“I have never been more mean in my life since being married,” I said to him.
These words were not spewed in the midst of an argument or disagreement; rather, my husband and I were enjoying time together. I had been spending extra time in the Word seeking the Lord’s guidance for my recent behavior toward Matt, and was convicted of my actions. My irritability, short temper, passive-aggressiveness, and sarcasm had consumed me.
What frustrated me at the time was that our marriage wasn’t in the throes of marital lows. Our marriage was strong, solid, full of joy and laughter. Matt and I established a deep, committed, abiding friendship and intimacy—so what was the problem?
I Left Jesus Out of My Marriage
In loving guidance, the Holy Spirit uncovered hidden baggage that still threatened to haunt me. I had become uncomfortable with my past decisions, sexual rebellion, and destructive relationships. The enemy had deceived me into believing that I was not good enough for Matt; he taunted that my husband was too good to be tied to someone like me, that if he knew who I really was back then, that he’d have a change of heart.
For a moment, the enemy had gained control of my heart and mind. I was ignoring and forgetting the transforming and eternal truths of my Savior. I was leaving Jesus out of my marriage.
How Jesus Transforms Marriage
Whether you’re a newlywed or have been married for decades, the gospel has the power to transform your marriage in ways you cannot. I know this; I’ve seen it. When Matt and I invited Jesus into our marriage, our union was elevated.
Friend, may you be encouraged by these five ways Jesus works in and through marriage.
1. Jesus makes us new.
Everyone comes into marriage carrying baggage or unique experiences from their past. Like me, some struggle with guilt, shame, regret, and damage from past relationships or sexual rebellion. Others wrestle with separating from the conducts in which they were raised.
The good news of the gospel says that we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), free from guilt and condemnation (Romans 8:1). Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, we have unlimited mercy and forgiveness from the Lord (Luke 1:76-78). Our past sin and shame no longer have the power to condemn and confine our marriage.
2. Jesus forgives.
As sinners, we fail one another and God daily. But because of Jesus, grace and forgiveness is ours to receive and ours to give (Matthew 10:8). We are equipped to forgive our spouses because Christ forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). Nothing we do to our spouses can compare to the offenses we’ve committed against the Lord. Thankfully, because of Christ, the hostility, resentment, and bitterness we are prone to display can also be forgiven and forgotten.
3. Jesus meets our needs.
Whether intentional or not, spouses place pressure and expectations on one another based on their experiences or preconceived notions. We wrongly expect our spouse to fulfill and take care of our needs and demands—and we forget that Christ is the only one who can strengthen us, fill us, and know us completely (Ephesians 3:16-19).
Scripture reminds us that Jesus desires for us to ask him to take our burdens (Matthew 11:28-30), and by bearing one another’s burdens, we fulfill the law (Galatians 6:2). He alone can deliver us from the weight we project and the weight we carry.
4. Jesus gives us his Spirit.
Jesus isn’t some distant, silent onlooker in our marriages; Christ’s Spirit lives within us (John 14:23; 1 Corinthians 3:16; Galatians 3:13-14), helps us in our weakness, and intercedes for us (Romans 8:26). This is a comforting truth that I remember when there’s conflict, frustration, and attacks from the enemy.
When the enemy gains control of my thoughts, I can count on the Spirit to guide me in godly truth (John 16:13). Likewise, the truth that the same Spirit lives within my husband and me, who is working within both of us, eases my fears and worries. We can abound in hope (Romans 15:13) and live in freedom (2 Corinthians 3:17).
5. Jesus broke sin’s power.
Though sin will be a constant active force in our marriage, the power it has to break us has been broken by our blessed Redeemer. As we are united in marriage, so are we united as believers and family in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-10). We are no longer slaves to sin and have been set free; we are dead to sin and alive in Christ (Romans 6:10-11). Sin is no longer our master because we live under the freedom of God’s grace (Romans 6:14).
Christ’s life, death, and resurrection are not simply points of salvation, but the way of salvation, renewing and transforming those who believe day by day. The good news to all who have placed their trust in Jesus is that he is the solution to marriage—because he alone saves and gives us the power to enjoy it.