Another popular evangelical leader has fallen. Admitting his marital infidelity and his wife’s affair, he resigned from the pastoral position of a high-profile Florida church and his own complimentary ministry. Last week it was announced that he and his wife are divorcing, the marriage apparently beyond repair.[featured-image single_newwindow=”false”]
In reading about these sad events, I fight two unworthy reactions that surface within me. I want to say, “I told you so” to people who follow this kind of leader because he speaks well, looks good, is popular, knows the Bible, and looks “successful.” I also want to become a sceptic who criticizes any leader of a large church who gathers a following through his teaching, writing, and charisma. I need to battle these two urges which I am struggling to do.
What are more worthy and profitable responses? I think there are two that go deeper into each of our souls.
- It is good to be sad. It breaks your heart to see the damage that the flesh and Satan can do to a person. Yes. Every human being is broken and weak. It is sad that we are so proud and so vulnerable at the same time. Be saddened by the damage done to people’s view of Christianity as a result of public sin. Don’t condemn. Weep for the sin and brokenness surrounding you.
- It is good to be scared. You can fall! I’ve always thought that if I were to morally fall in sin, it would be over a sexual issue. If it can happen to this Florida pastor, it can definitely happen to me and you, too. Though I often live in ignorant bliss, I do know there are sinful passions that lurk deep within me. I know something about the weakness of my own will. I know how my pride blinds me to the truth about myself. I know about the godless, sensual culture that wants to destroy me. I am frightened about myself. I don’t trust me. Do you relate to my struggle? Do you share similar concerns about yourself? It is good to recognize how weak we really are.
At this point, I’m supposed to offer bits of wisdom to help you become affair proof. Here’s where I provide you with methods that would keep your marriage strong and alive so Satan can’t make inroads. Or, a trick or two to keep yourself pure and morally clean. Maybe someday I can do that. But for now, I can only say this:
- Don’t fool yourself. You’re in trouble already! If you think you can live in this culture and not be affected by it, you’re in deep do-do. You are not strong enough to ward off the power of your own flesh nor that of the evil one. Do you live as if you yourself have the power to fight? Do you see yourself as knowledgable, wise, experienced, and careful enough? If so, you’re foolish. Instead, do whatever it takes to guard your heart in God. Pretty little white-picket-fence programs won’t do it. Catchy little cliches or thought games are not enough. You can’t win this battle by living in your head. The Florida pastor thought he could – with right theology and enough Bible knowledge. But, your heart must change for out of it come the issues of life.
- Don’t underestimate the Trinity. “Come to Me,” Jesus says. But you run to books, psychologists, friends, recreation, or substances to deal with your inner darkness. There’s a place for some of these. Yet, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…and those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Galatians 5.22-24). But you and I hardly give Jesus Christ and the Spirit the time of day. The very One-in-Three who can work in you and me giving us the energy we need to battle our flesh and Satan, we ignore. Healing of your soul happens as you intentionally walk a transformational journey with the Father, Son, and Spirit. You become like the One’s you “hang around with.” Let the Trinity do their energizing and healing work in you.
So here’ s a take-away for you: You need to get single-mindedly relentless about changing your heart. If you don’t, the results may be disastrous.
Write down one area of your life where you know you’re vulnerable to the flesh and Satan. Seriously pray and ask God to help you change your heart. Then, start doing battle in this arena. With your cooperation, God will help you struggle. Stay tuned to future blog messages for help.