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Reflections from a Spiritual Adulterer

Written by Luke Humphrey on

 

My name is Luke Humphrey, and I am a spiritual adulterer.

Writing those words in the middle of Starbucks on a beautiful day feels painful. It feels uncomfortable. In fact, I hope that no one catches a glimpse of my document that is open on my laptop. And yet, this statement is as true as true can be. I frequently leave the arms of my Faithful Husband to find love (and lovers!) in all the wrong places. I break my marriage covenant that was sealed with my Spouse’s own blood. I honor God with my lips, but my heart is far from him.

The tragic comfort in writing these words is that I know I’m not alone in my spiritual adultery. In fact, I know for certain that any Christian who reads this blog is also a spiritual adulterer. We may act like we are faithful, but in the dark corners of the night, we flee after other lovers.

Surprising Grace from an Uncomfortable Book

As our church studies the book of Hosea in our corporate worship services and in our Small Groups, the topic of spiritual adultery comes to the forefront, and the dark corners of our sin are exposed to light. And it is uncomfortable. Looking at books like Hosea brings about a certain level of discomfort as we read the sometimes graphic imagery that God uses to convict his people of sin and call us back to him. These oft-overlooked books of the Bible make us shift in our seats; “Doesn’t God know that there may be children in the room?” “Doesn’t God realize that this sort of conversation is not suitable for a place like church?”

And yet, seeing our spiritual adultery in graphic terms allows us to grasp the glorious hope that God offers we adulterers. In the pages of Hosea, we see surprising grace from an uncomfortable book. Ray Ortlund captures this grace so well in his outstanding book, God’s Unfaithful Wife: A biblical theology of spiritual adultery:

“The serious reader of the Bible, turning to the true prophets, takes courage from the fact that the biblical drama is not only a story of outrageous betrayal, but also one of costly redemption bringing infinite ecstasy. If prophetic censure takes us down very deep into our present condition, prophetic promise also lifts us up very high into our ultimate destination.” [1]

Hope and Healing for Spiritual Whores

Hosea shows us that we are far more wicked than we could possibly imagine. We aren’t merely disobedient; we’re dirty. And yet the same prophet who calls us out as whores offers us hope and healing in the person and work of Jesus Christ:

“And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.”  So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley.  And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.”  For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.” Hosea 3:1–5

When Jesus comes—the Davidic King that Hosea refers to—and the mystery of the gospel is revealed in its purity and splendor, harlots are transformed into holy saints.  The gospel is not just the promise of eternal life, but also the promise of eternal chastity and purity. Dirty and diseased adulterers find in the gospel a song of romance that exchanges our desires for the filth of our sin for affections for our true and faithful Husband. Ortlund puts it beautifully at the end of his book:

“[The] gospel sounds the voice of our Husband who has proven his love for us and who calls for our undivided love in return. The gospel reveals that, as we look out into the universe, ultimate reality is not cold, dark, blank space; ultimate reality is romance…The gospel tells the story of God’s pursuing, faithful, wounded, angry, overruling, transforming, triumphant love.” [2]

Our God is the God who loves the unlovely because He is love. Our God is a God who purifies the impure because He is holy. Our God is the perfect husband who dies for His bride to present her in splendor and glory. Our God takes spiritual adulterers and makes them spotless spouses.

My name is Luke Humphrey, and I am a spotless spouse because of the blood of Jesus Christ.

 


[1] Raymond C. Ortlund Jr., God’s Unfaithful Wife: A biblical theology of spiritual adultery, 101.

[2] Ibid, 173.

Luke Humphrey

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