How tragic it is when a gifted Christian leader falls into moral failure. They are made public spectacles, with many who carry the shame of their sin to their grave. The path of the devastation of their sin reaches not only to family, friends, and church members, but to thousands of followers who saw them as one who they could trust and look up to as one of God’s chosen leaders. Anger, sadness, disbelief, distrust, and confusion follow. How could someone who spent a lifetime of speaking on God’s behalf and leading people to Jesus rebel against the one who saved him? The consequences for this sin are grave. What can we learn from all of this?
From the beginning of time, God repeatedly told his followers that He would be with them and go before them if they would love and obey Him. Jesus said to his disciples that if they loved him, they would obey him. It seems like that would easy, but history tells us a different story. The Israelites continually struggled with following God’s commands. Many biblical leaders committed moral sins. They experienced severe consequences, but God, through His grace, forgave them…over and over again. Many of these leaders continued to lead when they repented. God’s expectations for all is to love Him and follow His commands for His glory and our peace.
“Be careful to obey all these words that I command you, that it may go well with you and with your children after you forever, when you do what is good and right in the sight of the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 12:18).
Instead of judging fallen leaders, would it not be wise for us to extend grace and forgiveness, as God extends to us. Judgment belongs to God, not us.
“So then each of us will give an account himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
What can we learn from this that will keep us from falling ourselves?
1. Our desire to be held accountable is something that is often lacking in our lives. What would have happened if a corrupt Christian leader had asked for help from someone or a small group of people he could trust? He could share the temptations he is facing, ask for prayer and work on a plan to overcome ungodly desires. If someone does not want to be held accountable, you can be sure that there is an area of their life that they are unwilling to give to God. Ignoring sin issues will eventually lead to the death of your relationship with God, your friends, family, and your witness to others.
James 5:16, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Proverbs 27:17, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. “
Luke 17:3 “Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him,”
2. Wage war against your sin. John Owens said, “If you don’t kill the sin in your life, it will kill you!”. Nothing about this is easy. It is a painful moment by moment battle to overcome temptation, but it is a battle worth fighting.
1 Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide an escape, so that you can stand up under it. No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.”
3. Take total responsibility for it. Don’t deflect your sin on another person, your past, your difficult upbringing, trauma, your sin nature, Satan, or the culture. No excuses allowed. Confess it to God and ask the Holy Spirit in you to give you the power to lead you through the life changes that bring about obedience and peace. Forgive others, most of all yourself. Humble yourself and ask for help from people you trust, and turn from those who are hurting your relationship with God.
“Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10)
As bad as the times are now in the majority of churches, and in our families, there is hope. Jesus has not given up on us. He has a plan for all to bring Him glory by being a light to a fallen world. Jesus says: “Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house. Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”
We cannot shut our doors and hide from the world. God gave us a voice, His word, and he calls us to use it! He commands us to go into all the world and stand strong as we minister to those who are hurting. No excuses accepted. This is God’s call on our lives.
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19,20). Joshua 1: 9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”