Last week another pastor of a mega church resigned for reasons of sexual misconduct. In times past, news like this grieved my heart primarily because of the negative affect it would have on the body of Christ. On this occasion, the fall had even greater emotional and relational implications as it was a pastor whose ministry had led two of my siblings to Christ and had a profound impact on my own coming to faith. After some reflection, here are a few lessons God is teaching me through this situation.
You don’t hear many messages on the fear of God anymore. Teachings on the love of God probably outnumber teachings on the fear of God by a good 100 to 1. Yet the fear of the Lord is still relevant today. Fearing God is still the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10) The fear of the Lord still works to keep us from sin. When mentioning the need for the fear of God to a fellow brother in Christ, he jokingly said, “So we need to go back to the Old Testament.” Truth be told, the fear of God was present and relevant in the New Testament and early church, just ask Ananias and Sapphira. (Acts 5:1-11). It is still relevant today. “Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.” (2 Corinthians 7:1)
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The man of God who fell is someone who was strong in God’s Word and has a great anointing on his life for teaching and evangelism. In Proverbs 7:26, speaking of the immoral woman it says, “And all who were slain by her were strong men.” This man was strong, not weak, and yet he, like all of us, was vulnerable to sin. “No temptation has seized you accept what is common to man.” (1 Corinthians 10:13a) No matter how spiritual or mature we become, we are all still vulnerable to sin. We can all be tempted, enticed and dragged away by our evil desires. (James 1:14) “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!” (1 Corinthians 10:12)
Accountability is our Friend
In discussing this topic with a close friend in the Lord, I told him, “At any point in our friendship, from now until the end, you can always ask me how I’m doing in the area of sexual purity.” My friend took me up on the offer and agreed to give me the same access to his own life. It isn’t easy to make ourselves open and accountable to other people. Something in our flesh and pride wants to feel as if we can handle life by ourselves. Isolation is dangerous. When we isolate ourselves from sincere and heart level accountability, we actually become more susceptible to do evil or simply take the low road. “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; He rages against all wise judgment.” (Proverbs 18:1)
Praying for Grace and Mercy
Lastly, it is important to always pray for grace and mercy for those who fall into sin. This pastor was a man who led many people into an understanding of the grace of God that saves, forgives and redeems. So in like fashion, I pray for God’s great mercy and grace to cover his sins and redeem his life. It is no time for judgment. No time for personal criticism. No time for gossip. Instead, it is a time to humble ourselves, repent of our own sins and pray for everyone involved to receive God’s grace. And while you're praying, don't forget to lift up your own pastor and leaders.
“Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:2)