I began this Scapegoat series with the Biblical story of the woman caught in adultery in the book of John, the 8th chapter. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that her life was changed that day by her encounter with Jesus. I can think of no better way to grasp the cleansing grace of forgiveness than through the words of someone who has been in the same situation.
I have dear friends who have personally experienced the heartbreak and destruction that adultery brings into a marriage. They have bravely and graciously agreed to share their journey. I pray you find strength and God’s grace through their vulnerability….
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever a man sows, so he shall also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the spirit will from the spirit reap eternal life.- Galatians 6:7-8
“I’ve heard it said that what you sow in your 20s, you will reap in your 40s. If that’s true, then what you sow in your teens you will reap in your 30s. At least that’s true for me. I’m in my late 30s now, but when I was just 30 years old the harvest of the patterns I developed in my teens came to a head. When I was a teen I did what most young men my age did. I hung out with my buds, drank socially, dated casually, dabbled in internet porn and in general abused my freedom just enough not to get caught. I was also a self-proclaimed Christian. When you are saved at a very young age(4-5 years old) there is a torturous struggle throughout adolescence of knowing the truth about how you ought to conduct your life and the way the world and the flesh want you to. For me it was about a 50/50 split. Half the time I lived for Jesus and half the time I just did what pleased me. But the whole time I was miserable knowing how I had grieved the Holy Spirit and denied the life that Jesus had died for me to embrace. This lifestyle continued into my 20s when I got married to a woman that loves Jesus and had children with her.
We attended a Bible based church filled with encouraging, God fearing people. I learned a trade and made a career out of it. At my local church I was respected as a man that knew God well; and I did. Life was good or at least good enough. At the same time, I still drank socially with my coworkers at bars and stayed out late listening to cover bands and carousing. I flirted with women I didn’t know and acted like a fool on Friday nights while my wife was at home alone caring for our children. I was a master of compromise. Always knowing the good I ought to do and not doing it; knowing the evil I was involved in and not running from it. And truthfully, wondering why God had not hit me over the head to save me from my own recklessness. I hated myself. I hated that I had no power to live the life that I really wanted to. I hated that Jesus had blessed my life so much and I didn’t care enough to protect and foster it. I felt like Paul in Romans 7 when he says “I know the good I ought to do, but not the ability to carry it out”. I was a great liar. I knew what to say so that I could avoid the hassle of being held accountable and I believed that I could control my behavior enough to keep from doing any real damage. But the enemy is a liar and he tells us exactly what we want to hear. Compromise will eventually cost everyone that employs it.
Not long after my 30th birthday on one of my infamous Friday nights I met a married woman, who like me, enjoyed the night life too. The idea that she liked me pleased me. I compromised. We exchanged information and met up at the bar 3 more times. More compromise. I did my best to be respectful and make myself believe that nothing would happen between us. More compromise. However it was becoming apparent that this woman wanted to escalate the situation and become more physical. After several attempts, I compromised yet again and stopped fighting her attempts to kiss me, and so we kissed. In that moment, the Holy Spirit revealed to me the unbridled selfishness in my heart, how I had callously forgotten my wife and my children, and her husband and her children. We parted ways that evening, but I knew full well that if it happened again it probably wouldn’t stop there, because compromise has no end. A couple of days later I let her know that we would not see each other again, and we didn’t.
Being a good liar, I was in little danger of being found out. But God’s Word says that whatever is done in secret will be brought to light. I believe God’s Word and I also understood that if I continued this pattern of lifestyle that I would destroy EVERYTHING in my life that mattered. The Holy Spirit gently and relentlessly pushed me to confess my sin. I vividly remember Him telling me that if I would be selfless and fall on the grenade that I had thrown into our life that He would take care of the rest. God’s promises are true. First I confessed to some friends who gave me the courage to tell my wife. By the grace of God I told her what I had been doing for the previous few months. I don’t need to tell you how much my betrayal crushed her heart. I do need to tell you that when God says that the wages of sin is death, HE means it. My sin killed my marriage. My sin killed my reputation. My sin killed my wife’s soul. My sin killed my wife’s trust in me and worse her trust in the Lord. All of my self- serving had left me empty, ashamed and alone. For my wife, it was the same.
For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in Him will not be put to shame”- Romans 10:11. Sin is packaged with an endless supply of shame, guilt, sorrow, pain and eventually death. It is void of peace, especially the spiritual kind. But I, like most folks, loath shame. It’s important to me to feel respected, even if I don’t respect myself. The irony of the situation is that all of my actions were because I liked being well thought of, no matter who is thinking of me. But after an act of adultery shame cannot be avoided. My friends, parents, my wife’s friends, pastors and fellow church goers knew what I had done. My wife and I were separated but I was hopeful and prayerful that our marriage could be restored. I slept on couches and got good Biblical counseling from some friends and brothers that modeled Jesus’ love in a way that I had never witnessed before and I am forever in their debt. I did whatever my bride wanted me to do to earn her trust again. Remember how God’s promises are true? After a couple of months we moved back in together, we renewed our vows and even went on another honeymoon. Jesus was there in every step of our restoration. He drew out the underlying deep insecurities in my heart and the weaknesses in my flesh, and maybe for the first time it felt good to be exposed. He gave my wife the supernatural ability to forgive me for my betrayal. And please understand this, Jesus took my shame away.
Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you? She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”- John 8:11 A woman was brought before Jesus while He was preaching in the temple courts. Many people were around while a woman who had been caught in the ACT of adultery stood accused before them. It was a shameful moment. She probably wasn’t well clothed and the religious leaders were standing around her prepared to stone her according to the law of Moses. How fortunate she was that Moses wasn’t there, but God was. He had no interest in stoning her, or condemning her or even shaming her. But He did make a point of addressing the hypocrisy of the religious men at the time. After everyone had either realized their own shame or lost interest, Jesus gently restored her. His grace both protected her and gave her a second chance.
This is a blog post. It’s just a testimony of another sinner saved by grace. And hopefully it’s a good read. But as with the story of the woman caught in adultery please find the grace between the lines. Jesus is not looking over your shoulder looking for reasons to shame you. Shame is a natural byproduct of sin. Jesus is our redeemer; He is THE redeemer. He pulls us from out of the pit and clothes us in HIS righteousness. He adopts us into a Holy Royal family and gives us a place of honor in a Kingdom that never ends.
While I still struggle with sin, I’m never alone in the fight. I’m held up by my Maker, rescued by His Son and guided by His Spirit. I’m in my later 30s, but so far, giving your life to Jesus is the best deal I’ve found. To God be the glory forever and ever.”