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2021 online sermons » Robert Jeffress » Robert Jeffress - Good Grace Marriages - Part 2

Robert Jeffress - Good Grace Marriages - Part 2

Robert Jeffress - Good Grace Marriages - Part 2
TOPICS: Grace Gone Wild, Marriage, Relationship

Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". The Bible teaches that God is willing to forgive us of our sins, but while our sins may be excused, they still have consequences, and that's especially true when it comes to marriage. Today, we're going to look at the grim reality of what happens when we apply bad grace to our marriages. Whether you're already married, thinking about getting married, or mentoring a young married couple, this is a message for you. We're talking about, "Good Grace Marriages", on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".

That phrase "Don't be bound together," it literally means: don't harness together with an unbeliever. In Paul's day in agricultural society farmers would take a harness with two holes in it, and they would put two animals to work together to accomplish a task, but you never mixed animals. You didn't put a mule and an oxen under the same harness because what happened would be the animals would go in opposite directions. They weren't used to working together. You want animals that are the same, that will go in the same direction together. Somebody asked me this week: pastor, do you believe our nation will finally have unity? Everybody's talking about unity right now. Can we have unity as a nation? I said: I wish we could, but the answer is probably not. Well why do you say such a thing? I said: you know you can take the tails of a cat and a dog and tie those tails together. Those animals will be united, but they won't be unified. There's a big difference.

To be unified means to be going in the same direction, and God said to the prophet Amos, "How can two people walk together, lest they be agreed"? How can they go together if they're headed in different directions? Christians and non-Christians are headed in different directions. They have a whole different frame of reference about life that affects how they plan their marriage, how they spend their money, how they rear their children, and whenever you are married together with an unbeliever, you have a different foundation that you're building your life and your family on. Remember the Psalmist? "Unless the Lord builds a house, those who labor labor in vain". Unless you have a common foundation, God can never build a unified house on your marriage, and that's why we're not to marry unbelievers.

Now, I know what you're thinking. Some of you watching right now are thinking, "Well, pastor, I already made that mistake. Either I didn't know better, or I chose to disregard God's word. I'm married to an unbeliever. What am I supposed to do right now? Should I divorce my mate and go look for a Christian to marry"? Fortunately, God's word has a clear answer on that. Not on your life, 1 Corinthians 7 says. If you're married to an unbeliever, and that unbeliever wants to continue the marriage, you're to stay in that relationship and pray that God will allow you to win that unbelieving mate to faith in Christ. If you have violated God's command in this area, either knowingly or unknowingly, first of all, admit your mistake to God. Confess your mistake. And secondly, try to have the very best marriage you can, following God's precepts from this point on.

When I talk about that, I talk from an interesting vantage point. You've heard me tell this story. I won't tell the whole story, but my dad, when he was single was in the service, and he got saved through the witness of a chaplain, and he was 21, and came back to Dallas and went to SMU under a GI bill, and he met my mom there, who was just a teenager at the time, going to SMU, and she wasn't a Christian. And later on, they dated and they got married, and my dad did everything he could to win my mom to Christ. Would take her here to church at first Baptist, and she didn't want to have a thing to do with it, and then finally he drug her to a Billy Graham crusade here in Dallas, and there, she gave her life to Christ, and she came back here and joined the church, and that's how I ended up here.

And you say, "Well pastor, there's a good example of a Christian winning a non-Christian to Christ. Are you saying that's wrong"? I have to be careful here. I could argue myself out of existence. Was that a mistake? Was that wrong? Well, first of all, yes, it was wrong. My father didn't know any better. He was a new Christian. He didn't know you're not supposed to marry a non- Christian, but it was a mistake. He should not have done that, but God forgave him of that mistake, and God still used even mistakes to bring about his ultimate will. But what if he had followed God's instruction? What if he had waited until my mom became a Christian? Perhaps they would have had an even better marriage. Here's the point. If you are on the front end of a decision about whom to marry, follow God's rules. Only marry a Christian, and you'll have a much better marriage than you will if you ignore God's statutes. But if you've already made that mistake, ask for God's forgiveness and try to have the best marriage that you possibly can.

Remember, success is not defined by what we have or what we're experiencing. Success is what we have or what we're experiencing compared to what we could have, and what we can have is what's brought about when we follow and obey God's word for every area of our life. Lie number one about marriage. I can marry whomever I want. There's a second lie about marriage, and it has to do with the fidelity in marriage. Lie number two of bad grace says grace means I can cheat without any consequences whatsoever. Have you ever heard people say, "Well, God doesn't grade sin," or, "All sin is sin in God's eyes," or, "The sin of gossip is just as bad as the sin of adultery". Have you ever heard people say things like that? Well, while there's a measure of truth in that, yes, any sin is severe enough to disqualify us from heaven, both the Bible and just everyday experience tells us not all sins are the same, and that's certainly true when it comes to sexual sin.

In 1 Corinthians 6:18, Paul says, "Flee sexual immorality, because every other sin a person commits, he commits outside the body, but the person who commits sexual sin sins against his own body". There is something different about sexual sin. We just know from personal experience that not all sins are the same. You know, Jesus said, remember in the sermon on the mount, that to hate somebody is the same as to murder somebody. He said that, but do you know anybody who's gone to the gas chamber for hating another person? No, there are different consequences. It's the same way with sexual immorality. A married woman who fantasizes about a good-looking guy she sees at the gym. That's adultery, according to Jesus, but it doesn't have the same consequences. A man who's having a torrid affair with his secretary. That has much more devastating consequences. There's a difference between sins, and you see that especially in the life of king David.

Remember his story in 2 Samuel 12? He was at the zenith of his kingdom and kingship. He was having one success after another, and one spring night, when love and lust were in the air, instead of being out with his men fighting, like he was supposed to be, he stayed back, decided to relax a little bit, and as he looked out his bedroom window, he noticed a beautiful woman bathing on the rooftop next door. Her name was Bathsheba, and he thought, "I'm the king. It's good to be the king. I can do whatever I want to". He thought, "For all I've done for God, I deserve a little bit of fun. The same rules that apply to everybody else don't apply to me". And he summoned for Bathsheba to come to him, and the rest, as they say, is history. That night, after their interaction, she conceived a child, and when it became known what had happened, David had Bathsheba's husband Uriah murdered on the front lines. It was one of the greatest scandals in history, and for a year, David refused to acknowledge his sin, but finally Nathan convicted him of his sin, and David finally, after a year's time, repented of his sin, and he asked for God's forgiveness. In one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible, he told of that experience.

In Psalm 51:1-2, he said, "Be gracious to me, o God, according to your lovingkindness: according to the greatness of your compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, cleanse me from my sin". Did God answer that prayer? You bet he did. In Psalm 32: 1- 2, David talked about the relief he found when he experienced God's forgiveness. David wrote, "How blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit"! Paul quoted that passage in Romans 4 when he talked about what Christ does for us. When we ask God for his forgiveness through Christ, through the blood of the cross, our sin is wiped away. God no longer imputes our sin to us. That means he no longer debits our account for our sin. Instead, he took the punishment we deserve and he placed it on the cross of Jesus Christ, where Jesus paid it in full, and the moment we trust in Christ for our forgiveness, our sins are forgiven, they are forgotten forever.

That is the good news of the Gospel, and I want to say to you today, if you're here, if you're watching, it doesn't matter what sin you've committed or how long you've committed it. If you truly ask for God's forgiveness through Christ, he will grant you that forgiveness. But what I want you to see here is that forgiveness did not erase the consequences that David had to experience. He spent the rest of his life suffering the consequences of that mistake. Those consequences included a dead child that Bathsheba gave birth to. It included a disloyal son, Absalom, who led a rebellion against his own dad. It resulted in a divided nation. All of those were the consequences of sin. You see, bad grace, again, assumes that God, when he forgives us, just automatically erases the consequences of our sin. Well if God's forgiven me of sexual immorality then doesn't that mean he ought to heal any sexually-transmitted diseases I have? Doesn't it mean he's obligated to rebuild my broken marriage? Doesn't it mean he needs to restore my damaged reputation? No, no, God forgives us of the eternal consequences of our sin, but those temporal consequences continue.

Bad grace says I can cheat in my marriage, but grace covers it all and relieves me of consequences. By contrast, look at three principles about good grace we find in the scripture. First of all, good grace conditions God's forgiveness upon our repentance. Yes, God's forgiveness is available if we repent. Again, in Psalm 51:17, "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, o God, you will not despise". Good grace recognizes the simple but overlooked truth. God is willing to forgive if we are willing to ask. We have to ask first for the forgiveness, and coupled with that asking is repentance. Repentance simply means a change of mind that leads to a change of direction. If you are not willing to let go of that sin in your life that you're asking for forgiveness from, don't expect to be forgiven. God demands heartfelt contrition and repentance. Doug was a professing Christian. He had been in a long-term affair with his best friend's wife.

He went to see his pastor one day and he said, "Pastor, I'm involved in this relationship, and I occasionally feel a pang of guilt about it, and I'm just wondering if God will forgive me of what I'm doing". Doug made it very clear he had no intention of giving up the affair, but he wanted to know, can God forgive me of what I'm doing right now? Pastor didn't say anything, except asked Doug to turn in his Bible to Matthew 18:8-9, and he asked Doug to read those verses aloud. Remember Jesus' words? "And if your hand or foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it far from you. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than, having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than, having two eyes, to be cast into the fiery hell". And then the pastor said, "Doug, Jesus says unless you are willing to resist this relationship with every ounce of strength you have, you have no hope of going to heaven".

You say, "Pastor, that's pretty severe". That's pretty severe. No more severe than what Jesus said. It'd be better to cut off your hand or pluck out your eye than continue to sin and face the judgment of God. God offers no hope of forgiveness of those who refuse to repent to turn away from their sin. That's what good grace teaches. Secondly, good grace emphasizes the consequences of disobedience. Good grace emphasizes the consequences of disobedience. You may not realize this, but one of the byproducts of David and Bathsheba's illicit relationship after the dead child was another child, a son. His name was Solomon. King Solomon was the by-product of David and Bathsheba, so he had a front row seat to view the consequences that David spent the rest of his life experiencing because of his sin, and that's why Solomon, even though he didn't follow his own advice, many times, warned about the dangers of adultery, the destructive power of adultery.

Throughout the book of Proverbs, you find so many warnings about adultery. In Proverbs 6:32-33, Solomon said, "The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense. He who would would destroy himself does it. Wounds and disgrace he will find, and his reproach will not be blotted out". Later, Solomon would add, "The way of a transgressor is hard". If we're going to understand grace, we have to emphasize the consequences of disobedience. Third and finally, good grace affirms the benefits of forgiveness. Even though we're talking about consequences, we always want to emphasize God's willingness to forgive. Psalm 103:12-14. "As far as the east is from the west, so far God has removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him. For he himself knows our frame: he is mindful that we are but dust".

Isn't that great? Even when you mess up, God has compassion. He understands your limitations and he's willing to forgive. And some of you may be saying, "Well, pastor, this is confusing to me. What am I supposed to focus on? God's forgiveness or the consequences of sin? Which is it, forgiveness or consequences"? Well, it depends if you're on the front end or back end of sinning. For example, say a friend at your workplace said to you, "You know, I'm thinking about embezzling $5.000 from our company. What do you think about that"? Would you quote Psalm 103? "Well, as far as the east is from the west, so far God will remove your transgressions from you".

Would you emphasize God's forgiveness? No, you'd talk to them about the consequences of what he's going to experience if he violates God's law here. However, let's say your friend embezzled the $5.000. Got indicted and convicted and is now at Seagoville, and you go down to visit with him. What would you emphasize? The consequences of his sin? He doesn't need that. He's already experiencing that. You'd talk to him about God's forgiveness. It's the same way with us. Whether we talk about God's forgiveness or consequences depends on where we are in the sinning process. Some people say, "Well, if I have to still experience consequences for my sin, what use is God's forgiveness? It seems kind of useless if I have to suffer consequences". Oh no, no. Grace means, grace means instead of spending 30 or 40 years of suffering consequences, you don't have to suffer 30 billion years of the consequences of your sin.

See, God's grace means you don't have to worry about hell. It means you don't have to worry about spending eternity suffering the consequences of your sin. 30 or 40 years beats 30 billion years of suffering consequences. But here's what I want you to understand. Some of you right now are experiencing these consequences of mistakes you have asked forgiveness for a long time ago, and maybe you're a little bit irritated at God. "God, why don't you erase these consequences"? May I suggest to you that the consequences you still experience every day are a sign of God's grace and love for you. Think about those consequences as an electric fence God has built around your life. Any time you're tempted to stray again or get outside of God's word, it's like you go up against that electrified fence and... Better move back, better move back. By the way, that's not original with me. David said the same thing about his consequences.

In Psalm 119:67, he said, "Before I was afflicted, I went astray, but now I keep your word". Those consequences that David experienced every moment of his life until he went to heaven were a source of grace for him. He said, "They're a reminder, God, that I never want to go where I was before. I want to do your will". Bad grace says we can sin without lasting consequences. Good grace recognizes that all sins are forgivable, but the effects of adultery continue long after God has pronounced us forgiven. Today, we looked at two lies about grace and marriage. I can marry whomever I want. I can cheat without lasting consequences. Next time, we're going to look at the final lie that deals with the finality of marriage. It's the lie you find even among Christians today that says I can end my marriage any time I choose.
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