A couple came up to me after a speaking engagement to share with me the good news of what had happened to their marriage relationship since they both began spiritual checkups. A year earlier they had heard me speak on this subject, and at that time the wife rid herself of a load of sin that was ruining her life.
She told me how her husband had met another woman in a motel occasionally. The relationship ended. She learned about the situation when her husband and the other woman came to her and admitted they had been together.
She was livid with rage toward the other woman and refused to forgive when the woman pleaded for forgiveness. The wife nursed her rage for six years. Even though she and the other woman were now several thousand miles apart, the thought of the other woman would instantly fill her with rage.
“It was like a rope around my neck,” she said. Her rage ruined her appetite, gave her pounding headaches, and often kept her awake. She knew all along that nursing her grudge against the other woman was only punishing herself. But she felt nursing an angry spirit was not evil, but pleasurable. But as the Bible says:
But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts . . . lie [not] against the truth. . . . [it] is earthly, sensual [self-indulgent], demonic.
James 3:14-15, NKJV
At the conference a year earlier, the wife suddenly realized she was punishing herself because her husband and this other person had sinned. Their sin exposed her own sin. She deposited her six-year burden with the Lord; now she was free and their marriage was better than ever.
Can you imagine being at odds over something year after year in a relationship? It is amazing what a low standard of Christian life many of us will tolerate.
As you leave the bathroom in the morning, your appearance can be very different from when you went in. Likewise, we can behave differently from our feelings. We can feel isolated from others, alone in a crowd, detached from reality, uncomfortable, and ill at ease when people praise us. These conditions result because how we talk and act does not accurately reflect what is going on underneath our skin.
Man looks at the outward appearance. The Lord looks on the heart. What really matters is what the Lord sees. He sees the real person underneath the skin. That is why it is important that we deal with the negative (sin) in our lives. When we bring the sin in our life to God, He takes it away and we can actually feel under our skin just as we behave on the outside. This resting and peaceful condition of
God’s forgiveness gives us tremendous relief from stress and fear.