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Introduction: Marriage & Spiritual Warfare


Satan hates marriage. Satan attacks marriage because of that hatred. Satan seeks to destroy marriages because (1) marriage is a creation ordinance ordained by God before the fall. It was designed for His glory and the good of His creation, men and women, created in the image God. Satan’s hatred of God means his determined opposition to what God created for His glory and the good of His creation. (2) marriage is designed to reflect Christ and the church. Therefore, Satan is not just violently hostile to marriage in general, but to Christian marriages in particular.


In Satan’s assaults against marriage, his nefarious purposes are clear:


Satan seeks to spoil what God created and declared good. Marriage is for the happiness of image-bearers. Satan delights to turn what God created for enjoyment and turn it into a source of misery.


Satan seeks to sully the reputation and testimony of the Christian church throughout the world. Miserable, bad marriages are a terrible testimony to the world.


Satan seeks to destroy the next generation. The Christian home should be an incubator for faith for the next generation. Satan will use a contentious, miserable marriage to turn the incubator of faith into a toxic chamber of unbelief. Next to parental hypocrisy, a Christ-dishonoring marriage in which there is no Gospel in action, has the potential to be fatal to our children’s view of the Christian faith.


Satan seeks to side-line Christian service. Although Christians in bad marriage may serve in the Church, often they don’t because they are consumed with their own crises. When they do serve, often they are not serving filled with the Holy Spirit because they are grieving the Spirit (Eph. 4:30). Satan always tries to marginalize a Christian’s service in their local church. Satan loves to turn Christians into isolationists, who think life separated from the local church is the way to go. Satan loves to turn Christians inward, so all they are focused on is themselves. Marriage is a platform where Satan tries to mitigate Christian service.


Satan seeks to destroy assurance of faith and full confidence in God’s goodness. Sometimes the “slow fires of marital misery” drives a saint to his or her knees, seeking God like never before. But all too often, a Christian can become bitter against God because they are not happy in marriage. The Christian can begin to think that God owed them a better spouse, or a better marriage. They become the faultfinder, speaking, thinking, and feeling hard things against God, which are not true. They doubt His sovereignty and goodness. As they sin in this way, assurance erodes, and faith weakens. Satan smiles.


There are so many other directions we could look at this, but let’s get to some good news.

First, Jesus Christ has won the ultimate victory over Satan. Satan is living on borrowed time between D-Day and VE-Day. The decisive battle has already been won through the Cross and the empty tomb (Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8), but Satan still rages, knowing his time is short (Rev. 12:17). So our fight is against a defeated, but still dangerous foe (1 Pet. 5:8).


Second, God has provided armor for this warfare (Eph. 6:10-20). There are several things we can learn at we apply this classic text to marriage.


Eph. 6:10-12 sets the stage for spiritual warfare:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.

In our marriages, we need God’s strength. We need to seek to be strong in the Lord. This demands that we reject a victim mentality, a “woe is me” mentality. God has called you to be strong in His strength. Maybe you are the less guilty party, you need God’s strength to endure, to continue to love, to trust and to fight for your marriage. Maybe you are the more guilty party, you need God’s strength to confess, repent, turn, to trust to fight for your marriage.


Next, God has given you provision for your daily Christian life, which includes your marriage. The armor is for your marriage too!


Notice from the text, that the devil has schemes. Satan is an expert strategist, who knows how to use bad childhoods, bad relationships, unbiblical thinking, selfishness, carnality, lust, greed, anger, jealousy, et al. as tools to chip away at marriage or explode it. Know your enemy! He knows you.


The battle we are fighting is not ultimately against a spouse. This is a spiritual battle, and there is always a spiritual component in the resolution. The warfare may seem deeply inter-personal, against a cold and distance husband, or an implacable and selfish wife. The warfare may seem deeply inter-personal as affections for your spouse die, and it is easier to despise than to love. This is all true, there is a human dynamic that is real. But behind the scenes of the human pain is a busy devil sowing the seeds of the destruction and fanning the flames of misery. There is a strategizing devil who knows your weaknesses and uses them to his wicked advantage.


Stop right now and reflect on Eph. 6:10-12 as it relates to your marriage. Recognize that your spouse is not the real enemy. Ask God to show you how you contribute to the enemy’s strategy, how your view of your spouse funnels right into the devil’s plans. Ask God to open all four eyes in this marriage to see how each spouse has unwittingly given the enemy footholds (Eph. 4:27).


Renew your desire to fight this fight against the true enemy, in God’s strength. Maybe your spouse thinks you are the devil, he or she is wrong. But that may mean she or he doesn’t want to lock arms with you to fight the real enemy. You still need to be strong. You still need to stand. You still need to fight for your marriage.


Paul says in Eph. 6:13, “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.”


God will hold you to account on how you fought this fight. So, resist in the evil day, and do everything to stand firm.


Over the next few articles I will share how each piece of the armor is applied to marriage. Until then, reflect on these things, ask God for insight and wisdom, and a renewed zeal to fight.


Awake my soul, stretch every nerve, and press with vigor on;

A heavenly race (or fight) demands your zeal.


 

Brian Borgman (BA, Biola University; MDiv, Western Conservative Baptist Seminary; DMin, Westminster Seminary; ThM, Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary) is a pastor at Grace Community Church in Minden, NV. He is husband to Ariel and father of three.

 

Note: The views expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of other contributors on this site.

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