what does the bible say about forgiveness for adultery?
What matters is the destruction it left in its wake;
which came from your own choices.
Once someone comes out of the affair fog and gains clarity to truly see the pain they’ve caused,
it can be very hard to live with the reality of pain left behind.
You feel unrelenting guilt for hurting your husband so deeply,
and you can’t understand how you brought this on your marriage.
Guilt’s gotten a bad rap- but it’s not all bad. So let’s first talk about guilt’s purpose.
Guilt is there to warn you that you’ve gone off course and something is seriously wrong…
think of it like a warning light on your car; ignore it long enough and your car will eventually break down leaving you stranded.
So experiencing guilt, and letting that guide you to be truly sorry for what you’ve done is a good thing.
Guilt should move you to true remorse to the point where you want to stop what you were doing wrong.
But some of us take guilt a little too far, and use it way past its expiration date-
staying guilty for something that you’ve already asked forgiveness for, and are trying to make right.
But shame…ah shame, that’s different than guilt.
And I’m well acquainted with that one.
Shame is like guilt’s evil cousin.
It’s more than a warning light on your dashboard-it’s actually ready to blow up your car for being such a terrible car in the first place.
Shame’s primary purpose is to push you down- and keep you there -because of what you’ve done.
I have a few views on this subject that I’d like to share with you if you’d allow me a few minutes.
There’s no way to mince words- adultery is wrong.
It made God’s top 10 commandments because He knew the pain and devastation it brings to marriages, and the family unit.
But I’m figuring you already know that.
She was obviously guilty- no one could deny that.
(Hmmm…no mention of the man in this scenario, which was always interesting to me).
The religious leaders were justified in stoning her, the law declared it so, and they were using this to test Jesus- how would he answer?
Could they trap him by speaking against God’s law?
How would he show compassion (as he seemed to be in the habit of doing with outcasts), without breaking God’s own law of punishment?
You likely know the story… he pretty much ignored their murmurings and demands for an answer as he wrote in the sand
(oh how I wish we knew what he wrote- could it have been “lusting after a woman in your heart”,
or maybe “stealing from innocent people”, “greed” “lying” we don’t know).
But then he stands next to the woman and declares “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”
He knew she was guilty, nobody could deny that- and the woman certainly wasn’t denying it as she stood in complete shame and humiliation,
waiting for her demise.
But interesting enough- they dropped their stones and walked away; the oldest man to the youngest.
Jesus wasn’t condoning her sin, but he did tell her this:
“Where are your accusers?” “..Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.”
So that settles any question you might have if God can or will forgive you?
God forgives ALL sin….to those that truly ask Him and repent.
Does that mean she got away with it? Does that mean she didn’t have to pay for her sin?
I imagine she struggled with the shame of that afternoon for a long time.
I’m sure the haters were still there gossiping about her afterwards.
But I can also imagine that the love and grace she felt that afternoon,
from a man she didn’t even know, far surpassed anything she’d ever experienced before.
Jesus did more than just save her life from being stoned to death, He looked past her sin and saved her soul.
His forgiveness was enough to silence the hate of pious religious leaders.
Is His forgiveness enough to silence the hate in your own mind?
You know the voice; it might be your own, or the words of others who know about your affair.
I’m sure it’s past the warning light stage of guilt now- it’s moved into the realm of shame where you hate yourself for what you’ve done.
Maybe you used to judge people who committed adultery before. I know I probably did.
It was easier to remove myself from the possibility of ever falling into this trap myself, by thinking it’s just those ‘bad people’ who do this.
But now you’re named among those, and you don’t know how you can ever live with yourself or how to help your husband heal,
because all you see and feel every day is the shame from your sin.
Some of you may even be contemplating suicide because of it.
That is what shame does.
Friend, I want to ask you- what is continuously punishing yourself or hating yourself doing for you now?
How much self-loathing will it take to pay for what you did? Can it ever pay for it?
I’m not in any way excusing infidelity- so for those of you reading this who would like to leave a comment accusing me
of blame shifting, or accuse me of making excuses for the unfaithful, I’m certainly not.
God knows my heart so lay your stones down- because the world doesn’t need more pious religious (or not religious) people
who only want to accuse others without examining their own hearts.
I imagine some people may have even thought Jesus was making excuses for her sin, or shifting the blame. Of course He wasn’t.
I am standing behind the love of Jesus. The love that saved a woman’s life that day- and likely saved more than just her life.
I stand behind HIS love for you, and His offer to forgive you, because ultimately that’s what matters most-
His forgiveness for you.
Will that lessen your consequences? No.
When we give into sin, it has its own consequences and punishment.
I’m sure nobody has to tell you that by now.
Forgiveness doesn’t eliminate the consequences for our bad choices; just like the murderer who repents to God in prison.
He’s still serving His time.
But God’s forgiveness can make a sinner’s heart clean again.
Only He can wash the guilty stain from your heart and restore you to Himself,
and even restore your husband and your marriage– if both are willing.
Yes, adultery is serious and God takes it seriously. He wants to forgive you for it,
if you truly want to stop.
But what about the voice of shame you hear in your head?
How do you forgive yourself after your own affair?
Let’s dive a little deeper into this.
First let’s be clear what the word “Forgive” or “Forgiveness” even means.
This is what the dictionary has to say:
to grant pardon for or remission of (an offense, debt, etc.); absolve.
to give up all claim on account of; remit (a debt, obligation, etc.); to grant pardon to (a person).
to cease to feel resentment against: to forgive one’s enemies.
to cancel an indebtedness or liability of: to forgive the interest owed on a loan.
to pardon an offense or an offender.
So how do we receive that ‘pardon’? Who is going to cancel a debt as big as adultery?
You certainly can’t do it.
Yes you can work at restoring what you have now and helping the one you hurt;
but there’s nothing you can really do to change the past; or to take back what you did.
That’s the unfortunate truth. Trust me, I tried.
What about a pardon from your husband? He may or may not ever forgive you for what you did.
It will likely take time, and work, for him to grant you that pardon and not hold it against you forever.
But what if he never does?
Does that mean you’re then not worthy of forgiveness?
Did this one (terrible) thing define the whole of who you really are?
What about the good you’ve ever done?
Does adultery cancel all of that out?
No. I don’t believe it can or should do that.
So now let’s look at God.
Christianity’s true claim is that Jesus came to save mankind from their sins because we could not save ourselves.
Jesus being fully God and fully man was perfect and without sin, and only HE could step in and pay this debt of sin we owed.
And I’m not just talking about adultery- but all sins.
It’s like you and I were found guilty of our crimes, standing in a courtroom obviously guilty and without excuse or justification.
We knew our crime and knew we deserved the death penalty.
But in walks Jesus- He steps in front of you and I and says “I’ll take her punishment, send me instead.”
He did that for you- so you could experience the wonder of His love and to spend eternity with you.
That, my friends, is the meaning behind Him dying on the cross (the short version).
It’s not about your good works, or mine, that can get us into heaven.
It’s about trusting that HE stood up and took our sins upon Himself-
though He was without sin- and God saw it and accepted that it was enough.
But… here’s the catch.
It’s not just automatically handed out to every human being.
God doesn’t force His love on anyone. He gives you and I a free will to choose him, or not.
Sometimes we don’t use that free will very wisely (hence, the affair)…but He offers this gift of salvation to us anyway.
But we have a choice.
We can either acknowledge we are a sinner and in need of a Savior; that we cannot do this on our own
and cry out for God’s help and forgiveness.
We can be stubborn and declare we’re good on our own, which would be like the obviously guilty woman in a courtroom saying
“no, I’m good. I’m not guilty. I can do this with my good works.”
But that would be foolish right? Because how many “good works” are enough to pay for your sins?
What’s the measuring stick for good works? Do we compare to the murderer on death row?
Then we look good. Do we compare to Mother Teresa? Not looking so good now.
Do you see how we can’t trust in our own good works for salvation, because it’s not our measuring stick to use- it’s what God accepts.
He’s the righteous judge in the courtroom.
By now you might be thinking “great, but what does this have to do with my shame
and inability to forgive myself because of my affair?”
Everything, my friend!
Because once you can grasp the full truth of God’s love and grace for you- you’ll want to run right into His arms.
You’ll want to end that affair and get right with God, because there’s absolutely no love on this earth that can compare to the love HE has for you.
Everything else is counterfeit and fake.
God wants us to come to Him and tell Him we’re sorry for our sins against Him. No sugar coating or blaming anyone else here.
He wants us to acknowledge that we need his forgiveness and receive the gift of what Jesus did on the cross for us, so we could have eternal life.
It might seem to others (like those religious leaders) that it isn’t fair for someone to be forgiven for adultery, or any other sin for that matter.
It might seem too easy, but it wasn’t easy for Jesus, it cost Him His life.
Maybe, you already know all this.
Maybe you’re already a Christian woman who had an affair and that’s added to your guilt and shame. I truly get it.
Maybe you’re having a really hard time releasing that shame because you keep looking at yourself and what you did and hate it because ‘you knew better’.
Yea, I heard that in my head too.
Remember, there is an accuser- Satan.
He wants you to stay stuck in your shame and continue hating yourself day after day.
Why, you ask?
Because if he can keep you thinking about your sins and not allowing yourself to receive the forgiveness God is offering you-
he can keep you stuck and ineffective in your life.
That means you can’t focus on how God can make beauty from ashes and you won’t really be able to help your husband heal,
because you’re too focused on your own shame to listen to his pain- it just brings you back down again.
If Satan can convince you you’re not worthy of forgiveness and encourage your shame spiral, then you’ll never fulfill the purpose and plans God has for you.
If Satan can remind you of your past- and let you sit in the misery of what you did- you’ll never fully feel the love and freedom Christ is offering you.
It’s like a wall is built around you and your shame is all you see.
Do you see how subtle and sly that is?
Also, when you say you can’t forgive yourself-
what are you saying to God about His plan of atonement for your sin?
You’re basically telling Jesus that it wasn’t enough- “thanks but no thanks; I’m a special case, I’m too bad to be forgiven”.
Sounds ridiculous when you think of it like that right?
But it’s true, and it’s the one thing that really helped me let go of the shame that tormented me then-
and it’s His love that I cling to whenever shame comes knocking on my door even now.
His love is enough to wash the stain of your sin away.
But understand, you’ll likely still suffer for what you did. As I said…Consequences.
Sin carries with it its own punishment.
It promises so much, but leaves us so empty in the end.
I don’t know what your consequences will be.
Your marriage may or may not survive this-that’s your husband’s choice to make,
and he has his own accountability to God for whether he chooses to forgive or not.
But whatever happens- just remember you can walk through it with Jesus by your side.
When that voice of shame wants to accuse you for your past, remind Satan that you are God’s daughter now and HE has forgiven you.
Then go and sin no more.
Work hard at helping your husband heal and being a woman of honor and integrity.
You can do it.
Let go of the past and allow yourself the forgiveness that even God is offering you.
Would you like more support from other women like you, as you walk through this?
Consider joining my private Facebook group AMA Women. It’s a safe place to heal and find support from
other women who understand the shame and struggle of their own infidelity.
If you liked this post, I’d love to hear your comments below.
These bible verses might be helpful for you to read when you feel that shame
“Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.”
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. ”
2 Corinthians 5:17
“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Therefore thus says the Lord:
“If you return,
Then I will bring you back;
You shall stand before Me;
If you take out the precious from the vile,
You shall be as My mouth.
Let them return to you,
But you must not return to them.”
“Come out from among them
And be separate, says the Lord.
Do not touch what is unclean,
And I will receive you.”
2 Corinthians 6:17
“Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”
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