View Sin as Spiritual Adultery

Sin is cheating on God.

When I served as a pastor, I counseled several couples struggling with the pain of infidelity. I have seen the hurt and despair in husbands and wives who are crushed because their spouses pursued excitement or intimacy with another. I have also seen the pain and regret in those who wandered, in those who strayed from the marriage relationship.

All would passionately say that adultery is never worth it.

And cheating on God is never worth it. Not only do we hurt God and harm our relationship with Him, but we also find ourselves empty. When God’s people pursued other lovers, God said,

For My people have committed a double evil: They have abandoned Me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jer. 2:13)

When we choose to seek satisfaction and pleasure in things or people other than God, we commit spiritual adultery by chasing other lovers. And these other lovers cannot satisfy us because they are cracked cisterns. They are incapable of curing our thirst.

Seeking satisfaction anywhere other than in our relationship with Christ is essentially Chinese water torture. Chinese water torture was a cruel torture used on prisoners to drive them insane.

The prisoner is taken from his cell, thirsty and longing for water. His mouth is dry, and he craves water for his parched tongue. He is placed under a slow drip of water. The drop hits his forehead and the prisoner anxiously hopes the drop will run down the side of his face and into his dry mouth. But the drop slides off the side of his face. Of all the drops that hit the prisoner’s forehead, few make it to his mouth. And the ones that make it to his mouth are insufficient to satisfy him. After hours of the slow dripping water, the drip no longer feels like a drip. Instead, the monotonous and consistent drip feels like a hammer hitting the prisoner’s forehead.

The prisoner approaches the drip excited for the water but walks away still thirsty and in great pain. In the same way our pursuit of other lovers/gods brings pain and emptiness. Sin destroys, damages, and never quenches.

Only God can satisfy.

While we will not eliminate sin in this lifetime, we should develop an intense hatred for it because of the harm it does to our relationship with God. We should view sin as adultery that must be removed from our lives.

Adapted from Identity (2008, B&H Publishing Group)