Called To War
Thank you for the opportunity to share and for taking time out of your busy life to join us in this discussion. I am honored and humbled. As the old saying goes, “I feel like a lion in a den of Daniels!” So, excuse my growling if it comes through that way today 🙂
Nothing earth shattering today but a reminder and an encouragement. BTW – I personally don’t make iron clad doctrines based upon one Scripture, but only when the truth surfaces many places. If it is a very important concept than most likely the same thing will surface in multiple locations from multiple authors- these Scriptures today include instructions from: Jesus, Paul, Peter, James and John so I feel pretty good about this one.
Scriptures to Consider:
1 Peter 5:8-9 – Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
James 4:7-8 – Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
John 8:44 – You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.
Colossians 2:8 – See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
1 John 3:8 – Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
Ephesians 4:27 -and give no opportunity (place or jurisdiction- think beachhead!) to the devil.
Ephesians 6:11 – Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.
All of these verses have some common points:
A. We have an enemy and he wants to destroy us or these verses are meaningless.
B. Contrary to popular teaching the devil is real, or Jesus spent a great deal of time dealing with fantasy. (In the NT – Devil 31 references, Satan 34, and demons 73 time mentioned)
C.. The devil’s primary weapon is composed of lies, schemes, and deceit.
D. We, as God’s children, have a responsibility to resist and not to yield to our foe, and God has provided us with a defense to help us succeed.
Fathers, pastors and leaders are in a battle that include among other things, fighting personal depression, discouragement with people, pride, arrogance, and sexual temptation. While each of these would be worthy of further study, Eric asked me to address the last one.
Most of us know people and probably pastors that have given (I carefully use this word instead of fallen) into adultery. The destruction has been immense and the pain inflicted relationally is almost incalculable. One does not simply fall into sin by accident, i.e. oops, just walking around minding my own business and now I am in a hotel room with someone other than my wife! But it is a series of willful choices to walk down a path of destruction. Proverbs 7:6-27. Written by a man very familiar with sexual issues experienced both personally and generationally, shouts of process and poor decision making.
The Cost is High: sin will take you further than you want to go & cost you more than you ever imagined.
I served as the executive pastor for 11 years with a gifted pastor of a 3500 member church, and leader of about 50 churches in our group. May 19th, 1993 after praying with his wife in the morning, he ran off to Florida with his book editor and people asked how did this happen? My answer was, he made a series of small, very bad choices. He did not simply get up one day and decided to throw away a lifetime of work. Deception was of course involved, but frontal attacks typically do not work, so subtle, little compromises gradually are allowed and then like the sheep to the slaughter we walk down the path of destruction. It’s the little foxes that spoil the vine. (Songs of Solomon 2:15) Or as I like to say, “we are all one or two bad decisions away from a great deal of trouble.”
If you have been around for long you probably have your own tales of woe. I have dozens but will spare you the gory details. It is sufficient to understand the trail of heartache and destruction that follows in the wake of giving into sexual sin via adultery, porn, or premarital failures. (I have included at the end of these notes a listing from Randy Alcorn’s perspective)
If a leader is involved, then the leader’s reputation is tarnished and his ministry is typically destroyed. His family is often devastated as well either through divorce, children rejecting the Gospel, or at best, a shadow of mistrust hovers for the remainder of his life.
Those that were under the teaching of the leader are shaken to the core. If THIS man fell, what hope do I have? The sheep are often scattered and wander around and I have to think that at least part of the judgment on this action includes seeing the ramifications of it on the innocent. In the case I just mentioned, the church shrunk from 3500 and 50 churches to zero churches and a church that now is about 4-500 and on its third pastor since he left. This pastor, who did come back to town, repented, & remained married. Since he was very well known due to being on TV and the radio, he would have people come to him on the street and cry, curse, and verbally attack him for his failure. Woe to the shepherds that scatter the flock! I spoke with him shortly before his death and he was still weeping and grieving over his moral failure and its fall out.
Another ramification of this type of failure is that the world loses even more respect for the Church at large. This pastor’s actions made the front page of the KC Star. Those that do not know Christ expect us to maintain a higher standard than they do! As Nathan told David after his sexual failure with Bathsheba:
2 Samuel 12:14 – However, because by this deed you have given occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born to you shall surely die.” (NASB)
Our behavior can give the enemies of Christ a reason to blaspheme, God forbid! We who took a stand for Christ have now tarnished His power in the eyes of the world. We do not have to think too hard to remember national leaders failing morally and the fallout from those actions.
The cost of giving into sexual sin is huge, yet those in the Church continue to run into it. Families are destroyed, churches and ministries are reduced to scorn.
Nehemiah 6:13 – For this purpose he was hired, that I should be afraid and act in this way and sin, and so they could give me a bad name in order to taunt me.
The devil laughs. Loves to tempt us, see us fall and give us a bad name, then mock us for it.
Let’s Fight To Win
1. Planning will not guarantee that we will not fail, but failing to plan will not help in any fashion. Being prepared always helps, while attempting to make rational decisions in the heat of the moment may not happen at all! Realize the reality and intensity of the struggle. Do not be ignorant of the schemes of our foe. There is a time to stand and fight and there is a time to flee. This is one of the only sins we are told to run from:
1 Corinthians 6:18 –Flee (to seek safety by flight) from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body
2. Do not be causal about this area for we are living in a battle zone! The Scripture told us to be: sober-minded, be alert, resist, do not be taken captive, don’t give a place for the devil, and put on your armor to stand against the schemes – all of these imply that we can be causal, unaware, lax, compromise, captured, and unprepared.
3. Put on the armor and use the weapons God has provided for us.
A. Take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 more in a moment on this one. I cannot control which birds fly over my head, I can control what I allow to nest in my hair.
B. If our enemies main weapon is lying, we must fight it with truth. Thy Word is truth. We need to fight the lies presented by our foe with the truth engrafted in our hearts and minds. We must be men of the Word filling our minds with truth often!
C. Do not ignore or deny the reality of the struggle in your own life or the life of the men you walk with. Get help and get it now. Sin loves the dark, get it into the light.
D. Starvation is the only long-term effective tool. Quit feeding it. The intensity will lesson as times passes, but not if we keep feeding it.
E. Develop a strategy ahead of time and use it. For me, prayer targets works well. Basically, when confronted with a mental or visual temptation, think of someone that would do great damage to the kingdom of darkness if they were saved and begin to intercede for them every time temptation knocks on your mind. Others use Scripture quoting, singing, whatever, but be ready! Plan ahead, be ready for a counter attack.
4. Be aware of those around you and learn to grow in discernment. If there really is a devil and if he really wants to destroy us and our families, do we not think that there are spies and double agents? Don’t be naive. Listen to the women in your life for their cautions – your wife and daughters can detect sensuality in other women probably better than you. Better to be cautious than foolish. Most normal folks won’t be upset with you taking precautions.
5. Take precautions and avoid even the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). If we allow ourselves to be put in places where accusations can occur, even if innocent, great damage will take place. Billy Graham would not go into a public restroom alone!
Let’s Get Practical
1. Do not put yourself or your family in compromising positions with the opposite sex. The difference between good kids and those in trouble is one thing – parental supervision. Christian’s children still have hormones and they still play doctor. Allowing our wife or daughters to spend time with men will lead to problems and failure. Riding on the back of motorcycles, extensive talking, skits, Planned Rabbit trail musicals, time close proximity warning! be careful.
2. Be careful with touching other women via hand holding or extended frontal hugs. Do you really need to feel her breasts against your chest? What is going on inside her head as your arms are around her or as you are squeezing her hand? We do not want to be a stumbling block.
3. All sin first begins as a thought. Phil 4:8 is an excellent filter for our thought life and entertainment choices – GIGO – old computer talk – garbage in garbage out.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
4. For me, I do not meet alone, ride with, or talk very often alone with women other than my wife and daughters. I never go to a woman’s house alone. Engaging in communication with women opens up the door to fantasy. Many good sisters in the Lord tend to elevate leaders and we are not wise if we help them entertain that illusion. If the talking gets personal involve your wife or hand off the counseling to an older women via Titus 2:3-5. Our protector gene kicks in quickly, be careful.
5. If you are struggling with a particular women, break it off now. Tell someone that you can trust and become accountable. Accountability works only if you want to be accountable. If you don’t stop, you will fall and live with regret.
6. Is it easier to avoid or to overcome temptation? I prefer the first option Take practical steps to avoid temptation/accusations. Keep the door to your office open. Install glass in it. Don’t office alone. Move your computer to a place where it can be instantly seen by all when they walk by or enter. If we really want to be free and remain free, we can be. Practice the “Law of First Glance.” Do not buy into the lies of our culture – “I just appreciate God’s beauty,” or “I am just window shopping.” “No harm in looking.” Yes there is. We undermine our wife’s self image and we model to others that lust is okay. It’s not. When with other men watch what they watch to get an ideal of their struggles. As someone said, “Let our wife or children catch us doing something good when they enter our room!” Find us on our knees.
7. Make sure we know well the condition of our flock, beginning with the sheep at home.
A. Is your wife struggling in this arena? How about your children? Are you observant as to signs of wandering? Our wife and children also have a bull’s-eye on their backs. Your wife or child getting involved in immorality will destroy your creditability and hinder your ministry as quickly as you falling.
B. Social media is quickly becoming the number 1 mentioned reason for divorce. Do we know what our family is doing on FaceBook or one of the hundreds of others? Do we have access to passwords, emails, texts, chat conversations, etc.? If not, why not?
C. Do we know who our family is hanging out with and what they are talking about? A wise man walks with the wise but a companion of fools comes to ruin. Prov. 13:20
D. Are we taking responsibility for how our wife and daughters are dressing? Do we really want other men to stumble over them? How about our sons? Are they flirts? Are they being trained to protect women or to walk down the path of destruction?
E. Will we ask the tough “why” questions? Why do I like/want to look at other women? Why does my wife or daughter want to dress that way? What condition is my heart really in? How about my family? Do I really hate this sin? Why not?
8. The above points (7) can be expanded to include the men we work with, our fellow elders, and those under our care. In addition, we must be working with the men, both married and single, to assist them in this arena in their own families. Positive peer pressure is good!
9. Failure is not the end but a chance for a new beginning. If you have failed, seek the Redeemer for His mercy, grace, forgiveness and a new beginning! We all fall, for a righteous man falls seven times, but he gets back up, let’s just fall in the right direction and on the highway of holiness!
Lamentations 3:22-24 – The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
In the midst of complete judgment and national failure of Israel, God says such things! He loves you and wants to restore you. Do not run from the only solution there is, for this too is a trick of our enemy. We approach a throne of grace by the shed blood of Jesus!
Let’s Get Personal
If you have fallen or are trapped then consider the following shared by Eric:
- Being genuinely honest with yourself about your sin. You are not likely to get help until you are ruthlessly honest with yourself and God about your present condition.
- Who else knows about your struggle? If no one, then you have neglected some of the most basic avenues of deliverance, including the counsel, prayer and the reproof of your Christian brothers and even the elders of the church. If you have been seeking deliverance over a long period of time, but have failed to bring others in for fear of losing reputation, position or ministry, you may be missing the very means God intends to set you free. If your crying out to God for victory over a sexual bondage has failed to free you, God may well be waiting until you bring others in – even at the risk of embarrassment, exposure and loss. Prov 28:13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.
- Seek some accountability. This can be an on-going aid to increased moral freedom.
- It MAY even be necessary that you go to your wife and rectify any breaking of your vows. This is certainly something you must pray about, but the alternative MAY be going the rest of your marriage while hiding something that touches the very core of your intimacy. This should be considered with a great deal of prayer and counsel.
We are in a battle but we are not unprepared, for we have all the tools necessary to walk in victory. We are told to not be ignorant, be on guard, and to be diligent. We will encounter this battle practically every day of our lives personally and certainly in our families and with those under our care. God knew this and He has promised us help through the power of the Holy Spirit and through His Word. May we walk in the truth and remain faithful. May we help those that we care for to be prepared and to learn how to win this battle!
The Apostle Peter gives me great encouragement:
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence,by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:3-4
Personalized List of Anticipated Consequences of Immorality – Randy Alcorn.com
- Grieving my Lord; displeasing the One whose opinion most matters.
- Dragging into the mud Christ’s sacred reputation.
- Loss of reward and commendation from God.
- Having to one day look Jesus in the face at the judgment seat and give an account of why I did it. Forcing God to discipline me in various ways.
- Following in the footsteps of men I know of whose immorality forfeited their ministry and caused me to shudder.
- Suffering of innocent people around me who would get hit by my shrapnel (a la Achan).
- Untold hurt to Nanci, my best friend and loyal wife.
- Loss of Nanci’s respect and trust.
- Hurt to and loss of credibility with my beloved daughters, Karina and Angela. (“Why listen to a man who betrayed Mom and us?”)
- If my blindness should continue or my family be unable to forgive, I could lose my wife and my children forever.
- Shame to my family. (The cruel comments of others who would invariably find out.)
- Shame to my church family.
- Shame and hurt to my fellow pastors and elders.
- Shame and hurt to my friends, and especially those I’ve led to Christ and discipled. List of names:
- Guilt awfully hard to shake—even though God would forgive me, would I forgive myself?
- Plaguing memories and flashbacks that could taint future intimacy with my wife.
- Disqualifying myself after having preached to others.
- Surrender of the things I am called to and love to do—teach and preach and write and minister to others. Forfeiting forever certain opportunities to serve God. Years of training and experience in ministry wasted for a long period of time, maybe permanently.
- Being haunted by my sin as I look in the eyes of others, and having it all dredged up again wherever I go and whatever I do.
- Undermining the hard work and prayers of others by saying to our community “this is a hypocrite—who can take seriously anything he and his church have said and done?”
- Laughter, rejoicing and blasphemous smugness by those who disrespect God and the church (2 Samuel 12:14).
- Bringing great pleasure to Satan, the Enemy of God.
- Heaping judgment and endless problems on the person I would have committed adultery with.
- Possible diseases (pain, constant reminder to me and my wife, possible infection of Nanci, or in the case of AIDS, even causing her death, as well as mine.)
- Possible pregnancy, with its personal and financial implications.
- Loss of self-respect, discrediting my own name, and invoking shame and lifelong embarrassment upon myself