Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cheaters Never Prosper

Dear Friends,

If you’d asked me two weeks ago if I knew what “Ashley Madison” was, I would have guessed a high-end line of women’s clothing or a perfume. I’m certain that most or all of you were (or still are) as clueless as I was. But I know now that Ashley Madison is the number one secret dating site for men and women cheating on their spouses and seeking to have an affair. Ashley Madison’s motto is, “Life is short. Have an affair.” The site guaranteed that it was completely anonymous but something happened last week. For all that is secret will eventually be brought into the open, and everything that is concealed will be brought to light and made known to all. Luke 8:17 (NLT) 

This adultery site was hacked by moral crusaders who told the owner of the site to shut it down or they would release the personal information of every user. The owner of Ashley Madison refused and the resulting “data dump” on the internet by the hackers amounted to the largest release of personal information to date. It included email messages the users sent to each other, sexual fantasies, credit card financial transactions, home telephone numbers and addresses and the naked photos people sent to each other. It’s on the internet. It’s public. For the rest of the person’s life it’s out there for all to see. They’ve been digitally branded with the “scarlet letter A.”

Here’s the mind-boggling part. There were over 37 million accounts on Ashley Madison and about 18 million of those seeking an adulterous relationship live in America. To put that number into perspective, there are about 60 million married couples living in the United States. 

The Associated Press found that 15,000 people used their government computers to access the site and pay for their membership fees. The released names included those working in the Executive Office of the President, the U.S. Attorney Office, the Justice Department, the Pentagon and many worked in House and Senate offices. The highest rate of membership was in Washington DC and a security advisor warned that this data, now in the hands of foreign intelligence, will have an impact on national security and law enforcement. In the military, adultery is a crime punishable by court-martial, and 9,425 people used a military computer to access the site. These numbers are staggering and the devastation this will bring to millions of families in America is tragic.
My grandmother used to say, “Cheaters never prosper” but God said it first: “The crooked heart will not prosper; the lying tongue tumbles into trouble.” Proverbs 17:20 (NLT) Last week, 37 million people discovered the truth of this proverb. But God, in His grace and mercy, always provides an escape route out of the bondage of sin and Proverbs 28:13 (NLT) says: “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.” 

Those who repent will receive mercy and forgiveness from God, but for millions, the consequences they now must face will be life-changing. Economists have predicted that, based on 18 million marriages affected, there will be an estimated 2-3 million additional divorces and that may be a very low estimate. They forecast that the enormous impact of jobs lost, careers ruined, households divided and homes sold in divorce proceedings will have a significant effect on our Nation’s economy. But the biggest impact will be the emotional destruction. Families broken. Children devastated. Dreams shattered. Police are already reporting suicides related to the Ashley Madison leak. It is difficult to comprehend the full impact this will have on families, workplaces and the church.

A website for pastors published an article titled, “Pastors: Don’t Gloat Over Ashley Madison - the adulterer you condemn may be in your pews.” The church rule is that if you want to grow your church, you need to maintain a softened approach to sin so that you don’t offend anyone. But the consequences for not preaching against sin will be destructive for some churches. The names of church pastors, leaders, Sunday school teachers and elders will be among the millions of names released. Their churches will be devastated and some may be destroyed.
Our lesson to be learned from this is that there is no “secret sin.” God already knows. There is nothing you can ever do that’s hidden from His sight. Heb 4:13 (NIV) We all stand in judgement before Jesus some day and we’ll have to account for our sinful behavior. 2 Cor 5:10 God’s Word says that we will reap what we sow and last week, 37 million people found out about this Kingdom Principle the hard way. Galatians 6:7 

What are the seeds that you’re sowing today? You and I may not be on adultery web-sites but we know that we sin daily in thought, word and deed. And we need to be quick to repent. When we confess and repent of our sins, we receive God’s mercy and forgiveness. Proverbs 28:13; 1 John 1:9 And he will remember our sins no more. Hebrews 10:17

The church must become emboldened through God’s word to preach against sin. When the woman caught in the sin of adultery was brought before Jesus, John 8:1-11, He responded to her with love, grace, mercy and forgiveness. Then in no uncertain terms, He told her to “Go and sin no more.” People sin. Pastors now need to stand before their church and do what Jesus did. Amen?

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