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Episode 12 of Kindavangelical just released! The Art and Joy of Civil Conversation

Lies That Can Ruin a Marriage

You’re being fed lies about marriage, and it’s time to fight back! Satan uses popular culture, books, movies, and even other people to tell us what marriage “should” be. No wonder so many couples are unsatisfied and looking elsewhere to find happiness. Satan’s ultimate goal is to divide husbands and wives and to destroy families, and he’ll use anything at his disposal to do it. Pete Briscoe shines a spotlight on eight lies that can devastate your marriage. Read on to learn how to guard against them and fight hard to protect your marriage.

Day 1

Truth to Set Your Marriage Free

Late one night, about five years ago, my wife and I found ourselves sitting in our kitchen. We started talking and it went something like this:

Libby: “Okay, we really need to talk.”

Me: “Okay, let’s talk.”

Libby: “I’m so angry at you I can barely stand it.”

Me: “Why?”

Libby: “I’m not even sure why. I’m just seething with anger.”

Me: “Well, you know what? I’m angry at you, too.”

We talked a little bit more and a little bit more, and eventually she came out with it:

Libby: “You know, I don’t even like you anymore.”

Me: “I don’t like you, either.”

We just stared at each other—silence for the longest time. It was a defining moment. The future of our family hung in the balance.

  • We realized that the marriage we had constructed was a poor imitation of what God really had for us.
  • We also knew we were locked into the journey of life together.
  • Would we just sit there and let our marriage continue to die?

I’ve learned a lot since then, and I’ve become more and more convinced of a simple truth:

Satan divides, and the Holy Spirit unites. 

Satan is at work in our marriages, our families, and our friendships, and some of his favorite tools are his lies. With an IQ of about 30 million, he and his comrades have woven a web of deception and deceit. If you believe those lies, your relationships can disintegrate before your eyes and you’ll wonder what happened—at least, that’s what happened to us. Paul laid out a counter attack:

Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” (Ephesians 5:11-14)

That night in the kitchen was a turning point. We didn’t know how we got where we were, and we didn’t know where we were headed. But we decided that we were going to put in the hard work, learn to be painfully honest, and ask Christ to give us the marriage that He longed for us to have. As we journeyed out, I became acutely aware of several lies of Satan that are rampantly believed in relationships that are in trouble, like ours was.

Feel trapped like we did? The truth can set your marriage free.

Father, right here, right now, begin to expose the lies of darkness that I have accepted as true. Expose them with the light of Your Word. Wake me, elevate me, shine the light of Jesus on my home and my relationships. Amen.

Day 2

Lie #1 – Marriage is an archaic institution and irrelevant for modern and enlightened modern people.

Many believe this lie, the rest of us need to ask ourselves if marriage is even worth it. Why do we even need this anymore?”

That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)

This is the way God always intended it: one man, one woman coming together, becoming one, enjoying oneness in Christ. It’s God’s original plan, and it’s meant to last. He’s never rescinded it. Marriage is simply one of God’s great ideas.

I’ve done dozens of weddings over the years, and I start them all the same way:

“Marriage is:

  • A holy estate.
  • Instituted by God.
  • Commanded in Scripture for all who enter it lawfully and in true affection.
  • Confirmed by Christ’s solemn words and consecrated by His gracious presence at the marriage feast in Cana of Galilee.
  • Set forth by the apostle as signifying the mystical union between Christ and the Church.
  • Ordained for the consecration of union between man and woman so that the natural instincts being directed aright they might live in purity and honor.
  • Ordained for the increase of mankind and that children might be brought up in the fear and the nurture of the Lord.
  • Ordained for companionship, health, and comfort, which husband and wife ought to have of each other.
  • Ordained for the welfare of human society which can be strong and happy only where the marriage bond is held highly in honor.”

Satan lies. The truth is that marriage is divine, timeless, and significant. You might be in it or out of it—either way, marriage is part of God’s eternal purpose for the Body of Christ… and it will be until death we do part.

The lie is that marriage is archaic—that it’s temporal and obsolete. The truth is that marriage is divine which means it’s timeless and significant.

God, make me a vessel of Your truth. When I begin to doubt the validity and need of marriage, make me willing to take that thought captive. By Your Spirit and Your Word, convict me of Your divine purpose in the marriage covenant for my good and for Your glory. Amen.

Day 3

Lie #2 – You can’t be happy unless you’re married.

Think you have to be married to be whole and happy? Get this: Paul spends the whole chapter of 1 Corinthians 7 convincing people not to get married.

Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” … I wish that all men were as I am [Paul was single]. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.  Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried… I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord.  But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:1-1, 7-8, 32-35)

Do you believe you can’t be happy unless you’re married? The truth is this: Singleness is either a gift to cherish or a season to enjoy.

The loneliest people I know are not single adults. The loneliest people are people I know trapped in a bad marriage.  Marriage is not the happiness pill a lot of people think it is. If you want to be happy in marriage, remember that true joy and fulfillment are found only in Christ. Period.

The lie is that you can’t be happy unless you’re married. The truth is that singleness is either a gift to cherish or a season to enjoy.

God, Your Word says, “in Your presence there is fullness of joy.” I lay claim to that truth right here, right now, no matter what my circumstances might be. Turn my heart towards You, as my source of true fulfillment—filling me until I’m full—in “need” of nothing else. Amen.

Day 4

Lie #3 – Your spouse will complete you.

If you believe this lie, your thoughts might sound like this:

  • I need someone else to fill the empty places in my life.
  • If I find that person, my loneliness will be gone and I will be whole.
  • The right person will complement me. They will be strong when I am weak.
  • Etc., etc., etc…

You can go on believing that fantasy if you want, but the truth is this: Your spouse will NOT complete you; your spouse will complicate you. If you are single, trust me on this one. If you are married, you can stop nodding your head right now. One of God’s purposes in marriage is to use our spouse to reveal our flesh patterns, selfishness, and sin. If you are looking for true love and affirmation, only Christ will complete you.

 For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

As we come to grips with the love of Christ, we find fulfillment in Him, and then we get to delight in the relationships we have been given.

All I can say is that it works for Libby and me. When we walk in the Spirit, rather than the flesh, we really see Jesus as our answer, Jesus as our power, Jesus as our strength, and Jesus as our love. When we see ourselves as completed in Christ, all the pressure is lifted off one another, and we actually start delighting each other.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. (Colossians 2:9-10)

The lie is that your spouse will complete you. The truth is that only Christ will complete you.

Father, show me where I am depending on others to complete me, rather than receiving my completeness in Christ. Refocus the expectations I place on others to complete me. I know I was designed to be filled by You! Amen.

Day 5

Lie #4 – You and your spouse can handle marital struggles on your own.

Satan ‘s strategy is to divide and conquer. He wants you to think that you are the only ones going through this stuff (Ha!). He wants you to feel more embarrassed than you feel motivated to get help. He wants you to avoid the people who speak truth and love into your life. He wants you to disobey one of the foundational principles in Scripture:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)

You need that. I need that. We need that. It’s a lie to think otherwise. It’s called loving biblical community.

What’s going on in your key relationships? What’s up in your marriage? Are you trying to handle it on your own? If you want to go it alone, I suppose you can try, but why? Maybe it’s time to flush some pride and ego and get connected like God designed it?

The lie is that you can get through the tough times in your marriage alone. The truth is that a marriage surrounded by loving biblical community will do better than a marriage experienced in isolation.

God, I accept that I am not an island. I need You. I need what You provide through others when things are tough. I confess my prideful, independent flesh patterns. Make me willing to accept Your grace, wisdom, and support through others. Show me whom You want me to connect with today. Amen.

Day 6

Lie #5 – Divorce is an option.

I mean, jeez. Really? What happened to “till death do we part”? Entertaining this idea puts a cap on the commitment you’re willing to give to your spouse and will allow other distractions to take away concentration from your relationship. If that little idea’s in the back of your mind, it’s killing your marriage, guaranteed.

In Matthew 19:3-6 a group of Pharisees came to test Jesus and asked: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “‘Haven’t you read,” he replied. “That at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Jesus doesn’t have a category for divorce because the married couple is no longer two people. They’re one. How do you separate one person from one person?

Now, there are allowances in Scripture for divorce in extreme circumstances…

  • Matthew 5:32: Jesus said, “Except for sexual immorality.” He made an exception for people whose spouses were acting out sexually. In some of those cases, you can move forward with divorce.
  • 1 Corinthians 7:12-14:  If you become a believer and your spouse is a non-believer, remains a non-believer and they leave you, divorce is allowed.
  • Death probably counts too… But not if you cause it! (There is that commandment about murder, but let’s not go there.)

Just remember: An exception, by definition, is exceptional for extreme cases. It’s normal for marriage to get tough—even so tough that you don’t think you can handle it anymore. But your two options are not “stay in this miserable marriage, or get divorced.” Your two options are: 1) disengage, be unhappy, numb, and live separate lives under the same roof, or 2) actively engross yourself in whatever is necessary to bring life to your marriage by letting Christ handle what you can’t handle anymore.

The lie is that divorce is an option. The truth is that your marriage will suffer if you think you have an option to get out.

Holy Spirit, You are the great Counselor and by Your counsel, I burn my bridges. I’m all in until death do we part. Jesus, I no longer live, but You live in me. I fully surrender to Your leadership. Father, the battle belongs to You. I rest in You and trust in You to bring us to a point of victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil. Amen.

Day 7

Lie #6 – The kids will be better if we divorce.

Several studies have proven the devastating effects divorce has on children showing that children of all ages deal with negative impact on their emotions, behavior patterns, compliance with rules, and self-image, to name a few. And that’s just short-term. The truth is the kids will be worse off if you divorce.

Instead of seeing a couple give up on each other, it is far better that children see parents who:

  • Focus on Christ – Christ is the only one who can mold the heart fruitfully. Kids need to see authorities be faithful to Christ and see how He is conforming them to Himself.
  • Seek outside help – It’s often hard for people to look for help from others. Kids need to know that it’s okay not to know all the answers. They need to see parents seeking out and confiding in others who can help bring answers.
  • Crucify their flesh – Our fleshly desires for personal satisfaction come at the expense of people around us. Kids need to see adults look to others with compassion, even if it’s inconvenient and painful.
  • Break old patterns – Things don’t have to be the same. Kids need a role model that removes their bad habits and focuses on Jesus and the things He has planned for their lives.
  • Forgive forever – Often our hearts and love are compromised by grudges towards our spouse. Kids need to see parents who forgive and forget, who are willing to work on past hurts, even to the point of forgiving despite lack of regret on the other person’s part.
  • Trust in Christ – It’s easy to try meeting our own spiritual needs with “stuff” or “better circumstances.” Kids need to learn that Christ is the only one who always provides and always supports us.

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up….
…A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)

Our kids need to live in a loving, nurturing home with both parents working through the hardship of marriage together. Surrendered to Christ, they exemplify for their kids that marriage is hard (just like life), but so, so very worth the commitment now and in the long run.

The lie is that the kids will be better if we divorce. The truth is the kids will be worse off if you divorce.  

God, for the good of my kids and everyone around me, I place myself in Your hands now. I hold my children dear in my heart. Reveal to me how I can be a better spiritual leader to them by walking in Your Spirit today. Amen.

Day 8

Lie #7 – Your marriage is hopeless.

Farmers are scared to death of locusts. A single swarm can cover over 100 square miles and might contain hundreds of millions of ravenous insects that can totally strip land of plant life. The most recent major infestation was in 1915 near Jerusalem—a place where it’s difficult to grow food in the best of circumstances. When an enormous swarm of locusts swept through, it caused a major famine, devastated the population, and left a wasteland void of all hope.

Right before marriage blooms into what it’s supposed to be, most (if not all) of us come right to the edge of hopelessness. I know. I was there. My wife and I felt bitter anger towards each other, so much that we wished we could be done. Had we not burned the bridge of divorce, it might have been a legitimate option on our list.

In the Batman sequel, “The Dark Night,” Harvey Dent said, “The night is darkest just before the dawn. And I promise you, the dawn is coming.” Let me say the same thing. If you feel that you are at the end of your marriage, if you’ve gone to the way of your flesh, or if you look across the table at night saying, “I don’t even like you anymore.” You’re right on the doorstep of what God has for you. Don’t give up now. Reach for the promises of God.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3)

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten.” (Joel 2:25)

It’s a beautiful image! If your marriage is like that utter wasteland, God says, “You see that devastation? I will restore everything that is lost. I will bring it back to life, new life in Me.” Never believe your marriage is hopeless—believe God’s promise that He will make all things new.

The lie is that your marriage is hopeless. The truth is that Jesus can revive EVERYTHING!

God, in the midst of these troubles, I trust in You and You alone.Heal my heart and give me hope for my relationship. I fix my hope on You, focus my mind on You, and depend on You to live through me so that I can walk in Your Spirit today. Amen.

Day 9

Lie #8 – Marriage isn’t worth the bother. 

This lie is really just a sub-lie of one of Satan’s other favorite lies that “easy is better than hard.”

Whenever I have a struggling couple in my office, I pitch a very simple vision for them. I tell them to picture themselves sitting on the porch of their house in rocking chairs with an iced tea or lemonade. It’s Thanksgiving. Their children are there, grandkids are running all over their yard. They glance at each other, “Boy, remember year 13 when we almost called it quits? Glad we didn’t. Year 27 was a doozy, too! Oh, thank you, Jesus. 50 years, and I’m so glad we didn’t.”

Honestly, easy is seldom better than hard. The truth is that marriage is one of God’s best ideas, and a good marriage is an inexpressible joy. Work? Yes. Pain? Yes. Blood, sweat, and tears? Yes, all of that too… but it’s worth it.

From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward. (Proverbs 12:14)

He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord. (Proverbs 18:22)

“There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a young woman.” (Proverbs 30:18-19)

A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. (Proverbs 31:10)

I’m asking you to make a new marriage with the spouse you promised to stay with. Reaffirm your commitment to follow through on it, and agree to engage fully to restore and build the marriage that God has for you. As He works in you, consciously look at how you’re changing into God’s image with your spouse. It’s a process and it will never be perfect (don’t expect that), but know that you’re in God’s will, and that your marriage is worth every bit.

The lie is that marriage isn’t worth the bother.  The truth is that your marriage is worth the effort.

God, renew my mind according to Your Truth. Take my worn-out heart and strengthen it. I can’t fix this on my own, so I ask You to be at work in my married life. Use it all, good and bad, to conform me to Your Son and give me the conviction that it is worth it. Amen!

Day 10

Battling For Truth in Your Marriage

Five years ago, my wife and I realized that we disliked each other. We knew we couldn’t get divorced. We weren’t about to be unfaithful. But we knew we couldn’t stay where we were. So, we looked at each other, and we said, “Do we really wanna live like this for another 30 years?”

Paul learned the lesson of contentment in extenuating circumstances. As he wrote Philippians, he was in jail, had no money, and was near execution; but he still found joy in Christ. Paul’s joy didn’t come from improved circumstances. It came from living according to the truth rather than buying into the lies of the world, the flesh, and Satan. It’s the same for you and your marriage. Remember, the secret of marriage is two people walking in the Spirit, loving one another. Let’s do something about that, following the pattern Paul laid out in Romans 12:1-2:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Out of the eight marriage lies we’ve uncovered, identify the ones that are most pressing on your marriage right now:

  • Marriage is irrelevant
  • Marriage is the only way to be happy
  • Your spouse will complete you
  • You two can handle it on your own
  • Divorce is an option
  • Divorce is better for your children
  • Your marriage is hopeless
  • Marriage isn’t worth it

Read the truths that replace the lies that you find directly affecting you:

  • Marriage is divine, timeless, and significant
  • Singleness is a gift to cherish or a season to enjoy
  • Christ is the only one who can complete you
  • You need outside help to handle your marriage
  • Divorce is only an option in certain extreme cases
  • Married parents are far better for your kids
  • God offers hope and restoration for your marriage
  • A godly marriage will bring Him glory and bless the married immensely

Now, take both the lies and the truths to the Holy Spirit and ask that He would do the work that only He can do.

Spirit, show me, right now, the lies that are oppressing my marriage. In the name of Jesus, I rebuke Satan who is the father of those lies. I reject the lies as destructive and wrong. Renew my mind. Replace the lies with life-giving Truth. Reveal to me now specific changes that You want to make in my attitude and my actions. I surrender to You now. Live through me, moment by moment today, according to Your truth. Amen!!!

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