Addition By Holy Subtraction
September 6, 2015
Message, Robby Gallaty, Senior Pastor
Good morning. The title of the message today is “Addition By Holy Subtraction.” Addition By Holy Subtraction.
A young man asked his pastor one time, what is the difference between a sin and a crime? The pastor said, there are a number of crimes that are not sins and there are a number of sins that are not crimes.
We are going to see today at the beginning of Acts, particularly at the beginning of Acts Chapter 5, an example of this. In the account of Ananias and Sapphira, this couple sold their possessions and supposedly gave all of it to the disciples. And we are going to see in this text that they really didn’t steal anything from anyone. They didn’t extort money from anybody. They didn’t embezzle funds that weren’t theirs. They simply held back a portion of what was rightfully theirs, but in the process, they lied about it. And we are going to see how serious the sin of lying was to God back then and even today.
Now I know what you are thinking, Pastor Robby, everyone lies. People lie all the time. Why is lying such a big deal? That is what I want to talk about today. In our time together, I want to show you how God uses this couple, these two individuals, to demonstrate the seriousness of sin and to purify the church in order to advance the gospel. God is going to use these two as an example to strike fear, reverential fear in the early church in order to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ.
If you have your Bibles, and I hope you do, turn with me to Acts Chapter 5, Acts chapter 5 and we will consider Verses 1 and following. When you are there, say “word.” We get excited to study the Word of God at Brainerd Baptist. The Word of the Lord.
“But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a portion of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after you sold it, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.’ When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heart of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. And Peter said to her, ‘Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.’ And she said, ‘Yes, for so much.’ But Peter said to her, ‘How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.’ Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.”
Now watch what happened. Verse 12, “Now many signs ad wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.” The Word of the Lord.
I want to share with you two insights that I think are applicable to us today in this text. And the first one I want you to see is, I want you to see the deceit in the church. I want you to see the deceit in the church. And it begins not negatively but actually positively with the disciples distributing their belongings. At this time, the disciples began distributing their belongings one to another.
Now the couple in question here are the couple of Ananias and Sapphira. These two individuals here were probably new believers in the church. They were excited about the things of God. Ananias is a common name in Jerusalem, particularly in the First Century. His name means, “The Lord is gracious,” which is kind of ironic, the Lord is gracious and the wife’s name, Sapphira, is found only one time in the entire New Testament and it means “beautiful.” So he was gracious and she was beautiful.
Now this couple gets together and says, hey, listen, lets sell our field. We want to give it to the mission of God. And so they sell the field. They take their possessions, the proceeds, and they give them to the apostles, but they decide to keep back a portion for themselves, maybe a nest egg, a 401(K) if you will, just in case something happens for the future.
Now don’t miss this. The couple was under no compulsion to give. They were not under obligation to give. They gave simply because they wanted to give. They gave because they had a desire to give. However, they gave with a lie. You see, instead of being forthright about how much they gave, they said they gave it all but they kept back a portion for themselves. And I believe the reason that they did give, and it is going to reveal the motivation of their heart…the reason they gave was based on what just happened in Acts Chapter 4 by a man named Barnabas, who we know well.
Go to Acts Chapter 4. I want to show you contextually what just happened, just to kind of give you a picture of what goes on in this text. Acts Chapter 4 Verse 32. When you are there, say “word.”
“Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own.” Here is the key. “But they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet , and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”
Now, if you take that in context, we see a stark contrast between the two gifts. Barnabas probably gave discreetly and even though his land did not reside in Jerusalem, he sold the land in order to give the proceeds to the apostles for the multiplication of the ministry. And I think Ananias and Sapphira saw this and thought, we need to give something as well and they didn’t give everything they owned. The text says, they held back a portion. It is a stark contrast with Barnabas.
Now Barnabas was an interesting man. His name was Joseph, but he earned the nickname “Barnabas” which means encourager or son of encourager. How would you like your name to simply be encourager! Can you imagine what it was like to be in the presence of Barnabas? Everywhere he went, he probably brought people up. He edified the church. I love being around people like that, right? Don’t you? Let me try that again. I love being around people that encourage. Don’t you? Amen? We like being around people like that. People that always see the good in everything, people that always build up. That was Barnabas. Barnabas was a man that God used greatly. And I think he was the one who kind of spear-headed this sacrificial, this generous giving among the church.
And we see in the text that they had all things in common. And one of the things interesting about this text is, you see this word “great” repeated throughout it. In fact, you see the word “great” three times explicitly, one time implicitly, just implied in the text.
Let me show you the times you see the word “great” which I think is a picture of the church. Look at Verse 32, although it is implied. They had all things in common. What did they have? They had great unity. Look at Verse 33, they had great power. Then they had Verse 33 great grace. Then we drop down to verse 5 of Chapter 5, there was great fear that came upon the people. Look at Verse 11 of Chapter 5, great fear came upon the people.
And basically I think what is happening here is, there is great harmony among the believers.
So we see this contrast. Barnabas gave secretly, discreetly, in a clandestine way, not to be noticed by anybody. And Ananias and Sapphira want to bask in the glory of other people. They want people to stroke their ego. They want pats on the back. They want people to recognize them. And that is where the problem lies. We have the apostles receiving gifts that are being distributed to other people.
But secondly, we see this couple disrupting the continuity. We see the disciples distributing their belongings but we see a couple disrupting the continuity.
Now we are not told whether or not Ananias and Sapphira are believers, but after studying…listen, let me just say this. I have gone back and forth on this through the years. After studying this text again with fresh eyes, I believe they are believers because the text points to that. And so we have to assume that they are believers here.
And the couple did something good. They did something noteworthy. They sold their land and gave it, in essence, to the church. But as we see in this text, a good deed done with the wrong motives or wrong intentions will receive an improper response. They tried to do something good, but they did it with the wrong motives.
Now, who instigated this? I believe it was Ananias. And the reason I believe it was Ananias…get this…when Peter is talking to him initially and rebuking him, he speaks to Ananias in the singular form, as if he is the one who instigated it. When Sapphira walks in the house, Peter shifts from singular to plural. You guys did this. You guys conspired. You guys contrived to do this bad deed unto the Lord. And so you see this idea that Peter is even linking the two together, following the leadership of Ananias.
It is the same thing that happened in the Garden, remember? Even though Eve was the one who sinned first and then gave her husband the fruit, they both suffered the consequences, right? Even though Ananias as the one who conspired to manipulate the apostles, they both will suffer the consequences in the text.
Look at Verse 9. “Peter said, ‘How is it that you have agreed together,” you see it?…’to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.’”
Now notice what Peter is not doing? Peter is not proclaiming judgment upon them. He is not even threatening them with death. He is simply stating the facts. God is the one who brings judgment. God is the one who brings discipline.
Now everyone at the time was probably selling their possessions. You probably would have to. I would have as well. But they got down to the brass tacks of what they had left and they said, hey, listen, we don’t have any money for the future. I mean, you can’t blame them. We don’t have a nest egg. We don’t have a pension. We don’t have a retirement. If we sell everything and we don’t keep back a portion, we don’t have anything saved up for us. And there is nothing wrong with that. You see, they could have given a portion to the apostles and said, hey, listen, we are just going to keep back…we are going to give $50,000 to the church and we are going to keep back $10,000 for ourselves. Nothing would have been wrong with that. But the fact that they got before the disciples and said, we gave it all! Look at us! That was the problem.
Just a side note, without me being too insensitive here, isn’t it interesting that the money they decided to store up for the future was something they would never have themselves. They had planned for this future day that they would never experience because they died. And the flip side of that is this…God says, listen, if you said it is all Mine to begin with, I am going to get Mine. And God got it all, right? Without being too insensitive, that is in essence what happened. God said, you gave it all to Me and I have it all.
Now, don’t miss what is happening here. This is not a perfect church, by any means. This is not a perfect people as well. I am not painting the New Testament apostles as perfect people who are sinless and free from transgression. What I am saying is, these imperfect people realized who was perfect. And what set the New Testament Church apart from other churches is that not only did they struggle together in sin, but they struggled together. What Ananias and Sapphira are doing here is, they are disrupting that continuity in the early church. And God is using them as an example to kind of set the tone for the future of His church.
There is no perfect church. You guys know that, right? Charles Spurgeon was approached by one of his church members one day who had gotten upset with him. And she said, “You know what, Mr. Spurgeon, I am leaving your church. And I am going to find me a perfect church.” Spurgeon, who was known to be open and blatant at times said, “Ma’am, when you find that perfect church, whatever you do, please don’t join it because you will ruin it.”
Friends, there is no perfect church, right? Because we are imperfect people, right? But we know One who is perfect and that is Jesus. And so we see this deceit in the church which leads secondly, to the discipline of God. Their deceit leads to the discipline of God.
Look at Verse 3. Peter says to Ananias, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal?” What he is saying is, it is all yours. “Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.’”
And what is interesting, Peter here connects the Holy Spirit, who God just poured out on His people, with God. Because he says, you lied to the Spirit and in essence, you lied to God, one and the same. We see a picture of the Trinity. When people say there is no such things as the Trinity, here is one of the proof texts to prove that the Spirit of God is one with the Father, or the Holy Spirit is one with the Father.
You see, the couple lied by keeping back a portion. That phrase, “keeping back,” is used three times in the Bible. Only three times. One time in a different account, two times in this situation and basically it is this idea of putting something aside. And it is always used in a negative connotation. It is always used in a connotation that is never good.
Now the problem is not that they kept something back, the problem is that they lied about what they kept back for themselves. I already said that. They wanted credit for something that they didn’t do. They wanted to bask in the glory of men. They wanted people to pat them on the back. Can you believe this couple? They gave everything they owned to the Lord! They wanted ribbons on their chest. They wanted name tags. They wanted letters behind their names. They wanted people to praise them.
And what we see here in this text, church, don’t miss this…come in real close…one thing God will not put up with are spiritual phonies. God hates people who put up facades. Did you know God hates hypocrites? He hates fakes. That is why Jesus was constantly in confrontation with the Pharisees at every turn of the corner because they were hypocrites, He said. They were saying they were living one way, but their hearts were living a different way.
That is why Judas had a big problem, right? If you want to know how much God hates hypocrites, just look at Judas. He as the master of manipulation and we know what happened to him.
You know, I asked myself this question as I was preparing, just making sure I had the right motives before I spoke to you this week. And even last night before I got up to preach, I said, “Lord, am I a hypocrite? God, are there things in my life that I ask my people to do that I don’t even do myself. God, search my own heart. God, do I pretend to be someone I am not? Do I seek the appraisal of men and not the acceptance of God? You know, I think those are good questions for all of us, right? God does not put up with spiritual phonies. He wants people to be real. He wants people to be honest. He wants people to be open. Now I know what you are thinking. Robby, sometimes the devil makes me do things I don’t want to do.
You hear people say that all the time – the devil made me do that, right? Flip Wilson made that one popular. That is probably not what happens in your life. A lot of people say, the devil tempted me. The devil is not omnipresent. He is not everywhere at the same time. We know that. He can only be one place. He is a created being that is at one place at one time. Now, he has minions and powers and rulers of another world or subject to another world that follow him and carry out his plan. But he is not everywhere at the same time.
However, he is here, I believe at this time. And the reason he is here is, he doesn’t have to go outside of Jerusalem to see the movement of God. It is all centralized pretty much in the same location. And so when Peter says to him, Why have you, listen, in a sense, why has your heart been filled with the devil. He is in essence saying the truth here. He is saying the devil is the one who led you to do something wrong. And what is amazing about the devil is, he is the father of half-truths. He is the master of manipulation. He is a man of misinformation.
And what he does is this…watch what he does…he takes something good, generosity and he twists it in a subtle way in order to create chaos in the church. They did something good. And oh, they kept back a portion and just lied about it. It is not really a big deal. But it actually was a big deal.
You know, when people sin, we see that although they sin and even lead others to sin and even though the devil will lead people to sin, they are still responsible for their sin. Did you know that? That even though Eve was tempted by the devil in the garden, Eve was responsible for her sin, right? And then Adam, who followed his wife, was responsible for his sin, even though they played the blame game right? God said, where are you, Adam? It was the woman you sent me. It was your woman that you sent me. And then God confronts Eve and what does Eve say? It is the Satan, it is the serpent you created in the garden that tempted me! And we do the same thing today, right?
Ananias and Sapphira, the same thing. Even though the devil tempted them, they are still responsible for their actions.
Now when a person sins, one of three things happens in their life. In fact, one of three revelations are shown to the world around them. Now, I want you to write this down because this could be helpful for you.
The first one is for the young believer. The other two are for believers. What happens when a person sins? Here is the first thing. If a person is in consistent persistent sin, and there are no consequences and no judgment from God, it is probably proof that they are an unbeliever. You see, unbelievers can live in consistent persistent sin for a season or even their lifetime without the judgment of God upon them maybe in this world. But we know there is a day coming, Romans Chapter 2 says that the judgment of God is being stored up as wrath against them on that day. That every action and evil deed that they perform is storing up the wrath of God that will come upon them on that day.
So when an unbeliever sins and there are no consequences or a person sins, it is proof possibly that they are an unbeliever. Now we know as Christians, we cannot sin for long. So when a Christian sins, a true Christian, two things will happen to you. Write this down. When a Christian sins, they will experience the discipline of God. A true Christian will experience the discipline of God.
Go with me to Hebrews 12. I want to show you this one. And let me just say this, folks, discipline is a good thing from God. You want the discipline of God when you sin and get out of line.
Hebrews Chapter 12 Verse 5. When you are there, say “word.” “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father doe sot discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sins.”
This is what he is saying here. He is saying, if you are not being disciplined and you are in sin, then you are an illegitimate son, meaning you are an unbeliever. Friends, if you can sin and you have no conviction over sin, it is probably proof positive you are not a believer.
See, listen, when I was a child, my Dad used to discipline me. And I hated it as a child. I am just glad I get to do it to someone else now. But anyway. I hated the discipline of my Dad. But listen to me, now I am grateful for it, right? And what he says is, God is the same way. When God sees you out line, He disciplines you, not to hurt you but to help you, to comfort you and correct you. What father wouldn’t do that? Look at what he says. Verse 9, “Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but alter it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Are there any Biblical examples of this? Many. Moses struck the rock in defiance of God when He told Moses just simply to speak to the rock in Numbers 20. And for striking the rock, what happened to Moses? He lost his opportunity to go into the Promised Land. That was the discipline of God. He died in the desert.
David wanted so bad to build and construct this Temple unto the Lord, but because of his sin with Bathsheba, what happened? He had to pass that on to his son. That was the discipline of God.
Samson, who has this great might and great strength, went against God. He lost his hair, he lost his power and he lost his life because of his sin. That was his discipline. You think of Jonah, hey, go preach to the Ninivites and just tell them to repent. And Jonah was defiant of that. God had to send a whale to take him in for three days to teach him a lesson. That was the discipline of God.
Even Peter, the one we are talking here. Peter was constantly being discipline by Jesus and rebuked by Jesus, get behind me, Satan. Was it for his good? You better believe it.
Friends, God will allow us by our own free will, to live our lives like we want to. However, when He sees us at a place where we will either ruin our testimony or hurt ourselves, He intervenes. And aren’t you glad He does?
He gives us an opportunity to turn from our wicked ways. If we are heading on a path that is leading to destruction, the only thing we have to do immediately is to repent of that and turn back to Him and He receives us back as His own.
But there is another thing that happens to the believer who lives in consistent persistent sin. And this is something many pastors don’t talk about often, but I want to talk about it for just a moment. And that is, there is sin in the life of a Christian that leads to death. There is sin in the life of a Christian that leads to death.
Now I am not talking about a particular sin. I am talking about persistent sin here. John tells us about that in I John Chapter 5 Verse 16. Look at the screen. “if anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life – to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.” He is not talking about one particular sin. He is talking about sin and the totality of a life of sin as a believer. And we all know of Christians who at one time were on fire for Jesus and have gotten side-tracked along the way.
Now, Robby, are there any Biblical examples of this? There are many. Think of I Corinthians Chapter 11. Paul was speaking to the church in Corinth and he said, “Some of you have defamed the Lord Jesus Christ by taking the Lord’s Supper in vain.” Now what does it mean to take the Lord’s Supper in a way that is unholy or unworthy? It puts a new meaning on it. Watch this. When you take the Lord’s Supper as an unbeliever, that is blasphemy against the Lord. This is a family affair here. It is a family dinner if you will. But if you take the Lord’s Supper as a Christian and you have unconfessed sin in your life, it is still equally unworthy. That is why when we pass the elements out every time, I am asking, listen, ask the Lord to forgive you of your sin. You want to be a clean vessel, participating in a holy ceremony or a holy sacrament, if you will.
I Corinthians 11, Paul said, “Some of you have done this in a unworthy manner and some have fallen ill and sick and some have even died.” Died from what? Taking it in an unholy manner.
Ananias and Sapphira is another. Achan in the Old Testament is another. You can think of him. Ananias and Sapphira, this is a couple who did a good dead with wrong motives and they died because of it. But friends, don’t miss this. I want to speak to you seriously for just a moment. If you are a believer…look at me…and you are in sin right now, you are playing a deadly game that will not turn out well for you, my friend.
And I don’t know if it is sexual immorality. I don’t know if it is idolatry. I don’t know if it is anger. I don’t know if it is hatred. I don’t know if it is gossip. I don’t know if it is pornography or cheating or stealing or lying. But I do know this, that you can get out of that if you ask God to forgive you and run to Him. And the beautiful thing about God is, He wipes your sin away as far as the east is to the west, which means He remembers it no more. Would you do that today if you are in sin?
And see, the sin on the surface here looks like lying and stealing, but if you probe a little deeper and you linger a little longer in the text, get this, you will see that the underlying sin here of Ananias and Sapphira is pride. Do you see it? They wanted people to notice them. They wanted to be separated from the body of Christ. They wanted to be superior to everyone else. And that is exactly what Satan wanted himself, right? Lucifer fell from heaven because of pride. They wanted to bask in the glory. They wanted name tags and they wanted pins on the chest. They wanted ribbons on their shirt. They wanted people to notice them. It was pride. You know, pride comes before the fall.
Do you want to know what ruins a successful business man who has it all, normally? It is pride. Do you want to know what destroys a healthy marriage, normally? It is pride. You want to know what ruins an athletic career for a promising high school student or college student? It is pride. Do you want to know what takes out a seasoned pastor or a young preacher with many talents? It is pride. And friends, if we are not careful ourselves, this can happen to us, right? We are all susceptible to this happening to us.
Do you know, write this down, what keeps the enemy at bay more than any other element in your Christian life? Humility. You want to keep Satan at bay, be humble. Humility will keep Satan away in your marriage and your family and your business, in our church. Humility, genuine humility. Why? Because it is a dependence upon Jesus. When you depend upon Jesus, you don’t give the devil a foothold to come into your life.
So let me give you a walking point. Just one. How do we apply this text to our life today? Let me give you one walking point. Here it is. If you are engaged in sin of any kind, repent and run to God for forgiveness. If you are engaged in sin of any kind, repent and run to God for forgiveness.
Now, how do you know if you are engaged in sin? I want you at the end of our time today to ask God to shine a search light upon your heart. You see, the problem with consistent persistent sin sometimes is a blind spot in our life and we can’t see it, which is why in our Life Group last night, we were talking to these young couples that we lead. We lead a nearly married and a newly married Life Group, Kandi and I lead it, and we told these young couples, the greatest gift that God has given you is your spouse because they can see things in your life that you can’t. Does it hurt? You better believe it hurts, but thank God for your spouse. And let me tell you something, men, if your spouse does not have the freedom and liberty to speak truth in your life, you are in trouble. I am just going to tell you. And the flip side, women, if you don’t allow…you have to do it in love, I get that. You have to do it with compassion. I get that. But you better have someone you can love and trust speak truth in your life, amen?
You see, what Ananias and Sapphira show us physically is what happens to a Christian spiritually when they sin. Don’t miss this. They physically died but we don’t physically die when we sin…at least, we are still here and we have all sinned before. We spiritually die though. Do you see it?
So what happens is, when a Christian sins, they separate themselves from God. God is holy. He is righteous and He is just. He, by His nature, cannot come in contact with sin. God is a consuming fire. We would be burned up if He comes in contact with us. And that is why God doesn’t leave us, we leave Him. And so friends, if you are in any kind of sin today, listen to me, would you turn to the Lord and ask Him for forgiveness.
And I don’t know what you are dealing with, whether it is when a Christian lies, it is a big deal. Why is lying a big deal? Because as a Christian, you are acting in a nature that is contrary to your creator. You see, God is not a God who lies. He is not a God of lies at all. Eighty times in the Gospels alone, Jesus uses this phrase over and over again…I tell you the truth. Eighty times. I tell you the truth. I tell you the truth. John Chapter 1, “In Him is grace and He is full of truth and grace.” That is who He is. Jesus said, John 14, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” You see, He is embodied of truth. He embodies truth.
But Satan, on the other hand, is just the opposite. Satan is the father of lies. He is the master of manipulation. And so when we act contrary to the nature of whom we have been created in or who created us, then we are acting different than who we are. And so when we lie, we act like Satan and not Christ.
Friends, when a man divorces his wife, what he is saying to a lost world as the man is the picture of Christ and the wife is a picture of the church, what he is saying is that Jesus abandons His church. That is what you are preaching to a lost world. When the wife wants to divorce the husband, the wife being the church, her husband being a picture of Christ, when she leaves her husband, she is saying, Jesus isn’t good enough for me. He doesn’t satisfy me. Do you see it?
When a man or a woman engages in pornography, what you are doing is committing the sin of idolatry. It is not a carved image. No, it is visual image. And what happens is, you take that visual image or that computer screen or that printed page, watch this, and you worship that image as a god. You bow down to that image because that image satisfies you in a way that only God can. Do you see it?
So, Pastor, how do I know if the sin I am in now leads to death? That is a good question, right? And we all have sin. Listen, if you don’t say you have sin, you are lying right now. You will have to repent of that. But anyway, we all have sin, right? How do I know if the sin I am in leads to death? Listen to me closely…I don’t know, but I don’t want to find out. Friends, I would rather err on the side of holiness than straddle the fence of transgression. Let me say that one again. I want you to get that. I would rather err on the side of holiness than straddle and walk the fence of transgression.
Now Jesus has promised something that is haunting. I have to admit to you, it is haunting. That one day, He will bring every secret thing to light. You have read that. Luke Chapter 12, Luke Chapter 8.
This week as we were preparing this message, it really has been a weight on me, if you can imagine. I am telling the Lord, Lord, can I just have a positive message one week? Can I just have a feel good message one week? And then He reminded me, you are preaching My Word! IN order to appreciate how good things are, you have to know the reality of how bad things are, right? But anyway, that is God and I. We have those discussions.
But anyway, so wrestling this week with our staff and I said, I think I am going to use an illustration about the Ashley Madison scandal. I think I am going to use that illustration. So some of our senior staff said, we don’t even know what you are talking about. And so we had to explain it. And we started to do a little research. You have to be careful because you don’t want to research too much if you are not involved because you will see in a moment that it could get kind of hairy. But Ashley Madison, for those who don’t know this scandal, it is an online dating service that was in existence for many years and basically it is a dating service for married people. And the model of this site is this, Life is short, have an affair. The website had been so successful that Forbes Magazine said that in 2013, they took in 78 million dollars. You see, what happens is, you go online, you enter your email address, you create a profile and you put your credit card on file and you pay to be set up with other married people, basically is how it works.
In 2014, the company sales went from $78 million in 2013 to $115 million. Business owners, think about that kind of profit increase. Gross profits there.
There was a cyber hacking community that got sick of this because they realized that this was immoral. This was unethical and it wasn’t right. And I don’t know if they are Christians or not, but they responded in a way that shows us that they could have Judeo-Christian ethics. And they hacked the site and they took the names of every person that had an account and they posted them on the internet for everyone to see in the world to the tune of 37 million names! It is estimated that one in eight American men have an account. One in eight American men have an account!
Ed Stetzer, President of Lifeway Research, said this this past week in an article, he believes that over the next couple of weeks, we will see 400 pastors and leaders resign.
You can imagine as we begin to talk about this, I can feel the weight of it now just telling you about it again. It just burdened us so much we had to stop…you can ask our lead team…we just stopped and began to pray, pray for this gross immorality that is happening in our country, this rampant immoral lifestyle that people are engaging in. And we just prayed for the families that were involved.
And then we were reminded of Luke Chapter 12, Jesus promised this would happen one day. Notice what Jesus says. “Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed or hidden that will not be known. Therefore, whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light and whatever you have whispered in a private room shall be proclaimed on the housetops.” And I think what Jesus is saying is this, what man hides in the darkness, God will bring to the light.
Friends, listen to me, are you sitting in church today putting on a spiritual façade of being a Christian and deep in your heart, you are far from God? Are you sitting in church today and there is rampant immorality in your life behind closed doors…listen to me…are you sitting in church today and you are paying games with sin with God thinking that you are going to get away with it? I want to speak to you pastorally and I want to plead with you as your pastor, listen to me, if that is you, would you stop playing games with sin? Would you run to the Lord Jesus Christ and ask Him to redeem you and forgive you of immorality?
Friends, you don’t want to wait until it is too late. Believe me, the last thing you want to do is stand before the Lord because He took you prematurely because you continued to run His name through the mud and you ruined your testimony. Don’t pretend you don’t have a problem today. Ask God for forgiveness and He will forgive you. And the only person that can change your heart is Jesus. This is not a behavior modification thing that you can change. This is not an alteration of your actions here. You can’t just say I am going to change myself. You have a heart problem. We all have a heart problem. And the only one that can change your heart is the One who created your heart. It is Jesus. And so I am just begging you today, if you are waiting in immorality and living in sin, would you just cry out to the Lord right now, Jesus, change my heart, O Lord. Renew in me a right spirit. Return to me the joy of my salvation.
Do you know what is cool about God? He will do that. He will do that for you.