Question:

I was baptized at 18. I know I honestly wanted to live for God and to commit myself to Him. Fast forward to age 25 when I got married and only shortly after getting married I found myself actively participating in an adulterous sexual relationship. I knew it was wrong I even told the man that we were rebelling against God and were treading a dangerous line. But I could not make myself to leave him. I knew I should, and I desperately wanted too because my actions baffled, disgusted, and distressed me. I could feel the separation from God and the heartache of His pain. I prayed about it and asked Him for all intensive purposes to make it easier, please, to bring a situation about where it had to end and take away the option for me to choose one way or the other. I really did not want to live this way and knew, of course, my husband did not deserve to be treated so. My husband knew, and, of course, our intimacy stopped we hardly spoke to each other and would sleep facing opposite directions until I filed for a divorce, and we separated moving into different homes.

I felt awful in every sense of the word. I prayed and asked God to forgive me. I stopped talking to and seeing the guy but only after my marriage had fallen to bits. During the divorce proceedings my heart was softened, and I reached out to my husband and asked if he wanted to try and work things out. I apologized to him and we spent several weeks talking and working through some of our issues. (We had not even been married 1 year!) Ultimately I put a stop to the divorce proceedings. We are now living together again, and we are doing well. He has forgiven me and has granted an amazing amount of grace to me.

However, I still find myself in tears over the sin, my behavior, my shame. I want to know how, as a Christian who earnestly loves Christ, how could I do that? With the Holy Spirit dwelling in me, how did that happen? How do I know that God can or has forgiven me? Because that is my biggest fear and the thing that causes me the most distress. I want to know that God can take me back.


Answer:

I can't directly answer your question because I can't read your mind and I don't know your past. It was your choice to sin and you acknowledged that in your prayers, but you didn't want to choose to stop and why is something I can't answer. I suspect that while you knew it was wrong, you were deceiving yourself into believing it wasn't absolutely bad. Thus, you dragged it out because you didn't want to be the one to make the first move toward ending the affair.

In asking your questions you indicate the same view. It appears that you thought that being a Christian would protect you from sin or make you make the right decisions. In that you overlooked the many warnings in the New Testament:

"Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12).

"Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin" (Hebrews 3:12-13).

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world" (I Peter 5:8-9).

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (I John 1:8).

God did not make you become a Christian. He offered you the opportunity to be saved and paid the cost on your behalf. You chose to be saved. But in the same way God doesn't force anyone to remain a Christian either. He gives you the tools and encouragement to battle against sin, but your free choice is not taken away.

You've learned the hard way that being a Christian is not an easy walk. It takes diligence, hard work, effort, and most of dedication. "For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end" (Hebrews 3:14). "Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10).

You know God takes you back in the same way that you know that you became His child when you were baptized. "So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17). This is a matter of faith. Do you believe God when He said: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:9). God is faithful. Thus, the question is if you trust your life in God keeping His promise.

"Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked" (I John 2:3-6).

It is not a matter of who you were but who you are. Not only leave the sin behind but also the pain and guilt that accompanied. Yes, you once sinned but realize that you are not that sinful person any more. "Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13-14).

Dear Mr. Hamilton,

Thank you for your response. It has helped greatly. I would also like you to know that your web site has helped me and taught me a lot of things. I frequently return there sometimes just to browse. I pray God blesses you mightily in your work and if I ever find myself that way I would love to visit.

Yes, I do believe God is faithful to keep His promises about forgiveness. One of my friends said on Facebook the other day in a post un-related to me, "If you feel far from God, it is not God who moved." That is very true.

Over the past couple of days I have been overwhelmed with thankfulness that God has provided me with my husband and his knowledge of God, which is where he has found the ability to forgive me. He is a wonderful man and this way at least God has provided me the opportunity and the grace to make sure I cherish and appreciate my husband living the rest of my life showing him how much he is truly loved.

Again, thank you.