I cheated on my husband three times. I’m telling you, it’s not worth it.

I need to admit something: I’ve committed adultery three times, in three different ways. This is important for you to understand, as a reader and partner with me in fighting sin, because when I talk about the effects sin has on a believer’s life, I want you to understand that I have personally felt the pain sin brings (James 1:12-15).

In the second year of our marriage, I kissed a man who had gotten too close to us as a couple.

Then, in the middle of our marriage, I created the opportunity to go through with adultery, but the man didn’t follow through.

The third time, I had sex several times with a man in my community.

And while my husband has forgiven me (along with forgiving the men involved), it hasn’t been without cost and pain. And that’s what I want to talk about today. In hopes that anyone that’s starting down this path will turn and run.

I didn’t just fall into adultery by accident. Day by day I was walking closer and closer to adultery because of my complacency in fighting sin. And friend, I don’t want that for you.

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This isn’t easy. But after prayer and conversations with my husband, I have come to accept that my honor is not as important as helping you pursue a rich and meaningful relationship with Jesus.

So here we go…

The effects
Now, yes Jesus paid for my sins, both past and future (Romans 5:12-21, 1 John 1:5-2:6). But I experienced painful earthly effects of sin when I committed adultery:

  1. Death of trust in my relationship with my husband
    Of course this would happen in any relationship where adultery happens, and it is by grace alone that my husband actively works to forgive me in his heart and mind.
  1. Weight of my sin in my relationship with God
    Most notably after I committed adultery the third time, I wrestled with whether I was really even a believer, (I thought to myself, “Really, what Christian woman does this?!”). I felt so distant from God and this distance was painful.
  1. Confusion
    Because I had given into the desires of my flesh that wages war against me, I found great difficulty in fleeing and fighting these desires after I confessed my sin. There were times during my husband’s and my healing that I wanted to just give up and pursue my own crazy passions, but when thinking clearly, that’s not what I wanted. I didn’t want to destroy my marriage and my children. It was an ongoing battle to fight these flaring desires.
  1. Shame and grief of my sin/ shame in my testimony of marriage
    There is so much joy in counseling younger women to pursue purity before and after marriage, but I don’t have that testimony. My testimony is, “See how I messed up and learn from my terrible examples.” I deeply regret the sinful choices I made.
  1. Death of all relationships with all these men
    Maybe my husband and I could have shared the good news with these men, but there’s absolutely no hope of this now. Not unless God has in his plan to work a miracle. We both pray for these men, that my actions would not be a stumbling block, and that my husband’s forgiveness would point them to the one who is able to forgive eternally. But at this point, my actions represented that my God is a joke.
  1. Pain in reading certain scripture
    The Word is good for believers to consume everyday so we can joyfully worship our God. Can you imagine, though, how it feels for me to read Proverbs 5-9, the warnings against adultery and the adulterous woman (also includes a comparison between wisdom and folly)? There are so many passages that are painful to read because I was that woman, tearing down her house with her own hands.

Popular culture romanticizes adulteries. If it’s “love” it’s OK. If the husband is a jerk, it’s OK. But that’s not the truth of the gospel. God gave marriage to be a picture of Jesus’s love for the church (Ephesians 5:25-33). Is there anything the church could do for Jesus to abandon her? No, the book of Hosea teaches us that.

This short list of main ways the sin of adultery affected my life hopefully shatters any romantic ideas about adultery. If I had gone through with my flesh and decided to end my marriage, my husband and my children would have both experienced a lifetime of pain from my choices to selfishly reject my vows and pursue pleasure. Adultery is not worth it, and it’s one hundred percent selfish regardless of the reasons.

I encourage you to fight with me. Fight with endurance the race that is set before us. There is no sin that our God cannot overcome, and there is no sin that is worth giving into. Let us rejoice together in the new creations God has made, and live in his light daily.

A version of this post originally appeared on VanessaJencks.com and was republished with permission.

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