The Bad News for all of us – men and women
- All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
- No one is righteous on his or her own. Not even one. (Romans 3:10)
- All of our human attempts at righteousness look bloody, filthy menstrual rags in God’s holy sight. (Isaiah 64:6)
The Good News for all of us – men and women
- Jesus lived the perfect life we could not live on our behalf. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- Jesus died the death we each deserved to completely pay for our sins out of His goodness and righteousness. (John 3:16)
- Jesus did all of the work necessary to make us right with God. We can’t earn salvation or right relationship with God. (Ephesians 2:8-10)
- We can choose to receive His sacrifice and gift by faith so that we are in right standing before God and don’t have to fear condemnation and he’ll because of our sins. (Romans 8)
- When we live for Christ and become His disciples – living for Him as LORD, His Spirit transforms us to make us more and more like Jesus. (Galatians 5:12-26, Romans 6, Romans 8)
- We are no longer slaves to sin when we are in Christ. His Spirit gives us the power to walk in holiness and obedience to Him as we yield ourselves completely to Him in all things as Lord. (Romans 6:6, Philippians 4:13, Galatians 5:12-26)
IN RELATIONSHIPS (including dating/courtship/engagement), ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE, A DISCIPLE OF CHRIST WILL:
- Be humble and eager to learn and grow more spiritually. (Proverbs 9:8, James 4:6, Philippians 2)
- Repent of any known sin and hate sin, seeking God’s help to walk in victory over sin, and will produce the fruit of repentance. (Matthew 3:8, John 14:23-24, 1 John 1:9, 1 John 3:9-10)
- Seek to forgive all sins against himself/herself because this is an unconditional command of Christ that we must forgive any who sin against us or God will not forgive us. (Matthew 6:12-15)
- Seek to make things right if he/she wronged someone else. (Matthew 5:23-24)
- Seek to live in peace and unity with others. (John 17:23, Romans 12:18)
- Gently, humbly, respectfully, lovingly confront sin in another believer after examining his/her own heart for any sin and dealing with that first. (Matthew 7:1-5. Matthew 18:15-17, Galatians 6:1)
- Graciously and wisely receive a godly rebuke and learn from it. (Proverbs 12:1)
- Seek God’s will above his/her own will. (Matthew 6:33, Galatians 2:20)
- Seek the good of others and seek to bless them – even repaying evil with good. (Philippians 2:4, Romans 12:17-21)
Forgiveness is an unconditional command of God. We are all to forgive all sin against us whether the offender repents to us or not. (Matthew 6:12-15) Our lives, as those who love Christ, are to be marked by forgiveness never by toxic bitterness. Bitterness, unforgiveness, and resentment open the door for the enemy to infiltrate our lives and for him to begin to take over areas in our souls. (Ephesians 4:27)
We can all extend the grace of God once we have received it ourselves – His undeserved favor – to others by treating them with His unconditional love and by treating others with honor and respect no matter how they treat us. We don’t hold a grudge against others (James 5:9, Ephesians 4:31). We don’t take revenge because that is God’s place (Romans 12:17). We pray for those who mistreat us and bless those who curse us. We also will lay down our own expectations at times and seek to understand more than to be understood. We can be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger (James 1:19).
We all will need much grace and in relationships, even with other believers, we will need to generously give much grace. We have the power to do this because we have received the grace Jesus has given us.
Grace is not “license to sin.”
Grace does not mean that God gives us a free pass to sin (Romans 6:1-15). I can’t purposely go about sinning claiming, “Oh, well, God will forgive me. No big deal.” He requires us to live holy lives and He gives us the power to do so through His Spirit living in us. No we cannot live in holiness in our strength. But we can when His Spirit is in full control! We give grace to others freely as God does to us. But that does not mean we approve or condone sin or that we ignore clear sin. I hope that makes sense.
We don’t have permission to hold onto sinful anger or to try to be someone else’s Holy Spirit. We don’t have the ability to earn God’s favor and love.
There is this delicate balance between the sinful extremes of licentiousness and legalism. Both of these things are false teaching.
- Licentiousness says, “There is grace so I can live however I want and sin as much as I want and just ask for forgiveness and God will forgive me. I don’t have to change anything in my life or submit to Christ as Lord!”
- Legalism says, “I can be perfect on my own and good and holy in my own power. I don’t need grace or Jesus. I can impress God with my own righteousness.
The truth is that we all need grace from God desperately and that God will give us the power to live holy lives by His Spirit working in and through us as we yield to Him as LORD.
Some ways we can show grace to our men:
- Adjusting unrealistic expectations (whether from Hollywood, our background, Christian books we have read, or whatever the source).
- Seeking to understand them and not expect them to think, speak, and act like women.
- Assuming the best not the worst.
- Keeping things that were forgiven in the past and not harping on them.
- Not freaking out but responding in the power of God’s love and wisdom.
- Seeking to trust whenever possible.
- Looking for and focusing on the good.
- Letting them make their own decisions and honoring their free-will – not trying to control them.
- Learning how to show real respect.
- Learning to handle conflict in a calm, productive, healthy, godly way.
- Avoiding blaming and shaming him.
- Being flexible.
- Being gentle.
- Allowing them to do things differently from how we may do them without labeling them as being “wrong.”
- Allowing them the freedom to grow and to learn to lead and love even if they make mistakes at times.
- Giving encouragement, affirmation, and using our words to bless not to tear down.
REBUILDING TRUST AND FELLOWSHIP:
Trust is not an unconditional command and neither is fellowship. Fellowship and unity are goals in our relationships as believers – but they cannot be achieved if one person continues on in sin. We are also not commanded to marry those who profess Christ but who live comfortably in unrepentant sin. The command is that we are to marry only those who are “in the Lord.” If someone is happy living in known unrepentant sin, I John 3:9-10 says that person doesn’t know God. That is a big problem. It’s time to slow down. Pray. Fast. And seek God very carefully in such a situation before proceeding forward.
We must – by the power of God’s Spirit flowing through us – extend genuine forgiveness to a man who has sinned against us. But we are not required to trust that man until he is willing to rebuild trust and show that he is serious about making things right. If we are not sure about his relationship with Christ, we would be wise to wait to be sure there is real fruit of repentance and fruit of the Spirit in his life before we marry him.
We are not required to marry a man who is unwilling to give up his porn addiction, alcohol addiction, sexual immorality, or rage issues. In fact, God’s Word warns us not to associate or even eat with people who claim Christ but whose lives are marked by things like alcoholism, idolatry, sexual immorality, greed, addictions, etc… (1 Corinthians 5:11). Proverbs warns us against associating with a short-tempered man (Proverbs 22:24). The same goes for women who profess Christ but who embrace these kinds of sins – believers should not associate with them either, much less date/marry them.
If He Sins and Truly Repents
If a believing boyfriend sins and realizes he fell and he truly repents (turns completely away from his sin) and seeks to be right with God and seeks to make things right with his girlfriend, then a believing woman can forgive and extend grace and begin to seek to rebuild trust as she prayerfully considers her steps. If her boyfriend is clearly seeking God first and is willing to invest wholeheartedly in the Lordship of Christ, in the Word, and is willing to have accountability and godly discipling (depending on the severity of the sin), they may be able to work through an issue where he sinned against her and continue on growing together toward Christ. They may be able to go on to have a godly marriage.
But she will want to be sure there is the fruit of repentance and the fruit of the Holy Spirit in his life before marrying him – and the same should be true with her. All known sin should be dealt with ASAP in all of our lives. Let’s deal with that before marriage because marriage magnifies and exposes sin, it doesn’t fix it. Let’s also learn whether someone is really a disciple of Christ before marriage rather than assuming they are even if there is no fruit of the Spirit and then realizing later that they professed Christ falsely.
These same things would apply to a man with past baggage and past sin. Has he repented? Has God changed him? Has he worked through the scars and lies and issues? Where is he spiritually now? Has he dealt with these things thoroughly enough to be prepared about how to handle the scars and the issues that may come up from them in marriage? If not, it would be wise to try to deal with these kinds of things before getting married – for both the man and the woman.
Of course there will be sin to deal with after marriage, but all known sin should be thoroughly dealt with in godly ways before marriage – including godly mentoring/discipleship/counseling if needed so that the couple can work through things in a productive way that prepares them to have a strong, godly marriage.
If He Sins and Refuses to Repent
If a boyfriend sins and is unwilling to repent of his sin, that is a different situation. A woman who is living for Christ will extend forgiveness and grace to him. But she may not be able to move forward in relationship and fellowship until he is willing to repent. She would want to follow Matthew 7:1-5 and Matthew 18:15-17 and she may decide to seek to salvage the relationship. But if he continues to cherish sin in his heart and is unwilling to allow God to change him, she may have to prayerfully stop the relationship until he is willing to turn from sin and turn to God and there is fruit of repentance in his life. (A godly man would approach the situation of his girlfriend sinning and refusing to repent the same way.)
In this post we are talking about things that are clearly sin – not things that are a matter of personal conviction.
Ultimately, our trust is always in Christ, not in our men.
- Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5
- The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him. Psalm 28:7
- He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. Psalm 112:7
- You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3
- It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in humans. Psalm 118:8
Give Your Suitor Some Grace from www.desiringgod.org
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