Can an Adulterer Go to Heaven?

Justin Johnson

I often receive questions from readers of the website. Below is a commonly asked question that I thought would benefit others as well:

“Can a saved person still go to heaven after committing adultery when they know that its wrong, even if they can’t help themselves? Paul said adulterers, fornicators, drunkards, and homosexuals cannot enter the Kingdom of God.”

Thank you for your question. First of all, adultery is wrong and is never something God advocates. In fact, even under the dispensation of grace God condemns it as you pointed out. The excuse of “couldn’t help himself” is not a valid excuse.

“Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” – Eph 5:5-6

It is true that adulterers, fornicators, drunkards, and idolators shall not inherit the kingdom of God. The reason that they shall not is because there is no payment for their sins. Their sins are so wicked in the judicial and righteous eyes of God that he can do nothing else but cast them out of the kingdom.

Yet, without the mystery of Christ all of us would fit many of those descriptions and would not qualify to enter the kingdom of God. Jesus amplified the description of adultery to include lustful thoughts (Mat 5:28).

But Titus 3:4 describes that the kindness and love of God brought salvation to ungodly man through Jesus Christ’s blood payment for sins.

The reason those adulterers will not inherit the kingdom is because their sin is repulsive before a holy judge. The reason you will inherit the kingdom* once you believe is because Christ paid for your sins.

In each passage that Paul makes these lists of kingdom rejects (Eph 5, 1 Cor 6, and Gal 5), he is doing so as to convince the hearers of the wrongness of those actions, but he is in no wise placing a works requirement upon the blood payment of the Lord.

To the carnal fornicating Corinthians he even writes, “and such were some of you, but ye are sanctified, justified, and washed…” (1 Cor 6:11).

Sanctified?! They were doing things repulsive even to heathens. The fornicating Corinthians were sanctified? Yes, because of the Lord Jesus Christ and his payment for their sins. Paul then continues to essentially say, “Stop doing those things that are unbecoming of a saint of God.”

The blood of Jesus and his resurrection save us from the judgment upon our sin, but it does not change the nature of sin: it is always wrong. The proper grace response is to stop doing it and to walk in newness of life (Rom 6:1-11).

In the end, Paul tells the Corinthians not to fellowship with the fornicators amongst them. Hopefully, the separation would make them realize their grievous behavior and would prevent a bad influence on the weaker brethren (1 Cor 5:11).

However, the truth of the cross is made available to all sinful humanity and is accessible even by adulterers if they trust that Christ did all that was necessary for their salvation.

* The kingdom here is not speaking about the Davidic earthly kingdom promised to Israel, but the kingdom of Christ as Paul describes in Col 1:13.

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Published: December 25, 2010
Last Modified: September 26, 2016
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