Dr. Willis Newman, Esmeralda Newman, bible-teaching-about.com

Another guilt-stricken person


Dr. Newman: 

Your site and advice has proved so valuable in the past few troublesome months. Whilst working abroad I cheated on my boyfriend of 4 years. The affair ended months ago and I will not see the man again.

My boyfriend does not know and after weeks of being wracked with horrendous guilt and self-loathing I sought guidance from an independent counsellor and have decided not to confess. Your advice has really helped,

I confessed to god again and again, repenting and turned away from the affair. My relationship with my boyfriend is wonderful, full of love and laughter....however my secret tugs at me daily.

I am trying to live in the present and look toward the future.....

Where does the church and bible stand on marriage in the future with this deception in our relationship? Do I deserve to get married if my boyfriend asks me? Can i get married before God in a church when God knows what I have done and the terrible mistake I made?

My pain and regret since the affair has been overwhelming, my moral compass blown away and am suffering through loneliness (I have told no-one) and guilt constantly, all of which I deserve,

Thank you for any advice you might have,




Another wow from a guilt stricken person! I am so sorry about your confusion, self-hatred, horrendous guilt, loneliness, a blown away moral compass, and suffering. Know this: there is hope for you. Happiness can be yours again. You can turn the negative to a positive. Let me explain. I admire and applaud your efforts to correct a very wrong life situation. You can again enjoy the peace of God. Be glad you feel guilt, because that means you are not a psychopath who has no conscience. Your conscious has just been banged out of kilter somewhat. Let’s fix it.

1. You have done right in admitting your sin and seeking God. The key is, along with adjusting behavior, to adjust your thinking. In describing your emotional distress, it is obvious that you are thinking those thoughts. For example, if we feel anger, we are thinking angry thoughts. Thinking produces those ugly emotions. Now, let me break your situation down before I answer your questions.


2. The first step for me is to ascertain your relationship with Jesus Christ. The only thing I know is what you have told me, but we must be clear. First things first: have you accepted Christ as your Savior, and are you a born again Christian? I will go on the assumption that you are; however, if not, then you need to receive Christ. There are other articles on the website that give you more detail, but it is simply admitting you are a sinner (which you have), believing there is a penalty to sin (hell), believe that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection is sufficient to take away for all time all the penalty of all your sin – period, and giving you eternal life. Faith is casting your full trust on Christ’s work like you would place your full trust in a parachute if you jumped out of an airplane. You simple talk to Him in prayer, asking Him for salvation, and believing His work is applicable to you personally.

The Bible states, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Paul wrote, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

John quoted Jesus, “Behold, I stand at the door (of your heart) and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door (of your heart) I come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). Salvation is by faith alone through Christ alone.

3. I think you have given me an occasion to explain the nature of sin. I think it may be like cancer. If you had cancer, you would want to know as much about it as you can. It is the same with sin. When we better understand it, then we can better appreciate what Christ has done for us.

Sin is very bad and destructive. One theologian, I think, gives the best and shortest definition. He says, “Sin is lack of conformity to the moral law of God, either in act, disposition or state.” If you have access to the Westminster Confession of Faith, it gives a more complete explanation – albeit a scary one! The Westminster Shorter Catechism gives a shorter explanation. You can find them through Google. The reason I spend time on this rather detailed explanation is because sin is in part a legal issue before God.

Sin has two parts. First, there is original sin committed by Adam and Eve. They became guilty in a legal sense because they disobeyed God. However, the second part is the corruption of their nature. In this sense, it was like being infected by a disease that corrupted their entire being. The ultimate penalty for sin is death, and for the unsaved eternal punishment in hell. It is written, “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46).

We have inherited the corrupted nature from our original parents, and we have also assumed their liability of guilt. Since we inherited their nature, then we naturally sin because that is our nature.  We sin because we are sinners. That is our fallen nature. Consequently, we are also guilty before God and carry our own personal guilt which required penalty.

Jesus said, “And He was saying, ‘That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness, All these evil things proceed from with and defile the man’” (Mark 7:20-23).

The upshot of all this is that just as a murderer must face the legal penalty of their crime, we are also affixed with a horrible penalty – a penalty of which we cannot absolve ourselves. This is our default position when we come into this world (except for babies until they reach their age of accountability).

Before I get to the good part, let me say something else about sin. You can see from the catalogue Jesus described, a lot of things are sin. It is true that there is a hierarchy of sin, that is, some are worse than others. For example, in His interrogation by Pilate, Jesus said this, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me up to you has the greater sin” (John 19:11). The one with the greater sin was probably the high priest of the Jews, Caiaphas.

Even though there is a ranking of sins we commit, I do not know nor do I want to guess how God has ranked them. Although, I do know the worst sin is to reject Jesus Christ as our Savior – or unbelief. Sometimes in our own mind, as motivated by our sin nature, we cherry pick sins and think some things are sin, and ignore others. For example, in the Ten Commandments we may think that adultery is horrible, but maybe stealing or lying or being greedy or to break up God’s design of the family is not so bad (cf. Deuteronomy 5:7-21). James also tells us that if we break just one of the laws we are guilty of breaking them all (James 2:10).

4. Now for the good news. While it is true that every person has sinned and carries the awful guilt along with the punishment, there is One who has assumed our guilt, and paid the full penalty for all time for all those who will by faith accept the pardon.

You see it works like this. All of the liability of all our guilt was transferred to Jesus Christ who paid the price with His suffering on the cross. In return, the righteousness belonging to Christ has been transferred over to us. There was a transfer or exchange. Paul wrote, “even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith” (Romans 3:22-25).

In other words, God’s wrath was forever satisfied with Christ’s onetime payment of all our sin (past, present, future) which erases forever the believer’s guilt and any punishment that may go with it. That is why Paul can say, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

Paul used legal terms. He said we are “justified” through Christ. The picture is of a court room where the guilty person standing before the Judge is declared free from any penalty. Even more: we have not been declared “innocent” by the Judge, have been given the “righteousness” of Christ. This is the position all who have accepted by faith the pardon God offers us.

5. Well, maybe I got a little carried away. Anyway, let me come back to your situation. If you have accepted Christ as your Savior, your sins have been forever forgiven, and you have eternal life. Guilt and death no longer have any effect on you.

We still have the problem of what do we do when we sin as Christians? We still have that old sin nature we inherited from Adam. The issue then becomes one of “family relationship.” That is, we are now children of God, but we have offended our Father. We will not be punished, but we will be disciplined – and sometimes with some pain. Discipline carries the idea of correction; punishment carries the idea of throw them into prison and throw away the key.

The way out is this, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8, 9). Sometimes these verses are called the Christians “bar of soap.”

David, who committed adultery and murder, said this, “I acknowledged my sin to Thee, and my iniquity I did not hide; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord’’ and Thou didst forgive the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).

I hope you will bear with me here. You maintain that you committed adultery. True, that was a sinful act. However, your sin was against God not against your boyfriend. Your boyfriend has no hold on you, consequently, it is none of his business. David said, “Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned, and done what is evil in Thy sight, so that Thou are justified when Thou dost speak, and blameless when Thou dost judge” (Psalm 51:4).

I might bring this into the picture. You did not commit adultery, but the formal word is fornication. Adultery is having sex outside the bounds of marriage. You are not married. Also, and I have no idea here, if you are having sex with your boyfriend, that too is fornication. God has designed legitimate sex to be confined to a marriage between a man and woman.

6. OK. Here is the situation. Assuming you are a born again Christian, your legal standing before God is “Not Guilty,” because Christ took your penalty. However, you did sin as a Christian. Whatever discipline God give you is between you and Him. Certainly, you are grandly punishing yourself. When you insist on carrying the guilt, self-punishment, and misery, that means you have exalted yourself over God. He is the Judge in these matters, not you.

God says if as His child you have confessed your sin, then you are forgiven. He has forgiven you. If you insist on carrying the guilt, then you call God a liar. God truly loves you. He is not a psychopath who continually beats and abuses His children. Look at how much love He has for you in that He sent Jesus Christ to bear your penalty. That was no small thing for Him. God does not loath you, nor is He whipping you with a guilt whip.

Here is where you switch your thinking. Rather than constantly battering yourself with those condemning thoughts, fill you mind with how God views the matter. Here I would suggest as a practical matter that you memorize Psalm 32, and 103. The first think when you get up, and before you go to bed, repeat those memorized thoughts through you mind. Whenever those thoughts of self-condemnation come up, reject them and replace them with the truth – e.g. run those Psalms through you mind. Oh, you might want to memorize 1 John 1:8-2:2. It is good to keep that spiritual “bar of soap” handy. Remember, God is the One who creates reality, not our own distorted and illogical thinking.

Another practical thing you can do is to journal your thinking. Take a piece of paper, write about two paragraphs down of your unmonitored uncensored thoughts. Then compare what your words are against what God has said. Spot the lies and write vigorously against them, based on the Bible. Override those distortions with God’s truth, which will set you free. You may have to repeat this exercise many times. Your “whacked out” moral compass will take a little time to readjust. One warning. When you finish with your one page writings, write 1 John 1:8, 9 across the page, and destroy it. If you leave it around, someone may discover it and more tumult will occur.

7. As to your other questions, maybe I am not seeing things right, but I see no reason that you should not marry your boyfriend in a church, and keep the “secret” between you and God. Remember, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:11, 12).

If God has forgotten your sins, why should you keep pounding yourself with them? As a final caution, remember the pattern of events and feelings that lured you into that sin in the first place. Remember those red flags, and avoid them. Use the lessons you have learned and help others with you wisdom. Mistakes (and sins) are things we learn from.

All the best to you,

Dr. Newman

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