There is a sad news that roaming around the internet today about the pastor who took a suicide after the Ashley Madison users list was leaked on the internet. His name was included on the users list of AshleyMadison.com, a cheating website for married people who are looking for extramarital affairs.
The Ashley Madison website was hacked last July this year and hackers had access to its millions of users and their information.
John Gibson is a pastor and teacher at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. His wife found his body with his suicide note stating about his fear of losing his job and his apology.
Pastor John Gibson was respected and loved by his family and his community. His wife Christi has expressed her willingness to forgive and their community has expressed the same but she said that shame could’ve added more weight to his burden.
Now, there’s even more reports that more church pastors are included on the list. And reports say that they are taking a “quiet resignation” from their job as pastors.
Although we know that it is not impossible for men of God to make mistakes or sin, but the news still shocked everybody, specially Christians and particularly the church members lead by the listed pastors.
We think highly of pastors. They lead our spiritual life, teaches us the word of God, lead us to obedience and faith with God.
There are so many lessons that we can learn or be reminded in this incident. But I would like to focus on three things:
No one is immune with sin
Sin chooses no one. Even major characters in the Bible has committed sin even during the time they’re serving God.
King David of Israel, known as “man after God’s own heart” committed adultery with a married woman and setup her husband to be killed in the battle so they can be free with their relationship. (2 Samuel 11)
King Solomon, King David’s son, known to be the smartest man ever lived, made a mistake of worshipping other gods and marrying hundreds of women. (1 Kings 11:1-14)
Moses, known for his obedience with God didn’t made it to the promise land because, guess what, his failure to do God’s instructions. (Numbers 20:1-12)
Peter was known to be arrogant and has denied our Lord Jesus. (Luke 22:61)
It doesn’t matter if you’re a prophet, an apostle, a king, a pastor, a church worker, a choir member, a Christian blogger, or a member of a church. Sin is one-size fits all.
No one is safe from temptation
Temptation sparks sin. And we are taught to avoid temptation. The devil is really smart to fool us. He knows our weakness and he uses it against us. And even King Solomon, the wisest man ever lived, didn’t managed to avoid sin. His wisdom didn’t helped him to identify the danger of his actions.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a pastor, a doctor of Theology, or a professor on Bible seminary. We still have our weakness that can cause us to sin against God.
We’re not just Christians every Sunday. Being a child of God is a 24-hour status that we need to maintain if we want to be pure. Being confident with God is a wonderful thing. But being confident with temptation is a worst thing. You don’t play with temptation or sin. No one gets out of it without a consequence. We have a saying here in the Philippines that says, “no one touches the pot without the hands getting dirty”.
As Pastor Charles Stanley said, “you can’t debate with the devil. He had mastered it for thousands of years. You can’t win against him.” I also believe that it is the same with temptation. He had mastered it. He even tried to tempt our Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the reason why Jesus made changes or improvements in Moses’ laws. In the Old Testament, it was said, “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” (Exodus 20:14) But Jesus said if we look to a woman with lust, we are already committing adultery. He said this to avoid temptation. He knows that adultery and fornication starts with a lustful stare (Matthew 5:27-28).
Now, if you’ll stare on the beautiful girl doing the ‘silent’ gesture on the website’s home page, it will be the start of your destruction. You may reason that it is just a glance. But it will linger and play in your mind and your curiosity will get deeper until your body reacts and responds.
Sin is like a sickness where prevention is better than cure.
I also heard from Dr. Charles Stanley that the devil prevents us from thinking about the consequences of our actions. He just entice us with short-time pleasures. This is true. Whenever we are tempted to do something, we feel the urge because of the pleasure it will give. The only thing that would prevent us from doing it is to be afraid of the consequences. Reasoning is very weak when we’re tempted. You can’t reason anymore if you’re too hungry, too angry, and lustful. You should already think about the consequences before you glance. Yes, it escalates that quickly.
Pastors like John Gibson doesn’t need judgment. As Christians, we should understand that even pastors who are men of God, are still human, capable of making mistakes and are battling against their flesh. What they need is our understanding, support (not for their Ashley Madison account or activity but for their comeback and repentance), and prayer.
We should be forgiving as our Father in heaven who doesn’t get tired of forgiving us. God gives every Christian an opportunity to stand up again whenever we fall. He has neverending love and forgiveness to give for our repentance.
As for the members, we should not be discouraged if our leaders fall. Our focus should be on the perfect God, not on imperfect pastors and church leaders like us. Because then, we will not be moved in any trials because our foundation is built through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Bible verses about sin and temptation
“Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” – James 1:13-15
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7
“And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.“ – Luke 22:40
“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13
“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition.” – 1 Timothy 6:9
“Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” – Matthew 26:41
“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.” – Galatians 5:16
“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.
What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” – 1 Corinthians 6:18-20
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” – Ephesians 6:10-18
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” – Psalms 119:11
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” – 1 Peter 5:8-11
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – Romans 12:2
“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.” – 1 John 5:4
“Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33