“Marriage’s Mirror” – Proverbs 27:5-9

May 18th, 2014

Proverbs 27:5-9

“Marriage’s Mirror”

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Bible Memory Verse for the Week:   He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored. —  Proverbs 13:18


The question to be answered is . . . What kind of a person is willing to accept criticism, rebuke, correction, teaching and training?


Answer:  A person who is willing to accept criticism understands his own depravity and need for correction; is convinced that the rebuker is loving, wise and concerned for his best interests and welfare; is wanting to be like Jesus and therefore open to correction; and one who ultimately finds his security, confidence, and value in the unchangeable and loving nature of the God Who created him.


One of the best wedding gifts God gave you was a full-length mirror called your spouse.  Had there been a card attached, it would have said, “Here’s to helping you discover what you’re really like!”  (Gary and Betsy Ricucci)


The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.


What if marriage was to make you holy, not happy?   The best tool to moving us towards sanctification is our spouse; not our Sunday School teacher, not our pastor, not our seminary, not even our small groups.  Others simply do not have the full-ranged exposure to your life to know all of your flaws, warts and sins.  I’ll bet your spouse does. One of the great benefits of marriage is the loving rebuke our spouse is able to give us that can assist us towards sanctification and holiness.  But, do we accept rebuke or correction?   A truly righteous person will.


The Word for the Day is . . . Correct


What kind of a person is the Bible assuming will embrace marriage’s(as well as others’ & the Bible’s) mirror?:

I.  A person whose eyes have been opened and is convinced of his depravity and need for correction, reproof, discipline, and teaching at the hands of one who truly loves him and is committed to the standard of God’s Word.  (Prv 3:11-12; 12:1; 15:31-32; 27:5-9; Mt 6:22-23; 7:1-8; 13:1-24; Lk 6:38-42; 11:34-36; Jn ch 9; Rom 2:1-8; 12:3; 1 Cor 13:12;  2 Tm 3:16-17; Heb 12:4-6; Jas 1:23-24; 1 Jn 3:18)


Studies show that spouses hold one another to greater levels of personal responsibility and self-discipline than friends or other family members can.  Just to give one example, single people can spend money unwisely and self-indulgently without anyone to hold them accountable.  But married people make each other practice saving, investment, and delayed gratification.  Nothing can mature character like marriage.  (“The Surprising Economic Benefits of Marriage,” in Wilcox, The State of Our Unions, 86)


Marriage is the operation by which a woman’s vanity and a man’s egotism are extracted without anesthetic.  (Helen Rowland)


People are appalled when they get sharp, far-reaching criticisms from their spouses.  They immediately begin to think they married the wrong person.  But you must realize that it isn’t ultimately your spouse who is exposing the sinfulness to your heart–its’ marriage itself.  Marriage does not so much bring you into confrontation with your spouse as confront you with yourself.  Marriage shows you a realistic, unflattering picture of who you are and then takes you by the scruff of the neck and forces you to pay attention to it.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 154)


Don’t resist this power that marriage has.  Give your spouse the right to talk to you about what is wrong with you.  Paul talks about how Jesus “washes” and “cleanses” us of stains and blemishes.  Give your spouse the right to do that.  (Timothy Keller, The Meaning of Marriage, 155)


Demosthenes said, “Nothing is easier than self-deceit.  For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true.”  (Patrick Morley; The Man In The Mirror, 286)


Pharisees look for sin.  We don’t discipline for sin but for a lack of repentance.  (Steve Brown)


The Law is a moral mirror.  A person looking into it sees himself as he really is in God’s eyes.  Yet the Law can no more change a person than a face mirror can make a person clean.  One can look in a mirror to see the dirt on his face, but he can’t wash his face with it.  That’s not the mirror’s purpose.  So it is with the Law.  It reveals man’s sinfulness, but it cannot make him clean.  (C. S. Lovett, Lovett’s Lights on Romans, 74)


What happens when you look into a mirror?  You see yourself, don’t you?  And what happens if your face is dirty and you look into a mirror?  The answer is that you see that you should wash your dirty face.  Does the mirror clean your face?  No.  The mirror’s function is to drive you to the soap and water that will clean you up.  (James Montgomery Boice, An Expositional Commentary: Romans, Vol. 1, 335)


The apostle writes in 2 Tm 3:16, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”

In other words, the Scripture, which is “breathed out” or inspired by God, has two general purposes: formative discipline and corrective discipline.  (Thabiti M. Anyabwile, What is a Healthy Church Member?, 75)


Blaise Pascal wrote, “We have not sufficiently plumbed the wretchedness of man in general, nor our own in particular, when we are still surprised at the weakness and corruption of man.”  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 95)


Marriage is the greatest test in the world…but now I welcome the test instead of dreading it.  It is much more than a test of sweetness of temper, as people sometimes think; it is a test of the whole character and affects every action.  (T. S. Elliot)

What is hard about marriage is what is hard also about facing the Christian God: it is the strain of living continually in the light of a conscience other than our own, being under the intimate scrutiny of another pair of eyes.  It is really judgment that we fear, the sense of being in the glare of a moral searchlight.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 102)


Hiding is not what marriage is about.  Marriage means being in the spotlight, being under the unceasing scrutiny of another person, just as we are all under the constant gaze of the Lord our God.  Marriage is about nakedness, exposure, defenselessness, and the very extremities of intimacy.  It is about simple unadorned truth between two human beings, truth at all levels and at all costs, and it does not care what pain or inconvenience must be endured in order for the habit of truth to take root, to be watered, and to grow into maturity.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 103)


Like God Himself, then, marriage comes with a built-in-abhorrence of self-centeredness.  In the dream world of mankind’s complacent separateness, amidst all our pleasant little fantasies of omnipotence and blamelessness and self-sufficiency, marriage explodes like a bomb.  It runs an aggravating interference pattern, an unrelenting guerrilla warfare against selfishness.  It attacks people’s vanity and lonely pride in a way that few other things can, tirelessly exposing the necessity of giving and sharing, the absurdity of blame.  Angering, humiliating, melting, chastening, purifying, it touches us where we hurt most, in the place of our lovelessness.  Dragging us into lifelong encounters which at times may be full of boredom, tension, unpleasantness, or grief, marriage challenges us to abandon everything for the sake of love.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 58)


Monkeys are superior to men in this:  when a monkey looks into a mirror, he sees a monkey.  (Malcolm de Chazal)


In human nakedness something is uncovered and shown to our eyes and to our souls which cannot be seen anywhere else, nor even begin to be imitated.  The curtain of the holy of holies is pulled aside, and something crouches there in the half-light, something utterly familiar yet stranger than a dream.  Human beings are, after all, the only creatures which can be naked, the only creatures in which this bizarre unveiling can take place.  For in everything else, whether animate or inanimate, nakedness is axiomatic.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 139-40)


Another significant antidote to hypocrisy (in addition to integrity and purity) is transparency.  On one level, hypocrisy is failing to acknowledge the inconsistencies in our life.  It is denial.  It is, as the Bible describes it, trying to remove a speck from someone else’s eye when you have a log in your own.  Living with integrity starts with being transparent.  (David Kinnaman, Unchristian, 54-55)


Transparency disarms an image-is-everything generation.  (David Kinnaman, Unchristian, 56)


A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.  (William Shakespeare)


If we do not move in divine forgiveness, we will walk in much deception.  We will presume we have discernment when, in truth, we are seeing through the veil of a critical spirit.  We must know our weaknesses, for if we are blind to our sins, what we assume we discern in men will merely be the reflection of ourselves.  Indeed, if we do not move in love, we will actually become a menace to the body of Christ (Mt 7:1-5).  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 75)


Just as pride was the beginning of sin so too is humility the beginning of Christian discipline.  (St. Augustine)


Jesus tells us to examine our own motives and conduct instead of judging others.  The traits that bother us in others are often the habits we dislike in ourselves.  Our untamed bad habits and behavior patterns are the very ones that we most want to change in others.  Do you find it easy to magnify others’ faults while excusing your own?  If you are ready to criticize someone, check to see if you deserve the same criticism.  Judge yourself first, and then lovingly forgive and help your neighbor.  (Tyndale House Publishers, Life Application Study Bible, 1659)


If in the presence of human superlativeness your self image comes crashing down around your ears, then even if you got into the presence of God who is pure love you would hate yourself.  You would say, I’m so cruel, I’m so unloving, I used to think that I loved people but now I know that I have never loved anybody.

Think about it.  If in the presence of human superlativeness your self image comes crashing down around your ears, how could it be different with God?  How could it be otherwise with God?   Here’s how you know when you have begun to get into the presence of the real God, that you’ve begun to have God move into reality.  You see that you are a sinner. You think you’re lost.   You see you are more capable of cruelty, more capable of evil, more selfish, more petty, more small minded, more impatient than you ever thought you were.  And you know you are a sinner and you know you need to be rescued by grace.  And if you say, “O that’s real negative.”

Come on, I just said to you, “If there is a real God (who is holy ) it would have to feel like that.”  How could it be otherwise?   It couldn’t be otherwise.

And if you say, “Well I just don’t believe, that you know, that people should feel sinful.”  Well then you haven’t been near God. (Tim Keller sermon, “The Gospel and Yourself”)


If somebody says, “O this will lead to low self esteem.”

People with low self-esteem, who actually get into the presence of God, realize, that to a great degree, their low self-esteem was self-absorption. (Tim Keller sermon, “The Gospel and Yourself”)


True repentance only begins when one passes out of what the Bible sees as self-deception (cf. Jas 1:22, 26; 1 Jn 1:8) and modern counselors call denial, into what the Bible calls conviction of sin.  (Cf. Jn 16:8).    (J. I. Packer;  Rediscovering Holiness,  123-24 )


When looking for faults, use a mirror, not a telescope.


II.  A person who is convinced of his rebuker’s love, concern, wisdom, and desire to protect him in order to trust and accept the rebuke offered by the rebuker.(Prov3:11-12; 27:5-9; 1 Cor 13:4-8; Gal 6:1-2; Jam 1:23-24; 1 Jn 3:18)


“Hidden love” is a love that is too timid, too afraid, or not trusting enough, to admit that reproof is a part of genuine love.  A love that manifests no rebuke is morally useless.  In fact, one might question whether or not it is sincere.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, 1095)


The wounds of a friend “can be trusted” because they are meant to correct (see 25:12; Dt 7:9; Job 12:20).  But an enemy’s kisses are deceptive (e.g., the deceitful kiss of Judas [Mk 14:43-45]), in spite of their profusion.  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, 1096)


However much we may wish at times to be left alone, it is not an option.  It is the one thing which God and marriage refuse to allow us.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 55)


It is a sign that our friends are faithful indeed if, in love to our souls, they will not suffer sin upon us, nor let us alone in it.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol 3, 947)

Marriage is the merciless revealer, the great white searchlight turned on the darkest places of human nature.  (Katherine Anne Porter)


Partial friendship covers faults:  envy, malice, and revenge, will exhibit, heighten, and even multiply them.  The former conceals us from ourselves; the latter shews us the worst part of our character.  Thus we are taught the necessity of amendment and correction.  In this sense, open rebuke is better than secret love.  Yet it is a rough medicine, and none can desire it.  But the genuine open-hearted friend may be intended; who tells you your faults freely, but conceals them from all others:–hence the sixth verse, Faithful are the wounds of a friend.  (Adam Clarke, Holy Bible Commentary and Critical Notes, Vol II, 464-65)


A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.  (John Wooden)


What is most unique about the tenacious fidelity of marriage is that it allows for such a really brutal amount of “sharpening” to take place, yet in the gentlest way imaginable.  Who ever heard of being sharpened against a warm, familiar body of loved flesh?  Only the Lord could have devised such an awesomely tender and heartwarming means for men and women to be made into swords.  Yet for all its gentleness, marriage is still a fire and a sword itself, a fire which brands, and a sword which inflicts a wound far deeper than any arrow of Cupid.  For it is a wound in a person’s pride, in a place which cannot be healed, and from the moment a man and a woman first stand transfixed in one another’s light they will begin to feel this wound of marriage opening up in them.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 60)


How does love do it?  How does love succeed again and again against astounding odds in coaxing people out of the secure darkness of their selfishness and into the humility and exposure of its own searing light?  One explanation that may be offered, at the risk of sounding facile, is that love beats the ego at its own game.  As the only quality that exists for and of itself alone and not in reaction against anything else, love turns out to be the only legitimate egoism, the purest manifestation of selfhood.  In fact, it is the only state in which self can really exist.  When the illegitimate self, the one that is founded upon human pride and illusion, comes up against the real thing, it cannot stand.  It has found what it has been struggling all along to be, and so crumbles with shame, relief, joy, realization.  No more is it afraid of losing itself, for it has been found.  Love wins over selfishness by actually making the whole concept of self obsolete, or at least by redefining it out of all recognition.  For it is the special magic of love to demonstrate convincingly that the real goal of self, which is total self-sufficiency, can only be achieved by way of total self-sacrifice.  Only love is completely self-sufficient, for only love has nothing whatsoever to lose in spilling itself out, since that is its very nature.  Only love is so inwardly strong and deeply confident of itself that it does not ever need to retaliate, even against its bitterest enemies.  Love alone stands alone, through having already surrendered everything.

Love attacks and destroys pride, therefore, simply by eliminating the need for it.  Love creates the only safe ground upon which all the bristling weaponry of self-assertion may begin to be surrendered.  What use is there in asserting the self if the self is already loved, fully and unreservedly, and not because of but in spite of anything it might do?  What is there left to assert?  When the self knows that it is already accepted, unconditionally, there is no need anymore for it to preoccupy itself with advancing its own claims or with trying to create the conditions that might make it worthy of being loved.  As long as the self is consumed in the struggle to make itself lovely, it cannot love.  (Mike Mason, The Mystery of Marriage, 80-81)


Signs you have a judgmental or Slanderous spirit:

1-     When you criticize another they are ALWAYS crushed and destroyed.  You are never able to redeem when you criticize.


2-     If you have a fault finding habit of mind.  You judge before you have all the facts.


3-     You enjoy hearing about other people’s faults.  Why do you enjoy hearing bout the faults or problems of others?  Because you have a judgmental, slanderous spirit.


4-     When you go beyond the facts and impute motives to people all the time.  (Tim Keller in a message entitled “Communication”)


III.  A person who is wise and thus fully aware of the righteousness of God and is therefore hungry and desperate to become what God created and designed him to be.  (Gn 1:26-27; Prv 9:7-10; 12:1; 13:1, 18; 15:5-12, 31-32; 27:19; 29:1, 15; 27:5-9; Jer 17:9; Mt 5:6; 6:22-23; 7:1-8; 13:1-24; Lk 6:38-42;11:34-36; Jn ch 9;  Rom 8:29-30; 12:3; 2 Cor 3:18)


Self-deception is “corrupted consciousness,” says Lewis Smedes.  Whether fear, passion, weariness, or even faith prompts it, self-deception, like a skillful computer fraud, doubles back to cover its own trail.  “First we deceive ourselves, and then we convince ourselves that we are not deceiving ourselves.”   (Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, 107)


Kathleen and Thomas Hart write, “Sometimes what is hard to take in the first years of marriage is not what we find out about our partner, but what we find out about ourselves.  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 93)


In ancient times refiners would heat the metal until it became liquid and then skim off the impurities, the dross.  The refiner knew the metal was purified when the molten liquid mirrored back his own reflection.  So it is with the Spirit’s work in our lives.  He melts our hearts, skims away the dross, allows us to cool into Christ’s likeness, and then turns up the heat again.  (R. Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word: Luke, Vol. One, 119-20)


Those who have great needs are more appreciative than those who are satisfied (Toy remarks, “Hunger is the best sauce,” p. 483).  The verse contrasts the one who is “full” with the one who is “hungry”; the former loathes honey, and the latter finds even bitter things sweet.  The word in each half refers to the whole person with all his appetites.  Most agree that the proverb is capable of wider application than eating; it could apply to possessions, experiences, education, etc.  Toy suggests the idea of praise–it is nauseous to one who is much praised but greatly appreciated by one who seldom receives it (p. 483).  Greenstone suggests that one who thinks he is fully competent rejects rebuke (p. 284).  (Frank E. Gæbelein, Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 5, 1096)


Can I look in the mirror and honestly say to myself, “Knowing who you are I would like you to be my friend?”  If we cannot say that to ourselves, how in the world can we expect anyone else to say this?   (Colleen Ladd, 5-4-14)


The rule of humility and love will be–Deal tenderly with others–severely with ourselves.   (Charles Bridges, The Geneva Series of Commentaries: Ecclesiastes, 173)


It is quite difficult to break the power of religious self-deception, for the very nature of faith is to give no room for doubt.  Once a person is deceived, he does not recognize that he is deceived, because he has been deceived!  For all that we think we know, we must know this as well: we can be wrong.  If we refuse to accept this truth, how will we ever be corrected from our errors?  (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 30)


Is it not clear…that through self-knowledge men come to much good, and through self-deception to much harm?  For those who know themselves, know what things are expedient for themselves and discern their own powers and limitations.  (Xenophon) (Richard M. Gamble, The Great Tradition, 29)


The late J. Oswald Sanders wrote biblical books packed with remarkable insight and common sense.  In one of them he said, “Pride is a sin of whose presence its victim is least conscious.  There are, however, three tests by means of which it can soon be discovered.”  He went on to suggest these three tests:

The Test of Procedure: How do we react when another is selected for an assignment we expected, or the office we coveted?  When another is promoted and we are overlooked?  When another outshines us in gifts and accomplishments?


The Test of Sincerity: In our moments of honest self-criticism, we will say many things about ourselves and really mean them.  But how do we feel when others, especially our rivals, say exactly the same things about us?


The Test of Criticism: Does criticism arouse hostility and resentment in our hearts, and cause us to fly into immediate self-justification?  (David Jeremiah, Searching for Heaven on Earth, 174)


Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.  (John Wooden)


Solomon here, as often in this book, shows that the poor have in some respects the advantage of the rich; for, 1. They have a better relish of their enjoyments than the rich have.  Hunger is the best sauce.  Coarse fare, with a good appetite to it, has a sensible pleasantness in it, which those are strangers to whose hearts are overcharged with surfeiting.  Those that fare sumptuously every day nauseate even delicate food, as the Israelites did the quails; whereas those that have no more than their necessary food, though it be such as the full soul would call bitter, to them it is sweet; they eat it with pleasure, digest it, and are refreshed by it.  2. They are more thankful for their enjoyments: The hungry will bless God for bread and water, while those that are full think the greatest dainties and varieties scarcely worth giving thanks for.  The virgin Mary seems to refer to this when she says (Lk 1:53), The hungry, who know how to value God’s blessings, are filled with good things, but the rich, who despise them, are justly sent empty away.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol 3, 947)


Those who say “The more I see of men the better I like dogs”–those who find in animals a relief from the demands of human companionship–will be well advised to examine their real reasons.  (C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves, 53)


I know of only two alternatives to hypocrisy: perfection or honesty.  Since I have never met a person who loves the Lord our God with all her heart, mind, and soul, and loves her neighbor as herself, I do not view perfection as a realistic alternative.  Our only option, then, is honesty that leads to repentance.  As the Bible shows, Gods’ grace can cover any sin, including murder, infidelity, or betrayal.  Yet by definition grace must be received, and hypocrisy disguises our need to receive grace.  When the masks fall, hypocrisy is exposed as an elaborate ruse to avoid grace. (Philip Yancey,  What’s so Amazing About Grace?,  204)


IV.  A person whose security, value, and confidence are ultimately in Christ and not in any human object.(2 Chr 20:20; 32:8; Ps 4:5; 27:1-3; 31:6; 37:3-4; 71:5; 115:9-11; 125:1; 146:3; Prv 3:5-7, 26; 11-2; Isa 26:4; Jer 9:4; 17:7; Mic 7:5; Jn 14:1; 2 Cor 3:4-12; Eph 3:12; Phil 3:3-4; Heb 4:16; 10:11-25; 13:6; 1 Jn 2:28; 3:21; 4:17; 5:14;  )


If you cannot bear to really look at all the stupidity of your life, if you cannot bear to see what is wrong with you, if you cannot bear to really see your flaws, if you can’t just take criticism, you just go to pieces, cause you know it is true; it is because you really do not have the strength from knowing the grace of God.  It is the grace of God that helps me not feel, “Oh I must be OK”; but gives me the freedom to admit what is wrong with me without being devastated.  And therefore, Jesus Christ is saying, “Do you know that unless you know the depth of your sin and the height of God’s grace: When things go well you are going to be smug instead of happy and grateful or when things go poorly you are going to be devastated instead of hopeful and enduring.  Unless you see both of those you are going to move back and forth from being a proud Pharisee or being a cynical skeptic and you are not going to be able to handle the suffering and troubles of life. (Tim Keller message, “The Falling Tower”)


A truly humble man does not fear being exposed.  (Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust, 121)


I wouldn’t be surprised if many marriages end in divorce largely because one or both partners are running from their own revealed weaknesses as much as they are running from something they can’t tolerate in their spouse.  (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, 97)


But isn’t it true?  Don’t we fear being exposed for who and what we really are?  Sin does this.  So often we worry about the deeds we have done but the truer, deeper transgression of our sin lies in what that sin has done to us.  It has made us more afraid.  Fear turns to hiding, hiding turns to lying, lying turns to masking, masking turns to coping mechanisms which take us further and further away from our true selves.  We become a false image of a person unrecognizable to others and even to ourselves.  (Charlie Jones; “The Fear of Christmas”, Key Life: Fall/Christmas 2006, Vol. 21 #3, 5)


The more guilt and shame that we have buried within ourselves, the more compelled we feel to seek relief through sin.  As we fixate on our jaded motives and soiled conscience, our self-esteem sinks, and in a pernicious leap of logic, we think that we are finally learning humility.

On the contrary, a poor self-image reveals a lack of humility.  Feelings of insecurity, inadequacy, inferiority, and self-hatred rivet our attention on ourselves.  Humble men and women do not have a low opinion of themselves; they have no opinion of themselves, because they so rarely think about themselves.  The heart of humility lies in undivided attention to God, a fascination with his beauty revealed in creation, a contemplative presence to each person who speaks to us, and a “de-selfing” of our plans, projects, ambitions, and soul.  Humility is manifested in an indifference to our intellectual, emotional, and physical well-being and a carefree disregard of the image we present.  No longer concerned with appearing to be good, we can move freely in the mystery of who we really are, aware of the sovereignty of God and of our absolute insufficiency and yet moved by a spirit of radical self-acceptance without self-concern.  (Brennan Manning, Ruthless Trust, 120-21)
When we just come to God and tell Him we blew it, He doesn’t pull out the stone tablets from Sinai and point to the ones we violated.  Rather, I think He experiences a kind of delight at our honest, child-like admission.

We could say, “God, go ahead and scold me now” before we even admit our sin to Him, but…He knows.  And the punishment our sin requires, Jesus already took.  What a counter-intuitive way to live!  God delights in us even when we blow it.

So, the next time you get tempted to tell God, “Just scold me now,” don’t be surprised if you hear His Spirit whisper…”No need, Child.  Jesus already took that for you.”  That’s the grace of a father toward a child.  (2 Cor. 8:9) (Jennifer Rothschild, Java with Jennifer 7/1/10)


Man is least himself when he talks in his own person.  Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.  (Oscar Wilde)


Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Eph 5:11).  When you expose and confess your sins, they no longer are in darkness (secrecy).  When light is turned on in a dark room, darkness becomes light.  So also, when you bring your sins out of darkness and expose them to light, they vanish in God’s forgiveness; they become light.   (Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlegrounds, 113)



1.  “I obey-therefore I’m accepted.”

2.  Motivation is based on fear and insecurity.

3.  I obey God in order to get things from God

4.  When circumstances in my life go wrong, I am angry at God or my self, since I believe, like Job’s friends that anyone who is good deserves a comfortable life.

5.  When I am criticized I am furious or devastated because it is critical that I think of myself as a ‘good person’.  Threats to that self-image must be destroyed at all costs.

6.  My prayer life consists largely of petition and it only heats up when I am in a time of need.  My main purpose in prayer is control of the environment.

7.  My self-view swings between two poles.  If and when I am living up to my standards, I feel confident, but then I am prone to be proud and unsympathetic to failing people.  If and when I am not living up to standards, I feel humble, but not confident-I feel like a failure.

8.  My identity and self-worth are based mainly on how hard I work.  Or how moral I am, and so I must look down on those I perceive as lazy or immoral.  I disdain and feel superior to ‘the other.’

9.  Since I look to my own pedigree or performance for my spiritual acceptability, my heart manufactures idols.  It may be my talents, my moral record, my personal discipline, my social status, etc.  I absolutely have to have them so they serve as my main hope, meaning, happiness, security, and significance, whatever I may say I believe about God.



1.  “I’m accepted-therefore I obey.”

2.  Motivation is based on grateful joy.

3.  I obey God to get to God-to delight and resemble Him.

4.  When circumstances in my life go wrong, I struggle but I know all my punishment fell on Jesus and that while he may allow this for my training, he will exercise his Fatherly love within my trial.

5.  When I am criticized I struggle, but it is not critical for me to think of myself as a ‘good person.’ My identity is not built on my record or my performance but on God’s love for me in Christ.  I can take criticism.  That’s how I became a Christian.

6.  My prayer life consists of generous stretches of praise and adoration.  My main purpose is fellowship with Him.

7.  My self-view is not based on a view of my self as a moral achiever.  In Christ I am simul iustus et peccator—simultaneously sinful and lost yet accepted in Christ.  I am so bad he had to die for me and I am so loved he was glad to die for me.  This leads me to deeper and deeper humility and confidence at the same time.  Neither swaggering nor sniveling.

8.  My identity and self-worth are centered on the one who died for His enemies, who was excluded from the city for me.  I am saved by sheer grace.  So I can’t look down on those who believe or practice something different from me.  Only by grace I am what I am.  I’ve no inner need to win arguments.

9.  I have many good things in my life—family, work, spiritual disciplines, etc.  But none of these good things are ultimate things to me.  None of them are things I absolutely have to have, so there is a limit to how much anxiety, bitterness, and despondency they can inflict on me when they are threatened and lost.  (Adapted from Tim Keller)


Worship point:  Worship will come more naturally and easily when you begin to realize just how gracious God is with you a sinner.  This becomes more evident as you encounter rebuke, correction, training in righteousness and teaching . . . especially from God’s Word.


Spiritual Challenge:  Find your acceptance and security in Christ and the Gospel so you can risk and learn to receive and accept correction, rebuke and reproof . . . especially from the One who loves you.


Just think, if it weren’t for marriage, spouses would go through life thinking they had no faults at all.


By all means marry.  If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy.  If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.  (Socrates)


Quotes to Note:

Jesus’ statement, “Do not judge,” is against the kind of hypocritical, judgmental attitude that tears others down in order to build oneself up.  It is not a blanket statement against all critical thinking, but a call to be discerning rather than negative.  Jesus said to expose false teachers (7:15-23), and Paul taught that we should exercise church discipline (1 Cor 5:1, 2) and trust God to be the final judge (1 Cor 4:3-5).  (Tyndale House Publishers, Life Application Study Bible, 1659)


Jesus prohibits one kind of judging, but approves a different kind.  Condemning others for their faults is failure to exercise forgiveness (6:14, 15); only a gentle and humble criticism that first recognizes one’s own greater faults can help.  There is also a necessary, discerning kind of judgment that does not condemn but distinguishes unbelief from belief (v. 6).  The method of discernment is given in v. 16.  (Luder Whitlock, New Geneva Study Bible, 1515)


It is dangerous to be caressed and flattered by an enemy, whose kisses are deceitful.  We can take no pleasure in them because we can put no confidence in them (Joab’s kiss and Judas’ were deceitful), and therefore we have need to stand upon our guard, that we be not deluded by them; they are to be deprecated.  (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, Vol 3, 947)


The apostle Paul exhorted “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted” (Gal 6:1).  There are many glaring examples of men who fell to the same sins they brazenly tried to expose in others.  “God resists the proud, but gives His grace to the humble” (Jas 4:6).  None of us can stand except by God’s grace.  Whenever we attack or expose the sins or errors of others, having pride that we are not like that, we have insured our own ultimate fall.  This is why many “heresy hunters” become mean-spirited and usually end up doing more damage to the church through causing division than was done by the “heresies” they are trying to confront.  (Rick Joyner, There Were Two Trees in the Garden, 51)



Christ: The Power to Accept Rebuke

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