Experiencing God’s Restoration from Sexual Sin and Abuse
Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.
Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.
When Eric and I were first married, a Christian leader took notice of the fact that we had “wisdom beyond our years” about spiritual things. He felt that the reason we had been blessed with unusual spiritual insight was because we’d protected the purity of our relationship prior to marriage. We’d listened to God’s Spirit above our own fleshly desires, and as a result we had cultivated the ability to hear His voice without the cloudiness and confusion that sexual compromise so often brings. Honoring and protecting purity did so much more than merely enhance the romance in our marriage relationship. It strengthened our relationship with Jesus Christ and laid the foundation for our marriage to be built upon His amazing strength.
But our lives hadn’t always been marked with sexual set-apartness. In light of the physical purity that marked my relationship with Eric, it may seem hard to believe that we both came from very impure backgrounds. Eric and I grew up in Christian homes and went to youth group, but like most Christian young people today we approached purity from a selfish vantage point. We constantly asked, “how far is too far?” rather than “how far can I possibly go to please God and honor my future spouse?” And as a result, our lives were full of sin, selfishness, and compromise. Both of us gave our heart, mind, emotions, and bodies carelessly away in temporary flings, even though we “technically” kept our virginity. For most of our young adult lives, saving a kiss until our wedding day would have been the last thing either of us would have considered doing.
By the time I caught a vision for the amazing purity and breathtaking beauty that marked a Christ-centered love story, I honestly felt like it was too late for me to ever experience it. Sure, I’d technically kept my abstinence commitment, but my purity had been forsaken long ago. I’d allowed the treasure of my heart, emotions, and body to be trampled time and time again. I knew I was unworthy of a God-written love story.
But then, in His gentle, tender, patient way, my King began to show me that I could be completely washed clean, restored, and made new. If I was willing to repent and receive His forgiveness, I could be set free from all the baggage of the past, cleansed from all the impurity I’d allowed into my life. And I could experience the fullness of a brilliantly pure, God-scripted love story, through the power of His redemption. It seemed almost too good to be true, but it was exactly what He promised.
God-scripted love stories are not just for those who have never compromised. In fact, the very reason that Christ sacrificed everything for us was to offer us the chance to be restored, washed clean, and given a hope and future. Just look at this amazing picture of Christ’s heart toward those of us who have sinned:
And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, “How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”
If you feel that you’ve “gone too far” to experience a truly pure and beautiful God-scripted love story, let me assure you that it’s never too late to be restored and made new by His amazing cleansing blood.
Repentance means turning and walking the other direction. Once you awaken to the fact that you are heading over a cliff, stop, turn, ask God’s forgiveness, and then, by His grace, head in the other direction. There is no reason to look back or second-guess your position as His child. You should not expect a second-rate version of romance. Once you have been restored by Him, you are clothed in His righteousness. You are entitled to all the benefits of His amazing Kingdom. Your forgiveness is complete. Your sin is removed as far from you as the east is from the west. It is finished.
We only need to read the Gospels to be assured that He did pay the price for our sin—once and for all. Let us not cheapen His amazing sacrifice by questioning whether His work on the cross was truly enough.
We are either ignorant or arrogant if we believe that Christ’s death was not enough to cover our sin. At the moment Christ gave up His life for us, He proclaimed, “It is accomplished.” (see John 19:30) The price had been paid. The power of sin had been conquered. It was done. It was final. It was absolute. He left no room for us to question it.
Don’t try to add to His sacrifice by improving yourself before you fall at His feet in repentance. Simply come to Him, in all of your sin and weakness, let Him wash you clean, and make you completely new. Don’t focus on your unworthiness. Rather, fix your eyes on the awesome power of His conquering, redeeming, transforming blood, shed on your behalf.
(Additionally, if God brings a Christ-built man into your life, He will give that man the grace to forgive the same way that God has forgiven you – fully, completely, wholly. Eric and I have never struggled with hurt or anger over each other’s “pasts”, because we have allowed God’s grace to equip us with a heart of complete forgiveness.)
If sexual compromise has entered your life, I’d like to offer some Biblical advice that can lead to complete restoration and healing.
1. Repent & Turn
If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. (Matthew 5:29-30)
Our King tells us that once we awaken to the fact that we’ve allowed sin in our lives, we are not to continue doing the things that led to our stumbling. That means if you were an alcoholic, you should no longer hang out in bars sipping beer. If you were addicted to Internet porn, you should no longer spend hours alone, surfing the Internet. An
d if you stumbled sexually, you shouldn’t remain in intense, close contact with the one you compromised with. You need to “cut off” the thing that caused you to sin – namely, the relationship you are in. This isn’t to say that God can’t heal, restore, and cleanse an impure relationship and rebuild it upon a foundation of purity. But there needs to be a re-calibration; new patterns need to be established, Christ needs to claim the throne in your life once again, and purity needs to govern your every action and thought.
When you are in the heat of an intense, emotional relationship with someone, you aren’t able to truly allow Christ to renew and re-train your habits. You become distracted by your feelings for the other person, and it’s all too easy to fall right back into the same sin over and over again. Even though it mi
ght be difficult, honor Christ by taking a step back from the relationship, surrendering it afresh to Him, and letting Him re-build it only after a long season of healing, renewal, re-training, and restoration has been established.
Whatever the “compromise triggers” are in your life – whether an impure relationship or impure habits – ask God for the grace to turn and walk the other direction. Do whatever you must do in order to cut temptation out of your life, even if it means stepping away from an ungodly relationship, getting rid of your computer, withdrawing from unhealthy friendships, or throwing away ungodly movies. Remember, nothing is more important that your relationship with Jesus Christ. And if you put Him first, He will fulfill your soul far more than any unhealthy relationship or habit ever could.
2. Receive His Forgiveness
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn He came back to the temple, and all the people came to Him. Just as He sat down to teach, the scribes and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught committing adultery. They made her stand in the middle of everyone.
“Teacher,” they said to Him, “this woman has been caught in the very act of committing adultery. In the Law, Moses commanded to stone this kind of woman. What do You say?”…
But Jesus knelt and wrote down something on the ground. As they continued questioning Him, He straightened up and said to them, “The one among you who is without sin, let him throw the first stone at her.”
Again, He knelt and wrote down something on the ground. Those who heard left one at a time, beginning with the older ones first, leaving Jesus alone with the woman. (John 8:4-11)
The angry mob wanted to humiliate, expose, and destroy the woman who had been caught in sin. But Jesus – the only One who had the power to judge and condemn her – chose a completely different response. Forgiveness. Full, complete, perfect forgiveness.
Just as Jesus knew the sins of each person in that crowd, He knows every sin we have ever committed from the day we were born. It is pointless to try to keep our sins hidden from Him. Yet when we come to Him, truly broken over what we have done, filled with the soul-wrenching regret of realizing how far we have fallen, and look into His eyes, He smiles tenderly. He lifts our chin with His nail-scarred hand. And He gently says, “I don’t condemn you. Now go, and stop sinning.”
When we are washed in Jesus’ blood, we become completely clean. When He looks at us, He doesn’t see our failures and mistakes, He sees a new creation—a child of God – resorted and made white as snow, not by our own merit, but by His.
And if we truly receive His amazing forgiveness, He can take the sin that our enemy meant to use to destroy us, and use it for His glory. He can take a shattered heart and life and script a beautiful tale of His perfect love. As it says in Psalm 103:2-5:
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases; who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with loving-kindness and tender mercies; who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
About fifteen years ago I sat down at the piano and attempted to express the heart of this amazing forgiveness through a simple song called White as Snow:
Alone and confused, your heart is bruised from sin;
Your joy is gone from love gone wrong
And you’re longing to start again.
I know that you’ve been hurt, and you don’t know who to trust;
I won’t pretend I understand your pain.
But I can see repentance in your eyes, and I know it’s not too late;
I hear Him calling your name…
White as snow, He has made
you white as snow;
The moment you confessed,
His heart forgave.
You might think you’ve ruined all the
plans He had for you,
But it’s for that very reason
White as snow, He has made
you white as snow;
Pure and innocent like a dove,
Though you have done nothing to
deserve His pardoning,
You’ve been purified by Jesus’ blood—
White as snow.
The guilt and the shame,
keeping you chained,
Not wanting to let you go;
It’s not how you dreamed,
not how you planned,
And you can’t see that still
there is hope.
Receive His healing for your bruises;
Receive His riches for your rags.
You cannot imagine all the plans
He has for you,
So take His hand, and don’t look back.
Thanks to Leslie Ludy https://setapartgirl.com/magazine/article/09-1-13/white-snow