Life Compass
Keeping You Pointed in the Right Direction

Dealing with SIN

For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Psalm 51:3

We have all been shocked when learning of the sin of someone we thought we knew. How could do they do such a thing? Then comes that moment when “that person” is the person looking back at us in the mirror.

How could I have done this?

I was pastoring when I became one of “those” pastors who had to stand before his family, his congregation, and his Lord and say, “I have sinned.”

How does a pastor or any mature Christian continue to sin over a period of time? Is there no remorse or guilt or sense of answering to God for their actions? We’ve all thought it. I had even asked, “how does a man commit adultery and then stand behind pulpit?” Then I became that guy.

A person responds one of three ways to their sinful behavior:

1) CONVICTED – is ashamed of their actions and seeks forgiveness

2) REBELLION – does not care and hardens their heart to it

3) DENIAL/DECEIVED – either doesn’t see it or excuses it

For me it was number three in that list. I convinced myself  that I was not sinning. Somehow I was the exception to the rule. No, I am not going to blame it on the devil or try to pass it off as being deceived in the sense I really didn’t understand where God stood on the issue. It was a self  desired deception. Show me an atheist who advocates their cause, and I’ll show you a tormented soul trying to drown out the still small voice of God convicting them.

For me to sin as I did and still function as a pastor and as a Christian I surpressed the conviction and the guilt and shame it brought by twisting the Word to make it mean something different. For example… God allowed Jacob to receive the Blessing of his father despite the fact he lied and deceived to get it. God would rename Jacob as Israel and pour out  His favor and blessing on him. God uses lying despite the fact we tell people not to lie. Thus, God has exceptions to his own rules. Yes, this is how I thought.

The proper interpretation and application of that scripture is how God uses us in despite of us. God, in His sovereignty, knew Jacob would sin and deceive. God used him anyway. That was not an endorsement of Jacob’s sin but a proclamation of the grace, mercy, and sovereignty of God Himself.

But once you convince yourself there can be an exception to something … it is not difficult to becoming the one who is exempt.

The two sins which seem to knock most men out of the ministry are either finances or morality. Both are symptoms of a bigger issue. All sin stems from pride. Simply put… we sin because want to and we want to because we believe we have a right to. All sin is rooted in rebellion. When we are disobedient we are ripe for Satan to ensnare us.

For approximately two years before my affair I had sensed the stirring of the Lord to leave where I was. It was almost like a call to Abraham. By that I mean this, I was willing to go but there was one small problem (in my mind but not necessarily God’s mind) … I had no place to go. Other “offers” were lateral moves. Surely, if God wanted to me go it was going to be to a place that was a step up … right??? 

My wife wanted to stay. She felt we had more to do there and family was close by. Now, I said I stayed because my wife wanted to and then later I blamed her that we stayed BUT the truth is we stayed because I disobeyed God.

The work of the ministry there got harder and took its toll on me and my family. There were a group of individuals and families God did use in our lives as a source of encouragement and refreshing but still … I was not where God wanted us. I would pace the floor in the darkened church auditorium late at night in prayer (argument) with God. “Where do you want me to go? It makes no sense to resign with nothing beyond that.” Afterall, all the pastors who counseled me said stay until you have a definite place to go – it’s a position of weakness to be without a church when candidating at a new church – etc. So we stayed.

One family that had been the greatest source of our encouragment, friendship, and true blessing to us (time spent together as families and our children and theirs being together) would feel the effects of the result of my disobedience to God. My wife and I genuinely loved them and they us.

I allowed myself to cross lines I knew should never be crossed. I became too familiar. I shared my struggles with her and she with me and …. sin resulted.

Aaaah, but you tell yourself it was not sin. “God understands. This is something special … an exception to the rule.”

What some people don’t understand when a pastor sins (at least in my case it was true … I did not stop praying or serving) is how does he live with it?

I can honestly tell you I saw answered prayers during that time and the ministry continued to reach people and help people. NOW, let’s be clear like with Jacob … that was not an endorsement by God of my sin but rather a testimony of His grace, mercy, and sovereignty. Yes, I took it (at the time) as though God were okay with my behavior (self deception).

When it became “rumored” that something was going on … outward denial was the initial position. Why? Self preservation? Yes, to a certain degree but also not ready to admit to yourself what you had actually done. Afterall, for me, I really did love the Lord and loved serving Him … how could I have messed up like this? There’s no way I would sin like others…

There came that fatal night when my wife confronted me with our deacon chairman. Now, I could have explained it away. There was far less to explain at that moment than what I had been accused of and had already denied with acceptance.  BUT at THAT moment I came face-to-face with my sin, my inquity, my depravity.

Like being slapped in the face or dowsed with ice cold water … when reality hits it  comes in like being struck by lightning with the crack of thunder!

The guilt and shame of having sinned against my wife, my children, another precious family, church members, loyal staff members, a trusting community, fellow brethren, and God are beyond words. No, I am not trying to garner sympathy nor play the victim card. I am simply trying to offer the outside observer or  inside witness some understanding and clarity.

Some people turned away to shelter themselves from further hurt. Totally understandable. Many others have reached out and poured out love and forgiveness that was overwhelming and undeserved.

Time has a way of putting things into perspective or at least allowing the raw nerves of a situation to settle down so that rational and spiritual insight can be given.

What followed in the initial days, weeks, and months in the aftermath of the consquences of my sin seems like a lifetime ago on some days and like yesterday on other days. But the goodness and sweetness of God is like that tender moment that can and should follow after a parent has disciplined their child. The chastisement is hard and brings retribution for the violation, recompense for the hurt inflicted to others, but also relief and release to the one being chastised.

Today, God has certainly demonstrated His grace, mercy, and blessing to me in ways I do not deserve. My family is togther and strong. Each one of my children is excelling in school and interests outside the classroom. My wife and I are more than partners. We’re best friends. I am active in pastoral ministry as well as political media. I have learned the importance of accountability in marriage and ministry. Lone Rangers usually get into trouble… either with females, finances, or their own ego.

God has restored so much in my life.

I serve as more than a pastor or administrator or coach or radio personality (the things we do give men or atleast me validation) … I am first and foremost a child of God, secondly, I am my wife’s husband, and, thirdly, my kid’s dad. I actually buy the groceries, cook four nights a week, get the kids up for school as well as taxi them to all their stuff, and have even been known to do a few loads of laundry during the week. Ask my wife how big of a change that is…

Again, none of the above is meant to brag on anyone or anything other than the goodness of God.

AFTER a person comes to the realization of their sin comes the next deception Satan tries: You’re finished, and you can never be used again! YES, YOU CAN!

Just get back up. Let God decide where, when, and how. Don’t worry about who says you can’t or whatever else they try to heap on you. Remember, some of them may be at number three in their own lives … not realizing their own pride and filled with denial and self deception.

None of us will ever truly understand the goodness of God which leads men to repentance. Some men come on their own. Others are brought there. BUT once you get there the result is the same … you are met with God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

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