“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.” (Genesis 3:6)
Since the beginning of our human existence the influence of one spouse over another has been, in many cases, disastrous. Eve was deceived by the serpent, not Adam. But through Eve’s influential prodding Adam made a decision that led to his death. It was Eve’s will that Adam should eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. From the very beginning we see that one spouse can have a strong influence over the other.
Stumbling blocks and strongholds of the enemy are continually placed in all our lives. We must learn to fight to withstand the enemy forces. The lost people of this world will find this increasingly difficult. One such stumbling block is known as conformity. A somewhat touchy subject for any writer is to address the conforming influence a husband has over his wife, or vice versa.
A man and woman will have various conflicting convictions prior to marriage, but soon after the consummation of that marriage a change begins to occur. Many times that change results in one or the other being conformed into accepting what the other believes. In most cases the wife’s beliefs change to mirror the beliefs of her husband.
In some cases it’s not a bad thing; sometimes a spouse, being at one time lost and worldly, begins to see God’s truth. Thus the positive influence of this spouse is a good thing. On the other hand, when a husband or wife holds to a false belief system and influences their spouse against believing the truth of the gospel of Christ, this conformity will only lead to destruction. Satan knows the truth, that Jesus the Christ is alive. But to fight that truth, a weapon in his vast arsenal is the influence of one spouse over the other.
Each individual on this planet must make a choice concerning the eternal. This choice is a personal decision affecting only the person making the choice. For example, I can’t make the choice for my wife nor can she make it for me. The same goes for our children, we can teach our children right from wrong, we can teach them about faith and love—all about Jesus—but we can’t make the most important decision of their lives for them.
I’m sure some of us would like it if we could make that decision for a loved one, but it just doesn’t work that way. Even though salvation is a free gift of God, He’s made it abundantly clear it’s personal not corporate. Everyone must face the reality that Satan wields his influence over the lost like a king over his kingdom. An unbelieving spouse is a subject of that king, thus he/she must do his bidding.
My wife and I were married in June of 1988. I was 36 years old. I was pretty well set in my ways. I was already an alcoholic, my vocabulary was more than just laced with profanity, and I had a mean disposition. My new bride, a godly shy woman, a born-again Christian with a heart that could only have come from God, knew that she was not following the Word of God by becoming yoked with a non-believing and very ungodly, worldly man.
I was for all intents and purposes a follower of the enemy of God; this is something my wife should have been repulsed with. Instead she fell in love me and I with her. We were married shortly thereafter. Can you see how horrible my influence over her life could have been? But instead she influenced my life. Please understand, it seldom works out that way.
Husband or wife, whichever one follows Satan normally will have the stronger influence. In most marriages the husband is the dominant force. They exercise an incredible amount of influence over their wife’s life. A wife who obeys her unbelieving and many times manipulative husband, when it comes to a decision for Christ may just obey him right into hell. In many marriages this tragedy is very real. Similarly, a wife can have the same detrimental effect on her husband if she remains in her satanic induced blindness toward the truth.
When men or women ignore the truth of God just to appease their spouse they are only foolishly falling into a trap laid down by the father of all lies (Satan). This personification of evil keeps a tight rein on those who belong to him. Satan will work one spouse against the other convincing them to remain in his camp.
I’ve seen this type of situation time and time again, where a spouse begins to climb out of the muck and mire of the filthy camp of the enemy only to be waylaid by their other half who unabashedly steps in to do Satan’s bidding. I’ve also witnessed that at this point both of their hearts become incredibly hardened against their Creator, and when they remain in that steadfast position they all but cement their decision to spend an eternity in hell.
Many will follow their spouses into the abyss instead of using their own intellect to come to a decision for Christ. Ignoring the power of the enemy is a common mistake these days as so many relegate Satan to nothing more than a mythological existence at best. Thus, he’s able to keep his hold on people through their own ignorant and erroneous beliefs.
Influence and conformity can be powerful stumbling blocks that, when coupled with decision making, can and do lead people astray. Certainly there are everyday decisions that affect the marriage and those decisions must be made together. Both spouses must participate in the decision making process to really enjoy a good and loving marriage. But the decision to turn one’s life over to Christ is the most important decision in this life, and it is personal not corporate.
Over the years I’ve learned, as many of you have, that marriage is a great institution. I can’t, or won’t, even contemplate living alone without my wife. My wife is not just a woman I met, fell in love with and then married; she is more, much more. She is a major part of my life, she has become a part of me—bodily she and I are one. I can’t be separated from her for any length of time at all without missing her in a way that is almost impossible to describe. The love we have for one another is that same love that Jesus has for His Church.
When she is away from me it’s the same as though a part of my body has been ripped away. God meant for us to view marriage just as He described it in the book of Genesis:
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
God meant it. When a man takes a woman to be his wife there’s a lifelong bond established. This bond is never to be broken. This is exactly why the influence of one spouse over the other can be so great. If one spouse is a non-believer, the adverse affect that that one person can have on the other can truly mean Hell for all eternity.
This is precisely the reason why we (believers in Christ) aren’t to be unequally yoked with non-believing people:
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14)
Why is the apostle Paul giving us this admonition? Because time and time again unequal unions result in a most devastating end for one or both participants.
Then, of course, we have marriages with both husband and wife being non-believers. These two unbelievers aren’t really going to know love, the love of Christ that transcends all barriers, since their union was not built on a godly foundation. This ungodly union can place an incredible strain on a marriage, especially if one spouse begins to learn the truth about God.
There’s a span of time where one spouse might begin to see God in ways they’ve never perceived before. This can cause friction in a marriage and even result in divorce. Even though one spouse emerges victorious in Christ they may have just destroyed their marriage. The Bible tells us that God hates divorce – and please don’t misunderstand, I’m not advocating divorce, but God in His Word tells us that the believing spouse is under no obligation to remain in a marriage with an unbeliever.
“But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.” (1 Corinthians 7:15)
Because of the incredibly powerful influence of their spouse, many who might be on the verge of making a decision for Christ will be convinced to stay in unbelief. As such they continue to drink from Satan’s pool of damnation. This is just another of Satan’s tools of deception. It’s a horrible sight to be witness to, especially when it occurs within your own family.
In the big scheme of life, a personal decision for Christ is the most important of all decisions; all other decisions are comparatively immaterial. If we understand nothing else in this life, we must come to grips with the fact that a decision for Christ is personal not corporate.
Wife, your husband has no say in the matter concerning your eternal destination – husband, your wife has no say in the matter concerning your eternal destination. Here’s something to consider: When you stand before the God of all creation at His throne of judgment with the rest of those who rejected Christ as their Savior, you will not be able to use the excuse that it was your spouse who kept you from making the decision to avoid hell. It will be too late at that point to make excuses and there will be no chance for you to change your mind concerning your eternal destination.
Here are your choices: follow my unbelieving spouse into Hell or follow Jesus Christ into Heaven. Remember influence works both ways—your decision for Christ could be just what your spouse has been waiting for—to see the love of Christ in you. That Christ centered love might be the catalysts that turns another hardened hear toward Christ. Hear Jesus promise to you:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28.
God bless you all,