The Underestimation of Sin, Men's Edition

We had our first men’s night at church (9/27/15) on the heels of the Ashley Madison scandal. We entered that night by way of heavy hearts and pastoral concern for our men. Many Christian men this year have fallen and been publicly exposed online and/or in their communities because they underestimated their sin and never thought their unconfessed, unrepentant, or secret sins would be exposed and cause themself and others harm. I’m posting my message from that night to warn and encourage men as we are heading into 2016.

Some Fallen Men in 2015

I list these men not to tarnish or condemn them, but as examples of the seriousness of underestimating our sin.

-Tullian Tchividjian

Tullian wrote, “I returned from a trip a few months back and discovered that my wife was having an affair. Heartbroken and devastated, I informed our church leadership and requested a sabbatical to focus exclusively on my marriage and family. As her affair continued, we separated. Sadly and embarrassingly, I subsequently sought comfort in a friend and developed an inappropriate relationship myself.”(1)

“[Tullian] says having an affair really forces a pastor, a person, to look at themselves and ask, "What kind of person did I become for me to do what I did, my wife to do what she did, where did I fail? Did I become something, someone I didn't see I was becoming?””(2) 

-Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr.(3)

R.C. Jr. wrote, “In August 2014, in a moment of weakness, pain, and from an unhealthy curiosity, I visited Ashley Madison.”

“The grace of God’s judgment bore its fruit, and by His grace I repented of my sin. By His grace, I have also received His forgiveness, the outworking of His love. Prophetic providence had done its good office. Jesus died for this sin, but there are still earthly consequences. With the revelation of the hack has come the revelation of my sin. I recently informed the board of Ligonier Ministries, which has handled the matter internally, having suspended me until July 1, 2016. I also informed my presbytery which is also handling the matter internally. And now the world is informed.”

“My sin, sadly, has impacted those who are innocent––my colleagues, friends, and family. I have and will continue to seek their forgiveness. I covet your prayers.”

-Josh Duggar(4)

Josh wrote, “I have been the biggest hypocrite ever. While espousing faith and family values, I have been unfaithful to my wife. I am so ashamed of the double life that I have been living and am grieved for the hurt, pain and disgrace my sin has caused my wife and family, and most of all Jesus and all those who profess faith in Him. I have brought hurt and a reproach to my family, close friends and the fans of our show with my actions. The last few years, while publicly stating I was fighting against immorality in our country I was hiding my own personal failures. As I am learning the hard way, we have the freedom to choose our actions, but we do not get to choose our consequences. I deeply regret all the hurt I have caused so many by being such a bad example.”

-Seth Oiler(5)

“Seth Oiler died in the prime of his life. The 42-year-old pastor of First United Methodist Church (UMC) in Newark, Ohio, committed suicide in his church-owned home [in May]. His untimely death followed an adulterous affair with a church staff member to which he admitted.” The writer comments, “I can only imagine the guilt, shame and condemnation that was flooding his soul.” He left behind a wife and children.

-John Gibson(6)

“New Orleans pastor and seminary professor John Gibson...can now be counted among the casualties of the Ashley Madison fiasco, [he committed suicide], and according to his wife, it illustrates the real and unnecessary human toll.”

“For 25 of their almost 30 years of marriage, Gibson and her husband struggled with his sex addiction. She knew that he struggled and had relapsed over and over again. She did not know that he had used Ashley Madison until she read his suicide note... In it, her husband talked about his depression and his deep remorse and shame over having his name be among those found in the adultery website’s database.” The late pastor and professor Gibson said, “The shame is in the secrecy and the hiddenness and the lie of this.“


Ed Stetzer said that there might be up to 400 Christian men (all church leaders) whose secret sins will be exposed because of the Ashley Madison hack.(7) This is not counting the non-church leaders who may have an account; which means there may very well be 400+ families and communities impacted by unrepentant and secret sins!

All of these men underestimated their sin and never thought their unconfessed, unrepentant, or secret sins would be exposed and cause themself and others harm. We don’t want this to be you. We don’t want the enemy ravaging you with bondage to sin, fear, and condemnation. We want you to know you are surrounded by other broken men, with sins & struggles like yours, and we also have a desire for those of you in sin/compromise to experience repentance, forgiveness, freedom, and restoration; because we have experienced it too.

5 Points of Caution

I believe God wants you specific men to hear these 5 particular points of caution—i.e. 5 points if taken seriously and followed will help to avoid the danger and mistake of unrepentant and secret sin.

1. God will put your unrepentant or secret sin on blast. (2Sam. 12:12, cf. 1Tim. 5:24). 

Don’t assume that He won’t. And remember, God is perfectly righteous and just in doing so if He chooses to (Ps. 51:4). Instead, you need to recognize that the only reason your unrepentant or secret sin has not been blasted by God is because in His goodness He is patiently waiting for you to come to repentance (Rom. 2:1-4). It’s better that you tell on yourself and repent than God broadcast it and bring you to repentance the hard way.

2. Never forget your past. (i.e. don’t forget about your Egypt) (Tit. 3:3)

Don’t act like your past isn’t yours. Don’t fail to remember how cruel a master sin was. Don’t disregard the bondage/oppression/deception you were once under. Don’t fail to remember what God has delivered you from [and maybe still is]). The moment we forget about our past, we, like the Israelites, begin to desire the hazardous things of the past we just forgot about.

3. Remain ever watchful in your present. (1Cor. 10:12-13)

No sleeping on the job, ever. Always alert. Always inspecting. Be like the German soldiers during the Cold War, weapon in hand, standing guard at every hole in the wall so nothing slips by. There is too much at stake. Be constantly vigilant!

4. Confidently pursue your promised future. (Col. 3:1-4)

Your life is hidden with Christ. You are not your past or your present. You are your promised future! Pursue the transformed you, the you being made-over in the likeness of Jesus, the you being progressively sanctified in Jesus, the you controlled by the Holy Spirit, the new you "being renewed in knowledge according to the image" of God (v10). Your promised future is one of wholeness and holiness. Confidently pursue what God has for you while remembering your past and being watchful in your present!

5. Remember the character of God. (Heb. 13:8)

He is just and merciful. God will justly judge our sin, and yet He will extend mercy when we cry out to Him in repentance and for forgiveness. 

He is holy and full of grace. Anything unholy is offensive to God. Our sin is offensive to Him. Yet, He graciously pardons our sin and iniquities even though we never deserve to be pardoned.

He is jealous and loving. God despises sharing our devotion and worship with anything or anyone, but His love remains unconditional toward us despite our disloyalty toward Him.

He is sovereign. God is in complete control and works all things together for our good according to His will, and yet He still holds us responsible for our sin, and to repent, and to obey.

Conclusion

There are, what I believe, 9 common sins among men: (The list below is not in any significant order)

  • Porn
         “64% of Christian men…say they watch porn at least once a month.” “Because porn use thrives in secrecy, many church members are trapped in a cycle of sin and shame, thinking that they're the only ones facing this temptation.”(8)
  • Masturbation
  • Fornication
  • Pride of heart (the attitude)
  • Pride of life (the pursuit (why and what), the image [reputation])
  • Idolatry (putting something/one in the place only God belongs)
  • Anger (rage, outward aggression)
  • Lust (lust of eyes, lust for sex)
  • Selfishness (self-absorbed)

These 9 are seen and done so naturally that conviction decreases, and so does repenting of these things, and so does striving to be transformed from these things (i.e. deliverance, holiness, wholeness).

Three verses to ponder and obey:

Proverbs 28:13 (NLT)—“People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.”
Jam. 5:16 (NLT)—“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
1Jn. 1:9 (ESV)—“If we confess our sins [to Him], He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Do not be that man that underestimates his sin and never thinks that your unconfessed, unrepentant, or secret sins will not be exposed and cause yourself and others harm. Confess and repent and experience mercy, healing, forgiveness, and cleansing!

“Freedom means that on your worst day you are loved by the Father because your acceptance is based on the righteousness of Another.” “Freedom means you don't have to hide from God because Jesus took your rejection. Weary and broken you can run to His gracious arms.” –Paul Tripp

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1. www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/06/21/billy-grahams-grandson-steps-down-from-florida-megachurch-after-admitting-an-affair/ 
2. www.charismanews.com/culture/51066-tullian-tchividjian-gets-why-pastors-caught-in-adultery-commit-suicide
3. rcsprouljr.com/blog/general/judgment-and-grace/ 
4. www.churchleaders.com/daily-buzz/260849-5-things-pastors-learn-josh-duggars-confession.html
5. www.charismanews.com/opinion/watchman-on-the-wall/49866-pastor-commits-suicide-in-church-owned-home-after-admitting-adultery | www.christianpost.com/news/married-pastor-commits-suicide-after-admitting-affair-with-church-member-he-loved-god-ronald-reagan-and-captain-america-139666/ 
6. www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2015/09/09/why-the-wife-of-a-pastor-exposed-in-ashley-madison-leak-spoke-out-after-his-suicide/ 
7. www.churchleaders.com/daily-buzz/261321-ed-stetzer-400-pastors-caught-ashley-madison-hack-may-resign-sunday.html
8. www.covenanteyes.com/pornstats


12/2/2015