Archive for July 5th, 2008

Here’s an excerpt from Paul Tripp’s newest book, Whiter Than Snow: Meditations on Sin and Mercy.

Sin lives in a costume, that’s why it’s so hard to recognize. The fact that sin looks so good is one of the things that make it so bad. In order for it to do its evil work, it must present itself as something that is anything but evil. Life in a fallen world is like attending the ultimate masquerade party.

Impatient yelling wears the costume of a zeal for truth.
Lust can masquerade as a love for beauty.
Gossip does its evil work by living in the costume of concern and prayer.
Craving for power and control wears the mask of biblical leadership.
Fear of man gets dressed up as a servant heart.
The pride of always being right masquerades as a love for biblical wisdom.

Evil simply doesn’t present itself as evil, which is part of its draw.

You’ll never understand sin’s slight of hand until you acknowledge that the DNA of sin is deception. Now what this means personally is that as sinners we are all very committed and gifted self-swindlers. I say all the time to people that no one is more influential in their own lives than they are because no one talks to themselves more than they do. We’re all too skilled at looking at our own wrong and seeing good. We’re all much better at seeing the sin, weakness, and failure of others than we are our own. We’re all very good at being intolerant of others of the very things that we willingly tolerate in ourselves. The bottom line is that sin causes us to not hear or see ourselves with accuracy. And we not only tend to be blind, but to compound matters, we tend to be blind to our blindness.

What does all of this mean? It means that accurate-self assessment is the product of grace. It is only in the mirror of God’s Word and with the sight-giving help of the Holy Spirit, that I am able to see myself as I actually am. In those painful moments of accurate self-sight, we may not feel as if we are being loved, but that is exactly what is happening. The God, who loves us enough to sacrifice his Son for our redemption, works so that we would see ourselves clearly, so that we would not buy into the delusion of our own righteousness, and with a humble sense of personal need, seek the resources of grace that can only be found in him.

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Mark Chanski, pastor of Reformed Baptist Church in Holland, shares a story of Robert E. Lee that models the truth that husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the church. Let this brief excerpt stir your hearts, men:

Let me bring somewhat of a refreshing contrast to today’s love. Let me lay before you a true American hero, Robert E. Lee.  You know of him? Robert E. Lee was heroic not only in the trenches of warfare, but he was also heroic in the trenches of his marriage.  During the Civil War he was a man of such valor that Robert E. Lee, the general of the Confederate army became basically the George Washington of the South, the bigger than life hero of the confederacy.

When he would walk through the streets of the South, do you know, what men would do?
They would take off their hats before Mr. Lee.  Do you know what women would do?
Women would swoon before Mr. Lee.

Humanly speaking Lee could have had the pick of the southern belle litter to be his trophy wife.  But Lee was a man of true nobility and fidelity.

Steven Wilkens, Lee’s biographer quoting on, “Husbands, love  your wives even as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her” writes of Lee’s love for his wife:

Paul’s admonition was not lost on Robert E. Lee. From the day he first took Mary Custis to be his bride, Lee devoted himself to her sacrificially. Mrs. Lee never enjoyed complete health after the birth of Mary, her second child in 1835. She developed a pelvic infection that was not treated properly. And from that time on she experienced a steady decline in her physical well being. By 1857 when Lee returned home from Texas upon the death of Mr. Custis, Mrs. Lee had become an invalid.  Due to the ravages of arthritis she had lost
the use of her right arm and hand. Kept awake by the pain she was seldom able to get a full night’s sleep and she was barely able to move about the house under her own power. At the age of 49 Mrs. Lee had become an old woman.

Though Lee was truly shocked over his wife’s condition, she had made no mention of the deterioration of her health in her letters to him, it only caused him to become more devoted to her as he sought to comfort and uphold her in affliction. In fact, the severe suffering Mrs. Lee was called to endure in God’s providence deepened the Lee’s love for one another.  The sight of Mrs. Lee suffering drew forth more of her husband’s love. And the love he gave strengthened her love for him.  He delighted to pamper her. She delighted to honor him.

Lee was ever solicitous of his wife’s well being, seeking to be sure that everything that might contribute to her comfort was provided. After the war Lee delighted to be with her.  Most evenings were spent quietly, she knitting and he reading to her. Before retiring he always read her a portion of the Scripture and then they prayed together. He purchased a small carriage for her so she would have the opportunity of fresh air without too much discomfort. He often claimed the privilege of taking her on rides around the countryside.
His love for his wife became a shining example to the young men at the college in Lexington.”  You see, he became president of the Washington College. He was a beloved president. “Mrs. Lee’s room was on the first floor of the house and opened out on a large porch that extended around three sides of the house.  It was the general’s custom every afternoon, weather permitting, to roll her out on the porch in her chair. Many of the students knowing the hour of this ritual would arrange to be walking very slowly by the president’s house at the appointed time in order to get a glimpse of their hero serving his invalid bride.  Stooping down to kiss her cheek, making sure that she was comfortable, putting her on the shoulder, his great pleasure in her company was clearly manifested.

Lee’s attentiveness and solicitude provided a picture of what Peter meant when he called
upon husbands to honor their wives as the weaker vessel.

The love of a man causes his wife to flourish. Without question, it was her husband’s love that kept Mrs. Lee from bitter despair at the end of her days.  Ill health, the loss of children, family life and estate would have all conspired to embitter a woman with a less obedient husband.  But Mary Lee was known for her contentment, kindness, grace, thoughtfulness, hospitality and joy. She was a testimony to the blessings of having a husband who loved her as Christ loved the Church.

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