Excerpt from An online Course: Where God puts two hearts in a home

Juan added up the bills for the month and shook his head shook. There just was not enough money to pay them all. What was he to do? He examined them more closely and his face turned hot. He realized that the reason there was not enough to pay the bills was because his wife, Flora, had purchased an expensive gift for her sister‘s birthday. Juan scowled and his annoyance with Flora grew. He thought with disgust, ―Women let money slide through their fingers as if it was water. I‘d be better off single.

Where did Juan‘s thoughts come from? Were they the truth from God‘s point of view? Is it possible he is being tempted to believe a lie to move him to sin? Perhaps some of Juan‘s thoughts are old lies he has heard before. Just as with the serpent‘s temptation of Eve, our temptations most often come disguised as lies, half-truths, and misapplied truth, which appeal to our lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, or pride (1 Jn 2:16). These little unkind thoughts toward your spouse may seem small and harmless enough, but, like a spark, they can burn your house down.

No matter whether the lies come from old recordings that you remember or are new temptations, lies only hurt you if you believe them. If you reject them, you neutralize their effect. How does that work? In the scene above about Juan and Flora‘s many bills, look again at Juan‘s thought, ―I‘d be better off single. How does this compare to God‘s Word of truth? We know that God loves Flora and wants to express His love to her through Juan. Colossians 3:19 says, ―Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Since Juan is being tempted to become bitter against Flora, we recognize that this thought is not from God.

So God, on one side, wants to bless and strengthen Juan and Flora‘s marriage. He has told Juan his role in this plan in Colossians 3:19 and other places in Scripture. The enemy, on the other hand, hates Flora and Juan and wants to destroy their marriage. He is hoping that Juan will believe the first lying thought, ―I‘d be better off single, so that it will be natural for Juan to disobey God‘s clear command in Colossians 3:19. Perhaps through a story on television he can convince Juan of another lie that love is something that ―just happens and is totally outside his control. Then Satan can get him to stop loving Flora. After that, maybe he can get Juan to share his problem with his brother, who says, ―You have every right to be angry. Does she think you are made out of money? This makes Juan feel justified in his bitterness against Flora. Meanwhile, the enemy is also working behind the scenes in Flora‘s mind to make her bitter against her husband‘s criticism. So all Juan needs to do to block the enemy‘s progress is to recite Colossians 3:19, right?

Not necessarily.

When he focuses on Flora‘s mistakes, Juan may feel very justified in being annoyed. The enemy thus distracts Juan from applying what he already knows of God‘s truth to love his wife as Christ loved the church. The more Juan judges Flora for her gift to her sister, the more he is filled with turmoil. If he reacts to the lies he hears with self-righteousness rather than humility, he may momentarily not care if the voice in his head does not really sound like the Holy Spirit!  If Juan is choosing to think independently from God, as Eve did, it will not matter if he has memorized Colossians 3:19, will it? If in his heart Juan reserves the right to decide for himself about his own role in his marriage and his attitude toward his wife, he may not be gracious to Flora in his thoughts.

Christians sin every day while knowing that God‘s Word says what they are thinking or doing is wrong. Eve knew that God forbade them from eating the fruit, but she ate and shared it anyway. So just knowing God‘s Word is not enough.

In order to deflect the enemy‘s attacks, one step comes even before knowing God‘s Word. Without this crucial first step, you can memorize all the verses in the Bible and still fall to temptation. Can you guess what this first step is? You will find it in James 4:7.