Sinful Single, Sinful Bride

I’m twenty-nine years old, and I still struggle to shake this one big fat lie. It’s a lie that keeps single girls discontent and married women unhappy. So what is this whopper of a lie that deceives us so often? That my sinful heart will change when my circumstances change. When my life’s circumstances look different, I tell myself, then I will magically transform into that epicly godly woman I’ve always wanted to be. Logically, we know that doesn’t make sense. We know we can’t transform overnight. But the enemy sneaks in and drops this juicy lie directly into our hearts, and we take the bait. We tend to think our own sin isn’t really the problem. It must be someone or something else causing us to behave selfishly or pridefully. Surely it’s not on us! And the moment our circumstances change, we will change. We won’t have these sin issues popping up anymore, right? Once I’ve got a guy, I won’t struggle with these silly sin issues anymore, right? I’ve finally begun to see what a big fat lie this actually is.

Boyfriend, Meet My Selfish Heart

A few months ago I entered a relationship with an amazing and godly man. All of my little girl dreams were finally coming true! My imperfect self would now magically transform into the godly woman and perfect girlfriend that I’ve always imagine myself to be. (That’s what I told myself, at least.) Things went well for a while. I discovered I could overcome my selfish thoughts and impatient words with strong feelings of fondness for my man. (That’s called infatuation!) Deep down I hoped selflessness and patience would come this easily forever and ever. Maybe this relationship has transformed me into a perfect angel?! Oh, how I wish that were true. Despite my desire to love my now-fiancé so patiently and perfectly, the very same sinful heart I had before the relationship was still inside me. And just like sin tends to do, it began to bare its ugly face in our relationship. My sinful heart was revealing itself. Patience was running dry. Selflessness began to disappear. I was recognizing my sinful single self in my sinful girlfriend self.

Marriage Will Just Expose You

By God’s grace, I realized what I hadn’t been doing. I hadn’t taken ownership of my sinful heart. I needed to ask God to sanctify me, to make me more like Him. I needed to get serious about spiritual growth and understand that holiness doesn’t just happen. Holiness requires action. It requires repentance before God, studying truth, spending time with Him, and totally relying on Him for grace and help. God’s Word provides the answers for true and lasting change—change that makes us more and more like God’s Son.

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:13–16).

We can’t plan to enter our future marriages with our fingers crossed, believing that we’ll get better once our circumstances change. We need to tackle sinful hearts right now. Spiritual growth isn’t meant to be put on hold. I love what Phillip Holmes says in this article Single You Will Be the Married You: “Marriage will not instantly change you. It will only expose what was already inside of you.” Instead of passively waiting for marriage to “magically transform you,” begin pursuing holiness now. Let’s take our spiritual growth seriously!

Time to Get Growin’

These verses from Ephesians have been a huge help in guiding my spiritual growth.

Assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:21–24).

Once we know Jesus as our Savior, we’re commanded to do these three things listed in those verses:

  1. Stop acting like you did before you knew Christ. (“Put off your old self.”)
  2. Renew your mind with biblical truth. (“Be renewed in the spirit of your minds.”)
  3. Start living in the truth, seeking to be like Jesus. (“Put on the new self.”)

Let’s put those steps into action. Take advantage of your single years and actively deepen your relationship with God, asking Him grow you in holiness. And then if God does have marriage in store for you, your spiritual walk will be miles ahead of where you would have been if you had remained stagnant. By the way, I’m not saying you will ever have a perfect life or marriage—we will always be sinners, that’s for sure! But don’t neglect spiritual growth because you assume or hope marriage will make your sin disappear. It won’t. It will only expose what’s truly inside you. I’m ready to hear from you, single women!

  • What lies have you believed about your own selfishness?
  • How can you put the practical steps from Ephesians into action?

About the Author

Bethany Beal

Bethany Beal is the co-founder of GirlDefined Ministries and co-author of several books, including Girl Defined: God’s Radical Design for Beauty, Femininity and Identity. She is passionate about spreading the truth of biblical womanhood through writing, speaking, and mentoring women, and you can catch her unpacking exciting and controversial topics every week on her podcast, The Girl Defined Show. Bethany is married to her best friend and husband, David, and they have one son, Davey Jr.