Grief, Shame, And Taking The LORD's Name In Vain

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The recent hack into the adultery website Ashley Madison, and subsequent release to the internet the information of millions of users, turned up some interesting names. None of these names was more attention grabbing than Josh Duggar of 19 Kids and Counting fame. The revelation almost instantly became headline news nationwide. Following this exposure Josh admitted the scandal to the astonishment of those closest to him. In commenting on this I do not wish to add any more distress to a family still recovering from the indignity of the publication of a police report detailing Josh’s sins as a teenager. Though I have never gotten to know Josh very well, I have great respect for his sorrowing parents and immense sympathy for his dear wife Anna and their four children. I myself have been mourning over the irreparable damage that has been done to many by this whole circumstance, yet the reason I feel obliged to make these remarks is an overwhelming desire to vindicate the name of God.

Jesus instructs us in the first petition of the prayer he taught us to pray, that we might hallow the name of God. Of all the things that he told us to pray about, consecrating the name of God is at the top of his list. God is holy and he cares how his name is handled. In the third of the Ten Commandments, God through his prophet Moses charges us, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7. You see, God in his condescension, has allowed his people to represent his name before a watching world, and it matters to him how we exemplify his great name. When ancient Israel’s King David committed adultery with another man’s wife and murdered her husband by proxy, the prophet Nathan declared, “By this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme…” 2 Samuel 12:14. The same is true when those who call themselves Christians rob God of his glory by living a scandalous life. The world takes its cue from us, and blaspheme they do.

It is not shocking that men and women lie, cheat, steal, hate, fornicate, and commit any and all other sins. It happens every second of every minute of every hour of every day. It doesn’t surprise me that thirty nine million people are members of the Ashley Madison adultery website, nor do I think it surprises you. What is troubling is that many who take the name of Christ are among its members. It doesn’t trouble me because I think Christians aren’t capable of doing the worst of things, but that we profess that we are no longer the slaves of sin, but servants to God. By professing that we love God with our mouth, yet secretly serving sin, we are found to be hypocrites.

You see, living the Christian life is not just external subscription to Christian doctrine and ethics, but at its core, it is that a person has been internally transformed by the power of the resurrected Christ. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. This is a declaration of a new principle of life that God creates in the person who believes in Jesus that transforms them from the inside out. Anyone can subscribe to an external system of doctrine and ethics, but only true believers are renovated from the inside. Yet this renovation is just beginning in this life and will only be complete when we see Christ himself. “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2.

Yes, true Christians can fall into grievous sins, but one of the evidences of a true Christian is that they bring forth good fruit. Jesus said, “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.” Matthew 7:17. It is not congruous that a Christian lives a wicked lifestyle. In fact, the apostle Paul warns, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. The apostle in no uncertain terms tells us that we are fooling ourselves if we think that we can have a lifestyle of disregard for God’s holy commandments and still maintain hope of eternal life. The good news he states in the next verse is that God is in the business of saving such sinners. “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11.

It distresses me to say that Josh Duggar’s greatest sin is a byproduct of the sum total of his secretly sinful lifestyle. That is, that by his hypocrisy, he blasphemed the name of God. He claimed to be a Christian, but by his deeds he has suggested otherwise. With the name of God on his lips he lived a covert and extensive lifestyle of evil. While proudly saying things like, “Our family is like the epitome of conservative values”, he was looking at porn and soliciting affairs. He took a job at the Family Research Council that exists to promote the traditional family, all the while undermining his own family by violating his marriage covenant. He flourished in the fame of his family and the success of their television show, all the while betraying their trust and Christian values. The thing that is so hurtful is that he was a loud voice endorsing Christian ethics and he has been shown to be a fraud. I am profoundly grieved that he attained such a platform only to bring shame on God’s holy name and the Christian faith. After hearing of Josh’s scandal when he was a teenager, I publicly stated that Josh appeared to be a changed man, was walking above reproach, and living out the faith that he professed. I stood in solidarity, encouraging him to use the scandal to build humility and grace. Sadly, he had deceived us all. The name of God has been blasphemed and God is jealous for his name.

To the person reading this, I want to caution you. Josh was a pretender. True Christians fail often, but their lives are truly being conformed to the image of Christ. Do not look at Josh and justify your own sins by dismissing the reality of genuine faith and a holy God. When you stand before God, you will not be compared to hypocritical Christians. You will be judged by God’s holy law. When you are found guilty, you will not get to say, “But what about Josh? I’m better than he is”. God’s wrath will burn against you because of your own sins.

In Josh’s case, as well as yours and mine, there is only one place forgiveness can be found, and thank God, it is in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The crucifixion of Jesus was not just a historical fact, but it is the means whereby any sinner can be saved. God carried out the punishment for the guilty on the Innocent One, so that if we put our trust in his saving work we will be absolved of our guilt and made the children of God. As wicked as Josh has been, and any other sinner, forgiveness can still be obtained. The consequences of Josh’s sins will be with him the rest of his life, but by true repentance and faith in Christ, he may have eternal life. We may all have hope because Jesus said, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32.

 

 

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