Forgiving Adultery

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What does the Bible say about forgiving adultery?

The Bible is very specific about forgiving adultery. The gospel of John shares an occurrence of a woman caught in adultery. John 8:1-11 says, ". . .Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, 'Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?' They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

"But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, 'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.' Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

"At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, 'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

"'No one, sir,' she said.

"'Then neither do I condemn you,' Jesus declared. 'Go now and leave your life of sin.'"

Jesus was set up by the people of His day. They brought before Him a woman (not the man, because of how women were viewed in Jesus' day), caught in adultery and asked Jesus what to do. Jesus took a few moments (knowing what was in their hearts), He wrote in the dirt, and rose up and responded, "If anyone of you is without sin let him be the first to throw the first stone at her." Everyone there had sinned, so no one threw a stone.

Jesus answered their question regarding adultery. He said to forgive adultery. According to scholars, when Jesus said: "Go now and leave your life of sin" he meant that the woman was forgiven, however she was not to continue in sin.

James, one of the writers of the New Testament, also discusses the topic of adultery. James 2:8-11 says, "If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, 'Love your neighbor as yourself,' you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' also said, 'Do not murder.' If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker."

Here James is saying that if we break one part of the law, we are guilty of breaking the whole law. However, in view of this, God is very gracious and forgives all manner of sin, even sexual sin. 1 John 1:9 states, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness." If we commit adultery, and confess, God will forgive us.

God desires that we forgive each other, even of the most egregious sin. Peter questioned the Lord on this in Matthew 18:21-22: "Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, 'Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?' Jesus answered, 'I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.'"



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