Have you ever come to a point in your marriage where you thought, “Man, this just feels like hell”? If we are honest with ourselves, most of us have. Marriage is either lived heaven down or hell up.
Let me explain. If your marriage “feels like hell,” that’s because you have done some things to pull hell up into your marriage. You have literally gone into the culture of hell and brought death and demonic influence into your marriage and family.
This can happen when you enter marriage without having dealt with past wounds. If you bring unforgiveness into your marriage, you’re also bringing hell into it. If you believe lies about your identity, you’ve brought hell into your marriage. Likewise, if you have any emotional, physical or sexual relationship with someone else—whether physical or mental—you’ve brought hell into your marriage.
So many young people are marrying later and later (or not at all) because they fear marriage. That is likely because they grew up in families where the parents kept bringing the culture of hell up into the home.
But the good news is that you can also take steps to make the opposite choice. You can invite heaven down into your marriage. We’ve all looked at happy couples and thought, “Wow, God has really blessed those people.” That’s because their relationship and home environment feel a lot more like heaven than hell. That’s why we love to be around them. They are life-giving. They are joyful.
A home that invites the kingdom and culture of heaven down into it will be characterized by the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. Children who grow up in those kinds of environments want to get married instead of dreading marriage. They think marriage is awesome.
That’s why spiritual warfare is so important within a marriage. Think of a biblical, supernatural worldview in marriage like a chair. If any of those four legs is missing, the chair will be unstable. Here are the four principles of spiritual warfare:
1. The unseen realm exists.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). That means your spouse is not your enemy. The spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms are your enemy.
The Bible teaches that there is one reality but two realms. God sees the “unseen” realm. God and humans see the visible realm. That unseen realm is just as real, and it affects our daily lives. Satan wants to be active and involved in our marriage. The real enemy is not your spouse but the forces of evil behind the struggles in your relationship.
2. Binary thinking is critical.
The Bible always divides the world into two categories: truth and lies, light and darkness, good and evil, angels and demons. Binary thinking allows us to understand this truth: Satan wants to counterfeit everything God creates. God creates marriage, but Satan points us to cohabitation or sex outside marriage. God creates fidelity. Satan counterfeits it with infidelity.
The Bible shows that morality is black and white, but everything that happens in our culture seems to exist in shades of gray. Refusing to admit that absolute right and wrong exist is a denial of those biblical truths.
3. Everyone is responsible for their sin.
When some crime is committed, all the participants are held responsible. We see this in Genesis 3, which is the first case study of spiritual warfare. Adam and Eve are perfect beings in a perfect environment until Satan shows up. Eve sins through commission—by doing something she shouldn’t do. Adam sins by omission, by not saying anything and then trying to hide it. Both are punished.
Eve then blames the serpent. Adam blames Eve. He may have felt he married the wrong woman. Eve may have felt she wasn’t good enough for Adam. Both believed lies and those lies began to destroy their marriage. A lie doesn’t need to be true; it just needs to be believed. Both men and women must take responsibility for the health of a marriage.
4. The choice is ours to make.
When all is said and done, there are two cultures and two choices: the Kingdom of God and hell. We either invite heaven down into our marriage or we pull hell up into our marriage. When a home feels like hell, a husband and wife won’t want to be together. They won’t want to spend time with their kids. They’ll ignore each other and do their own thing.
All of those outcomes are demonic. The devil is trying to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10) your marriage today as well as for generations within your family.
The converse to this is that a husband and wife can invite the culture of heaven and the Holy Spirit to bless and heal your relationship. Whatever it takes to do that is worth the effort. Be teachable. Pray for each other. Address your own issues. Listen to your spouse. If you need professional help, reach out for it.
God can still heal whatever wounds you have in your marriage if you’re willing to work together to pull heaven down into your relationship. Start with your own need for forgiveness, repentance, healing, maturing and growing. Grace and I are only together today because we worked hard to do that, especially during our darkest times.
Marriage is either lived heaven down or hell up. The invitation is yours.