Question: How does one repent from the sin of adultery when remarried after divorce as in the situation described in Matthew 5:32?
Hi, this is Pastor Tim from Unlocking the Bible. Pastor Colin asked me to thank you for your good question and respond to you.
You asked: How does one repent from the sin of adultery when remarried after divorce as in the situation described in Matthew 5:32?
It is probably more helpful to begin with what repentance does not look like in this situation. It certainly cannot mean that you divorce the woman you are remarried to.
That would involve sinning again, in order to try and put the first marriage right.
The best corollary in Scripture is probably found in 1 Corinthians 7. You know the biblical command: “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14).
[tweet_box design=”default”]It is never God’s will for us to sin, even when it is our intention to try and put things right.[/tweet_box]
This command includes, but is not limited to marriage. So, when Paul addressed those in the church who were married to an unbelievers, he could have said, “Divorce them immediately!” But he doesn’t. Paul says, “If any brother has a wife who is an unbeliever, and she consents to live with him, he should not divorce her” (1 Corinthians 7:12).
It is never God’s will for us to sin (even when it is our intention to try and put things right). The rest of 1 Corinthians 7 explains.
Repentance probably looks more like confessing to God that your previous divorce and remarriage were sins against him, and that you’re sorry for them. You might consider asking your current wife and/or some other brothers and sisters in Christ to be there with you as you confess these things, especially if you are having a hard time experiencing God’s forgiveness.
I don’t know how the divorce affected your former wife (and kids?), but if you think it might encourage them in some way, you might reach out and apologize to them? If they knew you thought it was wrong, it might lessen the burden they carry in some way. Who knows how God could use your admission?
Anyway, hope this helps some. Praying that God will pour out peace and reconciliation in your family.
Warmly in Christ,