Craig Groeschel - 4 Lies That Destroy Marriages
So when it comes to dating or marriage, I'm curious, what do you say to yourself? What thoughts go through your mind when you think about someone you might potentially pursue as a spouse? Or what thoughts go through your mind when you think about your spouse? For example, if you're thinking about dating, do you say to yourself, I know that God is doing a work in me and God is preparing someone special for me and I can't wait to share the covenant one day of marriage with someone that God is preparing for me?
Or do you say to yourself, oh, the good ones are taken! There's no hope. There's no ungodly out there. When it comes to your marriage, if your marriage is maybe in a rough spot because almost all marriages occasionally hit a rough spot, do you say to yourself, well, my marriage isn't perfect, but I thank God He is perfect and He's good, He's working in me and I trust that He's working in my spouse. Or do you say to yourself, no matter what I do, there's no hope. My marriage is never gonna get better, divorce maybe my only option?
What do you say to yourself when you think about relationships, dating or marriage? Do you speak encouraging and positive faith filled words when you think about marriage? Or do your thoughts sound more like this? If someone really knew me, they wouldn't want me. After everything I've done, I'll never have a good marriage. I'm just gonna live however I want. However I want. What I do now won't affect my marriage later, doesn't affect my marriage later. My marriage is beyond repair. No matter what, it'll never work, will never work. Everyone flirts. Everyone flirts. Everyone looks. Everyone looks. I'm not doing anything wrong, besides, she's not meeting my needs anyway. Shes not meeting my needs anyway. I come from a divorced and broken family. No one in my family will ever have a good marriage. Will have a good marriage. I married the wrong person. Divorce is my only option.
So when it comes to dating, or relationships, or marriage, what do you say to yourself? What voices do you hear in your head? Because really there's one of two main sources that contribute to the thoughts you think or the beliefs that you actually believe. There's our heavenly Father who speaks truth and words of faith, and there's our spiritual enemy, the only thing he does is lies. In fact, scripture says this in John 8:44, Jesus said, "the devil was a murderer from the beginning not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him". What does he do? He only lies. "And when he lies, he speaks his native language," because he is a liar and Jesus calls him the father of lies. Jesus on the other hand, in John 8:32, He said this, but he said, "You'll know the truth and the truth will set you free".
Today we're seeing the covenant of marriage under ongoing attack from the forces of darkness. And there is a truth, a healing truth, a life changing truth that will silence the lies and set us free. So the title of today's message is, Four Lies That Destroy Marriage. Let's all pray together.
Father, we ask that by the power of your Holy Spirit that we would take in your Word today, God, that you administer life to us, that because your Word is true and living and active, that we'd be transformed by it. Would you renew our minds God with truth? And would you empower that truth to set us free? We pray this believing by faith you'll heal our relationships and they'll glorify you in Jesus' name we pray and everybody said, amen and amen.
Today what we're gonna do is we're gonna dive into some very real lies that you may not notice are actually going through your mind subconsciously. And I wanna deal with the first one that's incredibly common when it comes to marriages and relationships. And we want to look at the truth that will set is free. The first lie that many of us believe would be this, I call it the, I can change him or I can change her lie. I can change him, I can make him better, I promise you I can do that. And there's the old quote where someone said that, "Men marry women hoping they won't change, and women marry men hoping they will change. Inevitably, they're both disappointed." right? It can be really true because I don't know if you've noticed or not, there's also kind of the old quote, almost joke that they say when you're dating, opposites tend to attract.
Have you noticed that opposites attract? Then when you get married, what do they do? Opposites don't just attract, they attack one another. And the very things that you liked when you were dating become the things that annoy you and you fight about when you get married. For example, you might be dating the laid back, easygoing guy, and Mr perfectly flexible when you marry him becomes Mr never picks up after himself, I'm gonna kill him. And you wonder, how does this happen? The thing that attracted you early on ends up annoying you or Mrs strong and confident one day becomes Mrs controlling and nagging and don't laugh too loud or elbow anybody near you that would be dangerous to your relationship and perhaps your health. But what happens is over time we start wishing for something that we don't have. In a relationship we become dissatisfied and sometimes very rightly so.
You may wish, oh my gosh, I wish he'd make me a priority, or I just wish her life didn't always revolve around the kids. Or you might think it rightly so, I just wish he didn't drink so much, he has no idea what that's doing too, the family, what it's doing to himself, what it's doing to our kids. Or I wish that she wouldn't always lose her temper. And at some point you think something's gotta change, something has to change for us to move forward. And you need to recognize ultimately when you want something to change, the way we're tempted to change something is to criticize what we don't like and so we criticize, it doesn't work, we nag what we don't like and that doesn't work, we whine about what we don't like and that doesn't work. One day we cry about what we don't like and that doesn't work. And the reason it doesn't work is because you can't change anyone. The truth is only God can change a heart, only God, only God, only God, only God. There's no verse in the Bible that says your nagging will change someone's heart. Your criticizing will change someone's heart.
And so, what I wanna do is give you a simple tool and it may appear obvious, but a lot of times we overlook the obvious and go for what's easy. What I wanna do is I wanna encourage you to pray because prayer is incredibly powerful and there's two ways that you wanna pray when your marriage isn't going the way you want it to go. And the first thing is, number one, is pray for God to change them. Pray that God, if there's something in your spouse that really is out of line and hurtful in the relationship, pray that God would change your spouse. Ask Him to do a work because prayer is incredibly powerful. I love what God's Word says in James 5:16, that, "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective". God hears the cries of his people and all things are possible with God. Pray, pray that God would change him.
What I love about Amy is she's always had an incredibly rich, vibrant prayer life. Then one day I noticed that the intensity of her prayers increased in direct proportion to the pain that I was causing. That the more of a challenge I was, the more that she was actually praying. When I thought she was growing closer to God, she was actually trying to help me get closer to God. And she'd always pray, pray, pray, pray, pray, pray, pray. Some of you have been doing that for a long time and you've been asking God to do a miracle and you're saying, it's not working. I wanna just encourage you to be like the persistent widow you can read about in Luke 18 that just kept going back and kept going back and continued to pray, and continued to trust, and continue to pursue, and continue to pray.
And I wanna remind you that that marriage is a marathon, it's not a sprint. We made a covenant that we will stand together till death do us part and we're in this for the long haul. And sometimes prayer becomes a long part of our journey where we're trusting God to do a work, His Holy Spirit to stir within someone and just be praying, don't be complaining, be praying, pray for God to do a work your spouse. And what I've noticed is really powerful when we pray for our spouse, I've noticed that prayer may or may not change your spouse, but prayer always changes you. It may not immediately change your spouse, but it it always changes you. And so, we're gonna pray for our spouse. And the second way to pray when your marriage is struggling is pray for God to change you. Pray for God to do a work in you.
And what I'm about to say is not gonna be easy for some of you to hear, especially when your marriage is struggling, but I'm gonna go ahead and say it anyway. If you want a better marriage, start by making a better you. Start by making a better you. One of the best prayers that you can pray is found in Psalm 139, and you can just pray this, you can pray, "Search me God, and know my heart. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting". Search me God, do a work in me, I don't wanna just point the fingers at someone else but God, do a healing work in me. Search me oh God. And when you start to pray that what you'll find is, God might start to change you, and God may change your attitude or God may change your approach, or God might start to build your confidence so that you don't tolerate abusive behavior, but you create some healthy boundaries. Or God might start to change your attitude towards someone and you're less controlling, or you're less critical, or God might start to heal a hurting heart.
God might even give you the grace to forgive something that you didn't feel like was forgivable. He might build your faith when you're losing faith, pray God, do a work in me. Do a work in me. And I'll give you an example of how God used Amy's prayers in the early years. And this may surprise you because I'm a pastor, but one of the things that she wanted to be different in me was she wanted me to be more of a spiritual leader. And you may be like, but pastor, you are a spiritual leader. And she would've said, but he wasn't a spiritual leader the way I wanted him to be a spiritual leader. And in her mind in the early years of marriage, and to her credit, I didn't do a whole lot visibly at home because all day long I'm reading the Bible, I'm praying, I'm praying for people and I came home and that felt like work so I didn't wanna do it.
And so she's like, where's my prayer time? And she visualized a spiritual leader as being someone that comes home and says, vow, none of God is at home, and to lead our household into the presence of the Lord the word of today, after we have 45 minutes of worship together, we're gonna sit down and do a Beth Moore Bible study for the glory of God. And that's a little bit what she saw. So she started praying, God make him a better spiritual leader and she started praying, God do a work in me. Before I became a better spiritual leader, God started to do a work in her and suddenly she started to look at me and go, oh, well, that's not the way I saw spiritual leadership, but that is spiritual leadership. Like Craig's really, really good at having discipleship conversations with our children that they don't know our discipleship conversations that is leading our children consistently to Jesus. And she started to realize that I set an example in being in the word an example in Godly behavior. And she started to realize that the vision that I had for the marriage and the tone and the Christian culture was incredibly effective.
And so suddenly she started to respect my spiritual leadership even though it was different than what she wanted. Then she started to brag on it like, Craig's a good spiritual leader. And then when she did that, I said, oh yes I am. And I became a better spiritual leader and God was working in me and God was working in her. And so, one day I came home and said, Hey, let's do a Beth Moore Bible study. And all of that is true except the Beth Moore Bible study, I came home and said, let's watch Netflix and chill, that's what I did. But the bottom line is she prayed and God answered her prayer and it wasn't exactly the way she thought He would answer. He did a work in her and He did a work in me and that's why we don't complain, we pray, we pray God do a work in them and God do a work in me. Because the devil's a liar, and the devil you gotta change, but you gotta change, but you gotta change, but you can't change only God can change a heart.
A second big lie that a lot of us believe is this, is that a good marriage is always 50/50. A good marriage is 50/50, which sounds good and seems right, but it's actually profoundly dangerous. And I'll show you a little formula that illustrates why this is such a destructive lie. I say it this way, that 50/50, a halfhearted effort, plus a halfhearted commitment equals wholehearted disappointment. And this is the very thing that we see over and over and over again when people with good intentions say, marriage is 50/50. Whenever you think marriage is 50/50, what you end up doing is inadvertently you keep score. And anytime you keep score, both of you lose because marriage has never been intended by God to be 50/50. It's always, always 100% full on submissive love and servant hood to the other, laying down our desires to be a blessing.
And the good news is when you give, God gives back to you but you give first 100%. In fact, scripture's really clear, to the husbands in Ephesians 5:25, gentlemen, how do you love your wives? "Husbands, you love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave," 50% to the church and waited for them to give 50% back. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, nothing close, right? How did Jesus love the church? He gave 100% of his entire life for her. Its a 100%, its a 100%. And let me tell you right now, very often this is one of the greatest areas for potential growth because some of you right now you don't know it, you wouldn't say, yeah, we're 50/50, but what you have is kind of a negotiated relationship. I do this and you do this and there's kind of strings attached, almost like a businesslike agreement and you don't realize it. I didn't realize it. Early on I had kind of a 50/50 mindset and I didn't mean to.
And I'll tell you an embarrassing story and I hope you don't judge me because there is a happy ending. But there was a bad part, when we were first married and we had our first child Katie, I'll show you some photos of Katie. This is on the left is me feeding Katie, this is me feeding Katie, and this is me feeding Katie. What I'd like to do is I'd like to show you some photos of me in the hospital with Amy and Katie and I'd like to show you the one of me helping Amy to the car with Katie and I'd like to show you the one of me driving Amy and Katie home. And I'd like to show you the one of me taking them into the house. The problem is, and you probably figured out, the reason I can't show you those is because they don't exist. And the reason because they don't exist is that I had a 50/50 mindset and was both selfish and dumb.
And to my defense, this was a little different day than it is today. But my mindset was, you gonna take care of the kids and I'm gonna go hunt and kill something. And I had worked to do and so I went back to work. And again, a little bit to my defense, I had a one hour seminary class that if I took it, I'd graduate that semester, if I didn't, I didn't graduate, it happened to be two consecutive days, it happened to be the two consecutive days after she gave birth. And so being a great provider and hunter, I went to class and then I preached because that's what preachers do. And on Sunday, on the third day, I came home on the third day, God raised Jesus from the dead.
On the third day, Amy almost made me dead. I came home and she was cooking in the kitchen and had her back to me with a knife and when I walked up, she turned to me and started preaching to me with a knife, waving in the air. And it wasn't a butter knife, it was a sharp edged knife and there was no bloodshed on that day but I recognized that I had a 50/50 mindset, I'll do my part, you do your part and we're gonna be fine. And that was a wake up moment for me, that's why there's a lot of me feeding the baby photos because I heard her and she would tell you that I haven't been perfect, but I have genuinely devoted my life trying to outserve her and outlove her and outhonor her and outgive her. And when two people tried to outserve and outhonor and outgive, very special things happen. I had to grow in that, and you might need to grow in that as well.
Two questions for you that are pretty powerful if you think about 'em. First question, what would happen if you both gave 100%? What would happen if you both gave 100%? Next question, what will happen if you don't? Let that sink in. Because the devil's a liar and the truth will set you free. And the devil will tell you you can change him, but only God can change someone. And the devil will tell you that marriage is 50/50, but it's not, it's a wholehearted 100% surrender of ourselves to love and honor another. There's also another little voice we'll tell you this lie, and this lie is very dangerous, and the lie is this, and some of you're believing it that this one little thing isn't a big thing. This one little secret, this one little challenge, this one little way I'm dealing with it and coping it that nobody really knows about isn't really a big thing and the devil tells you, you can just get away with it. This one little thing isn't a big thing.
And here's what I've discovered in over 30 years of pastoral ministry, that it's rarely the big problems alone that destroy a marriage. Someone will say she was unfaithful that destroyed our marriage, or he lived a double life that destroyed our marriage. It's rarely that alone, almost every time it's a few small problems, little things that left unchecked, and unconfessed start to grow and compound and get bigger and bigger and bigger because sin grows best in the dark. And those unconfessed little sins become complicated big sins. And everybody blames the loss of the marriage on the big sins when a problem could have been solved much easier when they were smaller sins.
In fact, there's a powerful verse in the Old Testament and its love story between Solomon and a Shulamite woman where they say this in Solomon 2:15, they say this, "Catch for us," I like this, "the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards our vineyards that are in bloom" Catch for us the little annoying, dangerous, pesky foxes that are attacking our vineyards that are in bloom. And I like the metaphor that the vineyards, the relationship is blessed. And whenever your relationship is blessed, that's when your enemy tends to show up. And what the foxes would do is they would attack at night because sin grows best in the dark and they would first go after the fruit, then they would burrow beneath the ground to try to attack and destroy the root system.
And that's what the little unconfessed sins, the secret sins, the uncontrolled desires do. It's the little lustful thoughts that you think aren't a big deal. It's the critical spirit. It's the the secret spending. It's the secret addictions that little by little, by little by little rob you of the fruit and the blessings of the God honoring vineyard. It's looking up your old flame on Facebook just so you can know how to pray for them. And you say to yourself, well, it's not a big deal. It's not a big deal. And even if you call it sin, what tends to happen is people say, well, I'm managing my sin. You need to understand, you don't manage sin, you confess sin, there's a big difference. You don't manage it, you confess it. And the devil tells you this little thing's not a big thing.
Scripture says this about confession James 5:16, "Therefore confess your sins to each other". And what do you do? Here's prayer again, "and you pray for each other that you might be healed". Confess your sins one to another and pray for each other that you might be healed. There's some of you, and this would be one of the most difficult things you can do, is there is a little secret sin that has the potential of growing that if you have the courage to confess it together, you can defeat it. Catch for us the little foxes. How many of you know it's easier for two of you to catch a fox than one? You confess it and you do it together. Now what's gonna happen is some of you gonna do a confession and if you're receiving a confession, you might get hurt. What I want you to try to remember is when someone loves you enough to open up and ask for help, that's one of the most generous expressions of love even if the confession at first hurts. Hiding the secret is much more painful ultimately than receiving the secret in the confession and working on it together.
If you have to hear one, keep that spirit and recognize this is someone that wants to love me better, and wants help to catch those dang little foxes and is so much easier for two of you to catch him than for just one. Cause it devils a liar, he's a liar. He's gonna tell you you can change him, you can change him, you can change him and the more you try, the more you drive a wedge, only God can change. And the devil's gonna tell you that these little things not a big thing and those big things can be a problem. And the devil's gonna tell you it's 50/50, 50/50. The marriage is never 50/50, it's a 100%. And perhaps the biggest lie I'm seeing in marriages today, as many people believe, number four, there is no hope for my marriage. So glad you and Amy are happy, bless your little pastor hearts, but the world I live in is so much different.
And what I wanna do is I wanna take just a moment and acknowledge the complexity and the pain and the brokenness that so many people are experiencing right now. And in no way do I wanna belittle what you may be enduring because I know some of you right now you are married to an addict and it's incredibly painful and complicated. As some of you have been betrayed maybe over and over again, there are those of you that have suffered abuse. And here's what I know about lies, that it's actually easier to believe a lie that has some truth in it than a lie that's just completely untrue. And so when you feel discouraged, like my marriage is really in bad shape and I don't think we could ever heal, the reason might be because there's a little bit of truth to that. Meaning there's been a lot of pain and a lot of betrayal and the odds may be actually stacked against you because you could only control you.
And for any marriage to be healed and whole, it takes two people working to be healed and whole and you can't control the other person. And when you can't control the other person, a lot of times what it does is it makes you feel more self righteous 'cause I'm doing the right thing and they're doing the wrong thing and you're self righteousness ends up contributing to the problem that they've brought to the marriage. And that's why what we wanna do is debunk that lie, the devil's a liar. And we have to remember that no bad, no matter how bad it is, and it may be bad right now that there's always hope with God. There's always hope hope with God. There's always hope with God and it takes God working through two people. But even if your spouse seems far from God or even if you're the one that's far from God, there's hope.
Jesus was the one who said, "With God, all things are possible". All things are possible, all things are. We serve a miraculous God. With God all things are possible, the devil's a liar. But Jesus speaks the truth and the truth will set you free, and the challenges today, there are so many potential relationships being destroyed by lies. And there are so many committed relationships being destroyed by lies. So Where do we go from here? Well, I would suggest that you take some time maybe in your life group, maybe with close trusted friends, if you're married, certainly with your spouse, and you try to identify, and this is not easy to do, but you try to identify what lies are you believing. The reason it's difficult to identify sometimes is because you just believe them to be true. And that's why we need to know God's Word. God's Word and being in God's community helps expose the lies of the evil one.
And so if you're not married, you may think I'm incomplete, I'm a half Christian without a spouse. No, no, no, no, that's a lie, you're complete in Christ. Marriage is not your goal, serving Christ is your goal. You may feel like there's nobody good out there, I'll tell you right now, God is doing a work and people all over, you're just fishing in the wrong pond. You might, need to see some different people. If you are married, you might be believing the lie that there is no hope whatsoever. And what we wanna do is we wanna replace the lie with truth because the truth will set you free. The lie that I believed is not one that's on that list, the lie that I believed was that I probably wouldn't be faithful to the person that I married one day.
That was the lie that I believed because before I was a Christian, I wasn't faithful to anyone that I dated. And I just thought, that's what men do, men just do that. And so I became a Christian and hadn't met Amy yet and thought, well, I don't even know, I mean when I'm married one day, but I don't know that I could be faithful 'cause men aren't faithful. And what happened is when I met Jesus, He started doing a work in me. And when I met Amy between the two of them, God completely changed my heart, completely changed my heart. And I can tell you right now that what was my greatest fear in many ways by the grace of God has become my greatest strength. That there has never been a moment one time in 31 years of marriage where I ever considered even getting close to flirting with the idea of cheating on my best friend and the woman that God entrusted to my care.
And so what I want you to know is that what the devil meant for evil in my life, God used for good. And I don't know what the lie is that you're believing right now, but at that place where your weakest, at this moment could potentially become your greatest strength. What the devil means for evil, God can use for good, cause the devil's a liar. And he's gonna tell some of you, God honoring marriage isn't possible. I wanna tell you right now, God honoring marriage isn't a fairy tale, it's a choice. It's a choice, it's a choice with Jesus at the center and hard work, and sacrifice, and apologies, and forgiveness, and more realigning Jesus to the center, and more hard work, and more sacrifices, and more apology, and more grace along the way, because you're not entering into a contractual relationship, this is a covenant with a Holy God till death do us part.
So guess what? Is not just the two of you, you're not alone, you have the source of all power and truth available, His name is Jesus, His name is Jesus. The devil's liar to tell you what you can't have, which you'll never be, but Jesus is the truth and the truth will set you free.
So Father today we ask that your truth would invade our hearts, expose the lies and change our lives we pray.
Today, wherever you're watching from, at any live search location around the world, online, years from now streaming on YouTube, for those of you that recognize, you may be vulnerable to some spiritual lies, the devil's attacking you, the devil hates you. You may be vulnerable to some lies and you want God to reveal truth, wherever you're watching from today, those who say, yes, I wanna believe truth, I wanna see it in all my relationships. Some of you right now, you may think I don't have any problems with it, you don't know you have problems with it, "God show me truth, help me to live truth in all my relationships". If you wanna see the truth, hear the truth, believe the truth, and live the truth, would you raise your hands right now? Just lift them up, I hope it's all of you online, you can just type in the comments section, Jesus, show me the truth. Just type it in, Jesus, show me the truth.
And Father, I thank you that your truth always dispels the lies, that light always defeats darkness. Shine your light into the darkness God, explode you gotta destroy all of the spiritual lies with your unchanging truth. God, I pray for victories in our minds that you would renew our minds, that we wouldn't be conformed to the patterns of this world that would be transformed God by the renewing of our minds, God, with your truth, with your truth. You can change our lives in the way we love one another. God reveal the truth to us. I pray God, we'd be open to hear what you'd say to us through community, and in our marriage as God give us the trust and the power and the safety to open up, to reveal knowing we're only as strong as we are honest. And God, we open our hearts up to you, show us the truth, lead us in the way everlasting. God, search us, search our hearts. Lead us in the way everlasting.
As you continue to pray today, there's some of you, the biggest lie that you're believing is a spiritual lie that applies to God. If we sat down and had a conversation, I might kind of just ask you, you know, where do you stand with God? And you might say something like, well, I don't know, maybe I've been too bad for God, that's a lie. God doesn't love me, that's a lie. God is far from me, that's a lie. God could never love someone like me, that's a lie. I could never be forgiven by God, that's a lie. Let me tell you the truth, the truth is this, that God loves you, that's the truth. He loves you so much that He sent His son Jesus for you, that's the truth. Jesus was without sin, that's the truth.
If you feel bad about yourself and feel like I've done wrong, that's the truth, we all have, every single one of us, we've all fallen short of God's standards, we've all sinned, that's the truth. And you feel like I can't be good enough for God again, that's the truth. And the truth is that only Jesus did for you what could satisfy God's standards. Jesus was perfect, the Lamb of God, the sinless one, the perfect sacrifice who died in our place, that's how much God loves you. Jesus died and God raised Him from the dead, defeating death, hell in the grave and now in a moment of truth, when you cry out to Him, I need you, I need your forgiveness.
When you cry out to God, He hears your prayers and He forgives your sins. The truth is, if you confess your sins to God, He is faithful and just to forgive you all of your sins, that's the truth and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. He'll separate your sins as far from you as it's the East is from the west, that's how good He is. No matter where you are, no matter what you've done, those of you that say, I need that, I want His truth, I want His forgiveness, today we're just stepping away from our old life, we're stepping away from our ways, we're stepping away from our sins and we're surrendering to the lordship of Christ Jesus. I believe to the Son of God, take my life.
As you cry out to Him, He hears your prayers, He forgives your sins, He makes you new, the devil is a liar, the devil tells you don't, Jesus is the truth, He says, come, come now, come as you are, come to me I will save you, I will heal you, I'll change you. Wherever you're watching from those who say, yes, Jesus, I trust you, I give you my life, I surrender, Jesus, I give you my life as your prayer. Lift your hands high now all over the place, lift them up, come on church, let's celebrate God as we see people today and all of our churches coming to faith. Come on, somebody worship big. Online, just type it in the chat, type it in the chat, I am trusting Jesus. I'm trusting Jesus, just type that in the chat today and we're gonna pray as God is doing miracles in lives around the world. Pray aloud, pray:
Heavenly Father. Forgive all of my sins. Jesus save me. Change me. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, so I can know you, and know your truth, and walk in your truth, and show your truth. Thank you for new life. You have all of mine. In Jesus name I pray.