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Specifically, I am concerned with adulterous sins and lust.

Matthew 5:28 ESV

But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.

I cannot find any scripture which directs us what to do once we have adultery in our heart. However, this sounds concerning:

Exodus 20:14 ESV

You shall not commit adultery.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 ESV

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.


Matthew 15:19-20 ESV

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.

I am protestant and would prefer to find scripture within the ESV bible. I would prefer to not have specific doctrinal advice that is outside of the bible.

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let us continue this discussion in chat – The Freemason Feb 5 '14 at 4:42
Be careful to keep reading in each of the passages you list. Typically, the answer comes shortly thereafter. – Narnian Feb 5 '14 at 16:52
up vote 3 down vote accepted

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9, ESV)

Anyone can be tempted as long as we live in this world, anyone can make mistakes. All we need to do is confess our sins and ask for forgiveness. While Catholics need to confess there sins to the priest, Protestants may simply confess it directly to God. If you have wronged someone, some Protestant Churches may require you to confess it publicly to that person and ask forgiveness before God and men.

Does it mean we can keep on sinning and always ask for forgiveness? Not at all. A born-again Christian can no longer live according to worldly patterns, his character must be changed.

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:1-4, ESV)

However, when things are beyond your capacity, when things are beyond your limit, when things are beyond your ability, and you failed, there is always hope, for Jesus can forgive us whenever we come back to him. Jesus himself taught us to forgive 70 times in a day. How much more can Jesus forgive!

and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.” (Luke 17:4, ESV)

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Yes, the Bible seems to be clear that the process is 1) confess 2) repent 3) live in sin no more. Confession helps you repent and repentance enables you to live righteously. – fredsbend Feb 5 '14 at 6:30

1 John 1:8-9 "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

When you sin, first, repent of your sin and ask God for forgiveness.

John 8:4-11 (ESV) "The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery ... he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” ... And Jesus said [to the woman], “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”

Then, don't repeat the sin.

Of course we are humans and we fail and we will repeat the sin.

Luke 17:3-4 (ESV) If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, 4 and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.”

While this is advice to people and not a description of God, it was the first verse that popped into my head at the moment. If someone sins against us, we should forgive him over and over. It stands to reason that if God demands this behavior from us, he must act it out himself.

As a couple of side notes on the specifics:

Looking at a woman and saying "wow, she's really pretty" is not necessarily lust, and I wouldn't beat myself up every time I notice a woman is pretty. This is certainly debatable, but I think what Jesus meant was that if you look at a woman who is not your wife and want to have sexual relations with her, then the fact that when you asked she slapped you in the face and told you to get lost rather than agreeing has nothing to do with your guilt. You wanted to sin. The fact that you were unable to follow through does not make it okay. Similarly if you are angry and want to kill someone, but his bodyguards stop you from entering the building, you are just as guilty as if you had pulled it off. CS Lewis once wrote that some men are in a position where, when they get angry, they can have thousands of people killed. Others are in a position where, when they get angry, people just ignore them or even laugh at them. But in both cases, they had the same sinful desires in their hearts, so their guilt is the same although the results are different. I think there's nothing wrong with thinking a woman is pretty, as long as you are not wishing to have illicit sexual relations with her.

But that said, if you're married, I would certainly make every effort to concentrate your sexual interest on your wife. That's what marriage is for.

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