THE MOST EFFECTIVE THING YOU CAN DO
“Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24)
The modeling and practicing of repentance in your home are at the top of the list of what you both should be doing. And if you are not doing this well, your marriage can only limp along, with a Bandaid approach to death, while accelerating the accumulative frustration that leftover, hungover sinning does to you.
There is no way to circumvent the hard and humble way of going to your spouse, confessing your sin, asking for forgiveness, and for that spouse to have a similar kind of humility that forgiveness granting exemplifies to the offender.
And from that good starting point, you will know if you have authentically buried the hatchet if you can talk about what happened in nonpunitive ways. There is no biblical reason for a Christian couple not to do this, but I suspect the overwhelming majority of those who name the name of Christ do not live out authentic, practical repentance in their marriages.
But it gets better: After you have declared that you nailed the sin to Jesus’ cross, you can start doing the grace-empowered work of working through what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how to keep from repeating the offense.
Where else in God’s world can the offender and the offended collaborate in the sanctification of the offender, and the ongoing restorative development of their marriage? Real life change is a stunning turn of events for fallen people. And it’s one of the best kept secrets in Christian families and the local churches they attend.
If you are a practitioner of full repentance, keep on digging into the process. It’s a gift from the Lord (2 Timothy 2:24-25). Don’t ever let up. Refine it. Be sure it is reflexive repentance: as soon as you sin, you name it and claim it, and your spouse reflexes in a similar way by granting repentance and then restoring the marriage.
Time to Reflect:
Here are the 13-steps in sequential order to authentic, biblical repentance. I’ve labeled and defined each step for you. As you read through the list, ask yourself if you are doing these things?
Sin – What does it mean to have clearly defined sin categories?
Guilt – Do you understand that all sin brings guilt, whether you know it or not?
Conviction – Do you have a biblically informed conscience that experiences the Spirit’s conviction?
Confession – After you sin, do you “agree” with God (and anyone else you sinned against) that you transgressed?
Pre-forgiveness – When your spouse sins against you, do you quickly get to the place to where you want to forgive your spouse?
Forgiveness – When you sin, do you seek to transact forgiveness with your spouse?
Post-forgiveness – Does the power of the gospel neutralize the offense between both of you so you can talk about what happened?
Reconcile – After you ask for and receive forgiveness, are you able to reconcile by the power of the gospel.
Restoration – With the sin behind you, do you actively seek to keep from doing it again?
Put off – Do your sin categories give you the insight you need to know what to put off?
Renew your mind – As you are putting off the offense, are you training your inner person not to do it again?
Put on – What does it mean to put on Christ?
Disciple – Active repentance is not about getting better, but about getting better so you can help others. Are you practically discipling your spouse?