By Frank Himmel
During a recent family reading of Proverbs 2 we paused to consider verse 19. Wisdom says in reference to an adulteress, “None who go to her return again, nor do they reach the paths of life.” What does it mean, none return again?
Most expositors take it as stating a general rule. “It is very rare that any who are caught in this snare of the devil recover themselves, so much is the heart hardened, and the mind blinded, by the deceitfulness of this sin. Having once lost their hold of the paths of life, they know not how to take hold of them again, but are perfectly besotted and bewitched with those base lusts” (Matthew Henry).
Sadly this observation is true. The unbridled lust which leads one to adultery will likely lead him there again and again. One so naive as to fall for the adulteress’ flattering words (e.g., she “understands him” as his wife does not) is apt to repeat his folly. Witness the number of people who are in their third or fourth marriages, or those who have quit bothering with marriage and just cohabit with one “lover” after another. I confess that I do not understand why anyone, even those who disregard God’s law, would seek a marriage partner among adulterers. They have proven unfaithful to their vows once. Is there reason to think they will not do so again?
I do not mean to rule out forgiveness, by God or man. “No one gets so far into sin that God will not receive him back if he makes the proper amends. But the danger and rule is that a patron of the kind of life described above will continue therein to the end of life” (E.M. Zerr).
Now consider another sense in which the statement, “None who go to her return again,” is true. And in this sense it is not a general rule, but an absolute certainty.
No man who becomes involved in adultery will ever be the same again. He cannot return to where he was. He can be forgiven by God. He can be forgiven by his mate. He can be forgiven by the spouse of his partner in adultery. But things can never be quite the way they were.
The implicit trust his mate placed in him has been broken. The special intimate relationship between husband and wife has been violated. The painful memory of the act remains in the consciences of all involved, try as they may to remove it. The feelings of guilt are still there. To the extent the sin is known to others the reputation is damaged. If those involved are Christians the Lord’s holy name is reproached. If they have children who know of the affair the confidence of those little ones is shaken. Time will aid in healing these wounds, but it cannot completely erase the them.
Some mates elect to put the adulterer away. If they so choose, he/she loses the privilege of a God-approved marriage (Matt. 5:31,32; 19:9), despite what men may say about the matter. His only options are to remain single or be reconciled to his mate (1 Cor 7:11).
Before you become involved in this or any sin, take time to sit down and count the cost. Do not be dazzled by the enticing array in which Satan clothes sin. Look at what is inside. Look at the price you may pay. Look at where you will be after the momentary pleasure in past. Are you entering a place from which there is no return?
“The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; he who would destroy himself does it. Wounds and disgrace he will find, and his reproach will not be blotted out” (Prov. 6:32,33).
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 13, pp. 385, 407
July 2, 1992