To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32

For many of us, our world fell apart when we learned about our spouse’s sexual sin. As believers of Jesus our instinct should have been to turn to Him and surrender the whole situation. And some of us did. Sort of.

But from Jesus’ own lips (John 8:31-32), belief in Him isn’t enough. Where the rubber really meets the road for His followers in the 21st century as much as in the first century, is if we hold to his teachings. That means putting our faith where our mouth is.

It’s easy to say we believe in Jesus, that he’s “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6) and “he’s got the whole world in his hands”. But living like we believe it? That’s a whole different story. 

When my husband and I separated due to his infidelity and apparent lack of repentance, my 30+ years of “faith” was severally tested. Did I really believe this Bible that I’d studied most of my adult life? Did I really believe God could bring dead things (my marriage) back to life?

Biblical Faith

It comes down to faith. But faith isn’t magic. You don’t inherit faith from your parents. You don’t get it from your preacher. You have to develop faith yourself. On purpose. And it only comes one way—through reading the Bible.

Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

But, the sad truth is that only 22% of Americans who call themselves Christians actually read the Bible daily. That’s staggering and terrifying when you consider Jesus words are what will judge us on the last day (John 12:48).

If our spouse is repeatedly “falling” into sexual sin, they’re not being the spiritual rock of the family. So, if we—the other half of the marriage—are not remaining in the vine (John 15:5), how can we possibly expect our marriage to survive this storm?

I would go so far as to say if you aren’t studying (not just reading) your Bible daily and praying for God to give you insight and discernment into your own heart, your marriage doesn’t have a chance of recovering from sexual betrayal.

Christian books are amazing and I am grateful for all those who have labored over them, but they are not the Bible. They are a supplementary resource, not the standard. We cannot rely on other books to teach us what God’s Word was designed to teach us.

Practical Atheism

A non-believing friend of mine used to say, “I don’t have any faith.”

That’s not really true.

The Biblical definition of faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” We all have faith…in something and someone.

We wouldn’t bother getting out of bed in the morning if we didn’t have faith the sun was going to rise. We wouldn’t go to work if we didn’t have faith our job was waiting for us. And we certainly wouldn’t drive on the interstate if we didn’t have faith the other motorists weren’t going to run us off the road.

The truth is, we have to have faith to do anything. The key is recognizing what we are putting our faith in.

When we obsess over finding evidence of our spouse’s infidelity or porn use, we are putting faith in ourselves. When we play 20 Questions with them each time they walk in the door, our faith is in ourselves. If we grill them every day to make sure they’re doing their recovery homework, our faith is in ourselves.

That’s called practical atheism. Either we believe God sees their sin or we don’t (Psalm 90:8). Either we believe that our spouse reaps what they sow, or we don’t (Galatians 6:7). Either we believe that God can lead them to repentance without our help, or we don’t (Romans 2:4).

We can make all the excuses we want. Letting God reveal the truth of our spouse’s sin requires faith. It’s simple, it’s just not easy. 

Faith Without Action (or Inaction)

What good is it if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds?… faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead…[Abraham’s] faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. James 2:14, 17, 22

I’ve had two idols in my life, my husband and myself. Prior to my recovery, I turned to my husband to tell me I was valuable and worthy of love. Since that time, I’ve learned (and am continuing to learn) that I only need God to tell me I am worthy. It’s not my husband’s job.

The second idol is myself. This one has been a little tougher to put to death. It’s like a freaking zombie. I have to kill it day after day. That’s because I’m afraid of getting hurt again. I’m afraid of being deceived again. I’m afraid of being rejected and abandoned again.

So when I take my eyes off God, to whom do I look to save me? Yeah, me!

For some of us in denial and isolation, we need to act. We need to confront our spouse. We need to get ourselves in recovery by joining a support group. We need to set boundaries in our marriage.

For others of us, we need to be still (Psalm 46:10). In our faithlessness, we’re like a tornado plowing through our spouse’s credit card statements, phone records, or email. We’re like a pillager going through their pockets, briefcase, and gym bag looking for evidence of foul play. We’re like a stalker, tracking their every move via cellphone and GPS monitoring service.

It all comes down to faith: Do we really believe in God’s promises that he will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6)? Do we really believe he will protect us (Psalm 3:3, Psalm 28:7)? Do we really believe our spouse will suffer the consequences of their sin (Proverbs 5:22)?

The Truth Will Set You Free

Jesus calls us to put our faith where our mouth is because he understands how enslaving idolatry is. It blinds us. It robs us of the fruits of the spirit found in Galatians 5:22-23—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

If you don’t feel free or at peace in the midst of your recovery, you’re not holding to his teachings (John 8:32). That’s not me talking, those are Jesus’ words.

So what are we supposed to do with our faith and our new found freedom? Work on ourselves.

In addition to continually putting ourselves to death (Luke 9:23) and daily repenting of reverting back to unhealthy and unholy thinking (1 John 1:7-10), we are to grow in our knowledge of Christ (2 Peter 3:18). We are to repent of our own sin of idolatry (Deuteronomy 5:7). We are to move from basic truths of scripture (Hebrews 5:12-6:2) into the deeper secrets that God reveals when we are intimate with Him (Colossians 2:2-3).

Only when we put our professed faith in God into action—in the midst of this raging storm in our life—will we be able to live in freedom and to grasp the peace that passes understanding in Christ (Philippians 4:7).

So what about you? Do you tend to be a practical atheist or are you living out your faith in action? Check out the three situations below.

If you were/are in one of these situations, which choice would you make:

Practical Atheism (idolatry) or Faith in Action?

Situation #1:

You suspect your spouse of lying about adultery or porn use

Practical Atheism/Idolatry
  • Secretly view their email, texts, or internet history.
  • Monitor spouse via GPS.
  • Hire a third-party to track spouse’s whereabouts.
Faith in Action
  • Pray for God to reveal if your spouse is in sin.
  • Set and maintain appropriate boundaries for self & spouse
  • Request to get with spiritual couple or marriage counselor.

Situation #2:

Spouse has owned sexual sin but makes little or no effort in recovery

Practical Atheism/Idolatry
  • Remind spouse about their homework or Bible study
  • Ask spouse about their contact with sponsors
  • Check spouse’s internet history
Faith in Action
  • Pray and surrender spouse’s recovery to God
  • Set and maintain appropriate boundaries for self & spouse
  • Be deliberate about working on your own recovery

Situation #3:

You and your spouse are separated but they make little or no effort to contact you

Practical Atheism/Idolatry
  • Text spouse to express feelings of anger, pain, or loneliness.
  • Invent excuses for contacting spouse.
  • Phishing for info about spouse from mutual contacts.
Faith in Action
  • Pray about our loneliness, fear for the future
  • Pursue intimacy with God
  • Build a strong support system
  • Work on self-improvement (career development or higher education, etc.)

Help someone else on their journey by sharing your thoughts on this post in the comment section below.

If playing it safe has kept you running around in circles in your broken marriage, if you’re ready, REALLY ready to change, and if you’re ready to get out on the edge where you can experience a victorious life regardless of your spouse’s choices to change, schedule a call with me. Let’s talk about how we can get you from paralyzing fear to mountain-moving faith in a few short months!