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Ep. 289 What Is the Best Way to Handle Secret Marriage Sins?

Ep. 289 What Is the Best Way to Handle Secret Marriage Sins_

Shows Main Idea – What are you to do with unconfessed past sins against your spouse? What are the questions you want to ask if you were helping someone who wants to come clean? In this episode, Biff sinned against Mable years ago, and after keeping it a secret, he wants to confess. Why should he? Why should he not? How will you lead Biff through this common marital dilemma?

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Show Notes

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Knee-Jerk

There are two knee-jerk responses

  • You should never tell, which does not consider the twisted conscience or the division in the covenant.
  • You must tell because there should not be any secrets, which does not consider the spiritual condition of the offender or the offended.

You don’t confess in a vacuum, as though confession is isolated from the other aspects of repentance. If someone comes to you asking about confessing their sin to their spouse, you want to examine the full matter. You want to serve them comprehensively.

Be Pneumatic

Each situation is different. No two people, couples, marriage, sin event(s), walk with the Lord, backgrounds, and current relationships with the Lord are the same. Thus, you want to be careful when hearing what others did and taking your cues from their experience.

Anecdotal evidence is just that: an account, which could be true or false and reliable or not. You can find encouragement in another’s story but also a disaster if you follow that unique experience. Of course, the opposite is also true: it could be what you should do, but first, you must work through the layers of your unique situation to see what part you might imitate from someone else’s experience.

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Confession Timelines

The Bible does not give a timeline to confess. For example,

  • You sin; you must confess it within fifteen minutes.
  • The Spirit brings conviction, and you have three days to make it right.
  • In some cases, you overlook an offense, which means you don’t confront a person to elicit a confession.

You don’t want to set up artificial or unrealistic timelines for a confession to happen. E.g., a husband sins against his wife and is ready to receive her forgiveness. But she is not prepared. He could say the words, “Will you forgive me,” but it would be a formality without transactional force.

It’s essential to remember that confessional opportunities require two people who are willing to give and receive.

  • It’s not Christian-speak, but it’s a relational transaction that neutralizes sin by the power of the gospel.
  • It’s not about getting something off your chest so that you can feel better.

Non-Confession Precedents

There are situations where a person cannot (or should not) confess their sin against another person to that person.

  • In the case of a dead person, you can’t transact.
  • In the case of a sexual abuser, it’s probably not wise to meet face-to-face.

Work the Sequence

Though he may need to confess this to his wife, it might not be the first thing he should do. You must examine all the issues, not just the past, hidden sin. All past, secret sins are not the same, and the process will vary.

  • What did Biff do?
  • Who was involved?
  • What is the plan to bring full restoration to all the parties?

State of Biff’s Soul

  • Saved
    • If he is not a believer, confessing his sin won’t relieve him of his guilt before God.
    • He would have no Spirit-power to work through the marriage mess.
  • Maturity – How mature is he?
  • Works – If he’s doing it to pay his debt, his guilt will remain, and he will shackle his wife with his problem.

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Motive for Confession

  • Is it a method, in the line of many techniques, to relieve guilt?
    • Worldly sorrow – If Biff is trying to feel better because the guilt is bothering him, the confession is weakened and not transformative.
    • Godly sorrow – If he is humble, transparent, wants to do the right thing, and is tired of living a lie and manipulating folks, then that is truly fantastic.
  • The motive for confessing makes the difference.
    • If it’s not God-centered, his selfishness will drag his wife through something that their marriage cannot sustain. I can see a situation where he’s trying to assuage his guilt through self-reliant efforts.
    • If it is God-centered, then you’re waiting for the best time. Just because Biff is ready does not mean Mable is prepared to “handle his truth.”

State of Biff’s Marriage

Couples do not mature at the same time, pace, or depth. You want to take a measure of their marriage to craft a plan for Biff’s repentance.

  • His wife’s ability to steward the truth
  • Is he situated in a church community?
  • Are they actively growing?

Call to Action

  1. Do you have a past or present secret sin against your spouse?
  2. If so, is your desire to confess it or keep it hidden? What does your answer reveal about your relationship with God and your spouse?
  3. Who is the person helping you walk through how to engage your spouse? Are they biblically competent to guide you? How do you know?

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