Marriage: God’s Showcase of Covenant-Keeping Grace
(5 Part Message by John Piper) Part 4
(Friends…the first section below…Justification Goes Beyond Forgiveness…make yourself read it several times…then meditate on it…then pray that God will burn the reality of its truth into your spiritual mind…’so that’…it becomes your picture for how you see yourself ‘in’ Christ 😊) dh
Justification Goes Beyond Forgiveness
And if we reach back and draw in here all our understanding of justification from Romans we can say more. Justification goes beyond forgiveness. Not only are we forgiven because of Christ, but God also declares us righteous because of Christ. God requires two things of us: punishment for our sins and perfection in our lives. Our sins must be punished and our lives must be righteous. But we cannot bear our own punishment (), and we cannot provide our own righteousness. None is righteous; no, not one ( ).
Therefore, God, out of his immeasurable love for us, provided his own Son to do both. Christ bears our punishment and Christ performs our righteousness. And when we receive Christ (), all of his punishment and all of his righteousness is counted as ours ( ; ; ; ; ; ; ).
Justification Bent Outward
This is the vertical reality that must be bent outward horizontally to our spouses if marriage is to display the covenant-making, covenant-keeping grace of God. We see this in: “ Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
“As the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive” — your spouse. As the Lord “bears with” you, so you should bear with your spouse. The Lord “bears with” you everyday as you fall short of his will. Indeed, the distance between what Christ expects of you and what you achieve is infinitely greater than the distance between what you and expect of your spouse and what he achieves.
“Christ always forgives more and endures more than we do. Forgive as you have been forgiven.”
Christ always forgives more and endures more than we do. Forgive as you have been forgiven. Bear with as he bears with you. This holds for whether you are married to a believer or an unbeliever. Let the measure of God’s grace to you in the cross of Christ be the measure of your grace to your spouse.
And if you are married to a believer, you can add this: as the Lord counts you righteous in Christ, though you are not in actual behavior or attitude, so count your spouse righteous in Christ, though he is not — though she is not. In other words, Colossians 3 says, take the vertical grace of forgiveness and justification and bend them out horizontally to your spouse. This is what marriage is for, most ultimately — the display of Christ’s covenant-keeping grace.
The Need for Gospel-Rooted Wisdom
Now at this point, hundreds of complex situations emerge that cry for deep spiritual wisdom rooted in these gospel truths and in long years of painful, faithful experience. In other words, there is no way I could apply this message to everyone’s particular needs. Besides preaching, we need the Holy Spirit, we need prayer, we need to meditate on the word for ourselves, we need to read the insights of others, we need the counsel of wise friends who are seasoned with suffering, we need the church to support us when everything falls apart. So I have no illusions that I could say all that needs to be said to help you.
Living Vertically, Then Bending Outward
It may help to close by giving several reasons why I am stressing covenant-love as forgiveness and counting the other righteous. Don’t I believe in being delighted in the other person? Yes, I do. Both experience and the Bible push me there. To be sure, Jesus is married to his bride the church, and clearly it is both possible and good to please the Lord (). And he certainly is infinitely worthy of our pleasure in him. This is the ideal in marriage: two people humbling themselves and seeking to change in godly ways that please our spouses and meet their physical and emotional needs or to please them in every good way. Yes. The relationship of Christ and the church includes all that.
But the reasons I stress living vertically from the grace of God and then bending out horizontally in forgiveness and justification toward your spouse is (1) because there is going to be conflict based on sin and strangeness (and you won’t be able even to agree with each other about what is simply strange about each other and what is sin); and (2) because the hard, rugged work of enduring and forgiving is what makes it possible for affections to flourish when they seem to have died; and (3) because God gets glory when two very different and very imperfect people forge a life of faithfulness in the furnace of affliction by relying on Christ.
In Christ, God Has Forgiven You — and Your Spouse
Until tomorrow, husbands and wives, drive into your own consciences these huge truths — greater than any problem in your marriage — that God “has forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” Believe this with all your heart and bend it toward your spouse. (conclusion of article tomorrow)