Perhaps you have begun to wonder why your husband shows no ability to change his responses to you and the children. He claims to love you; he changes for awhile, then goes right back to his old ways of pursuing his own agenda, or worse. Why is this? Why can’t he practice tender-hearted love for very long? Short spurts just don’t turn marriages around. Pretty soon someone gives up and either walks away or crawls into themselves.
What The Holy Spirit Does
The Holy Spirit not only comforts Christians, but empowers us by taking our inabilities and giving us gifts when we need them most. Gifts like love, joy, patience, self-control, humility, and repentance. They are gifts; God decides when he will give them and to whom based on a promise. If someone you live with day after day, year after year, never has the power to change their responses to you, it is only logical to wonder why. In Acts 1:8, right before many people saw Jesus rise up into the clouds, he said, “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…” Several weeks later, Peter exclaimed,
“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself “Acts 2:38-39) (bold is mine).
The promise is the presence of the Holy Spirit for all those who are beloved by God and have turned from their sins. How loving that God gives such a supporting gift to those who turn from themselves. He knew we needed support to turn from the things we have loved doing, thinking, or being. Jesus had taught earlier:
“…the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”(John 14:26)….I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you (John 16:7). When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you (John 16:13-16).
Paul, as well as Peter, affirmed this reality of the Holy Spirit. “…the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking (secondary matters of opinion), but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” ((Romans 14:17). John also believed in the Holy Spirit’s power within believers: “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us” (I John 3:24) and “By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit” (I John 4:13). Paul added, “…walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. …I warn you, as I warned you before that those who do such things (sexual immorality, sensuality, sorcery, jealousy, fits of anger, drunkenness etc) will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:16;21). …”But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;” (Galatians 5:22). (italics mine.)
What If Your Husband Is A Foolish Man?
Early in his ministry, Jesus said an astounding thing: “…every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. …And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand (Matthew 7;17-18;26).
The promise of the Holy Spirit is a big thing. He comforts, guides, enables and strengthens, gives gifts, and glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ. He comes to all who repent and believe in the atoning work of the Lord Jesus and his righteousness. It is only logical if, within the intimacy of a Christian marriage, you begin to doubt whether your husband has the Spirit’s enabling power to love you with the sacrificial love that Jesus modeled. Perhaps he really is not a Christian. If he isn’t, you might choose to stay in the marriage with differing expectations, or he might choose to leave (I Corinthians 7:12-16). After all, it must be very hard on him to live up to your biblical expectations if he truly does not have the Holy Spirit and is actually a diseased tree which cannot produce good fruit. Pray for his salvation, whether he agrees to stay with you or not. Of course, repentance and reconciliation is always the ideal.
Remembering the ocean of God’s love for us constrains us and helps us to be gentle with this unlovely, diseased tree with his lousy fruit. Except for the grace of God, we would also be without power to change. All of these verses on the fruit of the Spirit and the difference between diseased trees and healthy ones are designed for our own assurance that God has set his love upon us and given us his Spirit. You cannot give that knowledge to your husband. He has to work these things out for himself. Is it possible your husband has no biblical assurance? Does he doubt he is really a child of God? Or has he used a decision or an an ordinance like baptism to reassure himself instead of the presence of the Holy Spirit? Pray for him; perhaps he will take hold of God’s mercy yet. What about you? You aren’t a sick tree, a foolish woman, I hope!
What If He Is An Adulterer?
However, his false assurance does not excuse adultery. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Hebrews 13:5). Jesus called us all to sexual purity. If your husband is sexually active in any way other than with you, Jesus sets you free because sexual promiscuity destroys the oneness of Christian marriage (Matthew 19:1-12). Never think you must put up with this kind of betrayal, looking the other way. If you choose to stay with him, demand a cessation of his illicit sexual activity including porn, dating services, chat sites etc., etc. and a way to check up on him. True repentance is the ideal basis for staying together. Church discipline, gently applied, is a way to seek it and the reconciliation that can follow. You will know repentance by his fruit. If he just talks a good line and goes right back to that computer and phone with no transparency or accountability, then you will know he probably is a sick tree. Go to your doctor and to an attorney with God’s blessings.
God hates divorce but, because of hard hearts and an apparent absence of the Holy Spirit, he provides divorce as a way of escape. You are freed to build a new life. If your husband is a sick tree who is not sexually faithful and refuses to go to the Great Physician, take your way of escape and trust the Holy Spirit to comfort and strengthen you and provide you with wonderful gifts.