Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sin in Ministry

This whole Eliot Spitzer thing and 5000 dollar hookers has caused me to think about how God sees this.
I know that Spitzer is suffering from the reality of God's word that "whatsoever measure you use to judge others, the same measure will be used on you pressed down, shaken together and running over".  I'll bet you thought that verse was about money.  Not so much.
Look it up.
And there is the compensation thing.  Spitzer was hard on organized crime and corruption.  Over the top hard. 
Over compensation.
I remember the months before Jimmy Swaggart was exposed, he preached against pornography and prostitution huge.  Sweat blood.  And then it all came out.  You didn't hear much about that any more.  Over compensation.
Whenever I hear a politician or preacher come down hard on some issue or another and hammer it without relenting I suspect something is up.  Something is fishy.  What's behind that I wonder aloud. 
I know that if I am weak in faith I will preach about faith more intensely.  It's overcompensation.
I mention that because I had the opportunity to sit with a couple of dear pastor friends of mine a few days ago.  The topic was internet pornography and how pastors that are addicted to it feel unqualified to be ministers of God. 
Let me be clear, internet pornography is insidious.  It destroys relationships and ministry.  It is sin.  Pure and simple. 
I am also a veteran of this issue.  I have seen it's effect over and over again in the lives of great mighty men of God. 
Here is what I shared with my fellow pastor friends and want to share with you.  The real crime in internet pornography is the capacity of the Devil, the father of lies, the accuser of the brethren, the one who questions everyone's qualifications (He even questioned Jesus'.  If you ARE the son of God turn these stones into bread.  IF??)  There is no IF.  The devil knew full well who Jesus is.  He was casting doubt.
One thing that is certain, the Devil is no different today than he was thousands of years ago. He has no new tricks up his sleeve.
If porn addiction disqualified anyone in ministry, then 80% of the pulpits in America would be empty tomorrow morning.  That's a truth we must come to grips with.  We must also fight against it just like we fight against greed, anger, taking God's name in Vain (which preachers do all the time), Lust, lying, pride and a thousand other sins.
ANY SIN disqualifies you from heaven.  Even one.  Any.  So, the sin of Porn is no worse nor better.  IT IS SIN.
It has the same power to disqualify as Greed, anger, taking God's name in vain, lust, lying, pride and all the others.   The cure for sin is the Cross of Christ, his blood shed for you.  We have to hide ourselves in the blood of Jesus.  We have no hope outside of that.  Yet, we believe that somehow by our own strength we will overcome one form of sin by pure will power and devices. 
No, my friend, there is only one cure for Sin, even porn.  Draw close to him, he will draw close to you.  Find his presence and dwell there.  Seek him with all your heart till it displaces porn in your life.  Become single minded and single vision.  Chase hard after God and serve him with everything in you.
NOT ONE of the sins in my own life was ever overcome by my trying harder.  All of them were overcome by becoming a passionate lover of Jesus.  As I pour myself into ministry driven by love for HIM things just start to fall off. One day my language just changed.  I didn't try harder.  I just stopped. 
That's what I hope for all the sin in my life.  I get closer to him and those things fall off.  I know that in the eternal presence of God in Christ I will carry no sin.
My hope is for that eternal presence to live on this side of the veil. 
So, if you are a pastor, and if you struggle with Sin like I do, you are not disqualified.  You have been lied to.  God has not rewritten your contract since you sinned.  His purposes and giftings for you are without any repentance at all.  I know this because he said so. 
In the world there is no forgiveness.  Accusers reign. 
Even Swaggart, Bakker and others who have fallen as they have pursued the heart of Jesus have become useful in the kingdom once again.
So press on, in spite of your failures, your thorns in the flesh.  Paul in 2 Corinth 11 and 12 fought with this.  I believe it was a sin of pride.  Today it might have been porn.  He confesses in Romans 7 of his failure to stay where he wanted to be.
Yet to the day the Romans took his head off he never bought the lie that he was disqualified.  Neither should you.  You are as qualified as Paul despite your sin. 
Attack.  The enemy wants to render you fruitless and hopeless.  You have hope, it's not in your ability to behave, it's in your ability to believe.  Press on towards the high calling of God and ignore the voice of the accuser.  He's a liar.  If you hear accusations, it's a lie.  If you hear conviction for sin it's true, confess it, repent and press on.  1 John 1:9.  That's the only cure.  The Holy Spirit comes to convict so we repent, it would never be his purpose to render his servants impotent.
You can trust this word.  Test it.  For my Lutheran brethren, This is most certainly true.


Anonymous said...

Jah, Herr Gene, dass ist gewisslich wahr. 'your sin will find you out', either now , or later in eternity's light ... or it will find itself in Christ on the cross for Whose sake repentance and faith will take care of it forever. ... H.A.

Dan McDaniel said...

Philippians 3:13 Brethren, I count not myself as apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

Renaissance Man said...

Obviously all Pastors sin, but are there levels of public sin and disgrace that prevents a repentant Pastor from preaching in the future?

What would you say Paul is afraid of being disqualified from in 1 Cor 9:27?

And what might his body do if he does not keep it under submission that would disqualify either him or his preaching?

Does sinful behavior disqualify us from preaching or is it that having preached we disqualify or disprove our preaching when we sin, maybe they are one in the same?

Is it Paul’s preaching that is disqualified, or is it the role of Paul being a preacher that is disqualified? Or is it that Paul would be disqualified from the gospel?

Here is my best attempt at following the logic in 1 Cor 9

Pauls mission (Race) is to bring the good message (gospel) to as many as possible.

Pauls reward is in being co-partners in the fruits or blessings of the gospel with all those who enter into the gospel.

Pauls method is to make every possible effort to reach people with the gospel and to prevent anything (including many things he has a moral or legal right too), including his own body (behavior) from disproving or disqualifying his message.

So what happens when a Pastor does do something that calls into question the truth or integrity of his message?

Is he disqualified from the role of being a preacher?