Tripp: Fulfillment in marriage comes when spouses fight to live for the kingdom of God

Communications Staff — October 2, 2009

Why is marriage so hard?

Because of human selfishness, self-focus and self-worship, says Paul David Tripp.

“Sin causes me to shrink my life down to the size of my life,” Tripp, president of Paul Tripp Ministries, said. “Sin causes me to shrink my hopes, dreams, desires and motivations down to the claustrophobic confines of the borders of my own life. Sin causes me to shrink my world down to my wants, my needs and my feelings.”

Tripp addressed how to handle difficulties in marriage in two presentations titled “What Did You Expect? The Realities of Marriage” Aug. 25 as part of “The Gospel: Counseling and The Church,” a conferenceon biblical counseling at Sojourn Community Church.

Selfishness is a problem for 10 out of 10 people, Tripp said, which obviously has an adverse affect on marriage. In contrast, 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 teaches that Christ died for people so that they might no longer live for themselves but for Him, Tripp noted. To work through a self-focused perspective toward a Christ-honoring approach to life and marriage, Tripp said, spouses must uncover and be honest about their selfishness.

“What looks like love may not be love,” he said. “You can have a woman shopping for the final piece of the puzzle, looking for the man who will fulfill her dreams and complete her life. The man is doing the same thing and they often don’t realize it. What so needs to happen, the biggest thing people need to be rescued from, is themselves.”

Tripp said marriage has a tendency to expose how deeply self-oriented people are, but that God uses this institution to sanctify His people. Tripp said God exposed significant anger in his own life through his marital relationship, even as he ministered to others as a pastor and counselor.

“In the context of my marriage, God brought me to the end of myself,” he said. “I was headed for disaster. God used the deep difficulties of that relationship to expose how deep was my need for the rescuing grace of Christ.”

To grow through such difficulties, Tripp said couples must ground their marriages in the Gospel. He said Christians must cling to the truth that God through Christ has broken the power of sin over them, made them new creations in Christ and is purifying them from the continued presence of indwelling sin in their lives and marriages.

Every day, Christians must fight to live for the kingdom of God, instead of following self-centered, self-focused desires, Tripp said.

“The war between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of self is the deeper war that is the reason for all those horizontal battles that take place between us,” he said. “It is only when you gain ground at the deeper level that you can gain ground at the horizontal level.”

To grow in relational unity, Tripp said spouses must heed Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33 to seek first His kingdom. Progress can be made in marriages when both spouses seek to live for the same King instead of for two different sets of self-centered pursuits.

“Jesus died to break the bondage that I have to my passions and my desires,” he said. “Do you know what it means to seek His kingdom? You (husband) wake up in the morning and say, ‘today, I am going to look for specific, concrete opportunities to love my wife.’ (Wife) you say ‘I want to know my husband, I want to know where he struggles, and I want to know ways that I can serve in him in love.'”

When spouses, in complete reliance upon God, commit themselves to the kingdom of God and pursue growth in Christlikeness, the result will be deep, satisfying and God-glorifying marital relationships, Tripp said.

“Jesus died so that I could be free of the nasty, anti-social, dissatisfying agenda of the kingdom of self and so that I could live in the beautiful country of the kingdom of God,” he said. “And so that I could know experiences of love, unity, tenderness, sweetness and service that are beyond anything I could every produce in my own wisdom and in my own strength.”

Are you ready to become a pastor, counselor, or church leader who is Trusted for Truth?

Apply now for summer or fall studies

Classes begin in June & Aug.