As God’s chosen ones, we are chosen by each other.
Election describes the action whereby Christ chose all those who are willing to choose Him. Just as the Holy Spirit draws me to Christ, the Spirit dwelling within draws a man and woman to each other. In like fashion, a man and a woman joining in matrimony choose each other based on being chosen by God to choose one another. The principle asserted by Solomon expounds on this sovereign process.
The heart of man plans his way,Proverbs 16:9 ESV
but the Lord establishes his steps.
“the heart of a man.” This stresses that it is within the heart that plans are made. Only those plans that are approved by God will succeed. “to establish; to confirm” with “step” means “to direct” (e.g., Ps 119:133; Jer 10:23). This contrasts what people plan and what actually happens – God determines the latter. “Steps” is an implied comparison, along with “way,” to indicate the events of the plan as they work out.1According to The NET Bible First Edition Notes
Choosing to follow God’s Holy Spirit
In this way, a covenant forms upon mutual consent with the Holy Spirit, which parallels the covenant between Christ and His followers. We can only be representatives of Christ and His relationship with the church when we are drawn to each other by the indwelling Holy Spirit. While whispering sweet somethings in our souls, the Spirit woos a man and woman to each other. The godliness that shines through each life produces an irresistible draw to magnify the Lord together.
O magnify the Lord with me,Psalm 34:3 KJV
And let us exalt his name together.
When two are drawn together without the aid of the Holy Spirit, the absence of His godly influence leads to each person becoming a god to the other. The resulting idolatry promises dissatisfaction and unfulfillment. Seeking the completion neither actually possesses, maneuvering, and manipulating occur in attempts to obtain what is out of reach. Only Christ, in the midst of a relationship, can fulfill all that is lacking in sinful hearts.
The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:Hebrews 10:15–16 NIV
“This is the covenant I will make with them
after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
and I will write them on their minds.”
The ministry of the Holy Spirit draws us to Christlikeness, teaching us how to be like Christ. As we allow the Holy Spirit to perform His ministry in our marriage, we complete the marriage portrait reflecting the image of Christ and His relationship with the church.
Election establishes a covenant with God mediated by the indwelling Holy Spirit. As a result, the Holy Spirit residing within provides guidance that teaches us the wisdom inherent to living the Christian life.
But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.1 John 2:27 NLT
Choosing the Holy Spirit’s counsel
Obviously, God is not encouraging us to disregard Christ-centered counsel yet is calling us to follow the Spirit’s leading in our lives.
But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh. For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.Galatians 5:16–18 NET
Further, the electoral covenant allows us to be led by God’s will in a fashion that guides our souls into what is righteous.
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come. He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you.John 16:13–15 NET
This Biblical admonition reminds us,Psalm 37:23 ESV
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord,
when he delights in his way.”
Choosing God’s choice
Kirk traveled from rural North Carolina, while Melanie arrived at Tennessee Temple University from the hills of upstate New York. This is how Kirk tells the story of how we met. “My roommate and I had just been seated at the dining hall supper table. As soon as the ‘Amen’ had been proclaimed, I noticed a beautiful blond to my immediate right. I quickly maneuvered myself, at a table full of eight other guys, to politely help her be seated. As I recall, she did not give me much more of her time than a causal ‘thank you.’
“My friend, Jimmy, would not allow me to be dissuaded. With a big boyish grin, he repeatedly nudged me under the table while gesturing for me to say something. Embarrassed by his obvious, shameless taunting, I sought to gather my wits and form a plan. But it was all I could do to digest my dinner. Almost when I had my introductory statement formed for maximum effect, this marvel of God’s creation started to get up from the table as if intuitively knowing what I was about to do. But not willing to be outflanked, I arose quickly, pulled out her chair in harmony with as much chivalrous charm as I could, and said, ‘Have a nice day.’ I made my choice to pursue her. I would seek her. And I would call her.”
The man who finds a wife finds a treasure,Proverbs 18:22 NLT
and he receives favor from the Lord.
- Describe what it means to choose a covenant relationship with your spouse.
Excerpts from Marriages that Minister by J. Kirk & Melanie D. Lewis. Available from your favorite book retailers, including Amazon and Redemption Press. (As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you.)
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Read more about Marriages that Minister: A Portrait of Christ and His Bride.
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1 Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Biblical Studies Press, 2006), Pr 16:9.