I’ve been married for forty years. My wife and I have been followers of Christ for the past fourteen years. Ever since I was a teenager I’ve been jealous and have made my wife’s life very difficult. To this day, when we disagree about something, I abuse her verbally. Afterward I always feel guilty and question whether I’m really sincere with God. I don’t read the Bible very much, and I think that I’m not a true follower of Christ.

I feel sorry for my wife, whom I love with my very life, and I know she’s not happy with me. I fear losing her in spite of all the years we’ve been married. And I’m ashamed before God for not being faithful to His Word.

Dear Friend,

Your conscience is bothering you, and that is a very good thing. We understand that, and so would the Apostle Paul.

In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he explains repeatedly and in great detail that he is frustrated because he often decides to do the right thing, but then he ends up doing the wrong thing instead.(1) He describes it as an internal war between himself, because of his own natural tendency to sin, and Jesus Christ, whom he has asked to forgive his past sins and live inside him. Paul makes it clear that Christ doesn’t abandon him just because he is still struggling with a tendency to sin.

The war that Paul describes is exactly the same tug-of-war that you describe. Hermano Pablo liked to explain the tug-of-war using the concept of a magnet. Sin attracts us like a magnet, but when we have put our faith in Christ, He also attracts us like a magnet would. That leaves us in the middle, being pulled both ways by the power of the opposite attractions.

As Hermano Pablo used to describe it, the magnetic attraction is weakest when we are farthest away from the magnet, but it gets stronger when we are close. We begin far from Christ, but as we get to know Him we get closer and the attraction is stronger. And the only way to get to know Him is to read what His Word says and to pray, as if we were talking to our best friend.

At the same time, our culture continually bombards us with the temptation to sin. Movies and television normalize lifestyles that we know are sinful. The media and those around us actually pull us toward sin. If we’re not pulling toward Christ with all our strength, we’ll slide toward the sin that attracts us, which leads to bad attitudes and destructive words and actions.

When we slide farther from the attraction of Christ, we feel less need to read the Scriptures and hear from God. And as a result of not actively moving closer to Him, we slide into wrong attitudes and actions. God is still there, calling us and urging us to move toward Him. But the choice to do so, or not, is ours.

We wish you well,

1 Ro 7:15-25