This imaginary person will likely be younger, healthier, and more amply proportioned. They might be smarter, funnier, or just more pleasant to be around. They’ll like your friends, but they won’t begrudge your time with your friends, either. They’ll never remind you about household chores, unless you were meaning to do something and forgot. They’ll spend money wisely and take care of your belongings. They’ll laugh at your jokes, agree with your plans, appreciate your charm, compliment your looks, enjoy your presence, build your reputation, welcome your advances, take your arm, hold your hand, dry your tears, and love your soul.
You’ll never actually meet this person because they don’t exist. You’ll think they do, and you’ll think you have, even though no one can be that perfect all the time. Nevertheless, there they’ll be – them, not your spouse – right when you need them the most.
And they’ll be Satan’s gift to you.
You will be happy, happier with them than you’ve been in a long, long time. You’ll tell yourself, as well as anyone who’ll listen, “God wants me to be happy.” You’ll be in love with them, and you’ll be reminded that “Love is of God.” You’ll have found in them your soul-mate, and you’ll remember that God created man and woman to become one flesh. You will believe that this person is a gift from God.
Naturally, you’ll forget that God honors marriage and condemns adulterers. (Heb. 13:4) You’ll forget that God forbade anyone to divide what he has joined. (Matt. 19:6) You’ll forget that joy comes in obeying Jesus, not defying him. (John 15:10-11) You’ll forget that love is found in sacrifice, not self-satisfaction. (Eph. 5:25)
You will forget all of this – and deny it when reminded – because Satan’s substitute will make you feel so incredibly good. They will be all you’ve ever thought you wanted in a lover, and you won’t notice the amazing coincidence that this person is succeeding in exactly the same areas that you think your spouse has failed. They will do, say, and give to you everything your spouse won’t.
Because your spouse can’t.
Because no one can.
No one can fully satisfy the demands we place upon the world around us. No one can treat us like the queen or king we imagine ourself to be. No one can fulfill our cravings of self-importance because as soon as they try, we crave more. When we begin to focus on our needs and wants, our spouse will always fail to satisfy, because no one can measure up to the ideals of our pride.
But Satan will offer the illusion of perfection. He always does. That’s his game.
He is willing to give you anything to get what he wants. If he was willing to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world for one act of worship, he’ll give you your fantasy partner and take your marriage in exchange.
Of course, once that’s done you’ll find your new mate to be just as deficient as your old one. They’ll have to spend more time with you and discover what your spouse already knew, that you’re not as wonderful 24/7 as you seemed in 30-minute flashes of passion. And you’ll probably discover the same about them. But it will be too late. Your family will have been destroyed and your life forever damaged.
But Satan will have what he wanted – your marriage.
Because marriage is where God unites two sinners to learn how badly they both need him.
Because marriage is where God pours out his grace to help two people get closer to him, and to each other.
Because marriage is where God pictures the Gospel of sacrificial love and joyful submission.
Because a joy-filled, Christ-centered marriage becomes a beacon of glory to God and hope to a fallen world.
And Satan hates all of that.
So watch. When Satan stresses your marriage, strains your relationship, and steps all over your ego, get ready. He’s about to supply someone who offers to make everything better.
I promise you, they will only ever make everything much, much worse.
The Scriptures warn about this in 1 Corinthians 7:4-5. What other warnings would you offer to someone struggling with this kind of temptation?