183/365 days of blogging.
Guest blog from April at Peaceful Wife.
Ok so this ended up being three posts. LOL I didn’t want to leave anything out so I decided to include the entire post but it was really long. So this is the second of the post. The next post will be part three.
THE ACTS OF THE SINFUL NATURE ARE OBVIOUS (Galatians 5:19-21)
Please think about these things in the context of YOUR behavior in your marriage. Even if what you are doing is in response to your husband’s sin – you are still sinning against God and your husband if you are involved in any of these things. And if you have this stuff going on – you cannot also have God’s Spirit’s power working in your life.
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious:
- sexual immorality – which would include erotica, pornography, flirting with other men, cherishing secret friendships with other men and confiding in them – that EASILY leads to adultery!
- impurity – what are you reading, watching and consuming with your eyes and ears?
- debauchery – from Wictionary.org –Indulgence in sensual pleasures; scandalous activities involving sex, alcohol, or drugs without inhibition.
- idolatry – we SO CASUALLY skim over this one. This is the BIGGEST sin there is. This is adultery against God. This is breaking the covenant we have with the blood of Jesus and this is breaking the first 3 commandments. We think that we are not idolators because we don’t bow down and pray to statues like pagans used to centuries ago. And we don’t even notice that we put MANY “gods” up in our hearts in our Holy God’s place. I did this. I was an idolator. I didn’t even see it. But anything I put before my devotion to Christ in my heart is an idol. I worshipped many idols – all the while deceiving myself into believing that I was a “good Christian wife.” If there is something you HAVE to have to be at peace or to be happy – check yourself carefully! I put my husband up as an idol. I wanted him to be completely responsible for MY happiness. And if I wasn’t happy – it was his fault. He needed to change. He needed to do things for me. And no matter how much he did – I was insatiable and wanted more. You know why? Idols can’t fulfill our souls. Idols can’t bring the fruit of the Spirit in our hearts. God will not allow me to be satisfied with idols! Idols create anxiety, dissatisfaction, discontentment, depression and hopelessness. We continue to serve our idols – expecting them to be Christ to us, expecting them to bring us joy, expecting them to never let us down – and we are disappointed over and over and over but we don’t understand why. I made being in “control” an idol. I lived as if God really didn’t exist and everything in my life completely depended on ME to make it work out right. I believed I was sovereign, not God. I didn’t consciously think that! But I believed I knew what was best for me and for my husband and everyone around me. I believed all the weight and responsibility was completely on ME to make things be ok. And the more I tried to control, the more miserable I was and everyone around me was. But I didn’t know how NOT to try to control and I didn’t understand that I wasn’t in control even when I thought I was. I was just spinning my wheels. God was still sovereign. I wasn’t preventing anything bad from happening. And I was actually causing bad things to happen because my MASSIVE pride repelled my husband and others away from me. I thought I was keeping myself safe and that if things happened the way I thought they should, we would live longer, be healthier, be happier, be closer as a couple, have more intimacy, and BE AT PEACE. But I was never at peace. I was trying to carry the weight of the universe – God’s weight. And I was trying to carry the weight of the responsibility of our marriage and family – my husband’s weight. I saw God as being tiny and wimpy and my husband as being tiny and wimpy and ME as knowing what needed to happen much better than they did. And I saw myself as being SO VERY WISE AND STRONG. But I wasn’t. I couldn’t actually control anything. And it is VERY stressful trying to control things you really can’t control. I had to see how ridiculous my efforts were and see a much more accurate picture of the strength, wisdom and sovereignty of God and see a much more accurate picture of my husband’s strength, wisdom and leadership. I had to HUMBLE myself A LOT and bring myself down MANY, MANY, MANY notches. Just like Jesus saw that being equal with God was not something to try to grasp, but He took on the humble nature of a servant, I had to see that trying to be equal or better than my husband or God was sinful and prideful and I had to lower myself appropriately and see myself accurately, not in a self-condemning way – but to see myself as God sees me and not to try to be more than who I really am. I also made marriage an idol at times, and fixing up our house, and having a certain income, and even trusting in our 401K and retirement instead of trusting God, and trusting our government instead of trusting God. I had to be willing to look at where I was really putting my trust. And if I had trust scattered about in places, I had to tear that down and ONLY put my trust in Christ. This is PAINFUL. It is HARD work. It is scary at first. But I had to dig down to the very rock bottom of the foundation of my faith to Christ and dig up everything else and throw it away. I had to realize that I was programmed incorrectly, and that I actually didn’t know much of anything about being a godly woman, a godly wife, a follower of Christ, a godly mom or any of the most important roles I had in life. So I decided to toss out all I had learned from our culture and allow God to rebuild it all in me with His Word and His precious materials. I don’t want ANYTHING that is not of Him! Some of us have food as an idol, or body image, or a certain weight, or a certain size, or our beauty, or a famous person, or a friend, or a job, or greed, or money, or another man we know we shouldn’t be talking to but he is SO exciting! Some of us make idols of being happy, feeling loved, feeling in love, feeling infatuated. Some of us make idols of our husbands’ visual purity – I can’t rest until I KNOW that he isn’t looking at other women or at pornography! I HAVE to MAKE him be pure! I will monitor him constantly and check up on him and spy on him to be sure so that I can be happy. And I will NOT be content or at peace in Christ if there is ANY sin in my husband’s mind or heart – no matter how big the piles of pride and judgment are in my soul! I will NOT be happy if my husband doesn’t do X. If he doesn’t have a job, if he doesn’t fix the house, if he doesn’t tell me I look beautiful, if he doesn’t play with the kids, if he doesn’t have sex with me so many times per week, if he doesn’t take us to the church I want to go to, if he doesn’t let me homeschool the children, if he doesn’t let me stay home, if he doesn’t let me work, if he doesn’t lead the way I want him to lead, if he doesn’t agree with me, if he doesn’t DO WHAT I WANT HIM TO – IF I CANNOT CONTROL HIM – I WILL NOT BE CONTENT! Christ is NOT enough for me! I MUST have X to be happy! I MUST have X to be content! I will NOT accept my husband as he is and forgive his sins against me. I MUST make him into MY image and make him be what I want him to be or I will be miserable and make him miserable. I will NOT extend grace to my husband unless he parents the way I think it best. I know best! I know better than my husband, I know better than God! There is NO END to all the idols our human hearts can devise. And that makes me chief among sinners. My idolatrous heart.
- hatred – OUCH! I held on to grudges for years. I wanted to forgive. I knew that Jesus said I couldn’t be forgiven by God if I didn’t forgive. I tried to forgive – but see, I really felt like I had been so much more wronged by my husband or whoever than I had ever wronged them – that I could justify that I deserved not to have to forgive them. I was “right” to feel upset, angry, hurt, betrayed, offended and wounded. I set myself up above God when I did this. Because God is willing to forgive repentant sinners. But I was not. WHAT INCREDIBLE PRIDE I HAD!!!!!!!!!! It was unfathomable. And I didn’t even see it.
- discord – not getting along, not being peaceable, not living in harmony. OUCH! Everything was about ME before. What I wanted, what I thought, what I saw, what I thought was important. I didn’t give a lot of thought to what my husband wanted. Of course, he really didn’t say much about it. But all that was on my radar screen was MY PAIN, my wounds, my hurts, my desires, my goals, my needs, my purposes, my plans. I was going to be in charge because my husband clearly wouldn’t lead. I mean, I would ask him to make a decision, and if he didn’t make that decision in 5 minutes, I would be exasperated and declare that I HAD to take over because he wouldn’t lead. I didn’t allow any space for him to think or process differently from me. I allowed no grace or understanding for him to be a MAN and to need time or not be pressured. I didn’t have faith in him. I didn’t give him the time he needed to lead. I was SO IMPATIENT. And in my impatience and pride, I would cut down my husband with my hateful words and injure him to the point that he knew he wasn’t safe with me. He knew he couldn’t share his heart openly with me because he knew I would just rip him to shreds with my tongue. What do you say to yourself to justify your sinful behavior toward your husband? My disrespect was direct disobedience to God’s Word AND causes strife and discord in my marriage. That does NOT bring glory to God and, in fact, repels other people from the gospel of Christ. My disrespect of my husband is THAT big of a deal.
- jealousy – some women are jealous of their husband’s attention to other women or to their children. I was jealous of the tv, the computer, and the cat. Why would my husband spend all that time with those things and not me? How could he be so unloving? I wanted to throw those things out the window! Then he’d pay attention to ME! And the whole time, I had no idea that I was the reason he wasn’t paying attention to me. I had been so disrespectful that he had to try to protect himself from my critical, judgmental, prideful, “always right”, spiritually superior spirit.
- fits of rage – YUCK. You know – I don’t like this list one bit! Yes, I would have fits of rage when I felt that my husband was ignoring me and not paying attention to me. I would get REALLY, REALLY upset. I did throw a pair of panties at him once. They didn’t reach him. He was far away. But he looked SO hurt – “You THREW something at me!??!” That first summer we were married was AWFUL. AWFUL. AWFUL. I felt SO abandoned, SO deeply rejected, SO ignored, SO unloved that I guess I felt justified in acting the way I did. I cried constantly. I demanded attention. I tried to MAKE him love me again. I raised the volume when he would ignore me. I stormed out of the house and drove around the neighborhood in despair. I didn’t want to be married! I had waited 6 years for this man and THIS is what I had waited for!?!!?!?!? I was convinced he didn’t love me. I had nowhere else to go. I would have to come home eventually. And he’d still be watching tv, ignoring me – when I came home. I wanted to hurt him. I wanted to hit him. I hated his calm, unaffected ways of acting like I didn’t exist. I felt betrayed. I felt completely justified in my anger and unforgiveness.
- selfish ambition – making myself look “better” than my husband, wanting what I want and not caring about his feelings, his dreams, his desires, his goals, his plans… not caring that God made HIM the leader, not me.
- dissensions – I was pretty good at that – getting upset, talking to other people, proving how justified I was to be upset and angry and not forgive.
- factions – in extended family – I was good at that, too!
- envy – I definitely envied my friends who seemed to have better marriages and “better” husbands than I did. Not pretty. That was ugly sin in God’s eyes!
- drunkenness – I didn’t do this one. But I had enough other sin that I made up for it, I’m sure! If you are using alcohol or drugs to escape reality or to find your purpose in life – it’s time to repent of that addiction and idol and be freed from your slavery to the addiction! You may need godly, experienced counsel for this!
I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
So, as you can see – I didn’t fare well with this examination in the past. I was NOT operating with the power of God’s Spirit and I did not have any of the fruit of His Spirit – because I had grieved His Spirit.
Examine yourself, precious wife. What is God lovingly showing you that needs to go?