Question:

I am an woman going through a very tough time trying to raise two children making all the major decisions alone. First and foremost, I am going through a divorce for the last two years which needs to be finalized. I met a younger gentleman through church, and we spent a lot of time together with him helping out with one of my children struggling through school. We shared a lot about each other and we ended up being intimate. The is no commitment and I feel so dirty. First it was touching one another then it proceeded further the second time. We attend the same church and I feel very ashamed of my actions and do not know what to do. I love God and so much want to do what is right in his eyes. How do I arrive at forgiveness to myself and before God? I feel so ashamed and try to focus on doing His work and living right. I do not want to be the woman who sits in the back pew of the church because I am a shame. How do l overcome this? The first time it happened we spoke about it and agreed not to pursue anything further now. After a while we have gone even further.


Answer:

When people state that they are looking for a way to forgive themselves, more often than not they are looking for some way to remove the feeling of guilt when they think back on what they had done. Sin is a debt we owe to God because we broke His laws, and forgiveness is the releasing of that debt. Perhaps it would be clearer to think in terms of money. You owe someone a large sum of money. That person could chose to forgive you of that debt, for which you would deeply grateful because it wasn't something he had to do. But can you owe money to yourself? Not really. And for the same reason you cannot forgive yourself of a debt that you owe to yourself. Sin doesn't put you into debt with yourself.

You are still legally married. You committed adultery with a man. There are reasons it happened. He claims to follow Christ, so you let down your guard. He has helped you in a difficult time, so you have positive feelings toward him -- a strong contrast to the hardships of ending your marriage. Liberties were taken, but the feelings were too strong to stop and reason. You even had a chance to turn it around after the first sin, but instead went further.

Both of you are responsible for what happened. "Commitment" would not change matters. Intentions do not turn a sin into something acceptable.

The first thing is to ask God to forgive you and trust that He keeps His word. "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (I John 1:8-9). It won't change you feelings about what you did, but you can have faith that your future has changed.

The second thing is that you have to make changes to prevent this sin from repeating. "For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter" (II Corinthians 7:10-11). No more being alone with this man. In fact, I would suggest cutting off all dealings with him. You didn't mention the reason for your divorce, but unless it was because your husband was committing adultery, you won't have a right to marry another man (Matthew 19:9; I Corinthians 7:10-11). If the divorce does permit you the right to remarry, you have to wait until it is finished and even then I am not sure you want this man to be your husband.

The simple fact is that everyone is vulnerable to sin. To think it would not happen to you is to leave an unguarded door that Satan will exploit (I Corinthians 10:12). Yes, you messed up, but the response is to change to be a person different from the one who made these mistakes.