Joe Could Finally See Beyond God’s Justice into God’s Heart of Love for Him
If you possess these qualities [faith, goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, mutual affection, and love] in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins (2 Peter 1:8-9).
Joe showed up every Tuesday. The Bible study was important to him. He came because his marriage was on the rocks. He and his wife were struggling and had been for quite some time. As Joe told it, his wife was fed up with the relationship and wanted a divorce. He was holding on as tightly as he could.
As for the cause of the problems, Joe took a page from Adam’s book on marriage. When things start to fall apart, blame the wife. “The woman you put here with me…” (Genesis 3:12). Joe pinned all the blame on his wife. According to him, she was the only one at fault. He genuinely believed their marriage would be just fine if his wife changed.
Joe showed up every Tuesday to equip himself to change his wife.
I pointed this out to him on numerous occasions and told him in very clear terms his strategy would not work. But he was oblivious. After every Bible study, he went home excited to share with his wife the latest golden nugget of truth that would help her become the wife he wanted her to be.
I tried to shift his thinking. “Joe,” I said, “when you come to Bible study, open your heart to the message God has for you, not the message you think he has for your wife.”
Two years passed. Joe was losing hope for his marriage. Everything he tried widened the gap, moving them further and further apart.
One Tuesday night, after the study, Joe grabbed me to talk. He looked different. He asked me, “Have you guys been teaching this stuff all along?”
“What stuff, Joe?”
“Forgiveness–that Christ has totally forgiven all my sins.”
I wanted to hit him! Had he not heard anything for the past two years? Christ’s finished work on the cross was front and center every single week. The message was being delivered, but he wasn’t hearing.
Joe channeled all of his efforts toward controlling and changing his wife. He completely missed the message God had for him. “Ineffective and unproductive” aptly describes Joe’s efforts toward his marriage. The reason is that he forgot, or maybe he never knew, that his sins were forgiven.
Joe’s idea of God was not much different from the pagan views in the Greek and Roman Empires. The gods are angry and need to be appeased. Joe was doing his best but to no avail. His marriage continued to spiral out of control, and Joe believed God’s anger toward him was growing by the minute.
The truth broke through to Joe and his eyes were opened. He saw clearly that Christ’s sacrifice had set him apart as “holy in [God’s] sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (Colossians 1:22).
Joe could finally see beyond God’s justice into God’s heart of love for him. The veil had been lifted, and God’s grace was shining through. Understanding the truth that Jesus Christ satisfied God the Father on his behalf was the truth that changed everything for Joe and for his marriage.
If you are like Joe, living in fear of God’s punishment, let the truth of 2 Peter 1:8-9 flood your heart.