This Friday we are discussing Chapter 3 of The Excellent Wife. It’s not too late to join us. Furthermore, I don’t consider it too late to comment here and/or write your responses to previous chapters on your blog. The internet is always “on.” Just jump right in!
Martha Peace begins with an emphasis on how important it is for women to understand sin and God’s provision for sin. She explains four basic characteristics of sin:
Peace continues, “God, out of His heart of love and mercy, provided a payment for the penalty of sin. God’ provision was the Lord Jesus Christ” (author’s emphasis). It matters not whether you are kind and good, whether you have known about Jesus for all of your life, whether you teach Sunday School, or whether you’ve been baptized. The only thing that matters is knowing Jesus and trusting that He is your sole hope for salvation. If you do and He is, then you can rest in the assurance that your sins — “past, present and future” — are forgiven. It is important that we believe God makes us new when we are born again by His Spirit. Our past sins are forgiven, but we still sin. Peace writes that we are responsible to repent of our present sins. It would be detrimental to our relationships to allow a sin to become a long-standing habit. No only that, but it will take more repentance work. So, nip it in the bud early.
Finally, Peace gets practical in her description of how to “put off” sinful thoughts and desires and “put on” thoughts and desires that honor God. “How godly we become depends on how hard we work at it. Old habits of sinful thoughts and responses do not just disappear. They have to be replaced with new, godly ways of thinking and responding. Christians have to be “…transformed by the renewing of their minds” (Romans 12:2, author’s emphasis). As we work at it, the Holy Spirit supernaturally enables us. Eventually the godly response becomes the automatic response.” This is not an easy process. It is likened by Paul to the strenuous exercise of an athlete. Even in this, God has not left us to ourselves. He gives grace to save and He gives grace to help us every single day.
Again, Peace is straight to the point, oftentimes not even offering any more commentary other than the scriptures to prove her point.
On dealing with sin, I think her point that wives must forgive their spouses is an important one. Jesus teaches that we will be forgiven as we have forgiven. Forgiveness is a mark of God’s children. If we are going to have healthy, happy marriages, and be wives who glorify their Father, then we are going to be women who forgive. I’m looking forward to chapter 9.
The charts for “putting off” and “putting on” are very helpful. (They reminded me of Ginger Plowman’s “Wise Words for Moms” chart). I spent some time earlier in the week writing my own that speak specifically to my most frequent sins and sinful thoughts. Peace writes, “How hard you work at putting on the right thoughts and actions will directly affect how much like the Lord Jesus Christ you become in this life.” This statement reminded me of something the minister of our wedding said to Karl and me during our counseling session.
As he was encouraging us to make sure to spend time with Jesus daily, he said something to the effect of, “Our display of Jesus is directly proportional to the amount of time we spend with Him.” In other words, the more time I spend in prayer and in God’s word, the more I will be like Him. To the degree that I spend time focused on worldly things, that much less will I resemble Jesus. That’s pretty much the only important thing I remember from our premarital counseling session.
I was reminded again that the path of holiness is not an easy one. For a more detailed study on spiritual growth and maturity, I highly recommend you pick up Jerry Bridges book and accompanying study guide, The Practice of Godliness. It is insightful and helpful! God actually wants us to have victory over our sin. Peace said in the first two chapters: I have been set free so that I have a choice to sin or not, and I have been granted strength to stand firm. God has done the hardest part. What sin is so precious that I will not cast it off? What idol(s) am I cherishing in my heart?
This chapter helped me focus my prayer times this week on sin and some scriptures to use to encourage me to choose the narrow way. I simply wrote the scriptures out and read over them again in the mornings. That seemed to work well (as opposed to carrying around a chart) for me this week. So that when I was tempted, the Holy Spirit used those to check my heart and mind since they were fresh in my memory.
I want to read your response to chapter 3. Please email me or leave a comment. Or not. There’s no pressure to participate. We’ll meet back here next Friday for Chapter 4, “A Wife’s Understanding of Relationships: God’s Pattern.”
Women who’ve written posts for chapter 3:
Keep reading! Click for Chapter 4.