How to find healing from infidelity is one of the most common questions asked on our forum. When we think of healing, we often think of medicine. We think of something external that is introduced and inserted into the human body to fight disease or bolster the immune system. When it comes to emotional healing from the damage of infidelity, we often think of counseling, We seek understanding or perhaps coping mechanisms.
“Some people make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise bring healing.” Prov 12:18 NLT
Recently someone in our support forum on Facebook, “Christian Help for Adultery”, asked if he should leave his wife and move out after discovering her infidelity. He was so disgusted by her presence and his world was crashing down before his eyes. Yet, he was torn because of his children. If he was moving out, he was also leaving his kids. What to do? There are no easy answers.
As you progress through the devastating aftermath of infidelity, you will be faced with another monumental crisis: Will I live for myself or will I live for something greater? It is only natural that after being betrayed at the deepest level, you would want to live for yourself. After all, isn’t that what your spouse did? They discarded any thoughts or concerns about hurting you to please their own desires. This is clearly not what God calls us to in marriage or even as followers of Jesus.
What God does call us to is self-denial and sacrifice. It’s what God called Jesus to. It’s a chief characteristic of a Christian, or at least it should be. Here are Jesus’ own words to His disciples:
24″ Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matt 16:24-25 NASB
To deny yourself means “to forget one’s self, lose sight of one’s self and one’s own interests”¹ Yet how can we be discussing this in light of what has happened to you? You mean after having my heart ripped from my chest by my spouse, God wants me to put my own interests aside? That seems outrageous and it’s what Pastor John MacArthur calls “Winning by Losing: The Paradox of Discipleship”. He states,
“But there’s pain before the gain and there is a cross before the crown and there is suffering before the glory. And there is sacrifice before the reward… we are called to win by losing.”
The principle is this: you get everything by giving up everything. It’s a paradox- “a seemingly absurd or self-contradictory statement or proposition that when investigated or explained may prove to be well founded or true.”² The monumental crisis you now face is can you continue to live for God before you live for yourself? Notice that I did not say, “live for your spouse”. You need to live first and foremost for God and everything that He reveals to you. He may be asking you to stay in your marriage for the sake of your kids.
Your healing will require sacrifice, that is a fact. In order to heal the broken relationship between man and God, Jesus was sent as a sacrifice. Jesus gave up all His rights and privileges as the Son of God (He denied His own deity) for the purpose of healing what was broken. Yet this is counterintuitive to worldly thinking. It was Adam and Eve who wronged God by disobeying in the garden, thus bringing sin and rebellion into the world. Why should God and His son have to sacrifice and pay the price for their sin?
Jesus was a living, breathing, walking sacrifice for us during his time on earth. Why? Because it was an expression of love to God the Father; it was an act of worship. The apostle, Paul, refers to this numerous times in his writings to various churches.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Romans 12:1 NLT
“Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.” Eph 5:2 NLT
“Hold firmly to the word of life; then, on the day of Christ’s return, I will be proud that I did not run the race in vain and that my work was not useless. 17 But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.” Phil 2:16-17 NLT
Why should you sacrifice and deny yourself? Because sacrifice is an act of worship to God and brings healing to everyone involved. There is extraordinary power in extending grace to and sacrificing your rights for someone who has deeply wronged you. This is the kind of love the Bible speaks of.
“It (Love) does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 1 Cor 13:5-7 NLT
By way of example, when I discovered my wife’s sexual affair I felt very alone. I told a small handful of very trusted friends. However, what I wanted to do was tell my kids and everyone on social media how my wife had destroyed me! Didn’t her sin deserve to be exposed to everyone? I imagined exposing her would give me great joy. I wanted to punish her.
As I thought very carefully about telling my children, God clearly impressed upon me to keep my wife’s sin from them for many reasons. Yet all those reasons were for the benefit of my kids and my wife- not for me. Sacrifice will cost you and it may not be fair. While my natural instinct was to return the favor and devastate my wife by exposing her sin, I chose to endure it privately. Let me be clear. I’m not suggesting that unrepentant sin be left unexposed. However, my wife was truly sorry and I knew it. She stopped the affair immediately and turned from her sin.
So the main principle is this: Healing is found in the Biblical definition of love, which means you are asked to deny yourself and sacrifice for something greater. That “something greater” is living a life that is pleasing to God. It’s an act of worship. In Part II of this series, I will look at a very practical way to actually find and receive healing from infidelity.