When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit (John 19:30).
Currently, neither Biff nor Mable have a clear understanding of the gospel—at least as it applies to this situation. The Bible informs us that we are sinners in need of a Savior. God’s Word reveals how there will never be a day in your life when sin won’t tempt you, while on some days, you will succumb to those temptations. Because your spouse is the closest individual to you, it stands to reason that you will sin against your spouse more than anyone else. Both partners must humbly understand and apply these two practical truths: God calls a husband to lead his wife, and he will sin against his wife.
Mable believes Biff is getting off the hook too quickly by genuinely confessing his sin and asking for forgiveness. What she does not perceive is the expensiveness of the gospel. The death of Christ on the cross and His eventual resurrection from the grave was an infinite payment for an infinite crime against an infinite Being. To suggest that Biff should pay more than an “infinite” price for his sin is untenable, plus a mockery of the gospel.
Biff mocks the gospel by refusing to lead his wife, justifying his passivity by acknowledging he is a sinner. He must accept that he is a saint and sinner, and sinning is what sinners do. Biff needs to get over himself while simultaneously flinging himself on the only person who can clean up his sporadic messes. He needs to appropriate the grace of God in his life each time he sins and then live in the good of that gospel experience.
Ironically, he confesses the sin against his wife while picking up a host of other transgressions like self-pity, regret, shame, guilt—all clear indicators that the gospel is not enough for Biff. His gospel is anemic. Mable is living out her form of gospel dysfunction by not letting Biff off the hook. She agrees with Biff: he must pay for his sin, and though the cross of Christ is a good start, there must be more.
While not minimizing any sin against anyone, Mable misses a vital point of the gospel: Christ died for sins. She has unwittingly put herself in the role of God. Mable is the sole determiner and executioner of the fair judgment of her husband’s sins. Ironically, she does not hold others to this anti-gospel standard: Christ’s death is sufficient for her friends and even her enemies, but she has a “Christ plus penalty box” when it comes to Biff’s sins.
How do you need to change to bring your life and marriage in line with the gospel? Start changing with a prayer to your Father now.
Rick launched the Life Over Coffee global training network in 2008 to bring hope and help for you and others by creating resources that spark conversations for transformation. His primary responsibilities are resource creation and leadership development, which he does through speaking, writing, podcasting, and educating.
In 1990 he earned a BA in Theology and, in 1991, a BS in Education. In 1993, he received his ordination into Christian ministry, and in 2000 he graduated with an MA in Counseling from The Master’s University. In 2006 he was recognized as a Fellow of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC).