Marital Warfare

One of the things that has many of us pastors very concerned is how many Christian marriages are struggling and failing today.  I personally am seeing more Christians getting divorced today than I saw 36 years ago when I first got into ministry.
One Christian couple I know got married, two months later she was cheating on her husband and two months after that they filed for divorce. And while that may be an extreme example of the flimsy, shallow commitment that many are entering into marriage with—it is nonetheless becoming more and more the norm.
I personally believe one of the reasons that Christian marriages are failing at a record rate today is due to the epidemic of self-love that is so rampant in the world—but which has also infected the Church.
The apostle Paul prophesied of this in 2 Timothy 3—“In the last days people would be lovers of self…”

And I see many couples entering into marriage on the basis of self-love (“I love you because you make me feel good…”).  
But, the only kind of love that will allow your marriage to endure the storms of life—is the love of God which is supernatural, self-less and sacrificial.
Until we love God and our spouse more than we love ourselves—marriages will continue to suffer and die on the altar of self-love.  However, let’s not discount the spiritual dimension when we talk about the conflict that characterizes so many Christian marriages in our day.
Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Our struggles in marriage are really not with each other—they are spiritual in nature.  Of course, we become willing pawns and participants in the devil’s attempt to destroy our marriages through our own selfishness and pride.
We can’t blame the devil for our failed marriages—but we must not be ‘ignorant of his devices’ either.
Mark 3:25 (NKJV)
And if a house (or marriage) is divided against itself, that house (or marriage) cannot stand.
Satan’s strategy has always been—“Divide and Conquer”. Why? He knows there is strength in unity—
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NKJV) 
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.
For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up…  Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

We are in a battle with the devil for the survival of our marriages—Satan wants to destroy them but God wants to grow them so that they flourish and glorify Him in this world.  This war is with the devil and his demons not really with each other.
However, in any war there is a certain percentage of casualties that come as a result of
“friendly fire.”
Every soldier knows that sometimes in the heat of battle friends can be mistaken for enemies and when that happens the results can be devastating.  Unfortunately, when we talk about spiritual warfare the same thing is true.
There are many casualties in the Body of Christ that are the result of friendly fire.
By that I mean people who are supposed to be on the same side, fighting together against the real enemy— often find themselves fighting each other, taking shots at one another, wounding and hurting and even destroying those who are supposed to be allies and not enemies—how true this often is in marriage.
In Ephesians 6 when Paul reminded us that our real struggles are not with each other but with principalities and powers, the hosts of wickedness in the spirit realm—he did so directly on the heels of his teaching on marriage.
This tells me that marriages can expect to be the target of much of the spiritual warfare that we will encounter as Christians.  In fact, as we read the first few chapters in the book of Genesis we can see that it didn’t take Satan long to attack the first marriage on the face of the earth.
At the end of Genesis 2 God married Adam and Eve and in the beginning of chapter 3 Satan attacked them—why?
For several reasons but primarily to get back at God—to destroy and corrupt something that God had created to be beautiful and blessed.  And so in Genesis 3:1-7 we have recorded the fall of man, and in Genesis 3:15-18 God pronounces the curse—first on the serpent and then on the woman in verse 16—
Genesis 3:16 (NKJV) 
To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire
shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.”
The final words of God to Eve are especially significant
—“Your desire shall be for your husband…”
This sounds kind of endearing—yet God is not speaking here in endearing terms He is pronouncing the curse!  The word ‘desire’ in the Hebrew means
“to seek control.”  This in part would be the result of the fall that from this point on the woman would desire to control her husband but he was to rule over her—v.16.
Eve had been in submission to Adam before the fall; this is evident from what Paul said in 1 Timothy 2:13-14—and initially their marriage functioned as God had ordained—the man being in authority and his wife in submission to him.
However, when the fall occurred all of that changed.  No longer would the man and his wife function so beautifully together in marriage, each knowing their God given role and happy to fulfill it. Now the woman would desire to usurp her husband’s authority and he would have to take more of a visible, dominant role as a leader in their marriage.
Today we see the effects of the curse being played out in marriages in the battle of the sexes with things like feminism and chauvinism.  Sin not only disrupted man’s relationship with God but it also 
corrupted man’s relationship with his fellowman including and especially his relationship with his wife.
The curse brought conflict and chaos into marriage— 
“Is there any hope?!”—Yes, but only in Christ
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NKJV)
Therefore, if anyone
is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
God wants you to know that in Christ the conflict and chaos in your marriage can be replaced with peace and harmony, and by God’s grace and power the effects of the fall can be overcome making your marriage a new creation in Christ, where old things have passed away and all things have become new.
Paul in Romans 6 tells us that the Christian life is a supernatural life—which the Bible calls, “the resurrection life”.  This is a life that only the Holy Spirit can empower believers to live—it is a life of victory and power to be all that God has called us to be as His children.
However, before we can live a resurrected life—we first have to go the cross even as Jesus had to die before He was raised in resurrection power and glory.
Romans 6:5 (NKJV) 
For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be
in the likeness of His resurrection.
The only hope for marriage is the cross—we must die to self before the Holy Spirit can fill us with the power to live the resurrection life. If husbands and wives loved each other sacrificially by going to the cross and dying to self (selfishness and pride)—marriages would thrive and flourish.  Couples would enjoy a supernatural, resurrection marriage—in short, they would know the joy of their marriage being all that God desires and created it to be.