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Be careful! Watch out for attacks from the devil, your great enemy. He is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. 1 Peter 5:8
Don't look now, but there is someone who is dead set against you and your spouse enjoying a happy, fulfilling marriage. No, we're not talking about your in-laws or an old, jealous boyfriend or girlfriend – and we certainly hope these people are not against you. We're talking about someone very hateful, powerful, and devious. We're talking about God's archenemy and the enemy of your soul: Satan.
You may be wondering, "What's so special about my marriage that the devil himself is out to ruin it?" Your marriage is God's creation, and your family is God's joy. Throughout the Bible, God uses marriage as an object lesson for his desired relationship with humankind. The beauty of the love relationship God seeks with us and wants to illustrate in your relationship with your spouse is pictured in Solomon’s love poem: "I am my lover's, and my lover is mine" (Song of Songs 6:3).
That's what your marriage is supposed to look like: a husband and wife totally devoted to you and absorbed in one another. When you love your spouse sacrificially and unconditionally according to the guidelines of Scripture and when he or she loves you the same way, you are modeling for all to see the essence of how God wants to be involved with us.
The Bible also uses unfaithfulness and marriage to get his point across. Perhaps the most vivid picture is the Old Testament prophet Hosea. God told Hosea, "Go and marry a prostitute, so some of her children will be born to you from other men. This will illustrate the way my people have been untrue to me, openly committing adultery against the Lord by worshiping other gods" (Hosea 1:2). Can you believe it? God instructed Hosea to marry a woman who would be unfaithful to him in order to picture how he feels when people turn away from him.
God wants your marriage to paint a true picture. He wants your kids to see their dad and mom so devoted to each other and to them that they say, "Wow! So that's how much God loves me." He wants your neighbors, work associates, and friends to see how you humbly serve one another and say, "Amazing! So that's what it means to serve God." No wonder Satan wants to deface this image by ruining your marriage or at least keeping it from becoming all it can be. It is vital that you guard your hearts and your marriage from the devil’s ongoing assault.
How does Satan seek to devour your marriage? One of his primary weapons is the godless culture we live in. You can talk all you want to about America as a "Christian nation," but there is a lot going on in American culture that is working against the health and success of your marriage. And if you fail to guard against these subtle – and sometimes blatant – influences, this world will drain the vitality and passion from your marriage relationship.
What influences are we talking about? Try the media, for example. When was the last time you flipped on the television, viewed a movie at the theater, or read a secular novel that didn't glorify adultery or an illicit affair in some manner? And even when infidelity and dishonesty in marriage isn't glorified in these presentations, it is at least accepted and condoned as "normal." At the same time, wholesome, monogamous marriages are often pictured as anemic or boring.
Or consider the lives of the "rich and famous," the people our culture idolizes and seeks to emulate – movie stars, television personalities, recording artists, and politicians. Yes there are a number of people in the public eye who are known for staying married. But these are not the couples who get the media coverage. Rather we are bombarded with the sordid details of celebrity “bedroom bingo”: who is sleeping with whom, who is cheating on whom, who is divorcing whom, who is having whose "love child" out of wedlock, and so on. You can't get through a grocery store checkout line without the headlines glaring at you from the sleazy tabloids.
Then there is the insidious cancer of pornography poisoning the vital organs of our culture through the media. Countless numbers of magazines and websites promote unbridled sexual expression. Through it all comes Satan's dark, diabolical suggestion: "Why work so hard at building a marriage when you can spend your life in pleasure with all these toys?"
You may object, "We are Christians, so the culture doesn't influence us that much." If Satan's influence through the culture it didn't affect behaviors, we wouldn't need the clear instruction found in 1 John 2:15–16, which is written to Christians: "Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love the world, you show that you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only the lust for physical pleasure, the lust for everything we see, and pride in our possessions. These are not from the Father. They are from this evil world."
The devil probably knows he can't convince you to dump your spouse and run off with another man or woman. But he will try to keep that option looking attractive to you through the media and other means. He will do his best to stoke the fires of lust enough to distract you from full devotion to your spouse. And if he can keep you distracted by the world's view of marriage and sex, your marriage will be much less than it could be – which suits him just fine.
We are not advocating that you take a sledgehammer to your TV, get rid of your phone or computer, or swear off attending movies – although we applaud some families who have taken drastic steps like these. But as a couple you must exercise guarding love by holding each other accountable to verses like Romans 12:2, "Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think."
We are stuck in this world for now. But as Jesus said, we are not of this world any more than he is out of this world (see John 17:16). The distractions are strong and plentiful. But guarding love finds a way to make it through together without being devoured by Satan. Solomon's instructions are key: "Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; then stick to the path and stay safe. Don't get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil" (Proverbs 4:25–27).
How has the godless culture influenced your marriage? In what ways do you find yourself distracted by the world's view of love, sex, and marriage? Can you think of some couples whose marriages have been negatively impacted by the culture? Can you think of some couples whose marriages have grown noticeably stronger despite the world’s pressure to devalue marriage infidelity? Who are these people? What stand have they taken against the influence of the culture?
I am honored, heavenly Father, that you have chosen to use our marriage to picture the intimate love relationship you desire with your people. I am sorry for the times I have clouded this picture by not guarding my heart or my spouse’s heart from the negative influences of the culture. Help me walk in purity and faithfulness with my spouse. Help us to be a positive example of a fulfilling marriage in the eyes of our children, friends, neighbors, and others. Amen.
Renew Your Love
Where do you need to take a stand against the world's view of marriage in order to nurture your relationship with your spouse? Set aside an hour of TV or phone time to engage your spouse in conversation about how to guard your hearts against the culture’s negative influences on your marriage. Be sure to admit where you sense Satan's attacks on yourself and your marriage. Work toward an action step that will help you strengthen your commitment to God's view of marriage.