Podcast listener Nicole writes in to ask, “Pastor John, how do I confront a dear friend, who is in Christ, when I see her getting involved with a married man? I have already confronted her once before, telling her to flee from adultery. I’m afraid she is in deeper now than before. What Scripture can I be pointed toward to prepare for this hard conversation with her?”
I think when we are trying to persuade someone who is in the sway of deception and sin, we need to combine two kinds of Scriptures, at least: One is the kind that very seriously and soberly, and maybe even frighteningly, warns against the folly of sinful behavior. And the other is the kind of Scriptures that give hope that, if they hold fast to Jesus and turn from evil, he will give them a better future than they think they are going to have through sin. So those are the two kinds of Scripture that I would put together, probably in that order, but the Holy Spirit can lead in that regard.
And then there are simple, practical insights that the Lord may bring to mind that don’t come from any particular Scripture. And I will mention one of those in just a minute. So here are a few texts from both of those categories that you could speak to her about.
1. Seduction ends in slaughter.
She probably thinks that she loves him, but she is about to destroy him according to the Bible, and pointing that out might help.
With much seductive speech she persuades him;
with her smooth talk she compels him.
All at once he follows her,
as an ox goes to the slaughter,
or as a stag is caught fast
till an arrow pierces its liver;
as a bird rushes into a snare;
he does not know that it will cost him his life. (Proverbs 7:21–23)
This is what she is doing to him. And she needs to think about that if she thinks she loves him.
2. Adultery is suicide.
He who commits adultery lacks sense;
he who does it destroys himself. (Proverbs 6:32)
That’s the aiding and abetting on her part.
3. Temptation deceives.
“Stolen water is sweet,
and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.”
But he does not know that the dead are there,
that her guests are in the depths of Sheol. (Proverbs 9:17–18)
Those are pretty serious words that she is drawing him into.
4. Unlawful divorce is adultery.
She is about to cause him to commit adultery — even if they don’t have sex until he gets a divorce and marries her. Because Jesus said in Luke 16:18,
Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.
That is what she is drawing him into.
5. Illicit sex defiles what is sacred.
Hebrews 13:4 points out that she will be desecrating the marriage bed, his marriage bed, between a man and his wife, his wife and him. And the Bible says to hold them in honor. Don’t desecrate them.
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (Hebrews 13:4)
So she is defiling the marriage bed that God says to keep in honor.
6. Adultery assaults Christ and his church.
She will be assaulting the image of Christ and his church if she pursues this relationship. She would be walking up to a portrait on the wall of the union of Christ and his church and slashing it with a knife. Here is the picture in Ephesians 5:31–32:
“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
So she is slashing this mystery by saying Christ and the church really don’t have to be committed to each other.
7. Satan binds us in sin.
She needs to know that she is not acting in freedom. She is acting in lockstep with the prince of the power of the air. He has a hook in her nose, and he is leading her by her passions. That is the picture in Ephesians 2:2–3. Unbelievers are
following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind.
So the prince of the power of the air and the passions of our heart are in sync with each other, and any time we let our passions lead us into sin, we are not acting in freedom; we are in lockstep with the devil.
8. Sexual immorality reveals heart corruption.
And in all of this she needs to realize that there is a deep problem in her heart. Jesus said in Matthew 15:19,
Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.
And so the deep issue here is that something has gone wrong in her heart. And therefore, she needs to be warned.
9. Unrepentant sin damns to hell.
If she goes on in this unrepentant way, she will not inherit the kingdom of God. She and the man are like teenagers having sex in a boat that is just about to go over Niagara Falls. And it feels so good that they can’t hear the roar of the water.
So you, Nicole, her friend, are like a person on the shore shouting: “Watch out! Watch out! The falls! The falls!” And then you will do that with 1 Corinthians 6:9–10:
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers . . . will inherit the kingdom of God.”
So that is a cluster of texts that are on the warning side of Scripture that often is used by God to awaken people from their folly.
Fullest Hope and Joy
But there are Scriptures that she is going to need to hear — because they may be pretty enmeshed — that there is hope. God is a God of forgiveness. He is a God of patience. And mainly she needs to hear that God is on the side of her best happiness.
She probably believes right now that this is her best bet for happiness. That is not true. God is her only hope for happiness and she is about to choose against him.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. (Psalm 16:11)
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
You need to look her right in the eye and say, “God has a better plan. He really does. You can’t see it, but he really does.”
What We Really Want
And I mentioned a minute ago, I suppose, that there are these practical insights that are rooted in a particular text. Well, here is one: Does she see that if this man is the kind of man who will be unfaithful to his wife and break his sacred promises to be faithful “till death do us part,” there is every reason to believe he will do the same thing to this woman when their relationship hits hard times and another more attractive person comes along?
Does she want a man to say to her, “For better or for worse, I am yours till death do us part”? If she wants that, she’s got the wrong man. But if she will hold fast to Christ, he does. He has a better future for her.