So if the man of God is truly a man of God – filled with the Holy Spirit of God, then why is he getting caught in the sheets with someone besides his wife? One of the greatest disgraces I’ve ever heard of is Ted Haggard. The head pastor of a 14,000 person church and the president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Haggard had sex repeatedly with a male prostitute while also indulging regularly in crystal meth. Regarding Haggard’s hypocrisy, CNN reports:
Haas (a young man who was sexually harassed by Pastor Haggard) added, “(Haggard) used to say to me, ‘You know what, Grant, you can become a man of God, and you can have a little bit of fun on the side.”
…Controversy involving Haggard first erupted in November 2006, when a former prostitute, Mike Jones, said the pastor had paid him for sex over three years and had used methamphetamine in his presence.
Haggard initially admitted in interviews that he received a massage from Jones but denied having sex with him. He also said he bought methamphetamine, but threw it away instead of using it.
The assertions received widespread news coverage and sparked charges of hypocrisy, particularly because Haggard had condemned homosexual sex.
Haggard is the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, which claims to represent millions of people in 45,000 congregations nationwide. He was also the head pastor at New Life Church. (emphasis mine)
Time would fail me to speak of Swaggart, Bakker, Goodman, and the thousands of others in the past 30 – 40 years who have been caught with pants down and Bible in hand. No matter what is really going on with these individuals, to the world outside of Christianity, it looks like rank hypocrisy. Who can argue? The glorious name of Jesus is put through the sewer each time one of these erupts. We can protest that they are not truly followers of Christ, but you know how far that goes with the world.
To make matters worse, as I have seen firsthand with my adulterous pastor right here where I used to go to church, many in the congregation and even other pastors will often work hard to cover it up. What gives? From my original post in this series, I ask:
If Jesus is the high and glorious God of the universe, if He is all powerful, if He desires His name to be exalted and feared as holy, then why does He allow so much evil to be done under the banner of “Christian”?
I’m having difficulty answering that question. I do know, however, that when a person who calls himself a Christian has a big, dirty, public fall, it calls into question if Jesus is really even alive, let alone powerful enough to protect His name. We see from Ezekiel 36 that God is tremendously jealous of His glory:
20 When they came to the nations, wherever they went, they profaned My holy name—when they said of them, ‘These are the people of the LORD, and yet they have gone out of His land.’
The people are wondering aloud about the wandering Israelites. If their God is the Lord of heaven and earth, then why are they wandering around in captivity? Is not the LORD a joke; can’t even control His people – ha.
21 But I had concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations wherever they went.
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.
Not that God doesn’t care about His people, but rather His name is the greatest concern He has – His glory and fame among the nations. So He promises…
23 And I will sanctify My great name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD,” says the Lord GOD, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes.
And from there He goes on to promise the New Covenant, and that those who are His would walk in holiness as a mark of the covenant:
26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.
Later in the preaching of Jesus, He says in Matthew 7:
15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. (emphasis mine)
How do we know that someone is truly a wolf? By how he or she lives their life. This is not to say that a slip-up cannot happen with a truly born-again pastor, but rather that the totality of his life will necessarily be one of repentance and holiness. Jesus goes on to say:
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
The key is the last words: “you who practice lawlessness.” This Greek word signifies someone who lives as though Jesus had given them no law, no command, no narrow way on which to walk. Shows of power and exciting ministry are no substitute for a regenerate heart which follows meekly after the Master, in willful, glad submission to His rule.
So I’ve tried to be plain: I believe from the Scriptures that a professing Christian who lives a lifestyle of adultery, especially as a pastor/minister, has not been born again of the Holy Spirit, and is an object of the wrath of God. Peter warns about them in 2 Peter 2:
12 But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, 13 and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. 15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. (emphasis again mine)
One of the chief marks of a wolf is his insatiable appetite for illicit sex, among other things. The harder question to answer is why does God allow them to even have the chance to mock His name with their hypocrisy? That is a question I will try to tackle throughout the rest of the series on Christian hypocrisy – its a tough one to ponder.
Thanks for reading,