Does Baptism Remove Sin In An Adulterous Marriage?

A querist asks, “If a man and woman get married then get divorced, then the man goes and remarries, we know that he (and his new wife) has committed adultery. But say him and his new wife get baptized into the church….are they forgiven and does their marriage now find God’s blessing? Or are they still living in an adulterous marriage?”

The implication of this question is that one who begins a manner of life before obeying the gospel, which God disapproves following salvation, may nevertheless continue to live in this state with the approval of God, after obeying the gospel.

The fallacy of this contention is obvious. Jesus said in Matthew 19:9 KJV, “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.

In this passage, the word, “Whosoever,” embraces all people, both in and out of the church. It is not possible for one to be scripturally baptized who has not repented (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38; Acts 17:30). Repentance requires the termination of sinful conduct as a prerequisite to baptism (Romans 6:1-2; 2 Corinthians 7:10). The Bible also speaks of bringing “forth therefore fruits meet (worthy) of repentance” (Matthew 3:8 ASV). The fruits of true, genuine repentance would not allow “staying in” a sinful relationship, but “getting out” of such a relationship.

According to the teaching of the inspired Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16), baptism does not wash away past sins of those unwilling to terminate those sins (illegal husbands and illegal wives). Thus, these individuals may not continue in a relationship that was wrong prior to baptism.

Mike Riley, Gospel Snippets

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