When Leaders Repent . . . and what we can learn from them

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Just under a year ago I wrote a piece amidst another homeschool scandal called When Leaders Fall.. and what we can learn from them. I encourage you to go read it HERE and share it with your children, family and church. We live in a fallen world and how we respond to these issues can be vital to our Christian witness and influential to the spiritual development of our children.

This week past news of Josh Duggar and his resignation at Family Research Council has been in the forefront of headlines. Everyone has an opinion. I’ve read some pretty incredible responses against this sweet family. I’ve also seen support, grace and love extended toward everyone involved. Matt Walsh (The Duggars Aren’t Hypocrites) and Todd Friel (The Duggar Disaster)  both have great insight to this issue. And quite frankly, I didn’t believe there was much that could be added to the discussion.

There has been plenty of talk on sin and judgment. I have heard biblical phrases like “he who is without sin cast the first stone” and “be sure your sins will find you out” touted all over the internet by Christians and non-Christians alike.  But I haven’t read a lot on repentance. So let me offer a perspective that perhaps you haven’t considered.

First off, what happened this week to the Duggar family has nothing to do with a Christian man falling into sin. Josh was a young boy whose past was exceeding sinful and yet he found God’s grace and mercy. He repented, confessed, sought forgiveness and moved on with his life. This story is really about the people who sought after and dug up news in an effort to destroy the witness and gospel message that this family has long stood for.  Those that oppose the gospel message will always seek to destroy the messengers.  Those that oppose Christ will always seek to destroy His followers. None of this is surprising. It is certainly sad … but not surprising.

So nothing further can really be said to those who are blind to God’s grace.  They do not understand it. Christ said he came, “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” (Act 26:18). Until that happens they will always oppose truth and truth bearers.

While the Duggar story really is a separate issue, let me speak to Christians – Christ-followers -The Church who is the pillar and ground of the truth. If we do not respond correctly to repentance, we are not following Christ’s example. Let me repeat that for emphasis.

If we (as believers) fail to respond correctly to those who repent, we are not following Christ’s example.

Think about the vast references on repentance throughout God’s Word.

  • The prophets proclaimed it.  (Ezek 14:6,18:30)
  • John the Baptist preached it.  (Matt 3:2, 3:8)
  • Jesus’ first message was repent.  (Matt 4:17, Luke 13:3)
  • He told the disciples to preach repentance.  (Mark 6:12)
  • God commands man everywhere to repent.  (Acts 17:30)
  • And He warns the churches to repent. (Rev 2:5, 2:16, 2:21-22, 3:3, 3:19)

Can I make a point that really shouldn’t have to be made? There would be no need for repentance if we were all perfect.  This sinful, fallen world needs a Savior. This is the reason the prophets proclaimed it and Christ preached it. It is also the reason that those who have already received it tell others about it.

Even after we are saved and become new creatures, (redeemed and imputed with His righteousness) there is still a need for daily repentance. We do not repent unto salvation for that is no longer necessary (Hebrews 6:1-6).  But true believers do repent when we sin and seek the Lords forgiveness as a part of our sanctification. Those who walk in the light cannot continue to walk in darkness (1 John 3:7-9). They can , however, fall into darkness. But note that they do not stay there.

 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ..My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1Jn 1:9, 2:1-2)

This brings up a valid point of what to do when Christian men or women fall into sin. After all, believers will fall. We are sinful creatures. Yes, we strive. Yes, we have the spirit of God working in our lives. Yes, we are called to be holy, but until we are glorified and one day become just like Him (1 John 3:2) we will always fight sin. The Apostle Paul was transparent about his sin nature. He wrote, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Rom 7:18-20).

Understanding this sinful state that even believers find themselves dealing with, he states, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Rom 7:24) And then boldly proclaims, “I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” I can state as Paul, I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Without Him and His love, mercy and forgiveness where would we all be?

So what then? What happens when a Christian repents? Let’s look to King David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14) who as leader fell into great sin.  If you are unfamiliar with the story you can read about it in 2 Samuel 11 and 12. David sinned against God by committing adultery with Bathsheba and attempting to cover it up by having her husband killed. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David and he repented. As you read the story you find that even after he repented, he still faced the consequences of his sins. He sons died. His kingdom was torn away from him. His family was shattered. People were hurt. This is what sin does – it destroys lives and brings death. And every one is prone to it.  But that is not the end of the story. David’s kingdom was restored. God was exalted. David’s second son with Bathsheba replaced his father as king and is used to build God’s temple.  How does God respond to true repentance? He forgives and uses it for His glory!

God uses our sins, mistakes, failures and ugly past for His glory. David understood that. David was going to make sure that he used his past to teach others. Don’t miss this! He used his past for God’s glory. Read David’s repentant prayer recorded in Psalm 51.

 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

But David does not stop there. In verse 13 he said, Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee. (Psa 51:13)  Did you catch that? David was saying that after he fell into sin and repented, God forgave him.  Now he was going to use his testimony to teach others about the dangers of sin. When we are right before God, our hearts desire is to teach others. Why? Because we are filled with such love from God’s mercy and forgiveness that we greatly desire for others to experience the same.

When leaders humbly repent we can learn from them.

  • Let it serve as a reminder of our great need for a Saviour.
  • Let is serve as a reminder of the dangers and consequences of sin.
  • Let it serve as a reminder to respond as Christ responds to those who truly repent.

On a personal note: I thank God daily for my salvation, but let me tell you that I’m in the process of being sanctified and it is a process.  My Lord is constantly working on me, changing me, molding me and shaping me into His image.  I have a long way to go, but I press on nevertheless.  I believe the key is striving – striving to be like Him. Of course I fall into sin on occasion, but my heart’s desire is to run from sin and to cling to my Lord. May we all be constantly pursuing holiness in spite of this sinful flesh and dark, dark world we live in.

I’m Going to the Gym

We are all aware that regular exercise is vital and essential for a healthy lifestyle.  Exercise supports physical and mental well being.  In addition to having better health, working out increases your energy level and reduces stress.  It’s important.  But let’s be honest…Who has the time?  Are we not busy enough?  On an average day my to-do-list is a mile long and I’m sure you are no different.  But there comes a time when you realize the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience and decide to make it a priority.  Dana and I came to that conclusion.  We signed up for a gym membership and have been faithfully (for the most part) going together each morning at 5 a.m.  My first goal was to make it a habit by going for 21 days.  Now that I have met this goal I am working on increasing my stamina.  I am walking on the treadmill for three miles and, in addition, every other day I use the machines to tone various muscles.

While exercise has value there is a truth to it.  I Timothy 4:8 states that “bodily exercise profiteth little.”  Exercise does profit, but only for a short duration.  If I stop going to the gym tomorrow, all the work that I have done up until now will be lost.  And even if I continue to exercise my entire life, the advantage I gain from it is for this life only.  There is no eternal compensation for physical exercise.  However, for the Christian there is an exercise that is profitable in all ways. 

“…exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come,” 1 Timothy 4:7-8.  Training ourselves in godliness will be beneficial in this world and the one to come.  Therefore, it seems to me that while I should continue to go to the gym each day, this spiritual exercise should be more of a priority in my life.

What does exercising unto godliness look like?  First, I Timothy 2:10 tells me how I should adorn myself as a Christian woman. “But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”  Therefore, doing good works is a part of godliness.  This takes practice (training, exercise).  It takes a consistent effort (workout).  And it takes a child of God, with knowledge of God, to have the power to live with godliness.  “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue,” 2 Peter 1:3.  We also are told that it is a process.  Just as becoming strong takes physical exercise, godliness takes diligent work step by step.  “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness,” 2 Peter 1:5-6. 

I use to believe that going to the gym was just for those who were already fit and trim.  However, this is not the case.  While several of the people at the gym are in excellent shape, there are those there who are in terrible shape.  But they are striving nonetheless.  There is also a misconception that it is impossible to live godly in today’s world.   In truth, it is for the unbeliever, but for a child of God this is not true.  “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ,” Titus 2:11-13.  We will not attain perfectly but we should be striving.  Why?  Because when we exercise unto godliness it is profitable for this life and in the one to come.

Lord, You know my heart’s desire to strive in my daily walk, to reach forth and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling. Lord, help me to remember these truths, meditate upon them, and work them out in my life.  Help me to profess godliness and adorn myself with good works every day of my life.

Contentment, Godliness, and Great Gain

 Last night I was sitting in a revival service listening to the evangelist preach from 1 Corinthians about the unrighteous who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (1Co 6:9-10) As he is going through this list in my heart I am thinking about all the wickedness in our land.

Fornicators – This has become widely accepted even among Christian people today. How do I know this? Because it is flaunted around in the churches; there is no shame anymore. No one bothers to teach against fornication and its consequences. We sweep it under the rug and think that God does not see or care. But Scripture warns; be not deceived.

Idolaters – How easy it is to think in our mind that we are not idolaters. After all, we have never carved a graven image and bowed down to it. But, an idolater is one who puts ANYTHING above God. It can be the god of humanism. This god is based in evolution. It is what our American children are daily indoctrinated in. We see the fruit of this when people slaughter their unborn babies on the altar of convenience. It can be the god of riches. This happens all the time when people bow down to their job and place it above God. We see the effects of this god when parents neglect their church, the home, and their children in a pursuit of wealth. It can be the god of entertainment. How many families miss church due to sports or hunting? How many people place the TV above their prayer time? How many people care more about what Hollywood thinks than what the preacher says from the Word of God? One of the biggest forms of idolatry is when people make up a god in their own mind. They might claim they are serving the God of the Bible but the god they have created in their mind is nothing like the True Jehovah God of Scripture.

Adulterers – I’m always amazed at how many parents openly accept those who are committing adultery into their home to influence their children. It is done every week in Christian homes via the television and internet. Think about this honestly. As believers in Christ we might say how wrong adultery is to our children. But, if we let them watch movies or TV shows that make light of this sin, then we are justifying it to our children. What we are saying by our actions is that adultery is not really that big of deal.

Homosexuals – This is big in today’s society. We are told to accept this “lifestyle”, our children our indoctrinated in it via the government schools, and it is forced upon us in every avenue of society. Why? It is because the children of God will not take a stand. They will not speak out against it. They continue to watch the programs that have them in it. They continue to vote for politicians who are for it. They continue to buy products from companies that support it. They continue to go to places like Disney World who parade it around. And it is all because we love other things more than we love God. We do not hate the things that God hates.

Thieves – There is more thievery going on today than I have ever seen. Our society EXPECTS something for nothing and they do not care where it comes from. We are fine with the government stealing from one class and giving to other. Then often the ones who do work steal from their employers by being lazy. People will steal spouses from one another. Boys steal the innocence of girls. Children steal from their parents. Thieves are everywhere.

Does it sound like I’m being hard on these people? Probably. I should be. God hates these things. But, as the evangelist went through the list last night he did not stop there. The next on the list was covetous.

Ouch!

Why did God place being covetous between thieves and drunkards? It really is simple. It is because God hates this sin as well. After all, it made the top ten. In fact, covetousness is the cause of a lot of the other sins. I believe that the sin of covetousness is killing the testimony of many Christian people. It is also hindering their Christian growth tremendously, including mine. When I have my eyes on “things of this world” my eyes are off God. When I focus on my “wants” I am not content with my needs. When I store up “treasures for myself” here on earth I neglect to store up heavenly treasures. In doing it all, I become worldly minded not spiritually minded. In I Timothy 6:8 we are told that if we have food and clothing we should be content. In Matthew 6, Jesus told us to seek the kingdom of God and all of our needs will be added to us. And Paul tells Timothy that “godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1Ti 6:6) In the words of the evangelist last night…

“Christians today are saying, I’m content with my godliness; now give me the great gain!”

Does this describe many Christians today? Does it describe the mindset in our churches? Does this describe the average materialistic American family? I’m afraid it does! I’m afraid it even describes me at times.

God help me to strive to be godly, for you tell me to be holy for You are holy. Lord, help me to make every effort to live a pure life in this world. Father, help me to be content with the things that You give me. I realize that every perfect gift comes from above. Help me to give you honor and glory in my life and live as a light set on a hill in this dark world. Help me to take to heart that godliness with contentment IS great gain and help me live accordingly.