Is adultery a sin according to the Bible? How can a person repent from the sin of adultery? What is repentance in the context of adultery? These are all great questions.
The Bible says, “You shall not commit adultery” (Exodus 20:14). This is the 7th commandment in the 10 commandments that God gave through Moses. The Bible has much to say about relationships and appropriate sexual behavior, and adultery is always listed as a serious sin.
Jesus said if a man even lusts about a woman in his heart, he has already committed adultery:
But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.
In addition, the Old Testament punishment for adultery was death by stoning:
If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.
Even though the Old Testament punishment in the theocracy of Israel is no longer practiced by Christians today, it does not lessen the seriousness of adultery. With today’s astronomical divorce rates, and infidelity rates, it is important for Christians to seek God’s will, and this means turning away and repenting of the sin of adultery.
Keep in mind, God’s word offers a strong warning to those engaging in unrepentant adultery:
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (Emphasis mine)
According to the passage above, people engaging in unrepentant adultery will not inherit the Kingdom of God. This means they will spend eternity in torment in the Lake of Fire, prepared by God for wicked and unrepentant sinners.
How to Repent of Adultery
Jesus tells us that adultery is not always outward, but begins in the heart:
For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:
Therefore, the first and most important part of repentance is to change the heart and mind of the person committing adultery. The word repentance means “to change,” or “to turn.” For a person suffering with lustful thoughts, this means you must pray for God to deliver you from temptation, and to rebuke lustful thoughts when they enter your mind. The Bible says to bring every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ:
Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;
2 Corinthians 10:5
When a person changes their heart about a matter, and repent, they will naturally agree with God’s stance on it. God says adultery is sin and wickedness, and Christians should view it as such when in repentance. By changing your thought pattern, you can begin to turn away from this very serious sin, and become more Christ-like.
At first, it may seem impossible to overcome lustful thoughts. But God can give you strength and sanctify you over time, leading you to holiness and obedience in Christ Jesus.
Removing Temptation to Commit Adultery
Once a Christian has repented of adultery, he or she should act to remove any unnecessary temptation from their life. Jesus gave an extreme example of how to avoid sin:
And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:
Jesus is not calling Christians to self-mutilate, but this passage strongly shows us that sin is so serious, we ought to go to great lengths to avoid it. For an adulterer, this may mean blocking pornographic websites, throwing away a computer used for adultery or pornography, throwing dirty movies or magazines in the trash, and avoiding any movies with even a slight sexual conduct in it. By viewing pornography and sexually explicit material, it plants a seed of lust in the heart of a person that may one day lead to adultery.
Next, Christians should never place themselves in situations where they will be alone with a member of the opposite sex, or a person to whom they feel a strong attraction or lust. Billy Graham, the famous evangelist, made a point to never be photographed alone with a woman, or be in a hotel room or any place alone with another woman besides his wife. He did this to not only avoid sexual temptation, but to even remove any suspicion of it.
Christians would be wise to cut-off any and all contact with the opposite sex when alone, unless absolutely necessary. If you find yourself attracted to someone, it would be wise to limit contact with them until you are stronger in faith and have matured more as a sanctified Christian.
In addition, flirtation with people other than your spouse may seem innocent, but it reflects a problem of the heart, and an openness to a physical relationship. Don’t ever flirt with another person you’re not married to. Never stop flirting with your spouse.
In fact, you should take any temptation you have as an opportunity to renew your love with your spouse. Place your spouse above all other people. Marital relationships are the highest form of intimacy and the closest bonds we can experience with humans on this earth, and we should seek to protect and cultivate this relationship.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
Should You Confess Adultery To Your Spouse?
Without question, you should confess your sin to God. Any and every sin you ever commit is a sin against a Holy God first and foremost. Also, though it may be difficult, the Bible says we should confess our wrongs to others:
Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
Anyone who engaged in an adulterous relationship should “come clean” with his or her spouse. This will no doubt cause heartache and much strain on the relationship, as the person cheated on will feel hurt, rejected, unattractive, and unloved. But if the person is truly repentant, this is the first step to healing a marriage.
Through prayer and counsel, many wonderful Christians have survived the sin of adultery, and went on to have a happy, loving, and restored marriage. Healing may take time, but if the person who committed adultery confesses it, repents, and bears fruit in keeping with repentance, God can do wonderful healing.
Sadly, not every marriage may experience the blessing of reconciliation, and may end in divorce, but reconciliation is always the preferred option. God’s word does say divorce is permissible in the case of adultery, but this is never the ideal option.
How Can You Repent if You’ve Committed Adultery and Remarried?
The Bible teaches that if any person divorces and remarries for a reason other than sexual immorality (or extreme abuse, etc.), that person is living in an adulterous marriage.
But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.
This is often a complex situation, because the Bible does not go into great detail on all of the possible scenarios that a marriage could have, with all of the possible divorce/remarriage scenarios.
Should a person who divorced and remarried, and then later came to Christ, divorce the current spouse and try to reconcile with the other? Well, as one preacher put it, “You can’t unscramble eggs.” The scenario mentioned is scrambled, and you cannot undo sin once sin has happened. King David, though he murdered Uriah and committed adultery with Bathsheba, could not undo his sin. Since Uriah was dead, King David remained with Bathsheba, even though the marriage had its start in adultery. If Uriah was alive, it is difficult to say if King David would have remained married to her.
While God did punish David for his initial adultery and subsequent murder of Uriah, God never condemns David for remaining married to Bathsheba after this. Even though God did punish David by taking the life of their first offspring, God eventually blessed their marriage by allowing Bathsheba to conceive Solomon, who eventually became the most wise and wealthy King of Israel.
The fact of the matter is that many people have broken marriages and may have sinned in their past life. God’s word does not address all of the scenarios of remarriage, but God never specifically says a remarried couple who came to faith later should divorce and reconcile with the old spouse. In fact, God’s word suggests in the Old Testament that a couple that divorced and remarried other people should not have sexual relations with their previous spouses again:
And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
In the case of people who have divorced and remarried sinfully, and later came to Christ, the best course of action would be to pray for forgiveness, and honor the current marriage, seeking God’s blessing on it.
If a couple divorced and did not remarry, then reconciliation should be sought if both individuals are willing to do so, and are Christians. Otherwise, they may remain single.
Conclusion: Adultery Is a Serious Sin, and Christians Should Be On Guard
In today’s society, we are bombed with sexually suggestive commercials, magazine pictures, billboards, music, and more. Satan has cleverly worked to make lust and sins of the flesh very accessible.
Nevertheless, adultery goes against God’s plan for the family. God’s plan is for one Christian man and one Christian woman to join together in a holy union, and produce and raise Godly offspring.
Adultery is a wicked sin of the flesh, and it brings with it serious consequences. It may seem that an innocent flirtation or a “one-night-stand” will be fine, and you’ll get away with it. But this simply isn’t true. Things like children out of wedlock, STD diseases, messy divorces, and other similar fates await those who turn from God’s way, and indulge in sin.
We humans don’t break God’s laws so much as we’re broken on them.
If you are suffering with the sin of adultery, I urge you to repent of your sin and turn to Christ. Christ can cleanse you of your sin, forgive you, and lead you to obedience through the power of the Holy Spirit.
May God be with you, Amen.