THREE TYPES OF READERS
Many of you have read my posts because you are struggling with the counter-cultural idea of forgiveness and restoration after you have been hurt and betrayed.
Some of you have read my posts because you are simply curious what a 'forgiven cheater' would have to say - understandably so. The world watched with salivating excitement, conditioned by a tabloid-journalism-infused culture, as the Ashley Madison hackers released the names of those who had created accounts. Tabloid so-called journalism has created an unquenchable hunger within us to deem lives filled with self-destructive choices and mistakes as 'entertainment.'
Then there are those of you who are either entertaining the thought, dabbling with, or even fully engaged in an extramarital affair, or multiple affairs.
CHEATERS, THIS ONE'S FOR YOU
Today, I write to the third group of individuals - the cheaters. To be even more specific, I am writing to the cheaters who claim to be Christians.
WHAT IS CHEATING?
First, I'll define cheating with a Biblical worldview.
Cheating: To allow any lustful thought or action while married.
I understand lustful thoughts are sinful for anyone, but in this post, I am specifically addressing people who are married. This includes, but is not limited to: porn, physical relationships with someone other than your spouse, emotional relationships with someone other than your spouse, even fantasizing about having a relationship with someone other than your spouse. (Obviously I'm not talking about a good close friend of the same gender. But that kind of relationship should not take priority over the relationship you have with your spouse either.) Intimacy on any level, of any type or kind, should be reserved for your spouse alone, aside from the full surrender and abandon you give to the Lord Jesus.
So you've crossed the line. You've done the unthinkable. You've betrayed the person you once claimed to love the most. Now what?
This video makes light of the concept, but the underlying principle is soberingly true.
When a woman, caught in the act of adultery was brought before Jesus, He forgave her and commanded, "now go and sin no more" (John 8:11).
Sinning 'no more' doesn't mean you won't ever struggle or face temptation again. It does mean that you need to turn from your sin (to repent) and choose not to continue down that path.
Don't over-rationalize or overthink all of the ins and outs of your decision. "It'll be hard." "I've struggled with this for so long." "I don't think I even love my spouse anymore." ...and on and on the excuses, worry, and rationalizations goes...
This isn't your path. Your path doesn't look like this at all. Your path is clear. Your path will be straight if you keep "your eyes...straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you" (Proverbs 4:25), "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith" (Hebrews 12:2).
There are pragmatic steps that need to take place as I laid out in my post entitled, "Rebuilding Trust."
But the main point is, make your decision today.
THE DANGER OF JUSTIFICATION
When I was in the midst of an affair, I felt darkness engulfing my life. I felt my heart hardening towards God. Somehow, I convinced myself that at the end of it all, after I was divorced, I could bask in the light of grace and forgiveness. I justified my terrible actions with a 'get out of jail free' card, just waiting to be handed out by a happy-go-lucky god I'd formed in my mind, loosely based on the Sovereign and Holy Lord of all creation revealed to humanity through the Bible.
The Apostle Paul dealt with this same illogical issue, "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2).
TODAY IS THE DAY, NOW IS THE TIME
You can't wait to make your decision. Who is to say how much time you have left? What if you drop dead in the next five minutes? What if you have some kind of catastrophic accident tonight? What if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time and meet an untimely demise?
Don't put off your repentance. Choose life. Choose freedom. "Choose this day whom you will serve...as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD." (Joshua 24:15) Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, "I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." (2 Corinthians 6:2). "Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near" (Isaiah 55:6).
Once you've made the decision, stand by it. "Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming" (Ephesians 4:14).
The Bottom Line
You have two choices. The first choice is freedom, found only in Christ Jesus (John 10:10, John 8:32). The second choice is bondage and an ongoing cycle of self-destruction.
So ask yourself, "Do I want freedom, or bondage?" Once you've answered the question, move forward and commit to your decision without looking back.