With the Governor of SC admitting to a bizarre extra-marital affair with a woman in Argentina this past week, scandal is once again in the headlines. It seems the deceitfulness of sin is very powerful. Can we battle it?
Yes we can, says Randy Alcorn. He has a great post on "Counting the Cost of Sexual Immorality."
About twenty-five years ago, while pastors at Good Shepherd Community Church, my friend Alan Hlavka and I both developed lists of all the specific consequences we could think of that would result from our immorality as pastors. The lists were devastating, and to us they spoke more powerfully than any sermon or article on the subject.
Periodically, especially when travelling or when in a time of temptation or weakness, we read through our list. In a personal and tangible way it brings home God's inviolate law of choice and consequence. It cuts through the fog of rationalization and fills our hearts with the healthy, motivating fear of God. We find that when we begin to think unclearly, reviewing this list yanks us back to the reality of the law of the harvest and the need both to fear God and the consequences of sin.
An edited version of our combined lists follows. I've included the actual names of my wife and daughters to emphasize the personal nature of this exercise. Where it involves my own lists of specific people's names, I've simply stated "list names" so you can insert the appropriate ones in your own life.
Personalized List of Anticipated Consequences of Immorality
* Grieving my Lord; displeasing the One whose opinion most matters.
* Dragging into the mud Christ's sacred reputation.
* Loss of reward and commendation from God.
* Having to one day look Jesus in the face at the judgment seat and give an account of why I did it. Forcing God to discipline me in various ways.
* Following in the footsteps of men I know of whose immorality forfeited their ministry and caused me to shudder. List of these names:
* Suffering of innocent people around me who would get hit by my shrapnel (a la Achan).
* Untold hurt to Nanci, my best friend and loyal wife.
* Loss of Nanci's respect and trust.
* Hurt to and loss of credibility with my beloved daughters, Karina and Angela. ("Why listen to a man who betrayed Mom and us?")
* If my blindness should continue or my family be unable to forgive, I could lose my wife and my children forever.
* Shame to my family. (The cruel comments of others who would invariably find out.)
* Shame to my church family.
* Shame and hurt to my fellow pastors and elders. List of names:
* Shame and hurt to my friends, and especially those I've led to Christ and discipled. List of names:
* Guilt awfully hard to shake—even though God would forgive me, would I forgive myself?
* Plaguing memories and flashbacks that could taint future intimacy with my wife.
* Disqualifying myself after having preached to others.
* Surrender of the things I am called to and love to do—teach and preach and write and minister to others. Forfeiting forever certain opportunities to serve God. Years of training and experience in ministry wasted for a long period of time, maybe permanently.
* Being haunted by my sin as I look in the eyes of others, and having it all dredged up again wherever I go and whatever I do.
* Undermining the hard work and prayers of others by saying to our community "this is a hypocrite—who can take seriously anything he and his church have said and done?"
* Laughter, rejoicing and blasphemous smugness by those who disrespect God and the church (2 Samuel 12:14).
* Bringing great pleasure to Satan, the Enemy of God.
* Heaping judgment and endless problems on the person I would have committed adultery with.
* Possible diseases (pain, constant reminder to me and my wife, possible infection of Nanci, or in the case of AIDS, even causing her death, as well as mine.)
* Possible pregnancy, with its personal and financial implications.
* Loss of self-respect, discrediting my own name, and invoking shame and lifelong embarrassment upon myself.
Let the wise to wise counsel to heart. I hope it's helpful to you.