I love this guest post by Jim Bob Howard. His personal testimony is extra special because it also directly effects his marriage.
This is the 4th of a 5part series you will find at AmyJoeJimBob.com. There are also links in the post below. Be sure to check out the whole series.
Our marriage was a train wreck.
I was walking my own path. Doing what I thought was right. Blaming Amy for things that weren’t working. And convincing myself that she alone was to blame for everything that was wrong in our marriage.
I just about flushed it down the toilet.
But God stepped in and changed me. God’s best for us was a redeemed marriage.
A Heart of Stone
For over thirty years, I had done things my way, flying by the seat of my pants, giving little thought to the damage my actions caused.
You want references? I can send you to people who can tell you how badly I hurt them or others, just “following my heart.”
Some of them have forgiven me. Others never will.
They could all give you an earful, though.
|Can a Marriage Change at Its Core? (a 5-part series by AmyJoeJimBob)|
But God changed my heart.
“Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean;
I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;
I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes,
and you will keep My judgments and do them.”
What a strange passage of Scripture!
This is God talking to Ezekiel, an Israelite prophet, telling Ezekiel to tell the Israelites what He—God—is going to do. The Israelites were in exile because they had done what was right in their own eyes. They had followed their hearts, and their hearts had deceived them.
They had been exiled from their land and taken into captivity because they had disobeyed God’s laws. They had sinned. Then, even in captivity, they continued to worship idols and disobey God.
Notice the progression:
They had wallowed in the mud,
but God would bathe them…
They had defiled themselves in every way,
but God would cleanse them inside and out…
They had hardened their hearts against Him,
but God would give them a new heart… a heart of flesh for a heart of stone…
They had followed the spirit of their own desires,
but God would put His Spirit in them…
And God would cause them to walk within the loving boundaries He had set for them.
The Israelites were in bondage to their own sin, trapped by their own desires. At every turn, they had chosen to go against God and His best for them. They were not capable of saving themselves. They couldn’t clean up their own hearts or change themselves.
But God could.
Only God would.
And God did.
He did the same for me.
I grew up going to church.
Easter Sunday when I was 7, I was baptized.
I had heard stories from the Bible my whole life. I knew how I was supposed to act.
I was a good kid. Made good grades. Rarely got in trouble.
Rarely got caught, actually.
Following my own desires, I trained myself over time to push the boundaries—or charge past them—without raising suspicion.
I even trained my heart and mind to believe my own alibis. I convinced myself that I was still a “good kid” at heart.
I looked good on the outside, but on the inside… not so much.
Have you ever seen an antebellum home that looks stately and magnificent on the outside, but on the the inside is falling apart?
But I was more than in disrepair. It’s not just that the carpet was torn, the paper peeling, and everything smells musty.
It was worse than that.
Jesus described me better.
“You are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones.” —Matthew 23:27
Beautiful on the outside. Dead on the inside.
Not in disrepair. Not sick. Not out of alignment. Not in error. Not dirty.
…and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. —James 1:15ff
Wait, Jesus said one more thing in that passage in the book of Matthew…
“Woe to you… hypocrites…” —Matthew 23:27a
I brought my church-ified, deceitful, stone-dead heart into my marriage, all the while convincing myself that I “turned out OK,” that I was good enough.
I was a hypocrite.