What does the Bible say about cheating on a spouse? What are the consequences of adultery?
Warnings for Adultery
The Bible is clear that all unrepentant adulterers are headed for the judgment of God. Adultery falls under the many sexual sins that are classified as sexual immorality and Revelation 21:8 clearly says that “the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” There is no wiggle room here at all. Paul also writes that “the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal 5:19-21). All unrepentant adulterers will be cast into the lake of fire and will certainly “not inherit the kingdom of God.” This is repeated in many places in the Scriptures so that we can “be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph 5:5). How clear is that?
Lusting as Adultery?
We tend to think that only the physical act of adultery is classified under the umbrella of sexual immorality but since adultery starts in the heart, Jesus said “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt 5:27-28). We can sin in our hearts without committing the physical act of adultery. This includes viewing pornographic material over the Internet, in magazines, on TV, DVD, or at the movies. Pornographic images are everywhere today because smut sells. What hooks the eye connects to the heart. This is why Job wrote “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin” (Job 31:1)? Pornography has caused many divorces and it lowers the value of women and men to the similarity of shopping in a meat market. What goes into the eye gate enters the heart and then “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death” (James 1:15). The same can be said with murder. Murder doesn’t begin when someone picks up a gun and kills someone. Murder was birthed in hatred over someone first and then it brought an intent to harm or murder someone. Once more Jesus ties in the heart and its motives with the actual crime saying “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire” (Matt 5:21-22).
Consequences of Cheating
The Bible tells us “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Gal 6:7-8). What you reap may not come immediately after you sow to the flesh, like a farmer has to wait to reap after he or she has sown, but the terrible harvest will come eventually. If you think God doesn’t take adultery seriously, read Leviticus 20:10 because it says “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.” Adultery still brings death but not physical death and not immediate death but that day will come, of that you can be certain (Rev 21:8) and in fact, it will be worse than death (Rev 20:12-15). The greatest consequence of all for adulterers is “that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9-10). When we are tempted to commit any kind of sexual immorality, we are warned to “Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body” (1 Cor 6:18).
Joined with a Prostitute?
Since believers are part of the church they are considered members of the body of Christ so Paul puts the sin of sexual immorality, including adultery, as a sort of rhetorical question; “Shall I then take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! Or do you not know that he who is joined to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For, as it is written, “The two will become one flesh” (1 Cor 6:15b-16) so just as a husband and wife become one flesh and are joined to become one, so too does a man or a woman become joined to and become one in essence with the man or woman prostitute and become one in the same with them. The use of the word “prostitute” doesn’t mean a professional prostitute but those who use their own body to fulfill the sinful desires and passions of the flesh. No, it might not be for money but it is certainly for their own personal gain, but make no mistake about it, they are not going to enter the kingdom which leaves only one other option; the lake of fire (Rev 21:8). That is the most serious consequence of all.
The author of Hebrews reminds us to “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous” (Heb 13:4) and either in this life or after they die they will face the judgment of God (Heb 9:27). God gives so many warnings about sexually immorality that mankind is absolutely without excuse and unless they repent of it, they will receive the “due penalty for their error” (Rom 1:27).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Blind Chance or Intelligent Design available on Amazon.