Life can get dicey this side of Genesis 3. Crops fail. Weather fails. Nations fail. Health fails. Resolve fails. Much of life is simply about learning to navigate disappointment and pain. But there is one thing which perhaps causes more pain than anything else; sexual sin. There’s the betrayal; the lying; the deception. There’s the severing of trust; severing of families; severing of relationships. Sexual sin in spiritual leadership packs an added severity. Churches are damaged; ministries are damaged; witness is damaged.
Sin’s damage upon the human race is severe. Read the news for just one day. Look honestly at your own thoughts. Within each of us dwells, as the Puritans called it, a “dark guest.” The pull of the flesh is strong. We need to be aware of sin’s capabilities. We need to fight ourselves. You can pretend that the flesh is not that strong and cowers at the swinging of a spiritual butter knife. But you’ll be overtaken by its skill and strength.
I don’t want to go down this path. I once heard someone say that they’d rather have the Lord kill them than commit adultery. I know that I’m capable of it. By the grace of God, I want to fight against this. Though sexual sin is forgivable in Christ, there are consequences to consider. It’s helpful to consider the reaping of sowing. In a recent doctoral course, Steve Lawson helped me in the fight by describing several consequences of sexual sin.
- It robs God of his glory.
Our body has one supreme purpose; to glorify God. We didn’t design or make our bodies. God did. Even more, our body and soul have been purchased by Christ. We’ve been bought out of the slave market and we belong to Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19-20). Sexual sin robs God of the glory that is duly his.
- It desecrates the temple of God.
A temple is set apart for a specific purpose; the place where worship is to be conducted and praises are offered to God. Our body is God’s temple (1 Cor. 6:19). So, every act of sexual sin is committed in God’s house of worship.
- It attaches Jesus Christ to the act of sin.
We are in union with Christ. Our bodies are one with him. Christ lives in us and we live in him. This means that when we commit sexual sin, we join Christ to that act. It’s to drag Christ into the bed of adultery.
- It establishes an evil intimacy.
Sexual sin with another person, albeit ever so brief, establishes a lasting bond. We become one with them (cf. 1 Cor. 6:16). A connection is made that’s not easily broken. Though the sin is forgiven in Christ, it will not forgotten by us in this life.
- It is uniquely self-destructive.
Sexual sin is a sin that is uniquely against one’s own body (1 Cor. 6:18). The apostle Paul doesn’t explain it, but simply states that it is in a category unto itself.
It can dominate, drive, and control. It internally destroys a person like no other sin. It cannot be confined to one area of your life. It will spread around like a backed up toilet. Thus, it’s a unique form of suicide. “The one who commits adultery with a woman is lacking sense; he who would destroy himself does it” (Prov. 6:32).
- It deeply grieves the Holy Spirit.
God is not a stoic sovereign. He is not a mechanical deity nor a robotic redeemer. He can be deeply hurt by the sin of his people (e.g. Ezek. 6:9, Hos. 11:8, Eph. 4:30). All that is unholy is painful to him who is perfectly holy.
- It is an evil against God.
Not all sin is the same. Some OT sins required the death penalty. Sexual sin is one of them.
When David committed adultery, he called it what it is; evil (Ps. 51:4). David did not sin retail and confess it wholesale. He didn’t mark down this sin. Sexual sin is not a mistake or weakness. It’s wickedness and evil.
- It brings the painful judgment of God.
Being under grace does not remove the painful consequences of sin. King David was forgiven, but there was painful judgment. God decreed that his own flesh and blood would sin against him, in kind, and in broad daylight (2 Sam. 11:12).
- It forfeits all joy and gladness.
When sexual impurity moves in, joy moves out (Ps. 51:8). The two cannot coexist in the heart at the same time. They are mutually exclusive. Joy and gladness will not move in until the lust has moved out and there has been repentance and confession.
- It forfeits spiritual power.
- It’s forfeits physical strength.
David became sick as a result of sexual sin. He felt as if his body wasted away. It was like God put a syringe in him and sucked out his vitality (Ps. 32:4). The sin also brought illness upon another (2 Sam. 12:15).
- It forfeits financial resources.
Sexual sin can result in paying for things for which you had not allotted resources (Prov. 5:10). Perhaps you’ll be paying for medical bills, litigation, lawyer fees, damaged property, or paying for another child you did not intend to have.
If you’re a pastor, you are no longer qualified for the ministry. You’re going to have to get a different job. You’re going to be a greeter at Walmart, selling ladies shoes, or looking for a paper route.
- It haunts your mind.
- It ruins your testimony before others.
Secret sin becomes open scandal in the church. Whether we are in ministry or not, there will be a multitude before whom we have blown our testimony. A spouse, children, parents, in-laws, friends. Even with their forgiveness the questions will come. “Dad, how could you have done this to mom?” “I thought you were a Christian?”
- It bring public disgrace and painful shame.
Sexual sin is not one that is easily forgotten. Inherent to it is a unique shame. “Wounds and disgrace he will find, and his reproach will not be blotted out” (Prov. 6:33).
- It disqualifies from ministry.
The apostle Paul’s approach to sanctification was self-fighting (cf. 1 Cor. 9:27). His enemy was his body. If he didn’t fight it, it could fulfill its lusts and disqualify him. One must beat his own body into subjection. Allowing one’s body to take over here is a violation of elder qualifications, and thus a disqualification from ministry (1 Tim. 3:2, Titus 1:6).
These temptations are not absent from older, seasoned men. It’s often men in the final home stretch of ministry and life who fail sexually. It’s not just entry level men.
Thus, we cannot allow our mind to fantasize. We mustn’t allow our thoughts to go places it shouldn’t go. We need to live with blinders that narrow our vision to our spouse.
- It causes others to stumble.
Those in ministry have a God-given influence. As someone standing before a church, with an open Bible, we must use that influence carefully and shrewdly. It’s possible that our sexual sin could cause someone to stumble. In that case, it would preferable to be chucked into the middle of the Mediterranean (Matt. 18:6).
- It breaks your vow to your spouse which you made before the Lord.
Those who are married made a covenant before God and to their spouse. Our yes is to be yes. Anything beyond that is evil (Matt. 5:37). A violation here calls into question our word since we have violated it at the highest level.
- It exposes false spirituality.
Sexual immorality does not simply happen. There has been a rotting of the foundation for some time in the individual’s life. The sexual sin is a final step of many which have lacked a fresh surrendered demeanor before his majesty.
Jesus is soberingly frank about how to deal with this (Matt. 5:27-30). It’s easy to get together with a male accountability group and lie to one another. Instead, we are to just gouge out our eye and launch it. And if we don’t deal with this, Jesus teaches that we are going to hell (Matt. 5:29-30).
That does not mean everyone who falls into sexual sin is going to hell. But it at least means that we’ve had a sham spirituality.
- It breaks multiple other divine commands.
Sexual sin is never compartmentalized (cf. Jas. 2:10). It’s like a submarine with screen doors: the sea enters everywhere.
Several commands are broken in sexual sin. We have dishonored our father and mother. It’s likely that we have lied, through deception, half-truths, and cover-up. We have coveted and craved what’s not ours. We have committed adultery and carried God’s name in vain. We have murdered by hating another. Some commit physical murder (2 Sam. 11:15). Sexual sin can involve stealing, perhaps, someone’s spouse. And we have committed idolatry by worshiping our own comfort and pleasure.
- It may lead to pregnancy.
- It always leads to other sins.
Sin in one area always bleeds into other areas. Until we repent, sexual sin usually sets off an avalanche of additional sin.
- It invites painful confrontation from others.
David faced one of the most humiliating moments of his life consequent of sexual sin (2 Sam. 12:7). It may also lead to a messy and painful church discipline process.
- It gives God’s enemies cause to blaspheme.
God’s enemies are always on the lookout for justifiable mockery. Sexual sin is one of them. It drags the name of God through the mud (2 Sam. 12:14). It gives unbelievers an open door to blaspheme Christ. “You’re just like us and we have no god.”
- It forfeits spiritual influence with the lost.
Unbelievers won’t think that we are more strategically relevant because we join them in sexual sin. Iniquity never renders us more powerful in our witness to the world. Christ was the most relevant and powerful in his witness, not because he was like the world, but unlike it and holy.
More could be said about the consequences of sexual sin. Despite the consequences however, the great news is that Christ’s substitutionary, wrath-bearing sacrifice is sufficient to cover it, and all sin. God can and does eagerly forgive those who surrender to Christ in faith. He took the full punishment which sexual sin deserves and rose triumphantly from the grave as our Mediator. Those steeped in the worst sexual sin will be instantly and permanently declared clean before God by faith in Jesus Christ.
Source: Eric Davis | The Cripplegate