For several months the ladies at my church have been talking about doing a Women’s Bible Study. Finally, last month we decided that we would start on April 20th and that it would last for four weeks. I was terribly excited, and extremely nervous because it was deemed that I would be the one not only to lead the Bible Study but, to write it as well. We had the idea to do our study on protecting our marriages.
I have read Nancy Leigh DeMoss’ book, Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets You Free, at least five times (check out my review of her book if you’re interested in learning more about it) and am greatly influenced by it. In her book, Ms. DeMoss points out how we let lies influence us and, sometimes, control us. She points out that every sin begins with us believing lie. When our church’s women’s leader suggested that I somehow incorporate some of Nancy’s teaching into our study I started pondering and throwing things around in my head. How could I possibly tie together exposing lies with protecting marriage and still keep the material completely original so that my sense of writer’s honor is not bruised? For several weeks I made notes of thoughts that came to me, scripture I read that had ANYTHING to do with marriage, wives, and/or husbands. I also listened to podcasts from influential preachers (John Piper has some GREAT apps that allow one to read/listen to his sermons, read past article and search through his blog posts) and read their blogs and sermons they had posted on their websites and jotted down relevant thoughts. Then, in my typical procrastinating fashion, the night before our first class I began to gather my notes and attempt to turn them into something that the women could both enjoy and benefit from. As I started writing God showed me the direction that he wanted me to take, and honestly, I didn’t fully understand just how intricately He wove everything together until the study yesterday. God has given me a clear message to share and I am giddy with anticipation to see it all come to light!
Since not all of our ladies were able to attend the Bible Study, and in case they miss a week or some people would like to attend virtually, I decided that each week I would post a summary (Note the use of the word SUMMARY. These posts will in no way be totally inclusive. I’ll not be able to accurately communicate the discussions that spurred as a result of a thought or verse, or the movement of the Holy Spirit that causes a speaker/teacher to digress) of what was discussed. So, without further ado, here it is:
Protecting Your Marriage from the Devil’s Lies: Introduction
In order to create an impenetrable defense one must first understand the adversary. Sports teams spend countless hours reviewing tapes of opposing teams so they can create the most effective game plan possible. In times of war, military leaders and top political figures gather in their war rooms digging up every iota of information on their enemy in order to make the most effect tactical decisions. Armies continually adapt their methods as warfare evolves. There is a reason that modern day soldiers no longer ride gallantly out to battle wearing full coats of shining mail and sitting astride fierce destriers. War has changed, dramatically. Our armies have to make adjustments if they want to survive or to have any hope of winning.
The expression “The best offense is a good defense” is often attributed to 19th century Prussian military theorist Carl Von Clausewitz. The saying is genius is its simplicity. If one’s enemy cannot ever wound them, then the enemy has no hope of winning. On the other hand, a country could have the most sophisticated weaponry money can buy, but if their adversary is able to overwhelm them the game is lost.
Corrie Ten Boom stated, “The first step on the way to victory is to recognize the enemy.” Our enemy is all around us. His weapon is deceptively simple and yet far more powerful than we could possibly fathom. He does not herald his presence with giant flashing arrows or update his status on a social media site. No. He captures us with his lies. He has had plenty of time to hone his skills and is quite effective at it. We know our enemy: he is the oldest enemy of mankind. He has had many names throughout history: Beelzebub, Lucifer, Angel of Light, Murderer, Satan, Devil. His name may vary, but his weapon is always the same. Sometimes it is used in a quiet whisper. Sometimes it is shouted out-loud. It does not matter what the method of delivery is the result is the same: a lie has been told.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss, in her book Lies Women Believe and the Truth that Sets them Free says that, “Every problem, every war, every wound, every broken relationship, every heartache-it all goes back to one simple lie.”
John 8:44b (ESV) “[… [Satan] has nothing to do with the truth because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Satan’s weapon is part of him; it both defines and describes him. In truth, our only real hope of victory lies not in direct battle, but rather in protecting ourselves with the best armor possible. Our armor is more than just carrying around God’s Word, it is using it in our DAILY lives. As Christians we are God’s soldiers. God does not force His ways on us but rather lets us choose. However, He despises those that ride the fence.
Revelation 3:16 “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit (some versions say “spew” or “vomit”) you out of my mouth.” (ESV)
In my mind, there are three types of Christian warriors:
The “Someday Soldier”
-This soldier leads their life according to their own rules. They know of God, and believe in Him, but are “not ready” to live for Him. They think they have plenty of time to “get things right” and are quite content as they are.
The “Sunday Soldier”
-This soldier puts on a very good show. They go to church every Sunday. Oftentimes they even teach a Sunday School class or hold an office. Whenever they are in the presence of their fellow church members they behave impeccably. However, when they are at work or a ballgame or surrounded by their “unchurched” friends they turn into a different creature. They cuss, gossip, and have even been know to throw temper tantrums when things don’t go their way. They participate in conversations that are crude and demeaning. In fact, many people that know the “Sunday Soldier” would be surprised to find out that they even attend church.
*In my opinion, the “Sunday Soldier” is one of the most destructive things to Christianity. Outsiders view them as hypocrites and often use these type of Christians as their excuse for not attending church.
The “Saintly Soldier”
-This is the type of soldier that we should all strive to be. Most of us know people that fit into this category. Usually they are the members at church that exude a quiet confidence in their life. They may not be the most outspoken but they are often-times the most respected. They are the ones picking up the slack when everyone else disappears, and most times do it without even letting anyone else know. They begin their days absorbed in God’s Word and kneeling to Him in prayer. They don’t talk about how much they love God, they show it.
As a high school English teacher I was shocked to discover that the students who came from “broken families” or single parents were quickly out-numbering those that come from parents that had been married their entire lives. Divorce and/or having children before marriage was/is quickly becoming the norm. According to studies, about 75% of Americans claim to be Christian. That’s around 234 million people. Of those millions of people identifying themselves as Christian, approximately 45 million are married couples. If we take just the “Christian” Couples who both claim Christianity AND attend church on a regular basis (according to a study conducted by Professor Bradley of the University of Connecticut) then there are 17 million of those couples divorced and/or in the process of divorcing. To put that in an understandable perspective that would be about the populations of Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Tennessee, Kentucky, Arizona and Kansas all added together!
*Note, there is a VERY distinct reason that I became an English Major-it is as far away from Math as I could get! When I originally taught the class I underestimated the total number of divorced Christians and, to save anyone from making my mistake again, I’d just like to remind everyone that 17 million couples means 34 million individuals. Just sayin’.
Through God, with God and because of God-we can buck this trend!
1 And you were dead in trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience-3-among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ-by grace you have been saved-6-and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
Christ Jesus gives us the power and the tools to protect our marriages, but His armor does no good if we rarely (if ever) wear it; and in the same way, there is no use wearing protective gear on our chest if we leave our head exposed. We need to look at any area that may be unprotected and shield it from our enemy’s attacks.
There are four essential areas that need to be protected. I ask that you think and pray about these as we get ready to delve into the “meat” of things.
1. Protect Yourself
2. Protect Your Husband
3. Protect Your Relationship (bond, marriage…however you want to word it)
4. Protect Your “Next”-this will be the legacy that we leave behind and what we do to help stop the divorce trend. This could be your children, your sister, your youth group…however the Lord leads you. I’ll explain this more later.
Please pray for us as we continue through this journey!