It's Not Ashley Madison's Fault
How could they?!?! How could they make a website like that?! “Life is short. Have an affair.” Who would even come up with something like that? ...And then those Christians went and just gave in to Satan. I hate the internet...AND Satan! Grace is scandalous which is why we’re so reluctant to offer it. Sin is ugly which is why we’re so quick to project it elsewhere. We balk at taking responsibility for our sin and scoff at freely giving (and receiving) grace. Both accumulate chinks in our pride armor. It’s too costly. When we sin our natural inclination is to defend ourselves. We blame. “The devil made me do it!” “If only I could have avoided that situation…” “If that website didn’t exist I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to sin!” “The people that market that stuff that way. They’re the ones to blame!” “God, why did you make me this way?!”Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.James 1:13-15When we face temptation are we sinning? No. Temptation is assumed. “Let no one say WHEN he is tempted…” Everyone is tempted. Jesus was tempted...and did not sin (Mark 1:12-13, Matt. 4, Luke 4). Ashley Madison, among countless other things, exists as temptation.Does God tempt us with sin to test our resolve? No. The passage very clearly says that “God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”So, then, is temptation MY fault? Yes. Now, to be clear, some temptation is unavoidable. To keep with the topic at hand, extramarital sex is glorified and put on display all throughout our media and entertainment outlets. You would literally have to live in a hole underground (sans college dorm room posters...and mobile devices) to not encounter external temptation. However at the root of temptation is desire. There is no hole deep enough to shelter our minds from the desire for inordinate sex.Well, then, is desire sin? No. God made us to desire. It is meant to point us back to Him, the ultimate fulfillment of our purest desires.If all that is true, why am I considered a sinner? Because rather than recognizing our inordinate desires as such and turning to Christ, we put our inordinate desires into action. A desire conceived gives birth to sin. This happens ALL the time...to EVERYbody...EVERY day. But it is our choice. We’re responsible for our actions. We might try to tell ourselves that we aren’t. Society certainly tells us we aren’t. But we are. Our sin is made up of our inordinate desires acted upon.But it is impossible not to sin! I can’t not ever act on my desires! You’re right. It is impossible for us not to sin. We’re just as bad as the people who made the Ashley Madison site. To defeat sin our hope can’t be in our ability to overcome our desires or avoid temptation. It’s impossible. There are too many of them. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.Hebrews 4:15Jesus (our high priest) was tempted just like we are, yet did not sin. He experienced hormones and did not sin! And why did he take on flesh and go through the same temptations we do? Because sin “brings forth death.” It was either we die, alienated from Him and unable to break free from our sin, or He die in our place, sinless and perfect, conquering the power of sin and death through His resurrection! Double imputation. My sin is imputed to Him, His sinlessness is imputed to me. It isn’t fair. The implications of that kind of grace are scandalous.As we were reflecting on the Ashley Madison high profile Christian celebrity fall-out, my wife brought up how this just might be God’s grace and the best thing that could have happened to them. Secret and hidden sin is the worst kind. It eats you up inside. Yet God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ is so far reaching it covers even the secret sins we would never want exposed. That’s scandalous, but beautiful. In the context of a warning regarding sexual immorality, impurity and covetousness (which sounds a lot like adultery to me) the Holy Spirit inspires these words from Ephesians 5:11-14Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. 13 But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, 14 for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,“Awake, O sleeper,and arise from the dead,and Christ will shine on you.”When our sin is exposed and brought into the light we finally have the opportunity to stop struggling, hiding, pretending and bringing forth death in our souls. Instead we can heed the wake-up call, arise from the dead and soak in the grace that Christ shines on us.Musician and author Andrew Peterson puts it like this:I want you to knowWhen the joy that you feelLeaves a terrible ache in your bones,It’s the voice of JesusCalling you back home(from “The Voice of Jesus” on Light for the Lost Boy)When we finally realize our sin is our fault - not Ashley Madison’s - we’re on our way back home to Jesus who can sympathize with our weaknesses and rescue us forever. What will you do with Jesus’ scandalous grace?