It is in the DNA of a Christian to want to forgive those who have done us wrong. In doing so, most believe we are following the example of our Savior, Jesus Christ, who said on the cross "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." (Luke 23:34 NKJV)
But making doctrine out of one Bible verse is spiritually dangerous to the enth degree. The Word of God is to be read in total. By reading and understanding but single verses, our good intentions can do more harm than good.
The Bible says that adulterers will not enter heaven. “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
So in forgiving an unrepentant adulterer, you are doing what God Himself will not do - which I suggest is not a good spiritual decision.
Neither is it good for the adulterer. In forgiving him without biblical strings attached, we are helping ensure he does not inherit everlasting light in the presence of the Lord.
The secular among us will say that forgiving someone, no matter their affront, is good for us, as it will free us from the burden of holding a grudge, which is never good for anyone. But that misses the point. A Christian does not withhold forgiveness with intent to do harm. He denies forgiveness to lovingly help, in this case, the adulterer.
The only way we will ever be forgiven of our sins is to repent and accept the unmerited gift of salvation given at such great cost by Jesus.
Sadly, nominal Christians believe that accepting Christ is the end of the equation. We love the salvation part, we’re just not too keen on the obedience that should be given in response to God’s love.
Christ said, "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish." (Luke 13:5)
He then goes further in Luke 17:3 when He gives specific instructions regarding forgiveness. "Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins against you, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him.” The words that are all too often ignored, even by those of faith, are “and if he repents.”
So now the matter has come full circle. Adulterers will not enter heaven. Repentant adulterers will, through the sacrifice of the blood of Christ.
For those who may want to entertain the fallacy that they will be saved regardless of their sinful condition, we only have to look to Hebrews 10:26-27 to disprove what should be obvious. “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.”
Two things should immediately stop us in our tracks. First, quite clearly, continued sin is not ever forgiven, as not even the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross will suffice as payment for our willful disobedience. And if we will not repent and turn to the Lord, we should expect the same punishment as God’s enemies.
This is why we should not forgive an unrepentant adulterer, as in doing so we are helping him make a decision that will affect him in the negative throughout eternity.
And so there is no misunderstanding, repenting is far more than simply saying “I’m sorry.” That’s a good start, but it’s only that - a start. Repenting from betraying your wife and children by committing adultery is something that may take the rest of your life. But it is what you must do, as God commands it. Adulterers must remember that the ball is always in their court. They must make right everything they made wrong.
Adultery is a vicious sin that follows the principle of Judas betraying Jesus. I mention this truth to remind us that in committing adultery we are not only cheating on our spouse, but also on God who is the third person in the marriage covenant.
It never fails to take my breath away that even under these horrific circumstances we can be forgiven by our Heavenly Father who gives us so very much more than we deserve or have a right to expect. A love like that deserves to be worshipped in humility.
So forgive an adulterer, but only if he heeds the Word and repents. If he won’t, you must heed the Word and withhold forgiveness lest you do him more harm.
Edward Mrkvicka is an award winning Christian author, lay minister/counselor, and lifelong Bible student.
He is the author of The Prayer Promise of Christ, named Christian Book of the Year by Books & Authors.net.
His newest book, No Innocent Affair: Making Right the Wrong of Adultery can be ordered at Amazon.com and purchased at most bookstores.
Ed’s web site is located at: www.EdwardFMrkvickaJr.com