Thursday, February 22, 2007

The law and gospel of adultery

For any baptized soul who has struggled with sin, I offer this heartfelt letter and pastoral response. I found it on the WELS Q&A site this morning and was very touched. I think that in this age of pietism, it is a temptation to make certain sins worse than others and tell ourselves that God couldn't possibly forgive a particular type of sin. It is also easy to compartmentalize our sins by putting them into boxes. It is easy to say that you didn't commit adultery, but only thought about a person in a sexual way. Yet Christ's words are do so is adultery. Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-28, "You have heard that it was said, 'Do not commit adultery.' But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Who can truthfully say that he or she has NEVER done that? I imagine very few. The law does indeed convict...with a very sharp knife to the heart.


I strayed very badly from God last year. I was extremely sexually immoral. In a nutshell, I committed adultery. My question is, is there any hope for me to be saved? I knew God before I did this unspeakable gross act. In fact, I did it in the face of Him. How can I expect to be saved? Yes, I'm highly repentant of my sins. Yet, how can I expect Him to forgive me?

Pastoral response:

What you are saying is that you have committed the sin of adultery. You are saying that you did it last year. You are saying that you did it deliberately in the face of God! You wonder how you can expect to be saved? You say that you are highly repentant, but wonder, "How can I expect him to forgive me?"

There are five sections of the Scripture to which I would like to refer you: II Samuel 11; II Samuel 12:13; Psalm 32:3-5; II Corinthians 5:19; and Romans 8:1 ff.

In II Samuel 11 we have the account in God's Word about how David and Bathsheba sinned. Like you, David knew that what he was doing was a sin. When Bathsheba became pregnant, David even tried to cover up his sin by having Uriah, Bathsheba's husband come to her to sleep with her so that everyone might think that Uriah was the child's father. When that did not work David arranged to have Uriah murdered in such a way that it looked like he died in battle.

Just like you, David knowingly and willfully sinned. Can you see the comparisons between David and you?

God sent Nathan the prophet to confront David about his sin. David repented. He said: II Samuel 12:13, "I have sinned against the Lord." I hear you saying the same thing.

Then, in Psalm 32:3-5, David tells his people about his sin and his forgiveness from God. He first describes the emotions I hear you expressing: vs. 3-4 "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer."

This is the pain I hear you saying. "How can I expect to be saved?" I deliberately and knowingly sinned! How can I expect God to forgive me?"

David describes his faith in God's solution in this way: vs. 5 "I said, ' I will confess my transgressions to the Lord' -- and you forgave the iniquity of my sin."

I hear you saying, "I am highly repentant of my sins." David said the same thing. Now, you ask, "How did David get that confidence and trust that God forgave him and I don't have it?

Repentance always involves two things. The one -- that we confess our sins to God. The other -- that we believe that we receive absolution or forgiveness from God because of Jesus."

I hear you saying that you have confessed your sins. I also hear you saying that because of the way you feel you sinned so knowingly and willingly, and because you so strongly feel guilt for your sin, you can't understand how God could forgive you.

First: God forgave David who not only knowingly and willingly committed adultery, but also knowingly and willingly caused his lover's husband to be murdered. God forgave David because of Christ who has paid for the sins of the whole world upon the cross. God forgives you also because of Jesus.

When Jesus went to the cross, he paid for all the sins of all people of all time. That includes the sins of King David and your sins also. Listen to what God tells us in II Corinthians 5:19: "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them." You are a part of the world for whom Christ died. You can't tell me or God that you are not a part of the world for whose sins Christ went to the cross. You are also a part of the whole world which has been reconciled to God because of Christ. That part is just as true. To be reconciled to God means that God, in Christ, has made peace between you and him.

In others words, trust in the mercy of God. Jesus died on the cross for your sins. He has made peace between you and God. Be at Peace!

Romans 8:1 "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." Jesus died for you. He paid for your sins upon the cross. Be assured that there is nothing in all creation that "will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:39. That "us" includes you!

My last encouragement to you is that you go to your pastor and hear this same message of peace from him. Take your question and answer with you. Show it to him and talk with him about it.

Be at peace! Your Jesus loves you, died for you, arose for you, and lives for you!

Out of faith and love for Jesus, live for him! As a fruit of your repentance, fight the temptation to commit adultery again.


1 comment:

Boon U said...
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