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Put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Ephesians 4:22-24).
There is no way to circumvent the hard and humble way of going to your spouse, confessing your sin, asking for forgiveness, and for that spouse to have a similar kind of humility that forgiveness granting exemplifies to the offender.
The litmus test for complete repentance is your ability to talk about what happened in nonpunitive ways. There is no biblical reason for a Christian couple not to benefit from the full possibilities of repentance. I suspect the overwhelming majority of those who name the name of Christ do not live out authentic, practical repentance in their marriages.
Your confession and forgiveness declare that you have nailed the sin to Jesus’ cross. Now you can start doing the grace-empowered work of working through what went wrong, why it went wrong, and how to keep from repeating the offense.
Where else in God’s world can the offender and the offended collaborate in the offender’s sanctification and the ongoing restorative development of their marriage? Real life change is a stunning turn of events for fallen people. It’s one of the best-kept secrets in Christian families and the local churches they attend.
If you are a practitioner of full repentance, keep on digging into the process. It’s a gift from the Lord (2 Timothy 2:24-25). Don’t ever let up. Refine it. Be sure it is reflexive repentance: as soon as you sin, you name it and claim it, and your spouse reflexes in a similar way by granting repentance and then restoring the marriage.
Here are the 13-steps in sequential order to authentic, biblical repentance. I’ve labeled and defined each step for you. As you read through the list, ask yourself if you are doing these things?
Answer the questions provided in the reflection section and assess areas where you are weak and strong. In the places where you are weak, write out a specific plan to mature in those areas.