I am not the Holy Spirit. It is not my job to convict my husband – or anyone else – of sin. And it is not my job to make people repent. I don’t get to make people’s decisions for them. I am not them. I don’t have the right to usurp their free will. Even God does not usurp our free will. He allows us to make our own choices.
My husband is not also not the Holy Spirit – and he is not me. I cannot try to make him responsible for me spiritually. He doesn’t get to make my decisions for me.
Yes, he is in a position of delegated spiritual authority over me. God can and will use him to lead me and even to teach me some spiritual things – especially if he is a believer. (I have seen God use unbelieving husbands to speak sanctifying truth and even give godly rebukes to their believing wives sometimes, as well.) God may also use spiritual leaders at my church to help guide me and to teach me spiritual things. But, ultimately, I must weigh what my husband and pastors/teachers/mentors say against God’s Word and seek to obey God to the best of my understanding as I seek to be filled with God’s Spirit and to handle His Word rightly. God, His Spirit and His Word are higher authorities in my life than any human. I am accountable to God for my obedience and my sin. Those in positions of leadership are accountable to God for their leadership, their obedience and their sin.
Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. I John 4:1
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15
I may need to confront my husband about sin in his life, when appropriate and necessary, once I have taken care of sin in my own life. (Matthew 7:1-5, Matthew 18:15-17) However, my primary responsibility is to ask God to show me my own sin so I can repent of anything that offends God in my life and focus on walking in the power of God’s Spirit and in obedience to Christ myself. God hates pride and self-righteousness and loves those who are humble before Him and others.
“These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.” Isaiah 66:2
I may gently, humbly, respectfully confront sin in the lives of others, as I am sensitive to God’s Spirit, walking in obedience to His Word and to His promptings at appropriate times when necessary, but I must leave the results with God and the people involved. I can explain something ten times a day about God to a wife every day for 6 months, but until God opens her eyes, she cannot see or understand.
I cannot open anyone’s eyes to God and His truth. I cannot even open my own eyes. That is the Holy Spirit’s job.
My job is to point people to Christ, to share His Word, to obey God, to love them, to love God, to be filled with His Spirit, and to be fully available and useful to Him. But He is the key here. Not me. He doesn’t NEED me. He loves me. He can use me. But He doesn’t depend on me – as if His plans would all be thwarted if I mess up. His sovereignty and my free will work together in ways my brain cannot begin to fathom.
I need God desperately and depend completely on Christ. I must do what God calls me to do to share with others and then leave them in God’s hands and trust and pray that God will open their eyes in His timing. I rest in His sovereignty and let Him carry the weight of other people’s problems and their souls. I cannot carry that weight.
When it comes to pointing a husband to Christ, God gives wives a very specific way to do that – it is without our words about spiritual things, but through our respectful, pure, chaste behavior. I Peter 3:1-6. If I want to point my husband to Christ, I must trash my own way of doing this! My way, in my human wisdom, will only repel my husband. If I am to influence my husband for Christ, I must be willing to do it God’s way!
- The decisions other people make belong to them, if they are grown adults.
- My decisions belong to me.
- Their decisions are their own to make whether they do what I want them to do or not. They will face the consequences for their decisions. They will answer to God for their decisions. I don’t have the right to try to use manipulation, guilt, playing the martyr or people pleasing to try to get my way.
- I cannot force anyone to do anything. Of course, I may experience some of the painful consequences of the sins of others. That is going to happen at times as we live in relationships with sinners. And others are going to be hurt by my sin at times, too. Thankfully, God is “so sovereign” that He is able to even use what others intend for evil against me for my ultimate good and His glory if I belong to Christ (Romans 8:28-29 and Genesis 37-40, the story of Joseph). He is able to do the same with my sin, too, I am so thankful!
- My goal cannot be to “always avoid pain” and “never let anyone sin against me.” My goal must be to trust God to empower me and to be with me – to walk through whatever may come. If someone is severely sinning against me and is unrepentant even after I follow Matthew 7:1-5 and Matthew 18:15-17, I may have to set appropriate boundaries until he/she repents.
- My decisions and the consequences of them belong to me. Other people cannot force me to do things, God gives me a free will.
- I can chose to follow and honor my husband’s leadership if he is not asking me to clearly sin or to condone clear sin or to do something illegal or seriously dangerous and if he is in his right mind (not high, drunk, mentally ill, physically abusive, etc…). But I do need to be able to decide to obey God rather than men if someone in authority over me (the government, my husband, my boss) asks me to do something that blatantly goes against God’s Word. (for more on this issue, please check the post Spiritual Authority)
WHAT I AM ACCOUNTABLE FOR
- I am responsible to God to love Him with all my heart, mind, soul and strength and to love others with His love, including to love Greg with the agape love of Christ (Matthew 22:37-40, I Corinthians 13:4-8) no matter what anyone else is doing or is not doing. (For wives who are in actual danger, please see the note at the bottom of this post.)
- I am responsible to be the wife and woman God commands me to be in His Word no matter if no one else in the world is seeking and following Christ, no matter how badly the generations before me dropped the ball, no matter how ungodly/godly the examples I had in my life were when I was growing up and no matter what my husband is/is not doing at the moment.
- I am responsible to examine my own motives and to confess any sin, to turn away from it and to be in right relationship with God through the power of what Jesus did for me on the cross independent of what anyone else is doing.
- I am responsible for my motives, attitudes, actions, behaviors, sin and obedience to God even when others sin against me. There is no “free pass” for sin available to me. God always hates all sin.
- I am responsible to tell others directly, and usually – privately, if they are wronging me or sinning against me so that they have a chance to make things right (Matthew 18:15-17).
- I am responsible to forgive others’ sins against me (that does not mean I must trust them until they are willing to rebuild trust, my trust is to be fully in God) if I want God to forgive me (Matthew 6:14-15).
- I am responsible TO others to love them with God’s love and to treat them with honor (The 2nd greatest commandment God gives us is to love others, Matthew 22:37-40) – but I am not responsible FOR them or their decisions or to try to rescue them from the consequences of all of their poor choices.
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
Other people are responsible for these things in their own lives. We each own our own sin and our own obedience to God. God will judge us individually.
I can and should share my desires, needs, feelings and ideas. I can share God’s truth. But it is wrong of me to attempt to force my way on others. God doesn’t force Himself on us. He is a Gentleman. He allows us to have free will. He waits for us to invite Him into our lives voluntarily – at the prompting of His Spirit’s call. I don’t have the right to try to take away another adult’s free will.
No one has the right to take away my free will, either. My husband can ask me to do something, he can direct me to do something. But then I ultimately have the choice as to what I will do and I will bear the consequences for my choices. Of course, if anyone makes sinful choices, they will suffer for that, those around them will suffer and God’s heart will be grieved. Sin hurts everyone and is a toxic poison to all of our relationships.
As a believer, I willingly sacrifice my will to my Lord and choose to die to self and live for Christ. Now I live for His will and His desires, not my own.
If your husband is extremely controlling (i.e.: monitoring your every keyboard stroke, monitoring every conversation you have, monitoring where your car is and where you are every moment of the day), has a violent temper or is physically hurting you, please seek appropriate counsel and help. Some abused wives think if they were “more respectful” their husbands wouldn’t be abusive – that the abuse is “their fault.” That is not true. Abusive husbands (or wives) who are very controlling or physically abusive need help. They will be abusive no matter what their wife does because often there are major issues in their own lives. A wife could purposely try to rile up the anger of an abusive husband. That is unwise. But abuse is about something going on in the abuser’s soul – that is how he would treat any woman to whom he was married.
In a similar way, I would have been a controlling, disrespectful wife no matter to whom I was married – because my sinful nature was bent that way. We need the power of Christ and His blood shed for us to overcome the power of sin in our lives.
If your husband demands respect in a violent way or tells you that you are always 100% of the problem in the marriage and never takes any responsibility for his own sin and/or you are not safe, please seek appropriate counsel or get somewhere safe ASAP if you are truly in danger. Contact the National Hotline for Domestic Violence if you need to.
- A wife’s respect and biblical submission can bless most husbands and can be healing in most marriages. But a wife’s respect and biblical submission cannot “fix” violence, alcoholism, drug addictions, mental health problems or real abuse.
I believe a wife can act with respect, as in – she doesn’t have to sin against her husband even if he is abusive. But, she may need to set up boundaries or possibly leave if she is in true danger. If this is your situation, my heart absolutely breaks for you, but please don’t read my blog and quickly seek appropriate help! God is able to heal you and transform you. His Word is powerful and healing for us all. But I am not experienced with abuse and you are going to need very specialized, experienced help.