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Question #232

How does God deal with sin you don't remember doing?

My husband was married over 20 years ago for a short time. They had a son together, and then he left her. He tried to reconcile, but she was pregnant with another man's child. They divorced, and we were married four years ago. Now, being "babes in Christ" these past three years, we have come to the knowledge of marriage, divorce, and remarriage. We understand what God says. The PROBLEM for my husband is that he doesn't recall if HE cheated on HER, too. If he did, then he's not innocent either. He truly can't remember. We're going to talk to the elders, as instructed by our preacher, but how does God deal with sin you don't remember doing? Pray for us please.

The Answer:

This question presents an issue on divorce that is unique. Never before has a situation been presented where the contention for a scriptural basis to remarry is based on memory failure. It is difficult to take the argument at face value. Indeed, the asserted lack of memory has the ring of a cover up. Would a man not know if he had always been faithful to his spouse? Does the lack of memory not indicate that at the time he was the kind of person who might have, but just doesn’t remember names, dates, and places? Maybe a man can’t remember those facts, but it seems that, absent some physical dementia, he could always remember that he had always been faithful.

But even taking the statement at face value, at best it leaves a question that cannot be answered. Thus, the scriptural validity of the right to marry is at best questionable and worst nonexistent. Therefore, the conformity of the marriage to scripture is in doubt. That said, there is only one course of action that would be completely safe. Lack of memory is no defense for unscriptural conduct. If still possible, further investigation might be made by speaking with the prior wife or others of the husband’s associates at the time. Inquiry might also be made of lawyers if they were involved in the divorce proceeding. Absent secure evidence, it is always precarious to follow the questionable path; it is always safe to follow the path that is right and that cannot be wrong.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)