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26 March, 2014 13:52

March 26, 2014

DISCIPLINE & DECEPTION

Just the other day I was talking to a pastor friend of mine in our local cafe. I happened to mention a certain leader’s name and was surprised, or should I say stunned, at what he told me. The leader I’m referring to was extremely we’ll known during the seventies, eighties and nineties for his insights into youth conflicts plus a wide range of other topics. For thousands of families seeking to raise their children according to godly principles, he was considered the ultimate authority and role model. Needless to say I was extremely disappointed to hear that he had to step down from his role of leader over a massive multi million, multi-national ministry; all due to charges of sexual harassment. Sadly this was not some isolated case but rather a pattern of behavior over many years. I have personally attended several of his seminars and pastor’s gatherings. How does something like this happen? What causes a man to fall from such heights of popularity and influence?
As I pondered on these thoughts two words came to my mind; DISCIPLINE & DECEPTION.
Discipline is not a popular word these days. To some it is akin to legalism and yet nothing could be further from the truth. We are exhorted in God’s Word to flee youthful lusts, to lay aside every weight and to study and show ourselves approved unto God etc. These are all good disciplines to believe and practice. Deception begins when we begin to believe that because we practice these disciplines we are somehow more righteous and spiritual because of them. Over time we become increasingly like the Pharisee who went into the Temple to pray and began to boast about his achievements, proud of the fact that he fasted and tithed etc. This becomes a very subtle and yet dangerous mindset as soon we begin to trust and rely in our own discipline rather than the righteousness of Christ alone. We tend to hold our head high thinking we are more godly and spiritual than those around us because of the way we live.
This I believe is one of the greatest dangers facing any group who seek to live by a code of behavior dictated to them by some man or organization. Followers of this particular organization numbering in the tens of thousands, if not more, and believed in signing covenants, keeping vows, memorizing scripture and a whole hosts of other disciplines and values. All of which are not wrong but can have a tendency to lead to an attitude of superiority and pride. What was not emphasized was one’s reliance on the Holy Spirit’s power to keep us from falling. While I am a fierce advocate of the Word of God, the Word has no power without the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. Even Jesus Himself, the living word, said He needed the anointing of the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel… (By this I’m not inferring that having the Holy Spirit guarantees us immunity from trials and temptations. Jesus immediately after being anointed with the Holy Spirit was lead into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil)
Imagine the temptation this leader faced after having taught hundreds of thousands of youth over the course of his ministry. Many considered him to be almost infallible. Few appeared to question his teaching or authority. To many he was honored, revered and almost worshipped as a god. There is little doubt in my mind that this led him to believe that his followers and especially the young women who worked for him were in fact his; his to lead, guide and yes even manipulate for his own erotic pleasure. While his teachings were strongly based on submission to authority these young people feared questioning his authority for fear of being labeled rebellious or insubordinate. This became the perfect storm for him to carry out his sexual fantasies, while teaching them that these evil cravings can be overcome through scriptural knowledge, discipline, submission, and commitment alone.
What lesson can we learn through all of this? To put it in the words of the old song
ALL OTHER GROUND IS SINKING SAND. The Apostle Paul wrote about those who go about seeking to establish a righteousness of their own. For those who have tried that, it doesn’t work and never will. Righteousness cannot be achieved through rules, regulations, covenants or conduct. Our righteousness is by grace and by grace alone. Discipline is good and should not be avoided; just don’t let it deceive you into thinking more highly of yourself than you should. Otherwise, it could lead to your downfall.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. March 26, 2014 4:36 pm

    David,
    This is a sad story, but good post. So many Christian leaders have fallen to sexual sins. Scripture clearly says, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” Do they really think that they are not going to get caught? God loves us too much to allow us to get away with things that, like a cancer are eating us from the inside out.

    I personally have been struggling with my weight for most of my adult life. Even now I am doing my very best not to make provisions for my flesh. But, I am thankful that I can’t hide my sin. I am reminded daily that I need to walk close to the Lord and lean in closely to hear His encouragement to fight the good fight.

    I pray that this leader will be brought down low enough to force him to his knees and repent, never to feed the root of sexual sin in his life again. This might feel like the worse thing that has ever happened to him, but it is actually a wonderful thing. To be given the chance to repent while you still have breath is a precious gift. I hope that he treasures it’s value.

    God Bless… †

  2. March 26, 2014 7:00 pm

    Thank you for this. I needed it. I must preach this daily to me own heart. All other ground IS, and always will be, deadly.

  3. Watchman permalink
    March 27, 2014 10:29 am

    Dear Ashar,

    I to have made food an idol. In a sermon in church the preacher asked us to think about what the most important thing is, in our lives, and that’s your idol. My answer was breakfast! Seriously! I would go to great lengths and trouble not to miss breakfast. So I started by not eating breakfast and waited until lunch before I ate. I didn’t do this perfectly each week, but over time I did it more and more. Then one day a week I didn’t eat until dinnertime. Once again I wasn’t perfect: I didn’t always do this everyweek. Then recently I started a 24hr fast, Sunday evening to Monday evening. I’ll be honest, the first few times I did this it made me feel ill, but I’ve got past that now.

    Missing out meals will help you lose weight, but that’s not the point. By fasting and humbling myself before God I found that I have greater victory over ALL sins.

    Everytime you take a step forward there is a hard phase that you have to get through. The thing is that when you think that you are about to fail, you have to cry out to God for “His strength” to get you through it.

    So I’m losing weight, but I don’t really think about that much. It’s getting a grip on sin and standing cleaner before God that really excites me.

    Hope this helps.

    • March 29, 2014 6:36 am

      Thank you for your response. You are right, it is HIs strength and in our weakness His strength is made perfect. 🙂
      God Bless….

    • April 6, 2014 12:23 pm

      Sorry that I posted my response to this in the wrong place. I am still new to wordpress… 🙂 Thank you for your response. You are right, it is His strength and in our weakness His strength is made perfect. 🙂
      God Bless….

  4. Shane permalink
    April 16, 2014 3:12 pm

    This is a good Article David, I think when we stop being open and honest about our struggles, it’s easier to deceive ourselves and hide until it comes crashing down around us. Sometimes I wonder why myself and the church can be so consumed with this, maybe it’s easier because of technology, perhaps as you have written we lack discipline, whatever it is may God show us mercy for our stupidity.

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