Oklahoma megachurch Pastor Michael Todd said the phrase “once a cheater, always a cheater” doesn’t apply to repentant Christians because "in Christ, I’m not a cheater.”
The pastor of Tulsa’s Transformation Church recently preached a sermon titled “Cuffed to Condemnation” that focused on Romans 8:1 which reads, “there is no condemnation for those who put their faith and life in Jesus Christ.”
Todd said that this "no condemnation" for those who are in Christ includes those who have asked God for forgiveness for being unfaithful in their romantic relationships.
“What the enemy tries to do is cave you into isolation through this spirit of condemnation and many of you have been cuffed to it," Todd preached.
"The spirit of condemnation has come to rob you of your life in Christ. … I'm not playing with this spirit, because it's robbed so many of you of the freedom that is now yours as a believer of Jesus Christ."
Condemnation is an eternal “sentence to punishment,” Todd said, adding that he believes many Christians fail to realize that “God is not a punisher. He doesn't punish, He disciplines."
“God is coming to free you from condemnation today," he declared. "God's Word is going to uncuff you from condemnation. I've realized that too many of God's children have a life in Christ, but they're living condemned."
"Yes, it happened. That's not who I am. Yes, I did it. That's not who I am. Yes, I've repeatedly done it. But that is not who I am.”
Todd talked about how he met his wife, Natalie, when he was 15, and she was 14. Three years later, when he was about to graduate from high school, Todd said he engaged in “exploring” other romantic relationships while he was still dating Natalie.
“I started listening to culture," Todd said. “[I] started exploring stuff, broke her heart, sent her into another relationship that was not good for her, went down a spiral, opened up things. We both lost our virginity. We [went] through all of these cycles,” he added.
Todd said that although he and Natalie eventually got back together, for a long time they struggled to trust each other.
After getting back together with Natalie, Todd said he began to allow a spirit of condemnation from the devil to discourage him from staying in his relationship.
“In that season," Todd called, "I could not see myself out from under the cloud of condemnation because I knew everything I was suffering at that moment was because of decisions I made."
"I was cuffed to condemnation, but your boy is free now. And today, I want to offer you the same level of freedom because the enemy will try to convince you that’s who you are,” he added, citing John 3:17, which reads "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him."
Todd stressed that "in Christ" he knew that “I failed, but I'm not a failure. I messed up, but I'm not a mistake. I lost, but I'm not a loser," and "I cheated, but I'm not a cheater."
“Uh-oh, I'm coming against culture. Once a cheater, [always a cheater]. According to who? Because in Christ ... You may not be able to give me another chance. You may not be able to forgive me. You may not be able to look beyond my faults and see my need and see that [my cheating] actually came from a trauma that was trying to be covered and saddled to something I didn't have the tools to do. But yeah, I cheated. But I'm not a cheater.”
Todd frequently noted that Christians who blame God for their feelings of condemnation fail to realize that “you're the kid who put yourself in timeout,” but added that “sinning is a symptom of humanity, not our identity.”
“There's a difference between actively sinning and trying to do it all the time and just whiling out or making a mistake. Or how the Bible defines sin: missing the mark. I missed the mark. I missed the mark,” Todd reiterated.
Christians are going to “miss the mark” and struggle with sin every day, Todd maintained, calling it "a symptom of humanity, not your identity."
Todd further emphasized that he is not giving anyone "a license to sin," but that he is trying to address how the enemy keeps Christians in a "condemnation cycle" that leads them "back to sin."