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The dynamics of spiritual warfare in marriage

iStock/Dmitriy Fesenko
iStock/Dmitriy Fesenko

A healthy and enduring marriage requires effort, honesty, forgiveness, perseverance, love, gentleness and relentless compassion. And while every marriage hits bumps in the road; did you know that there are spiritual entities scheming right now in hopes of tearing your marriage apart?

Spiritual warfare in marriage is an extremely powerful dynamic. Take two Christians for example. Each one loves the Lord, and they also love one another. And while God certainly lives within them, there are also “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12) watching for any opportunity to pounce. 

Are demons free to pounce whenever they feel like it? Not exactly. While they are within range to tempt you at any moment, they usually wait for you to “open a door” so to speak in the spiritual realm through which they can readily enter your space in a destructive manner. They want to disturb your heart, your mind and your marriage. 

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You see, sin opens doors in the spiritual realm through which our spiritual adversary gains direct access into our life.

As an example, the Apostle Paul wrote, “In your anger do not sin. Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold” (Ephesians 4:26-27).

We all become angry at times, but what makes our situation ten times worse is when we go to bed without apologizing to our spouse and without forgiving one another. We don’t sleep well, and resentment becomes entrenched in our hearts overnight. The grudge opens a spiritual door for demons to afflict us while we sleep. 

You essentially give your enemy, the devil, a firm footing within your mental and spiritual space. And this causes the grudge you are holding against your spouse to increase exponentially. How so? Demons latch on to your sin of resentment and make it grow stronger. Don’t ask me how they do it. I simply know that Scripture describes this foothold as being extremely burdensome, and people experience the overpowering nature of demonic footholds firsthand. 

Satan wants to incite you to destroy your marriage, but in order to do so, he needs to gain a foothold through a point of entry. Without this foothold from which to mount an aggressive assault, there is very little Satan can do to disrupt your marriage. The devil is not all-powerful. He waits for you to open a door by sinning against the Lord. Picture a burglar waiting outside the door of your home late at night ready to force his way inside the moment you unlock and open the door.

God’s grace can enable you to keep spiritual doors closed by saying “no” to grudges, bitterness, emotional affairs, unkindness, pornography, resentment, selfishness, and every other sin that gives Satan and his demons the opportunity to oppress your mind and your marriage.

The devil has no hope of ever getting back into Heaven. He burned that bridge before time began, and the thought of his future punishment in the lake of fire now torments him incessantly. The only fading hope he has is to oppress God’s people with the venom and hatred that fills his dark mind.

Why is he so enraged? You would be too if you had his future torment awaiting you. The Apostle John described this future event: “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10). You see, “Satan is filled with fury because he knows that his time is short” (Revelation 12:12).

And of course, the demons who serve under Satan live in constant fear of the Son of God who “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15).

If you have been giving the devil access to your mind and your marriage, it is time to take back the ground that the enemy has claimed for himself. God can restore what has been lost, but it will require prayer, confession, repentance, honesty, humility, love, and forgiveness.

Think back to when the two of you stood side by side on your wedding day. You can regain that joy through the grace and power of God. You will need the love and forgiveness of Christ, and renewal by the Holy Spirit. You will need to confess your shortcomings, just as your spouse will need to do the same thing. Why don’t you go first? Be the bigger person. Humble yourself before the Lord.

If you and your spouse have been blessed with one or more children, ask yourself: Do I wish my child had never been born? Do I wish I could erase my marriage and my child? I suspect your answer is “no.” And so use your love for your child as one of your internal strategies to take back what Satan has stolen from you.

Always remember that God sent his only Son to rescue you from your sins by His death on the cross. God also brought you and your spouse together to become husband and wife. The devil is a master at making things look completely dark, when in reality, “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

In addition, there are Christian counselors available who would love to help you and your spouse come through your turbulent season and get free from “the sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1). But you will first need to get alone with God and pour out your heart to Him. The Lord can revive your hope and restore your marriage, and you can leave that sly serpent, the devil, in the dust.

Your loving Savior is a wonderful friend who will gladly help you and your spouse get back on track. So go for it, as you outsmart your adversary the devil, and as you renew your love and commitment to your God-given soulmate.

Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska. 

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