Bible Riches Answers the Mail

A visitor who committed adultery asks: "Should I confess my sin to my spouse?"    
JJM writes -
I have a question for you but first I would like to lead up to it if I may.

I have been married once. This happened in 1995 to an 18 year old high school graduate. She had good upbringing and went to church. She was not a virgin. I was not brought up a Christian. I did not even know what all that *religious stuff* meant. I had terrible upbringing, being sheltered and allowed to do as I please. I played in a traveling band and drank and looked good on stage. I think this attracted her to me because of the *idol* thing. This was at the one club that allowed underage entrance. Anyway, we both were having troubles in life at the time. We found each other.
2) In 1996 I was having bad depression from not being able to deal with reality and personal responsibilities.

My first dose of real independence was getting married. I would turn to self help, medication. I see now why man cannot cure man.

My wife quit going to the clubs to watch for a while and I always noticed women dancing in front of me but I never approached any. I just did not believe in *casual sex*. [Also, I was afraid and avoided girls in school and somehow grew up believing girls were just judgmental, sexual goddesses.]
3) Well, I got encountered by a regular who wanted a ride and she was very tempting and manipulative. I was drunk and gave in.

I never said a word after the experience. I dropped her off silently and went home and entered the shower for an hour, crying and felt dirty. My wife was spending the night with her grandmother. Only like a week later at another club I had an old friend beg me for a ride home. She always had a crush on me. I drove under the influence again. She wanted me to come in. I said no. She fell out of the car. I realized later that it was a trick to get me in her house. The rest is history. I wanted to commit suicide so many times because of what I did. I just refused to ruin my wife, who seemed so pure to me.
4) Years later, I have given my life to Jesus Christ. My life has been a big mess, but now it seems to be getting better. I have been without a purpose in life but now I feel like I have one. I keep Jesus in front every hour every day.

MY QUESTION. Do I need to confess this old sin to my wife??

Since bringing this question up I have started feeling those old feelings again. For once it feels hopeful that we, as a family, can go down a good path together. But I know that if I tell her right now, she will feel so inadequate that I am so afraid of her hurting herself. But I will do whatever God wants.

Thanks, JJM
Rich's Reply

Dear JJM,
You raise a very good question. Thanks for being so open and honest with your life to share this.

There are two issues we need to explore to help answer your concern. First, from my understanding of the things you said, your affair occurred BEFORE coming to Jesus Christ.

God has cleansed you from all your sin (1 John 1.7). God has removed your sin as far as the East is from the West (Ps 103.12). He has cast all your sins into the depth of the sea (Micah 7.19). The point of quoting these verses is simply to show that, by virtue of the grace and forgiveness of God, you have been separated from your sins and as a result, God will remember them no more (Heb 8.12).
  But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
1 John 1.7

As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Ps 103.12

He will turn again; He will have pity on us. He will trample our iniquities. Yea, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
Mic 7.19

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities I will remember no more.
Heb 8.12
Now what usually happens is that we come to learn that God forgives His people a lot quicker than we forgive ourselves. When we have engaged in shameful deeds of the flesh and confess it to the Lord, the Bible says that God forgives us (1 John 1.9), but we tend not to forgive ourselves. This may be an issue you need to explore.

Remember this my friend. Satan will lay three big heavy trips on you. First, he will flood your heart with shame. The second is guilt. And third, he uses ACCUSATIONS (self-talk accusations, things that we tend to tell ourselves from our past) to produce in you feelings of guilt and shame. Don’t go there with him.
  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1.9
Two steps to overcome these things...
First- Whenever Satan reminds you of your past sins and mistakes and starts beating you over the head with them, you remind him of his future. That’s right. If the devil wants to talk about your past, then tell him, "All right, let's go to the Bible (book of Revelation) and talk about your future.”

You will experience how Satan's accusations will stop. Read out loud Revelation 20.1-10 as an example. Satan HATES those verses!

You see, the Bible teaches that as Christians, we have no past with reference to our sins (the devil still has one). Similarly, Satan has no future with reference to his sins (but we do have a future – one that is free from sin and one that is filled with eternal life and glory in the presence of God). This is one practical step for “resisting the devil” (James 4.7).
  And the Devil who deceived them was cast into the Lake of Fire and Brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet were. And he will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Rev 20.10

Therefore submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Jam 4.7
Second- You need to come to know who you are in Christ. Let me explain. Now listen carefully.

Christians are NOT labeled as “sinners” in the Bible. Rather we are labeled “saints!”
  To all those who are in Rome, beloved of God, called-out saints. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Rom 1.7

Greet every
saint in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me greet you. Philipp 4.21

To the
saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse. Grace to you, and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Col 1.2
The word “saint” is from the Greek word hagios. It means “pure, blameless, holy.”   Strong's #40 hagios, hag'-ee-os
sacred, physically pure, morally blameless, consecrated -- (most) holy (one, thing), saint.
We are also called “children of God” (John 1.12; Gal 3.26).   But as many as received Him, He gave to them authority to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name, John 1.12

For you are all
children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Gal 3.26
Memorize First Corinthians 6.9-11!

Notice especially what God tells you in the final paragraph of this passage. You WERE some of these labels in the preceding verses, but NOT anymore. What happened? You were washed, sanctified, justified -– in other words, you got saved!

So, if you see yourself a sinner, how you will feel? Like a sinner, that's how. And guess what you’ll be practicing? Sin, that's what!

However, if you see yourself the way God sees you -- a saint, His own beloved child --- guess how you will start to feel then? Guess how you will act?
  Do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor abusers, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

And such were some of you. But you are
washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Cor 6.9-11
Satan is called the accuser of the brethren (Rev 12.10). Do not let him take you there. If you do, he will paralyze you with guilt and shame and destroy your life personally and your present relationship with your wife.   And I heard a great voice saying in Heaven, "Now has come the salvation and power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ. For the accuser of the brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night." Rev 12.10
Now let’s address the next issue. Were you unfaithful while being married to the woman you are married to now? Based on what I read, yes you were. Therefore, doesn’t she have the right to know and isn’t it your responsibility to tell her since she was your wife at the time of the sin and still is?

Now here’s my counsel to you, my friend. I’m not going to tell you NOT to tell her, nor am I going to tell you that you MUST tell her. But I will offer you some principles to guide you.
  First, nothing you mentioned in your email gave me the impression that your wife is a Christian. I’ll come back to this.

Second, remember that sensitive information needs to be given at the proper time. Jesus never flooded His disciples with all that He knew at one time. Rather Jesus waited for the proper time and circumstances to tell His people what they needed to hear. He communicated the truth to them, but in small doses that they could chew on, which occurred at the right time, and which would be determined by their obedience (John 14.21).
Here’s a simple example. At the Last Supper (John 13.21-30), Jesus revealed to His disciples that one of them would betray Him.

Naturally the other disciples were eager to learn exactly which one of them would do such an evil deed.

Although Jesus alluded to the identity of His betrayer, at that time He did NOT directly reveal that it was Judas.

It was only after the incident in the Garden (John 18.1-5), that the others realized that Judas was the betrayer that Jesus was referring too.
  Now, if your wife is a Christian, and you do sense the Lord leading you to tell her, then wait for the proper time and circumstance.

Pray that God will give you insight to know when and how to tell her. After all, if she truly loves you, then her love for you and God will cover a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4.8). She may need some time to process the information and to work through it, so give her the time and space to do so.

Remember, you had time processing these things while you kept them a secret. Give her time as well.
On the other hand, if your wife is NOT a Christian, then all you have to go on is her personality and character. Whatever her response might be, it will be based on her own ideas and not on her relationship with God.

So you are left with two choices. To tell or not to tell. Because the Bible does not address your concerns absolutely, I am not able to give you any absolutes. But with the principles that I shared in this email, I hope to give you some guidance to help with your concerns.

You see, God knows that when we confess our sins, healing occurs in two key areas. First, cleansing occurs in our relationship with God (1 John 1.9); and second, healing occurs in our relationship with others (James 5.16).
  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1.9

Confess faults to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous one avails much.
Jam 5.16
Now I’m sorry to do this to you, but here’s something else to think about before I send this off. Paul said in 1 Cor 7.4 that your body belongs to your wife and her body belongs to you. This is the idea of authority mentioned there. Therefore, when you took your body (which belongs to your wife) and gave it to someone else, you not only sinned against God, but also against your wife, since it is your body that she has authority over.

However, you did this prior to being saved. So does adultery only occur to Christian couples? Does 1 Cor 7.4 only apply to Christian couples? Personally, I don’t think so. The sin of adultery applies to all couples regardless of whether or not they belong to the Lord. The whole issue behind adultery is the problem of sinning against the spouse.
  The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband.

In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife.
1 Cor 7.4
In conclusion
If you confess it to your wife, then you have neutralized sin’s power over you in the future and it will give your wife an opportunity to exhibit her love to you via forgiveness. If you don’t confess the sin to your wife, then you have in a sense, gotten away with it. That could be the foothold that Satan will use to tempt you again in that area. He’ll say, “Hey, how about one more time? After all, you didn’t get caught. She’ll never know.” Pretty soon, the power of the temptation may overwhelm you and you might yield to it.
  One thing for certain, my friend. Don’t get drunk and don’t give women a ride home unless your wife is with you.

I’ll be praying for you. Let me know how the Lord leads you on this.

Much Grace,



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