Points to Ponder: How the Mighty Fall
Points to Ponder
How the Mighty Fall
As yet another prominent evangelical pastor and leader falls due to sexual immorality, I stop and ponder the power of evil. Some of these men seemed so strong, so close to the Lord, and are very knowledgeable regarding scripture and its application to life. It occurs to me that Satan makes perhaps his most powerful mockery of God through the temptation to immoral behavior.
The basic purpose of the sex drive and the powerful attraction of the genders to each other is essential for the propagation of the human race; to be fruitful and multiply. The pleasure of it is a gift from God, which His word plainly teaches is to be enjoyed within the context of marriage. Jesus says that the reason God "made them male and female" was for the purpose of marriage (Matthew 19:4-5). The concept of same sex marriage is a concoction of the human mind and a misuse of sexuality as God designed it. That's not just my opinion; it's what the Bible says. Numerous scriptures condemn it, none condone it.
But homosexual behavior is just one expression of what the Bible calls fornication or sexual immorality. A lot of heterosexuals need to get the log out of their own eye before they try to take the speck out of the eye of those who advocate for same-sex unions.
This prominent pastor I'm thinking of was an outspoken critic of same sex marriage, until the homosexual prostitute whose services he employed told on him. As the prophet Nathan said to the adulterer-murderer King David, he had given the enemies of the Lord occasion to blaspheme. And Satan laughs.
I asked the Lord one day, how could a prominent and nationally influential pastor be tempted to betray his wife and children for a fling with a man? The Lord showed me.
In our ministry to recovering drug and alcohol abusers, I counsel with people who have lived on the "dark side." Promiscuity, prostitution, stealing, and even murder, are part of their records. Addictions usually come in pairs. For instance, I've never met a drug addict or alcoholic who doesn't also smoke. One counselor told me that sexual addiction also is prevalent among substance abusers with whom she works. Some of these individuals are delusional as they project onto others the desires they long to act out. "People have needs.... Don't you ever wonder what it would be like?"
An immature or unstable person in a vulnerable moment could easily succumb to the temporary relief, or thrill, that such a curiosity promises. In a counseling experience I have watched the countenance change, the voice soften, and the content of the conversation cross into discussion of fantasy. I genuinely like a lot of the folks who come for assistance; I care about their success in recovery. I care about their souls as well. But "the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8). We become vulnerable when we dare to love someone who's in a spiritual struggle. Addiction is spiritual warfare.
I felt the real presence of evil in one particular counseling experience. The Lord used that encounter to answer my question; I got a glimpse of the line over which many "successful" pastors have crossed. And great was their fall. I cared enough about the person to bring me within target range of the devil's hook. When I saw what it was and rebuked it with scripture and in firmness, I sat in the sanctuary long afterward and reflected on how frightening it was to come up to the guard rail on that road and look over the side at the chasm below. What made that pastor step over? There but for the grace of God I could have gone. I don't think that I would betray my wife and daughters and the trust of those whom I serve. But, I never put my confidence in that. No one plans their own demise.
It was like being probed spiritually; a weak spot or chink in the armor was being sought. I was not tempted by the overtures being made but in that moment I was fully aware of the presence of the "roaring lion" prowling about in my office. Quietly I prayed and scripture came to mind to guide me.
"Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you" (James 4:7-8a)
If I ever think I'm too strong to be tempted into moral compromise, I set myself up. I can only stand if I'm standing in Christ and His power.
"Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." (I Corinthians 10:12)
As Paul says in Ephesians, "walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise" (5:15). A great fall is the end result of the several small steps that preceded it.
Watch your step.
This column can be found on the web at: www.fumcl.org. Pastor Whitmore is not affiliated with Picket News, nor does he submit material directly to our publication. We regularly reprint interesting articles found at his public web site and encourage all readers to visit for similar material.