Seven Biblical Insights for Healthy, Joyful, Christ Centered-Marriages by Scott LaPierre is a gift to his newsletter subscribers. Download your free copy here.
Ephesians 5:27—[Christ] might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
Ephesians 5:27 continues the description of Christ sanctifying and cleansing the church: He does this so “that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.” There is a tremendous truth contained in these words. Christ does what He does in verse 26—sanctifying and cleansing the church—so that He can obtain for Himself the glorious church (or bride) described in verse 27: one that has no spot or wrinkle, but is holy and without blemish. The ESV Bible puts it this way: “So that He might present the church to Himself in splendor.” Here is the simplest way to sum it all up: Christ gets the church He prepares for Himself.
Again, this is a picture for husbands and wives. What is the apostle Paul implying by this truth? Just as Jesus gets the church He prepares for Himself, a husband generally gets the wife he prepares for himself. Wives respond well to love, holiness, and obedience to God’s Word. When a husband treats his wife forgivingly, lovingly, and tenderly, he will generally receive a more forgiving, loving, and tender wife. When a husband treat his wife unforgivingly, unlovingly, and harshly, he will generally find himself with a wife who is less forgiving, loving, and tender.
Rather than be cruel or harsh toward their wives, some husbands tend to be apathetic or indifferent. They take no interest in their wives. They do not invest in them or even become annoyed with them. We will discuss this more when we look at 1 Peter 3 in chapters 16 through 19 in this book, but for now, we should note that 1 Peter 3:7 commands husbands to “dwell with [their wives] with understanding.” Husbands must try to know and understand their wives. This is what enables wives to blossom and grow. When husbands fail to show interest in their wives, they end up with cold, bitter, frustrated wives.
Earlier we learned about a husband’s responsibility regarding his wife’s sanctification. Another way to look at this is that husbands are responsible for the wives they get for themselves! It is a simple equation. If a husband is helping his wife with her sanctification and spiritual cleansing, he is going to get a sanctified and spiritually cleansed wife.
So aside from the fact that God commands a husband to take his wife to church, read the Word with her, pray with her, and help her grow spiritually, another great reason for him to do so is that he will receive a more spiritually mature wife. What kind of qualities will be produced as a result? Galatians 5:22-23 gives the answer: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”
Conversely, husbands who do not lead their wives spiritually are likely to receive wives who are less spiritual. What is the opposite of that which is spiritual? The flesh: “Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another” (Galatians 5:16-17). Verses 19-22 go on to list the “works of the flesh” that are manifest in a person who is not walking in the Spirit: hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, envy, even adultery.
How many husbands see these behaviors in their wives because they have been poor spiritual leaders? How many wives might be more spiritually mature if their husbands were nurturing them spiritually, praying for them, and reading the Bible with them? Tragically, I have heard some husbands talk terribly about their wives without considering the fact they may have received the wives they have prepared for themselves. Men have come into my office and told me how badly their wives act, only to make themselves look bad. I’m listening and thinking, Would your wife be acting this way if you had been sanctifying and cleansing her as God’s Word commands? It sounds like you may have gotten the wife you prepared for yourself.
Galatians 6:7 tells us, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” While it’s true that the context of this verse has to do with giving to the church, the principle also applies to a husband’s relationship with his wife. Husbands generally reap what they sow in a marriage. When husbands invest in their wives by sowing seeds of love and interest—when they plant spiritual seeds of sanctification—they are more likely to reap what they’ve sown.
Let’s summarize what we’ve learned up to this point by keeping these two truths in mind: