorce.” Pride goes before divorce.
Your marriage is worth fighting for. And pride is a really, really bad reason to stay out of the fight. Don’t let pride stop you from admitting that there’s a problem. Am I going to listen to love or to lies?
Other people don’t want to admit there’s a problem simply because they’re lazy. Dealing with a problem will require work, and they’d much rather read or watch TV.
God gives some pretty straight up warnings about that kind of mindset.
In Proverbs 20, it says, “Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest.” (Proverbs 20:4, NLT)
Plowing is hard work. But if you don’t plow at the right time, you’re not going to eat because you won’t have any food to harvest. If you want to be fed in your marriage, you’d better get off your butt and plow the field.
And in the next chapter, Solomon writes, “Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work.” (Proverbs 21:25, NLT)
If you’re not willing to work in your marriage, your marriage is headed for ruin. More marriages are ruined by neglect than by adultery. It’s not that you do anything really bad. It’s just that you don’t do anything at all.
Men quit pursuing their wives after they’re married, because after all, “I got the girl. The ring is on her finger.” But they don’t realize that, in their wife’s mind, the pursuit is never over. A woman always needs to feel like her man values her enough to pursue her heart.
Women quit praising and building up their husbands, because they’re just so busy with the kids and school and sports and the like. But they forget that not building their man up is actually tearing him down.
And the marriage withers and dies, not because the husband or wife did anything terribly wrong…just that they stopped working hard at what is right.
Whatever the reason for denying the problem, this is always true: denying the problem will never make it disappear. In fact, it will have the exact opposite effect. It will set your marriage up for a hard fall. And you’re not going to like the results of that fall.
“But if I admit that there’s a problem, what will people think?”
You know what? If your marriage is struggling, the odds are very good that the people in your life already know it. You’re probably not as good an actor as you think. And by the way, if your friends are married, their marriage has problems, too.
So instead of letting laziness or pride call the shots, we need to obey what we see in Scripture.
And this is what we see in Scripture. In James 5, James wrote, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16, NIV)
Confess your sins, to who? Not to God. To each other. Confess your sins to each other. Own up to the fact that there’s a problem. Drop the mask. Quit playing the game and get real about what’s happening.
And get real with people who will pray with you and for you. That can be a friend. A family member. Your Connect Group. Or a counselor.
But when you get real and other people start praying, look at what happens. Healing happens. Denial never brings healing. Ever. But honest confession opens the door for healing. This is really hard, but it’s the truth that our loving Father has given us. Am I going to listen to love or to lies?
So far, we’ve exposed two of those lies.
Lie #1 – Marriage will always be perfect.
Lie #2 – Denying the problem will make it disappear.
Now, let’s expose one final lie.
Lie #3 – The grass is greener on the other side.
Because your marriage isn’t perfect, and maybe denying the problems has made it even worse, it’s easy to start thinking that maybe you should have looked elsewhere. Maybe the problem isn’t you. Maybe the problem is that you’re just in the wrong marriage. If you had married someone else, things would be different. Maybe the grass really is greener on the other side.
And you’ve heard what we’ve been talking about today, but you want to kick against it. “Yeah, but Mike you don’t understand. I’ve found somebody else. And she makes me feel alive. Or he really listens. He really understands me. I think the grass really is greener on the other side.”
You know what? The grass is only greener because it’s over the septic tank. It’s greener because it’s being fertilized with toilet water. And if you go there, that’s what you’re going to get. A tall glass of toilet water.
Listen to the way Solomon described it in Proverbs 5. “Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers.
May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love. Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman?
For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths. The evil deeds of the wicked ensnare them; the cords of their sins hold them fast. For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly.” (Proverbs 5:15-23, NIV)
It didn’t seem like a big deal. It started with flirtation. Then it escalated to desire. And it culminated when you both succumbed to temptation and went to bed together. And it was only after that did the destruction come.
And look at the progression of the destruction here in Proverbs 5. They are ensnared, meaning that they’re trapped. The cords hold them fast, which means they are choking. And then there is death. And it’s all because of their great folly, their own foolishness.
And you never meant for it to happen. On your wedding day, you never thought, “In 5 or 10 years, I’m going to blow this whole thing up when I have an affair.”
No, you promised, “til death do we part,” and you meant it.
What happened? You were seduced. You chose to listen to lies instead of love. You believed foolish lies. You got frustrated with the imperfections in your own marriage, and the grass really did start to look greener on the other side. But we only realize the absolute devastation that comes from this decision after the fact.
But my job is to warn you upfront, ahead of time.
Guys, if you go there, if you believe this lie that the grass is greener on the other side and you go there, you’re going to bring absolute destruction into your life. Your kids will hate you. Your friends will lose all respect for you. Your reputation will be damaged beyond repair. And you will devastate the woman that you promised to love til death do you part.
And by the way, look at what you’re trading her in for. Are you trading up? Heck no, you’re not. This always amazes me, but it’s true. Men almost never cheat up. When a man has an affair, I look at his wife, and I look at his mistress…and I just don’t get it.
Ladies, let me tell you something about this other guy that’s coming after you. I know, he listens. I know it seems like he really loves you, but listen to me…he’s not pursuing your heart. He’s pursuing other parts of your body. What’s in your heart doesn’t interest him nearly as much as what’s in your bra and what’s in your pants, and once he gets it, he will turn into a bigger jerk than you could ever imagine. Listen to me, ladies…he doesn’t love you.
The grass is not greener on the other side. I’ve seen what adultery does to lives and families, and I’m not telling you, it’s not worth it. Am I going to listen to love or to lies? Our loving God tells us as straight and directly as He possibly can: it’s not worth it.
Solomon warns us about that very thing here in Proverbs 5. But along with warning us about adultery, Solomon also gives us a better way. Look at what he said again.
Listen to the way Solomon described it in Proverbs 5. “Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers. [This is God’s design for marriage. The bond that is shared physically, emotionally, and spiritually, isn’t shared with anyone else. It is absolutely exclusive. It is absolutely the most special human relationship you will ever have.]
May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer—may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love.” (Proverbs 5:15-19, NIV)
Look at the words that Solomon uses here to describe a man’s relationship with his wife.
Blessed. Rejoice. Loving. Graceful. Satisfy. Intoxicated.
Now, maybe you’re uncomfortable with this kind of graphic sexual description in church. Two things…1. It’s in the Bible, so don’t take it up with me. Take it up with the guy who wrote it. And 2. We’re coming back to this verse later in this series in a BIG way. So buckle up.
But seriously, look at all the incredibly descriptive words here. That’s what God wants for your marriage. That’s what I want for your marriage. That’s what our church wants for your marriage.
And we’re here today to tell you, it can happen. Maybe this doesn’t sound like your marriage right now. The good news is that you can have a new marriage. It happens when you start listening to love instead of lies.
Here’s how Solomon described it in Proverbs 14. “Fear of the Lord is a life-giving fountain; it offers escape from the snares of death.” (Proverbs 14:27, NLT)
God is in the business of giving life. And when we fear Him, when we live in obedience to Him, we escape the snares of death and we find life.
And that can happen in your marriage. It really can. In fact, it can happen in your life as a whole, because giving life is what Jesus is all about.
We know He’s about giving life because He gave His life for us. And then through His resurrection, we can have new life. New marriages. New families. New relationships. New hope. New peace. New life.
That’s what Jesus offers to every one of us. That’s not a religious platitude or cliché. That’s the gospel. That’s the good news of Jesus Christ. And that’s what our church is all about.
We exist to connect people to Jesus Christ by leading them into a growing relationship with Him. A growing relationship that affects every part of their life. Marriage. Family. Work. Friendships. Everything. We want to see Jesus heal entire lives.
And He’s doing just that. I can tell you story after story after story of lives and families and marriages that God has healed through Connect. And He’s just getting warmed up. That’s why we preach about stuff like having a new marriage. Because that’s exactly what Jesus does. He makes things new.
That’s what Paul reminds us of in 2 Corinthians 5. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, ESV)
Don’t miss how all-encompassing this is. When we are in Christ, we are completely new creations. It’s not just, “Well, I go to church now.” The work that God does in us is all-encompassing. We are completely new creations, that lead completely new lives in completely new marriages with a completely new outlook and perspective because of a completely new hope.
That’s what Jesus offers us. And that’s what we desperately want you to experience. We’ve all had enough of the lies. Let’s listen to the love that God has for every one of us. A love that forced Him to give up His own Son just so He could forgive us and heal us and love us.