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About this series
Real Love in Real Life
How to Find it, Grow it, and Keep it... Forever!
Real Love in Real Life is a rubber-meets-the-road, 5-part series that covers key issues we all struggle with in every relationship. Whether in marriage, friendship, family, dating, or work, this series will help you discover root causes of failures and dysfunction in relationships. Chip shares how to get beyond insecurities - to be bold in sharing hearts rather than just exchanging words. And he has this crazy idea that God is actually interested in your love life - that there's a secret to real romance and God's interested in revealing it to you. This series will deepen every relationship and help you genuinely give love and receive it in return.More from this series
Here’s the myth. And it’s you, every movie you watch reinforces it. Every little book that talks about how wonderful and idyllic everything is.
Every TV show says this: if you really love one another, it’ll all work out. Loving another person is the most natural thing. You’ll be kind and others-centered. If you really love one another, it’ll be easy and it’ll be great.
That is the farthest thing from the truth. If you really love one another, it will require supernatural enablement from God and an amazing amount of hard work.
And it is the grace of God that teaches us to say “no” to worldliness and lustful passions and instead to live sober, self-disciplined lives of caring for other people.
And so I want you to pull out your pen and I want you to roll up your sleeves and I want to walk through the four barriers so that you can identify what they are and the first one is the biggie. I’ll spend the most time on the barrier of sin.
And as you open and what I want you to know is, this barrier of sin distorts the others too. The others are normal barriers. There are differences between men and women. There’s differences in terms of just our personalities.
But that barrier of sin is going to tilt things to make even those things negative or bad. Let’s look at barrier number one. And it’s spiritual barrier of sin, shame, and selfishness.
And if you would, open your Bibles again to Genesis chapter 3. And I would love to spend a bit more time than we will but let me give you an overview of how the barrier occurred, the impact that it had then, and the impact that it has now.
Beginning in verse 1. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord has made. And he said to the woman, ‘Did God really say you must not eat of any tree in the garden?’ The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat from the fruit from the trees in the garden but God did say you must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden and you must not touch it.’”
Two quick observations. The first attack in sin entering in the world is in God’s Word. The first attack is, you can’t trust God’s word about what’s real, what’s right, what’s true, and how life works.
The second err, the first theological error of mankind was to add to God’s Word. God never said, “And not touch it.”
And when you add to God’s Word and then, you know what? Can you imagine what happened when she took the piece of fruit? She’s touching it. She’s not dead. Well all of a sudden, it raises, “Well, I guess the rest of it’s not true.”
We go on. He goes on to say in verse 4. “You will surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened and you’ll be like God, knowing good from evil.”
“And when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some of it and she ate it.”
The first attack is on God’s Word, the second attack is what? It’s on His character. God doesn’t have your best in mind. Don’t do it God’s way. Don’t handle your money God’s way, He’s trying to keep you from all this stuff. You can just put it on time, now. There’s an easy way to do everything. He attacks God’s character.
You know, don’t be a prude. Are you kidding me? You know, sex before marriage. He’s trying to keep something good from you. Every command of God is guardrails because He loves you so much to protect you from getting something second-rate or something that would hurt you.
And the very first temptation, what do we have? God doesn’t have your best in mind. And the temptation always comes in the same three areas. It was for Eve, it was for Adam, it was for Jesus, and it is for us.
She saw. Lust of the eyes. The food. Lust of the flesh. It would make her wise. The pride of life.
And those are going to be the strategies of shortcuts that Satan’s going to use in this world system that we live in to pull you away and pull your marriage away from what God wants for you.
“She also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate it.” And you might jot in your Bible, “the first passive male.”
And you know what? Isn’t it interesting that when we get to the New Testament and God begins to assign culpability to the Fall? It doesn’t say, “Eve fell.” Eve was deceived. Adam went in with his eyes wide open. Adam had an issue of loyalty and Adam saw all the same things and he chose to disobey. Now let’s find out what happens.
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized they were naked so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”
Notice, psychologically, what’s happened. The first human experience of self-consciousness occurs. They’re aware of me. What’s going on with me?
They realized they were naked. Their response? Shame. After the shame, they hide. And that has been the response of human beings to God and one another ever since.
We’re self-conscious. How am I coming off? Do people like me? Am I affirmed? What do they think? How’s it going? When I look down deep and I see me, I don’t measure up.
When I don’t measure up, oh, I don’t want to be rejected so I will hide myself. And I could hide myself behind power or money or clothes or looks or surgery.
And I can hide myself behind a paper or ESPN or a magazine or children and so the process starts of: this is how we begin to relate to one another. And you just have different fig leaves on than they had on.
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord as He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day and they,” notice the hiding isn’t just from one another, “and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”
And now we get a rhetorical question. Obviously God knows all that has happened. But He wants them to learn. So he gives them a diagnostic question. He goes, “Where are you?”
And Adam answers, “I heard You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” If you have permission in your Bibles, circle the word “afraid,” “naked,” and “hid.”
It’s how we relate to God. And that’s how we relate to one another. I’m afraid. Why I’m afraid? Something’s wrong with me now. I’m insecure. I don’t measure up. I’ve done something wrong. There’s both legitimate guilt and shame. I was afraid. And so what did he do? He hid.
And the average couple spends a lot of energy hiding from one another. And hiding from God. Somehow, isn’t it amazing, the human psyche?
This all-knowing God, we play all these games thinking He won’t really see. Right? You know? He won’t really see what’s going on.
And so a lot of us have a very significant struggle in prayer, don’t we? We have a hard time concentrating. We have a hard time really opening up because what you know is when you have significant, prolonged, relaxed time where you open your heart to God, what’s He going to do?
He’s going to convict you of sin and righteousness and judgment. But we wrongly think it’s so He can shame us and put us down.
And instead it’s the arms of a loving God who says, “Let Me show you some things that are going to put a barrier in relationships and a barrier with Me.”
And the word “confess” means, “Why don’t you come and be honest and real and agree with Me so I can put my arms around you and forgive you and cleanse you so that we can remove that barrier?”
And that’s why, I don’t know about you, the hardest discipline in my life is praying. Praying deep, praying honest. And so, we still hide. And so, when we hide from God, we don’t get His supernatural resources to give our mates what they need.
It goes on to say, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
Now, I want you to just get there with me. Okay? Mentally, let’s just get there. They’ve been through this, they got some fig leaves on, their relationship has really changed.
This is a lot bigger than the picture over the fireplace. But they’ve had that relational click where they were in sync, now they’re out of sync. Now God comes.
And Eve, I don’t know how long they’ve been in the garden but we have a general idea that they’ve had a great, wonderful relationship without sin.
And now Eve is going to get her first experience of what happens when things go wrong. Is your man going to step up for you? Can you trust him? Is it safe to bear your soul and if you make a mistake, is he going to be there for you?
Ladies, I want you, in your mind’s eye, to imagine what it would feel like when God of the universe asked your husband this question and you listened to this response.
“The man said, ‘The woman that You put here with me, she gave me some of the fruit of the tree, and I ate it.’”
Sin, shame, fear, hiding, blame shifting. It’s not my fault. You know, by the way, you know what? I was doing fine. It was a little lonely. But me and the animals, we were doing fine. I don’t know what happened, but this woman that You gave me, she’s the problem.
Probably not going to open up to a man like that are you? And she’s a quick study. So God then begins the interrogation with her.
“And then the Lord said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me and I ate.’ So the Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all the wild animals, you will crawl on your belly. And you will eat of the dust of it all the days of your life.’”
And he goes on to say, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers.”
And then we get this Messianic promise that comes out. We can’t develop. “But He will crush your head and you will strike His heel.”
And then to the woman He said, “I’ll greatly increase your pains in childbearing with a pain that you will give birth to the children. Your desire,” you might circle that word, “will be for your husband yet he will rule over you.”
So here we have it. Isn’t it interesting? What’s the problem? The man says it’s the woman. What’s the problem, woman? It’s the serpent. And kinda…and by the way, who makes that serpent, who made these animals anyway? See, ultimately, who do we blame? God. God, this is Your problem
Now, what I want you to hear is God is going to give three curses. One on the serpent, we’ve heard. One on the woman. And then as you read the text, one on the man.
Now, a woman’s greatest desire is for emotional connection. And a man’s greatest desire is for impact and significance.
And what you’re going to see is that God’s curse is going to thwart the deepest longing in a woman’s heart and soul and then the curse will thwart a man’s deepest longing in his soul.
Because He’s going to say what to the man? Now all your work, it’s going to be toil, it’s going to be painful, and there’s going to be thistles.
In other words, you want to subdue, you want to make an impact, you want to be significant, you want to make a difference. That’s godly. That’s in you. You’re made in the image of God.
He’s going to say, guess what. It’s all uphill now. It’s always going to be difficult. And as soon as you make some progress, you’re going to look back and it’s going to deteriorate.
Why? The curses are an act of grace. The curses are the kind, gentleness of a heavenly Father who knows if a woman could have relational connection and get her longings filled in an easy way, she wouldn’t need God.
The curses help her understand, she wants to be relationally connected and you women know, like, no one can know but you women, the joy of giving birth to a child and the extraordinary pain.
And every time, that’s the fruit but, boy, there’s the process. And this word for “desire” it has the idea of being in control over your husband.
See, a woman is afraid so what a woman does is she wants to control things. And she does it a lot of different ways. She wants to control the environment, she wants to control things, and she’s going to have this desire for her husband. But she wants to rule over him and God says: but he’s going to rule over you.
So those desires that are blocked will bring levels of increasing frustration that God hopes that one day, out of His mercy, a woman will say, “You know something? Life’s just too hard. I just can’t make this on my own.” And she’ll realize she needs a Savior, and a Deliverer, and a Redeemer.
And a man will keep trying and keep trying and keep trying. “I’ve got to make an impact, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this, I’m going to do this.” And, ahh, then the stock market fails. Oh brother.
And I’m going to cut, I’m going to make this beautiful yard and now the weeds come up. And no matter how…
There’s always weeds in a man’s life. No matter how hard you try, how hard you work, how many degrees you get, how much money you make, how good you are at athletics, how good a musician you are.
There’s always going to be weeds in your life and there’s always junk. And you just feel like, well, I’m over the next hill, then, over the next hill, then.
And at some point in time, you wake up and smell the roses and you realize you’re never, ever going to do without tons of pain.
And God gave that curse to us as men to say: You were never intended to live like this. I’m going to frustrate you to the point where you come in dependency upon Me and realize only through My supernatural power and My forgiveness and My strength can you live out this life. Because there’s a new barrier. It’s a fallen world.
You know? It’s like the world got cancer. It’s like there was a coup. There was a cosmic conflict.
This world isn’t like this anymore. It’s tilted this way. And so living out this life is always going to be difficult and painful.
Now, notice what He says, after He disciplines the man. Verse 21. “Then the Lord,” this act of grace.
And He says, verse 21, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and He clothed them.”
He sheds blood as a prefiguring of what will happen. And then he covers their shame. Isn’t that awesome? He forgives them. There’s always a price tag to forgiveness and this foreshadows the great forgiveness of Christ. And so an animal must die.
And the word “covering” here we get our same word for atonement. He’s going to do something that will cover their sin and cover their shame.
“And then the Lord God said, ‘Now, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever.’ So the Lord banished him from the garden to work on the ground from which he was taken and He drove the man out and placed him on the east side of the Garden of Eden,” and then He put this cherubim. It’s this huge, powerful, I’ve never seen one personally, but the definitions I get are the most powerful angels with this flaming sword.
And another act of grace. You never can get back in here where the state that you’re in in this fallen state could become permanent.
And all the rest of Scripture, really all of Scripture is you have a reality that goes up to Genesis chapter 3 and at Genesis chapter 3 we start a parenthesis and you go all the way through all of life and all of Scripture until you get to Revelation chapter 20.
And all of life is one big parenthesis and then in 20 and 21, all of God’s reigning in a perfect environment with people that He loves comes to fruition. But you and I get to live in Genesis 3 up to Revelation 19 or a little bit of 20. Your marriage is always going to be hard. Forever.
Because you are married to a selfish person who wants their way. Now, they can get sophisticated and learn a lot of verses. And as God changes things in significant ways.
But at the core of the flesh of us as human beings, I want my way. At the core of my being, I want my wife to fulfill my needs on my terms.
In fact, I summarized all of Genesis 3. Here’s the changes that occurred. Notice in your notes. Differences. Okay, male and female, very different.
Differences originally designed to complement and complete one another have become sources of friction, confusion, and competition.
See, in a perfect world where there’s grace, you celebrate differences. Oh, Adam, I’m so glad you’re so different than me. This is wonderful.
When I was dating Theresa, she was so organized. Then I married her. She was so rigid. Do you get that? Right? So structured, made me nuts.
When we dated, I was spontaneous, adventuresome. Going to change the world. Then we get married, now I’m irresponsible and I’m doing all kinds of wild, crazy things.
Second, sharing has turned to shame. Our insecurities in shame bring condemnation and fear. So, deep in your heart and deep in my heart, you’ve got to realize there’s a barrier. Your fears, down deep, you don’t measure up.
And so you don’t want to open up who you really are, to your mate. Because you’re afraid they’ll see who you really are.
Givers have become takers and manipulators. The unconscious goal in our marriages is: meet my needs, fix me, satisfy my longings.
And it takes a radical, supernatural intervention for that to be turned around when you want them to meet your needs, when you want them, “quote,” to fix you, and to meet your needs and to say, they are unable to do that. They are hurting right now.
And so love, by the supernatural power of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose Spirit dwelling in me, empowered by His word and the community of believers, I’m going to give my mate what they need the most when they deserve it the least at great personal cost.
You know what that’s a definition of? Love. It’s what love is. Love isn’t ooey-gooey feelings, walking on the beach. Love isn’t walking down the aisle. Love isn’t everything’s wonderful. Love isn’t there’s money in the bank, the kids are healthy.
Love is giving another person what they need the most, when they deserve it the least, at great personal cost. And that’s what Jesus did for you and me.