Dear Divorce Minister,
My ex-husband, who has been having an affair for two years, tells me that he has prayed to God and everything is ok between him and God. He continues to go to Church each Sunday with our daughter (nobody there knows he has been committing adultery and I go to a different church now) and he still considers himself a good Christian. He explains this by saying that God forgives us all our sins and that God loves us all and wants us all to be happy. Jesus died for us so that we all can be forgiven. All it takes to get into Heaven is believing that Jesus Christ is God’s son. But yet he hasn’t stopped seeing his girlfriend or filing for divorce.
One of your early posts on Letting Go of False Guilt talks about God’s forgiveness.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (I John 1:9, NIV).
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1, NIV).
If my Ex read that, he would apply it to himself to explain why God is ok with him. How do I respond to him? I am conflicted about all of this. My friends tell me that God will punish my ex at some point, but then I read about God’s forgiveness and I believe in God’s forgiveness. So is my ex correct in saying that God forgives him, so it is all ok? How can God love and forgive and still punish those who do wrong?
To begin, I would like to remind you that Satan is most dangerous when using a little bit of truth mixed with his lie. I talk about this in my post entitled: “You Don’t Have to Agree” (link here).
As I see it, your stbx (or ex?) husband is abusing a truth about forgiveness to provide cover for his adulterous sin. This is not right. And anyone who actually cared about his soul would call him out on this encouraging true repentance on his part.
While I have written about forgiveness and its availability to all, I think it may be helpful to remember what Scripture teaches concerning sin and true repentance. Directly after writing about how Christ’s blood cleanses us from our sins (i.e. we are forgiven by Christ’s blood sacrifice), the writer of Hebrews gives his readers this exhortation:
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth,no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. -Hebrews 10:26-31, NIV
Such are sobering words about instructing followers of Christ to aim for righteous living. Here are the words of a righteous God who does not take sin lightly nor the abuse of His Son’s blood. And He will judge the abuser. It is best to turn from our sin.
It sounds like your stbx husband missed this passage or was never warned as he continues to see his girlfriend and push through the divorce. Those are actions of continuing in sin. I hope someone in his church loves him enough to warn him of the dire danger to his soul in light of these truths.
As to his claims about God wanting him to be happy, I would push back to say God wants him to be holy (see I Peter 1:15-16). We are to reflect God’s character. Last time I checked, happiness is not one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). And holiness is a very important character aspect of God, and we ought to seek to be holy as it marks us as set apart from the world.
Finally, I am sorry that your stbx husband has twisted the Bible to hurt you and cause further confusion. While forgiveness for all is available, that does not mean our sin is ever okay. Christ had to die to cover it. So, God takes our sin deathly seriously. Also, forgiveness does not mean consequences do not follow from our actions or choices. For example, we can forgive a rapist and still allow the justice system to send him to jail. Jail time is a consequence for breaking the law.
I hope this helps, Perplexed, and I hope you hear my heart is saying these things as not for anyone’s destruction. My hope is all turn from their sins truly and find forgiveness. However, I am a realist and acknowledge some will choose a life of sinful rebellion over a life of holiness in the end. Such choices, I am convince, break God’s heart.