[Wait–what? …Uh, okay, then, here’s an open letter from Web to me, I guess. Be sure to follow Web at @livingheart on Twitter.]
In just a month and a half, you’ll be a married man, and your (then) wife will discover exactly what she was getting herself into. You will too, but if your experience is anything like mine (and any other husband worth their salt) you’ll find you married up, which unfortunately leaves your wife with the other side of that Schwartz. So today I’m writing you an open letter which, should you choose to publish it to your wonderful blog, I hope will also be instructive and/or encouraging to the folks daring enough to come and read the monologueings of folk like me.
Allright, now that I’ve gotten the obligatory greeting out of the way, and hopefully made you comfortable enough to deal with the entrée, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of my open letter to you.
The old man still resides in you, my friend. He has been decisively slain by our Lord and Christ Jesus, has been given a sure day of final death when we will be made as He is – because we will see Him as He is, the Holy Spirit inspired John to note that we will then BE as He is, namely, pure and holy, the reality of the blemishlessness that God promised that Christ would perfect them to – and yet, he wrestles and struggles and fights as he dies; and he is dying, and he knows it, if I can personify as Paul did. And as Charles Spurgeon, in a sermon he preached from Job, masterfully made clear, this struggling of the old man is to Satan’s delight, for it is that wretched enemy’s joy to see that any shred of glory that could be given to God by our purity in Christ is stained in every way possible by the out-workings of the vile flesh and its sinful desires.
And in my experience it’s the nature of marriage that this struggling will only increase, and more so because your heart’s desire is for the Holy Spirit, and for your Master Christ, and for your Father our God, and for Him to have His way in you, to do everything He promised to do in His Word in you and through you and with you – and yet even more because by your study I see you desire to be a teacher, perhaps even an elder or pastor. These are all good things, gifts from our Father who loves us, tools for His working out in us the perfection imputed to us by Jesus, proving brands by which the Father will glorify His son in you in this world – please don’t ever forget that.
The reason I’m writing to you, and reminding you of things you know very well, is because there are so many men nowadays who seem to be dropping like flies around us. It’s like somewhere along the way that they were deceived into thinking that the old man in them had gone to sleep or something, maybe that he’d given up on squeezing another shame out of them, that perhaps it was now locked in a room to where they could attain perfection in this life and no longer worry about ”killing sin before it killed them”.
But what they thought was silent slumber was merely the old man in the pounce position, waiting for that moment when their weakness was ripest, when it could close the distance quickly and precisely with little resistance from its lame prey. We’ve seen it with men being caught in massive pride, in giving up the truth for something more “loving” and convenient, in finally having their besetting sin revealed for all the world to see – some even gross and heinous – and all along they thought they were safe. At worst, some of them thought they’d gotten away with it.
My friend, these men scare me for your sake because they scare me for mine. They prove, as a good brother has said before, that “no one is safe from sin this side of heaven.” And the old man is so near to us, and the delicacies of sin – as David described them in Psalm 141 – are so desirable at certain seasons of our life, and in those seasons we forget what they cost; and ANYONE at any time is capable of tasting those things and finding them good! Even as another brother has said, “Even faithful pastors and Christians are liable to not believing that God is God and that God is good.” And the enemy is always prowling, seeking someone to devour, someone to lead into their besetting sin and shame Christ again, always looking for an unholy itch to scratch so that he might defame and shame God in His people.
In light of all of this, as you rightly enjoy the myriad joys that come with being married – good gifts from God our Father – I want to encourage you to remember all that I know you’ve learned from the Word concerning being a husband as you deal with marriage in this age: to live with your wife in an understanding way, treating her as a co-heir with Christ; to love her has Christ loved the church, in all the ways He loves the church; to forgive her as God in Christ has forgiven you; to pursue unity with her; to flee from the lusts of your heart, and from whatever your particular besetting sin may be, and submit to Christ. I sure don’t want to deflate your excitement over all that becomes good in marriage (as if!), but because we live in such dangerous times, I want you to know my love and concern for you and your future wife, to know that I will be praying for you as often as I remember, and above everything else, to remind you that our Lord, Jesus Christ, who sits at the right hand of God our Father until He makes His enemies a footstool for His feet, He prayed for you, for all of us, that His Father keep us from the evil one, and that the Helper, His very Holy Spirit, works in us that we might work mightily the good works He’s prepared in advance for us. Find comfort in that as you keep one eye on the marvelous joys of “this momentary marriage” as a brother has put it, and the other eye on the old man and his employer, our adversary.
I hope you receive this in the spirit in which it was written, that you know I praise God for the joys that you’ll experience in marriage, in finding that your wife can be your nearest ally and most sure friend and fellow-soldier, in having someone love all those odd, quirky things you do and sometimes even do them with you, in seeing the grace and mercy of Christ being displayed toward you as your spouse seeks to work out the commands our Lord has given her in dealing with you – and again, if you’re going to be a husband worth his salt, you’ll find that the grace exercised more toward you than by you (I think Scripture says we can out-do one another in this thing, so try that out)!
Grace and peace to you, and to your future wife.
Your brother and co-blogger.