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Question 35

Q: I have listened to your Running to Win broadcasts for several years and recently heard your series that dealt with stubborn sins.

My bad habit involves adulterous behavior, and I’ve repented thousands of times. It’s destroyed my marriage, and I’m desperately seeking a way to truly repent of this sin, but it’s almost as though I’m possessed by some kind of demon. I’m so ashamed, embarrassed, and desperate that I really can’t bring myself to share this struggle with even my closest Christian friends or church officers. 

Pray with me that I might finally find forgiveness and truly repent of this sin. Also please pray for my wife that she might find it in her heart to forgive me.  

Asked by: R.G., Virginia

A: Well my friend, what a lifestyle you have lived and what a predicament you are in.

One thing you need to do is find someone that you can trust and tell that person, “I need to pray with you. I need to confess what I’ve been doing.” You see, as long as it remains totally private, the devil will use it and exploit it. I’ve known people in essentially the same predicament, and the moment they confessed it to someone else, and submitted to accountability, a release came.

Evidently your wife knows about your adulterous behavior and that’s why you requested prayer that she might forgive you. But let me ask you this, are you thinking that all she needs to say is “I forgive you” and everything is supposed to be okay? I hope that that’s not what you’re thinking.
You see, in order to be reconciled, there are three elements that need to come together. There has to be forgiveness, but there also has to be trust, and in your case it might take a long time to gain her trust back. Third, there has to be respect. Apart from those three elements, you really can’t have complete reconciliation.

Start with God. Break from these sins with the help of other believers and with the counsel of a trusted friend or friends. That’s number one. And don’t let your shame keep you bound and prevent you from doing that, because if you do, worse things lie ahead.

Secondly, you and your wife need to enter into counseling. There needs to be some wisdom given to you, and what you need to know is that you have a long way to come back to her—but begin soon. Remember, the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Please, begin today.

Finally, repentance itself, though very important and basic, is not sufficient to deliver you from this sin; the appetite will come back to haunt you. Without radical obedience you will continue to fall into the same trap. Jesus said that we should be willing to cut off our hand or pluck out our eye rather than continuing to fall into the trap of sexual sin. This means cutting off all ties to what binds you: if it is pornography you must take steps to make it impossible to return to the same avenues of sin; if it is the workplace, you must take drastic steps to separate yourself from opportunities to fall into the same sin. The question is not whether you have repented but whether you are repenting each day at the foot of the cross with radical obedience.

May God heal your marriage and deliver you from a cycle of bondage.

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