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Justification By Faith and Marriage

July 6, 2007

I have become aware more and more that the doctrine of justification by faith affects my marriage – and this, I believe, is profound grace of God. It affects reactions, agendas, and the ability to lead (as a husband). To see this more clearly we must, briefly, look at justification by faith. Justification by faith is the doctrine that holds that whosoever will trust that the rock-solid, perfect righteousness of Christ is the basis for their righteousness before the Father, and trust in no other power, work, or righteousness will receive mercy, forgiveness and a right-standing before God, the judge of the universe. Briefly, that is justification by faith and I believe it has benefits for marriage that are incalculable. Here are a few:

 

  • We are vessels of mercy. Romans 9, as difficult and deep as it is, gives us a glorious truth about those whom God has chosen beforehand – they are vessels of mercy (Rom. 9:23). We were created and fit to receive mercy undeservedly and by no work or exertion of our own (9:16). Being created as vessels of mercy frees us to be givers of mercy. Being forgiven of our debt to God, gives us the ability to free others of debt to us (Matt. 6:12; 18:32; Col. 2:14). Specifically, the doctrine of justification by faith allows us to free our spouses of restrictive and weighty expectations, to forgive our spouse of sins against us, and free them of any debt you hold them to. It is a freeing thing to say to your husband or wife, ‘You do not owe me anything. I love you and by the power of the Spirit of Christ, I will show you mercy, forgiveness and forbearance even when you do not deserve it.’  This may sound nice and seem impossible to actually accomplish. However, we see how it can be through the second benefit.
  • We have been given the gift of contentment. Philippians 4:11, “Not than I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.” Paul, speaking to the Philippians, shows that he has learned contentment so that in whatever situation he is in, whether he has great gain or loss, he is content. What is he content in? Has he learned to be resourceful with what little he has at all times? Has he learned to take great joy in the little things of life? No. He has learned to be content only in Christ, whether he has many possessions or none. Just take a look at chapter 3 of Philippians, and you will see that Paul looks at every gain as rubbish compared to knowing Christ (3:4-8). Paul does not take contentment in any possession because they never satisfy the way Christ satisfies. Christ is the satisfying gift we, as justified believers, receive to enjoy forever. This frees us to take highest joy and pleasure in Christ, not in our spouse – a burden they were never meant to carry. We no longer demand what you feel is owed to you by your spouse, because you have all you fully desire in Christ. You are free to love unending and to give mercy where mercy is unthinkable. We should learn, as Paul learned, to be content in Christ for the benefit of our marriage.

Justification by faith has many and great benefits for marriage. To grow love, forbearance, mercy, and kindness in our marriage we should grow in the knowledge of our justification and live it out.

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