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Why Adulterous Pastors Should Not Be Restored

By Wayne Reynolds, Pastor of Independence Baptist Church

"This message was preached at Independence Baptist Church, August 20, 1995, Sunday evening."


I. The forgiveness approach.

A. Some believe forgiveness completely wipes away the sin of adultery.

1. They think this:

a. They were previously qualified for the ministry.

b. He sinned, then confessed and asked forgiveness.

c. God forgave him, therefore we must also forgive him.

d. Forgiveness involves a complete restoration to the former status.

2. Of the four points above, only the first three are correct.

a. To say that a person is previously qualified for the ministry is looking into the past, and does not speak of the present, or the future.

b. Whenever a person sins, they ought to ask God, and the humans they offended to forgive them.

c. God always forgives sinners when they ask, and we ought to forgive sinners, even if they sin against us 70 times 7, Matt. 18:21,22. Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? 22 Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.

d. This is the point that is misunderstood: Forgiveness does not involve a complete restoration to the former status.

B. There is a difference between forgiveness and trust.

1. We are the ones that grant forgiveness - they are the ones that earn trust.

a. Forgiveness is granted - trust is earned.

b. The fallen minister should be forgiven, and taken back into the church with full fellowship and privileges.

1) Because he has lost the trust of the congregation, this trust will have to be gained before he can be a pastor again.

2) Of course, an adulterous pastor should not be restored again to pastoring, but there are many opportunities for ministering other than pastoring.

3) He cannot gain the trust of the congregation if he is not in the congregation.

4) Therefore moving away to another area or another church is not the answer.

c. If we applied Matt. 18:22 to forgiveness and restoration, there would be no ministerial requirements of morality at all.

1) Matt. 18:22 is not talking about the sin of ministerial adultery, but about trespasses.

2) There is a difference between a sin and a trespass.

a) A person sins against God, and adultery is a sin against God - Ps. 51:4.

b) A trespass is between people and may involve a sin against God.

c) A very short study of these two words will easily reveal this distinction.

C. Heb. 13:4 - Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled, but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

1. Does forgiveness stop the judgment of God against whoremongers and adulterers?

a. Forgiveness halts the spiritual judgment of God against sin, but does not stop the physical consequences of that sin.

1) Adam and his wife sinned in the Garden of Eden, casting the entire human race into total depravity. Adam and his wife were saved in the Garden of Eden, having received forgiveness of sins, and a physical covering for their nakedness. Forgiveness did not stop the penalty of sin from being played out in their lives. They are both dead as a result of their rebellion against God. Even after they were forgiven (saved) the physical consequences of sin (death) is still applicable.

2) Peter cursed Jesus Christ, but was forgiven of his cursing. He went on to become a great leader of Christianity. His sin of cursing follows him, just like our sins follow us.

3) A man is lost and kills his friend in a drunken rage. He is saved after the murder, but his salvation does not stop the courts from prosecuting him, even pronouncing the death penalty against him.

4) An unmarried woman get pregnant. She asks God to forgive her of fornication, and He does. This does not stop the pregnancy. She will deliver the child of her sin.

5) A person commits adultery, and is deeply convicted of his sin. He asks God to forgive him and He does. This doesn't wipe out the memory of sin for anybody, nor does it stop the penalty he will have to pay because of that sin.

6) A preacher commits adultery, and is deeply convicted of his sin. He asks God to forgive him and He does. This doesn't wipe out the memory of sin, nor does it stop any penalty he will have to pay because of that sin.

7) In all of the above circumstances God has forgiven the sin, but the status of the sinner is not the same as it was before they sinned.

8) The minister who commits adultery can and is forgiven of God when they ask. This forgiveness, however, does not allow the sinner to return to the status they were in before they sinned.

9) There is such a thing as a pastor having a good report of them which are without, I Timothy 3:7.

2. Sin, even forgiven sin, is remembered as long as there are humans on the earth. The memory of sin will not be removed until time ends and we all enter eternity.

a. I Cor. 6:9-11 - 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, 10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God . 11 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. Some of the Corinthians had been fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners.

1) They were no longer sinners of this magnitude, but their past followed them.

2) They were forgiven, but their past was remembered.

3) It is mentioned in the verses before us!

4) Even so with the adulterous pastor – after he is forgiven, the sin is still remembered by everybody.

b. Heb. 11:31 - Rahab the harlot was saved from destruction when Jericho was destroyed because she had faith in God. By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

1) I believe Rahab stopped being a harlot a long time before the Jews got to Jericho .

2) Her past followed her even though God forgave her.

3) She was accepted into the Jewish nation, married Salmon (Matt. 1:5), who was the father of Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David.

4) Please notice Hebrews 11:31 mentions that Rahab was a harlot, even after she was forgiven and accepted into the Jewish nation.

c. II Sam. 11:4 - David committed adultery with Bathsheba, and God forgave his sin, when he asked. Ps. 51:2,3. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

1) David continued to have trouble in his family because of this terrible sin against God.

a) II Samuel 12:14 states, Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die.

b) Even after David was forgiven of adultery, there were physical consequences to be paid.

c) The physical consequences of the child having to die was not necessarily punishment for David, but justification for God.

d) David’s actions has caused God to be blasphemed in the eyes of the world, therefore God will remove the reason for blasphemy.

e) Remember the story of Tamar, whom Amnon raped, then Absalom killed Ammon.

f) Remember how Absalom finally got to come back home after fleeing from David after he killed Amnon.

g) Remember how wars continued in David's kingdom because of his sin with Bathsheba.

2) God would not allow David to build the temple because he was a bloody man.

a) I Chronicles 22:8 - David had fought many just wars for Israel . But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight.

b) The fact that the wars were just and that God was with David in those wars, didn't remove the fact that he had shed much blood.

II. There is a misunderstanding about the depth of the sin of adultery.

A. Some believe thinking about adultery is as bad as committing adultery.

1. Matt. 5:27,28 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

a. Jesus is not saying that lusting is the same as acting on that lust.

b. He is saying that the force that causes lust is the same force that causes the sinful act, just on a smaller scale. (Lusting in the heart is what causes adultery in the flesh.)

c. The result of emotions that begin with lust; end with adultery.

1) Matt. 5:21-22 - Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.

2) The end result of emotions that begin with anger end with murder.

d. The actions of people is the result of emotions.

1) Matt. 15:18-20 - But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19 For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20 These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

2) Washing with unwashed hands does not defile a person but what comes out of the heart of man defiles him.

e. Note the following difference between lust and the act.

1) In lust, the only person involved is the one lusting.

2) The person being lusted after is not injured in any way.

3) In action, there are at least two people involved.

4) Both are injured in the same extent.

5) In adultery, there are at least three people involved: the couple committing adultery, and the husband or wife of the adulterous partner.

2. The depth of the injury is to the spirit of man.

a. I Cor. 6:18-20 - Sexual sins violate communication between the Holy Spirit and the person. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. 19 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? 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.

b. The person is not using their body as the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in them. Therefore they are at least quenching the Holy Spirit.

c. When a person is saved, they receive the Holy Spirit into their bodies, and their bodies become the temple of the living God.

d. The Holy Spirit is a part of the trinity, therefore God Himself is present with each believer.

e. Sexual sins involve making God a part of that wickedness.

f. Proverbs 6:23 -35 – For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; and reproofs of instruction are the way of life: 24 To keep thee from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a strange woman. 25 Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids. 26 For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life. 27 Can a man take fire in his bosom, and his clothes not be burned? 28 Can one go upon hot coals, and his feet not be burned? 29 So he that goeth in to his neighbour’s wife; whosoever toucheth her shall not be innocent. 30 Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; 31 But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house. 32 But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. 33 A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. 34 For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. 35 He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.

B. The marriage vow is violated.

1. In marriage, a male and female are made one: in spirit, soul, and body; while retaining their individual personalities and status. This is very similar to the Godhead which involves three complete parts, yet are all combined into one God. The marriage ceremony involves the public, voluntary giving of ones body, soul (feelings) and spirit (life) to another.

a. The sexual relationship is unique of all relationships in that it involves not only the body, but also the soul (feelings) and the spirit (life).

b. Proverbs 6:26 - For by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread: and the adulteress will hunt for the precious life.

1) The adulterous woman is looking for the precious life (spirit).

2) She wants more than the man's body and his feelings for her.

3) She wants his complete dedication to her.

4) The problem is that complete dedication cannot be given outside marriage vows before God.

2. The minister hasn't been faithful to earthly things, how can he be faithful to heavenly things?

a. He has broken his vow to his wife, whom he can see. How can anybody expect him to keep his vow to God, whom he hasn't seen?

1) John 3:12 - If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things? Jesus told Nicodemus that He had told him earthly things, and he believeth not, how shall he believe if He tell him of heavenly things?

2) I John 4:20 - 20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? How can a man say he hates his neighbor, whom he has seen, and loves God, whom he hasn't seen? It is impossible. We show our love for God by loving our neighbors.

b. I Tim. 3:4-5 - If a man doesn't know how to take care of his own house, how shall he take care of the house of God? One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God ?)

3. When adultery takes place, the marriage vow (which is made before God and man) is broken.

a. Adultery has a destructive force upon the body, soul (feelings) and spirit (life) of the one committing adultery.

b. The spiritual consequences of adultery.

1) When a person is saved, they are redeemed from the evil forces of this world.

2) They are baptized, which is a picture of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ.

3) Baptism (of the body) is more than just ducking the body in water.

a) Baptism is a symbol that the person is dead to sins, no longer living in the former ways of sin.

b) The body is put under the water, this act shows the body, soul (feelings) and spirit (life) is given to God.

4) In adultery, the body is used to show that the soul (feelings) and the spirit (life) is given to another.

4. The position of minister is supposed to be an example to the believers.

a. I Tim. 4:12 - A minister is to be an example of purity, which means sinlessness of life. If he has committed adultery, he cannot be an example of purity or sinlessness of life. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

b. I Peter 2:21,22 - For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Christ is our example, and he did no sin. Therefore the person who commits adultery, whether a minister or not, is not a Christian. He may be saved, but he isn't an example to the believers, he isn't a Christian, (a follower of Christ - Christ like).

III. The blameless approach.

A. I Tim. 3:2 - A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Titus 1:6,7 - If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;

1. Blameless of I Tim. 3:2 means "that cannot be called into account, unreprovable, unaccused."

2. Blameless of Titus 1:6,7 means "not apprehended, that cannot be laid hold of, not open to censure, irreproachable."

B. Daniel 6:4,5 - Daniel's enemies couldn't find anything reproachable, or anything they could use to lay hold of him, except in the matter of his worshipping God. Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; forasmuch as he was faithful, neither was there any error or fault found in him. 5 Then said these men, We shall not find any occasion against this Daniel, except we find it against him concerning the law of his God.

1. I Tim. 3:7 - Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

a. Who are the ones "without"?

b. The context seems to indicate "without" is speaking about those that are not members of the local church.

c. Therefore, the minister should have a good report in the community, with no bad stories following him around.

2. Matt. 5:16 - Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

a. The lost must see our good works in order to see the glory of God.

b. If our personal lives are a reproach to good works, how can lost people see the glory of God in us?

C. Does moving to another location make a pastor blameless?

1. It is not just public knowledge that makes a pastor blameless, it is God knowledge.

2. What a pastor is, he is.

a. If a person (or pastor) acts a certain way in a certain place, he will act that same way in another place.

b. A persons’ likes and dislikes do not change just because he moves from one place to another.

IV. Does it help to move?

A. Everywhere I go, there I am.

1. When a fallen preacher moves without working out his difficulties, he retains his difficulties.

a. He is apt to fall in the new place, just like he fell in the older place.

b. He is actually more likely to fall in the new place because he will believe he can get away with it this time. (practice makes perfect!)

2. A fellow pastor had marriage problems and his wife left him. He quit pastoring, but stayed in the area. He did quit church for a while, but has since returned to church, and now holds the position of "assistant to the assistant pastor" in the church. He is not qualified to pastor, but holds a position of honor in the church because he wasn't at fault. I believe God will bless this situation.

3. When a pastor commits adultery, he is better off staying in the area, not pastoring. Everybody will know what has happened, and they will be more able to get over it, and the fallen pastor will also be more able to get over it. He will be forced to face the truth, and the result of his actions. If he is truly repentant, it will be seen in his everyday actions and he will be a great warning to others who are tempted.

4. People in the community will remember the man pastured before he committed adultery, therefore they will be more careful because they know there are things a Christian should not do.

B. There are many unsuspecting people in the new place.

1. The people in his new church (where he is pastoring) won't know what he has done, and they will be "easy pickings".

2. The fallen pastor has learned how to get away with his sin longer, but the unsuspecting members of the new church haven't learned that yet.

3. Many souls may be permanently destroyed, or injured through his unscriptural, immoral actions.

4. The end result is that people will be less likely to trust pastors, because they won’t know what they are covering up by moving from place to place.

C. The fallen pastor won't be near as likely to learn from his mistake if he moves to another community.

1. He will be more likely to excuse his sin, instead of accusing himself of his sin.

2. He might blame his wife, or the "terrible" situation in the church, or general sinful conditions.

3. He might never come to the place of realizing he has sinned against God, not just "fallen" into sin.

Preached August 20, 1995, Independence Baptist Church, Sunday Evening by Wayne Reynolds, Pastor

(August 7, 2003)  This is addendum to the above message:

Jeremiah 23:14-16 states, “I have seen also in the prophets of Jerusalem an horrible thing: they commit adultery, and walk in lies: they strengthen also the hands of evildoers, that none doth return from his wickedness: they are all of them unto me as Sodom, and the inhabitants thereof as Gomorrah. 15 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts concerning the prophets; Behold, I will feed them with wormwood, and make them drink the water of gall: for from the prophets of Jerusalem is profaneness gone forth into all the land. 16 Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD.”

The prophet in these verses refers to those that speak; they are the spokesmen, or speakers, especially referring to the spiritual leaders of the people.  This is a very interesting passage, as it speaks of the prophets that commit adultery, and then walk in lies.  Walking in lies refers to the way they live.  Verse 14 indicates they so live to cause evildoers to remain in their wickedness.  This is exactly what we see today, even among our Baptist brothers.  These adulterers have not stepped down from their position, nor do they encourage others, who have disqualified themselves, from stepping down.  Therefore wickedness continues, and grows.  God states they are the same as Sodom and Gomorrah, whose inhabitants were filled with homosexuality, which is an abomination to God.  Just as surely as God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, he will destroy those that walk after them.  Notice the difference in how men see sins and how God sees the same sins! 

Verse 15 states the end of the judgment of God upon these false prophets.  How terrible this judgment is!  Adulterers, who are prophets (spokesmen of God), who do not repent, who by their un-repentance encourage others to remain unrepentant, will face wormwood and gall, judgments of God reserved for terrible sinners and pagans who have convinced themselves of their personal righteousness, but are abomination to God Almighty!  Why do they face such terrible judgments from God?  Verse 15 continues by stating that through their continual wickedness and “thumbing their noses” at God, profaneness (which is pollution, hypocrisy and godlessness) has gone forth into all the land.  This is exactly what has happened in this United States of America!  Look at all the Baptist churches that do not stand for morals at all.  Look at the qualifications of pastors in I Timothy 3:1-7.  These are all moral qualifications.  Today, go to any Baptist ordination, and you will find most of the questions are about doctrine, not morals.  Are doctrines important?  Of course, but if the pastor has no morals, his doctrine will fall on deaf ears, because his doctrine will be his own.  Let every pastor realize he is responsible to God alone.  The morals of the pastor will soon become the morals of the people he pastors, just exactly like the doctrines of the pastor will soon become the doctrines of the people he pastors.

Verse 16 continues by stating that the people who want to serve God will not listen to the adulterous pastor.  This is God’s command, not God’s suggestion.  This command must be obeyed, or the spiritual well being of the listeners will be just like the speaker.  Those that listen to the words of the adulterous pastor will hear words he has produced from his own depraved heart.  The listeners will become vain (empty).  This is a very terrible thing.