A few weeks back I posted on Instagram about the need for fewer celebrity “pastors” after the news broke of yet another affair by a popular celebrity Christian. I rarely name the “guilty” here because there are always innocent victims to consider, namely a wife and children, and their pain is not fodder for public consumption, but this time I posted the news article and discussed how walking in the Spirit is the cure for these types of lifestyle failures. After that, I had several younger ladies message me and ask me to write about this on the blog. I sat on it for a couple of weeks during Christmas, and this week another story broke of sexual misconduct by a famous pastor, this time his poor family finding out about his failures posthumously. So, I’ve decided to jump in.
It’s easy to look at someone who has been publicly disgraced and wonder if they were just a big fraud or hypocrite. If you’ve sat under the ministry of someone who has failed in a big way, it may shake your faith and make you wonder who on earth you should listen to. But when you’ve been in Christendom for a long time, you will see and hear the stories of serious failure all around you. And while there is a big difference between a moral failure (or “falling”) and a lifestyle of moral failure, there are good men and women who have been dedicated to the cause of Christ, who have given their life to missions or evangelism, who have pastored churches or led large mission-minded organizations, and have been Christians for 20, 30, or 50 years who fall hard. And it’s never easy to process.
And that’s why it’s so important to understand our flesh and our sin nature and really know ourselves. If a person who has done that much for Christ can fall flat and take down a string of victims with them, we surely can, too.
If you’ve grown up in the church, you know we have original sin, but sometimes we think of original sin like we think of Bazooka, the original bubble gum, or A&W Root Beer as the original root beer. Like, Eve, was the original sinner, and we are her kids so we kind of have original sin, too. It’s there in the past and part of us, and we acknowledge that we are indeed sinners but I don’t think we understand the extent of depravity in that part of us.
Or we think that we are sometimes swayed by sin, but for the most part we are good people who are on the right path and every once in a while the “devil” in our mind tempts us to do something naughty and we have to make a choice.
But the flesh that dwells in us is much more active than we could ever believe. It’s alive and has its own agenda. It’s a bully contradicting the right and good and pushing for every evil thing you could imagine. Once we realize that this thing is against every fiber of our being, we’ll thank God for the gift of freedom in Christ from such a horrible tyrant.
Scripture tells us that our flesh:
lusts, and has passions. It has feelings. (Ephesians 2:3.)
had desires or wishes. It has its own will. (Ephesians 2:3)
and it has it’s own mind. (Romans 8:6,7)
So our sin nature has it’s own feeling about things, it’s own wishes about situations, and it’s own mind, and it can never be subject to the law of God.
One of the most dedicated Christians of all time, Paul, the servant of God, 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 do, that I do.
Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwellers in me.
I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” Romans 7:18-21
So Paul is saying there’s something warring against me…my flesh, and he isn’t giving himself a cop out for sinning. But he is acknowledging that there is a part of us that is irredeemable and that will plague us until the day we die. We’ll never outrun our flesh. We’ll never mature enough to have the flesh not affect us. We can’t resolve it away or discipline it out. It will always be the same old way.
“Because the carnal mind (or the minding of the flesh) is at enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Romans 8:7,
So, are we destined to fail morally? No, not destined. We choose to sin now. Though evil is present within me, as believers, we also have the Spirit of God who broke the chains of sin, gave us a new heart and desires, and is prompting us to do the right thing. Sin has been dethroned and we no longer have to serve it. Amazing grace!
Galatians 5:1 tells us to stand fast in the liberty wherein Christ has made us free and to be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. In other words, we can re-crown sin and let it reign in our life and it will have a field day wrecking us, our family, our relationships, our ministry, our peace. Or, we can walk in the Spirit, keep in lock-step pace with the Spirit, and we’ll have the power to do what we were created to do: obey His will.
“Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.” Gal. 5:16
The Spirit will prompt us to do something right and the flesh will always be there to contradict it and get its own way.
Tell that person about the free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, the Spirit prompts. // No, you’ll look like a weirdo. What will they think of you? your flesh counters.
Who will you obey? We can only yield to one. Who will we defy?
It’s time to pray, the Spirit prompts. // Maybe you should check Instagram, the flesh counters. On and on this goes throughout our day…
You should be on time. // It doesn’t really matter.
You should do your work for me. // I’m not going to kill myself. Nobody else around here does.
Why don’t you study your Bible. // You can do that after you finish all your housework.
Trust me. I’m in control of your life. // You better assert yourself or you’ll be taken advantage of and overlooked. You need to take control of your own destiny.
Hold your tongue. Be kind. Don’t give way to anger. // Tell her off. Give her a piece of your mind.
You should forgive and love your sister in Christ. // She doesn’t deserve your love. She did XYZ.
Time to get up. // I can sleep for another hour.
In the end, if we give in to sin and the flesh all day long in little matters, and we say no to the Spirit at every turn, we can’t expect to fight our flesh when the big temptations come.
That’s why whenever the Holy Spirit prompts you to do right, you can and should obey right away. This is walking in the Spirit.
Here are a few verses about not resisting or defying the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We do have the power to obey the Lord, but it’s our choice.
“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. ” Acts 7:51
“Do not quench the Spirit.” 1 Thes. 5:19
“Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Eph. 4:30
We are in a life-long war, but we are equipped and empowered as Romans 6:11-14 tells us to reckon ourselves dead to sin, but alive unto God through Christ Jesus our Lord, and to let not sin reign or have control in your mortal body, that you should obey it in the lusts thereof, and do not yield your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but to yield yourselves unto God as those who are alive from he dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God. For sin shall not have dominion over you; for you are not under the law, but under grace.”