Originally written on March 15, 2018
What prompted this article I am about to write is another article I read from the Washington Post. It is entitled “Why repentant pastors should be forgiven but not restored to the pulpit”, written by Jonathan Leeman of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Washington, DC.
I don’t know Mr. Leeman but I agree with his article and I want to explain why from the Bible.
Over my 30 years of salvation (since 1988), I have unfortunately seen some great men of God fall. And so have you if you’ve been saved for a while.
It is so important that we as Christians realize that we are no better than anyone else. We are all sinners saved by the grace of God (those of us who have trusted Christ). The day He saved us, God did a work in us. But it is important to realize that the work He did was INSIDE of us.
Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”
Colossians 1:29 “Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”
Thank God for this inner work of the Holy Spirit, which resulted in transforming us into new creatures in Christ Jesus, and continues to work in us to conform us more to the image of God’s son.
However, on the outside, this flesh is still just as rotten and vile and prone to sin as it was the day before we got saved. Before I got saved, I loved pizza, fried chicken, pork chops, rice and beans, ice cream, etc. Guess what? After I got saved, I STILL like pizza, fried chicken, pork chops, rice and beans, ice cream, etc. The point is that the flesh and its appetites didn’t change when I got saved. What changed was what the Holy Spirit did on the inside. But the flesh on the outside will not be changed until the Lord gives us a glorified body in the next life (Philippians 3:21, Romans 8:23-30, 1 Corinthians 15:51-57).
Understanding these things will help to keep us from having the attitude of the self-righteous Pharisees. We are not better than anyone else. If we do not walk in the Spirit and crucify this flesh on a daily basis, we to can and will fall (Galatians 5:16-17). 1 Corinthians 10:12 “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.”
Many great men have fallen. We have seen it in the Bible. We have seen it in our lifetime. I’ve known good men, much better men than I, that have returned to the liquor bottle and drugs, some who have become addicted to pornography, committed adultery, solicited prostitutes, etc. I know of a missionary’s wife who left her husband and came out as a lesbian. I know a youth pastor who was thrown in jail for inappropriately touching children. I can go on and on with such crazy stories and I’m sure you can tell some as well.
The one who says, “These things can never happen to me” is the very one who will fall next. Let us not be high-minded but fear. Let us be clothed with humility.
What If Some Repent?
The big question is that when these things happen, what if some of them repent? They should repent. Some have repented. Sincerely repented. This is good and necessary.
Not only should they repent, but they should be forgiven. Our God is very forgiving. His mercy is everlasting. The Lord will forgive any and all sinners that seek His forgiveness. No matter how horrible the sin, God is so rich in mercy that His blood will cleanse the deepest stains. And if our Lord is willing to forgive, so should we as we follow Him. The Bible is very clear on this.
However, does this mean that the forgiven transgressor should return to the pastorate? According to the Bible, that is an entirely different matter.
The argument of some is that the admonition to “restore such an one” in Galatians 6:1 includes restoring the fallen minister right back into the pastorate. The verse doesn’t say that, however. In fact, 1 Timothy 1:12, 3:1-7, and Titus 1:5-9 contradicts that private interpretation.
There are many ways a fallen one can be restored. He can be restored in regard to his relationship with the church, his spouse and family, and most importantly, with the Lord. However, restoration to the pastorate is a different matter and here’s why.
God’s Requirements For The Pastorate
In 1 Timothy 3:1-7, we are given a list of requirements for the man who is to serve in the pastorate:
“This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
I adamantly disagree with those who say that these are not requirements. Some say these are merely suggestions or recommendations, like an ideal standard for the minister to constantly strive for though they be unattainable. They say that it is impossible for anyone to satisfactorily attain to this list of qualities. This view is wrong and denies the power of God. I know many Christians that display these qualities, and not just pastors either.
These are definitely requirements. It plainly says the bishop MUST be all the things mentioned on the list. The word “must” means exactly what it says. If a man is to be a pastor, he MUST have these qualities or else he is disqualified. Must means must (in any dictionary). Here’s the definition from the 1828 Noah Webster’s dictionary:
MUST, verb intransitive
1. To be obliged; to be necessitated. It expresses both physical and moral necessity. A man must eat for nourishment, and he must sleep for refreshment. We must submit to the laws or be exposed to punishment. A bill in a legislative body must have three readings before it can pass to be enacted.
2. It expresses moral fitness or propriety, as necessary or essential to the character or end proposed. ‘Deacons must be grave, ‘ ‘a bishop must have a good report of them that are without.’ 1 Timothy 3:2.
How interesting that Mr. Webster goes right to 1 Timothy 3 for his illustration of the word. To make 1 Timothy 3:1-7 a list of suggestions instead of qualifications, you will have to change the word of God from saying “must” to “should do the best he can” or “don’t judge anyone else but try your best to be…” The Bible says what it says and instead of changing it we should simply believe it and obey it.
Blameless Is The Primary Requirement
The word “blameless” speaks of our testimony, our reputation. This point is important. No one is sinlessly perfect. We will never be sinlessly perfect until we get that glorified body mentioned earlier. But that does not mean a man cannot be “blameless”. Any Christian, as imperfect as we are, can maintain a good testimony and reputation by the grace of God and constant submission to His will. Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches…” Why would God admonish us to choose a good name (a good reputation) if it was impossible to do so? That makes no sense.
A blameless reputation is attainable. The godly parents of John the Baptist, Zacharias and Elisabeth, were called blameless:
Luke 1:6 “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
In Philippians 2:13-15 we are exhorted by the apostle Paul how to conduct ourselves so that we may be “blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” Surely the Holy Spirit wouldn’t inspire Paul to instruct us to do something that was impossible to do.
Speaking of Paul, he also said in Philippians 3:6 that when he was a lost Pharisee he was “blameless” regarding the law. The law of the Old Testament contains exactly 613 commandments. This means that no one was able to find Paul guilty of any of the 613 commandments mentioned in O.T. law. It does not mean that he was sinlessly perfect and had never broken a commandment. All have sinned, even Paul, and he admits this in 1 Timothy 1:15. It means that Paul’s life as a Pharisee was so above reproach that no one could find fault with him. Surely he had faults, but no one knew what they were. By Jewish standards (the law), Paul had a great reputation and this was BEFORE he got saved.
If a lost hell-bound Pharisee could maintain a “blameless” reputation, don’t tell me that a born-again believer, who has the Holy Spirit of Almighty God living on the inside, cannot do the same and better by the grace of God.
Noah was called a just man and perfect. Job was called by God upright and perfect. Were they perfect in the sense of sinless? Of course not. They had their faults and errors like everyone else. However, they maintained a sterling reputation due to their faithfulness, obedience, and close relationship with God.
It is very interesting that Paul starts off the list of requirements (both in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1) with the quality “blameless”. Many preachers place more emphasis in the second quality “husband of one wife”, but there are many husbands of one wife who are not blameless. In fact, many husbands of one wife have sorry, rotten testimonies.
Paul starts off with “blameless” because it entails all other qualities mentioned on the list. In other words, one who is blameless is one who will be a husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach, not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre, but patient, not a brawler, not covetous, one that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity, and not a novice.
I knew a missionary who had a problem controlling his temper. He would lose control and physically strike his wife on occasion. This man lost his marriage and his ministry. Such a one should not serve in the pastorate. The pastorate requires a cool head (sober) in order to deal with all the demands and pressures of the ministry.
There are some who seek the pastorate who do not have the ability to teach the Bible. They are not “apt to teach”. Now, no Pastor has all the answers to every question under the sun. But this is why a pastor should not be a novice. The chances that a more seasoned and trained saint will have the correct answer over the babe in Christ are much greater. Everyone starts out as a spiritual infant and there’s nothing wrong with that but the novice should not serve in the pastorate until he is more mature in the faith. An infant cannot feed himself. Imagine the folly of putting a baby in a position that requires feeding others.
We can go on down the list and see the importance of each quality for the minister who is to lead the flock of God. This list does not include every virtue and commandment in the word of God for if it did no one could ever qualify. But these particular qualities are listed by God because they are necessary in order to effectively minister and lead a church.
Reputation And Reproach
The key to understanding the need for a blameless testimony and possession of each virtue mentioned on Paul’s list is found in 1 Timothy 3:7, which says:
“Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.”
This verse is extremely important. Unfortunately, it is ignored by all who justify putting a fallen, immoral man back into the pastorate.
Notice “a good report of them which are without”. This is the Bible’s own definition, within the very same context, of what it means to be blameless. It is not only important for the minister to have a good reputation amongst the congregation of believers. It is very important that he has a good reputation OUTSIDE the walls of the church building as well.
Why? Why should we care what those in the community, most of which are lost, think of us? The answer is within the verse. Lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
Two things a minister with a damaged testimony will suffer. Reproach and the snare of the devil.
What is a reproach? It means to be defamed and reviled by others. In simpler terms, it means others will use your damaged reputation to discredit your message. This is called giving the enemy an occasion to blaspheme (2 Samuel 12:4, Romans 2:24, 1 Timothy 6:1, Titus 2:5). Bad behavior causes the wicked to blaspheme God and to use your shortcomings to justify theirs. Such a man who gives the enemy an occasion to blaspheme cannot effectively minister.
For example, the Bible says in Proverbs 6:32-33 “But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away.”
A reproach has to do with a man’s weakened reputation with those from “without”. The church brethren may accept him but those without will ALWAYS hold it against him. In that regard, his reproach will never be wiped away.
It does not mean that the blood of Christ cannot cleanse him from all unrighteousness, especially if he sincerely repents. What it means is that even after he has been forgiven by his brethren and God, those in the community where he ministered will not be so forgiving. They will deliberately and ALWAYS remember his transgression. It will be a weapon that they will always use against him, the church, and the message, no matter how true the message is.
God will remember our iniquities no more. Praise the Lord for that! But those in the community will not be as merciful. In their eyes, the reproach will never be wiped away. This is what THE BIBLE says whether anyone likes it or not, and believe me, I don’t like it either, but it is still the truth because God’s word said so. God takes into account our reputation with those without as a requirement for the pastorate. God made these rules and for good reasons.
Unbelievers long for any excuse to condemn us and justify themselves. Once we give them a legitimate reason to do so, we do the ministry an injustice by not stepping aside and doing the honorable thing by allowing God to replace us so that the integrity of the pulpit be maintained, and the reputation of the church be recuperated. This is why Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:3 “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed”.
The church will need its own restoration from the aftermath of a minister’s fall that is publicly known in order to go forward and continue to be effective in its efforts to minister in that community. Returning the fallen pastor, whose reputation has been ruined, back into the same pulpit will give the community occasion to blame and blaspheme the church as a whole. This is a good way for a church to eventually have Ichabod written on it.
The Importance Of Credibility
A key word here is CREDIBILITY. The pastor who has fallen into gross, immoral sin, loses the credibility he needs to effectively minister. He may preach the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but if his reputation and history do not correspond with what he preaches, he will be seen as the hypocrite that wicked society so longs to make all Christians to be. Only this time, they will actually be right.
Credibility is needed in order to lead a church. Paul gave an example of this when he said in 1 Timothy 3:4-5 “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” This only makes sense. Failure in the home will lead to failure in the ministry.
This is why it is so important for us to recognize that our homes are our FIRST ministry. God instituted the family (Adam and Eve) before He instituted the church. If we can’t love and take care of our wives properly, what makes us think that we can love and take care of the church properly as well? If we can’t control our kids (while under our roof), what makes us think we can maintain a church full of God’s children who are all saved sinners? Let’s not deceive ourselves. The proof of our leadership abilities is in our marriage and home life. A Pastor will lead the church the same way he leads his home.
Credibility is a must. How will the marital counsel of a pastor who has committed adultery be taken seriously by those who seek success in their marriage? Who in their right mind would make a man who has a history of extortion the church treasurer? Who in their right mind would appoint a man who is registered as a sex offender to be the youth pastor or children’s Sunday school teacher?
Why wouldn’t we appoint such individuals to such positions even after we forgive them? It is because not only do they lack credibility, they cannot be trusted in those areas. We may forgive them, and we should, but we would be fools to trust them in areas that require strength where they have demonstrated weakness. Besides, if these individuals have truly repented, they would accept the wisdom of not placing them in these positions and they would be content with finding other ways that they may serve the Lord. Why wouldn’t they?
The Importance Of Trust
So not only is credibility an issue, so is trust. A man can be forgiven of adultery by everyone, including his wife. But you would be a fool to think that his wife will not have doubts and insecurities when her husband is out on “door to door visitation”.
Everyone should be forgiven. Not everyone should be trusted. A man who has cheated on his wife loses the right to be trusted by his wife or anyone else, especially in regard to anything requiring moral behavior. A man who has proven himself capable of betraying the trust of the very one he is supposed to love more than anyone else, will have less difficulty betraying anyone else. Churches that allow an immoral man back into the pastorate are setting themselves up for self-destruction.
Why do we not trust the unfaithful? Because we recognize that the possibility of him doing it again is now greater than before. Something in that man’s flesh has been turned on that will be extremely difficult to turn off. Just ask anyone who has struggled with an addiction to pornography. Some sins are so enslaving that one can cross points of no return if he is not careful (Proverbs 29:1). The Bible even talks about a sin unto death (1 John 5:16, Ecclesiastes 7:17, 1 Corinthians 5:1-5, Acts 5:1-11).
The flesh is never satisfied (Ecclesiastes 1:8). The wise man said in Proverbs 9:17 “Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant.” Once the flesh, with its insatiable appetites, has tasted the sweetness of waters from a cistern that does not belong to him, it will be very difficult to quench that particular thirst, when it arises again, with waters from his own cistern (and it will arise again so long as the flesh remains the flesh).
I have a Siberian Husky named Lobo. I took him to my father’s house to stay in a fenced in backyard. My father has egg-laying hens on the other side of the fence. One day, my dog managed to somehow jump the fence and eat those chickens. You know what? Now that my dog has tasted blood, it is absolutely IMPOSSIBLE to train him not to be tempted to eat a chicken EVERY time he sees one. A dog can be trained to walk amongst chickens and not harm them. But once they have tasted the blood of one, something changes in their appetite that remains forever. From now on, the only way to stop Lobo from eating chickens is to keep him away from them. Such is the nature of a beast. Wicked men are compared to beasts in the Bible – 1 Corinthians 15:32, Titus 1:12, 2 Peter 2:12, Jude 1:10.
We are setting ourselves up for a worse disaster by allowing a fallen and immoral minister back into the pastorate. I know of a very large and well-known Baptist church that tried to cover up their pastor’s immorality by sending him off to be a missionary in Europe before people could find out what he did. The problem is that the truth ALWAYS come out. Be sure your sin will find you out. The matter only became worse and now the reputation of what was once a prominent church is completely ruined in the community. This ministry has been put to shame and ridicule by the merciless local news media. Most folks have left that church and there is now no hope of that ministry ever returning to what it had in its so-called “glory days”.
Weak Arguments For Putting An Immoral Man Back Into The Pastorate
Immoral preachers with ambitions for the pastorate are experts in finding (and twisting) scriptures to plead their agenda. I’ve heard some use the example of Peter and how he denied the Lord three times yet was later forgiven and used of God mightily. Of course, this is a ridiculous argument. Peter messed up for sure, but Peter didn’t commit adultery, solicit prostitutes, fall back into alcohol and drugs, watch pornography, steal from the church, etc, like some preachers have done who are trying to justify themselves. They must exaggerate Peter’s story in order to defend theirs.
Some object, “What of David? He committed adultery and even murder yet God allowed him to remain king and to even write many Psalms!” Yes, this is true. But first of all, David had problems in his home for the rest of his life. Secondly, David was not a pastor. David was a king. If David was a pastor of a local new testament church, he would have to step down from the pastorate not only due to his adultery and murder but also for the endless chaos in his home. Again, Paul made that much clear in 1 Timothy 3:4-5.
Think about how ridiculous these arguments are. Too many folks do not think these things through. Would Christians today actually justify a murderer, a man who murdered AS a Christian, to be a pastor today? Really? I’m not talking about what a man may have done BEFORE salvation. I’m talking about a man who has murdered AFTER salvation. In fact, if a Christian pastor today committed murder, HE WOULD GO TO JAIL! Forget about the pastorate.
You see, David’s case as a king is different from that of one in the pastorate. This does not justify David’s sin of murder, for what he did was evil and God judged him harshly for it through the death of his child. (Are you sure you want to use David for your defense?)
The crazy thing is that some of these fallen preachers who use David are dispensationalists, that is, until they fall into gross sin and need to misapply scriptures to build a case. Then all of a sudden, their dispensationalism is thrown out the window when it does not serve their agenda. So much for “rightly dividing the word of truth”!
It should be obvious that the positions of king and pastor are 2 totally different positions, and although we can draw comparisons from both, to make both one in the same would be intellectually dishonest. Kings, even good ones, many times live above the law, which is wrong, but it happens in most monarchies.
You see, this is exactly what rebellious Christians want, especially those with an agenda. They want to live above the law and reign over a kingdom. They love that authority. They enjoy having people under them and serving them. They love the glory of such a position. The ministry for them is a kingdom, and the pulpit a throne. They cannot be content with glorifying God in a humbler position in life because their hearts are filled with pride, vainglory, and audacity. The ministry is the closest thing they can get to becoming a modern-day king. It is no longer about the salvation of souls, the good of the people, and the glory of God. Now it is about ambition and self-gratification. They are out to prove the world wrong. It’s about them, not the Lord.
However, the ministry is not a kingdom. The pastor is not a king. A true pastor is a servant to God’s people. Servants are not above the law. The pastor is commanded not to be a Lord over God’s heritage (1 Peter 5:3). It’s interesting how they will go to king David’s failures for an argument, but they won’t go to the example of king Saul who had the kingdom rent away from him for disobedience. Everyone wants to be a David but no one wants to admit to being more like rebellious Saul.
The bottom line is this. The pastor is given a specific list of requirements. If he does not meet them, he is disqualified. He may qualify for other things in life, but not the pastorate.
Why MUST he be put back into the pastorate anyways? Some cry out, “Because God has called me and is still calling me.” Then they go to Romans 11:29 for a defense, which says “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” But that is taking the verse out of context. In the context, it is referring to God’s covenant with Israel, not a pastor in the church.
You may had been called before but you can disqualify yourself. 1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
2 Timothy 2:19-22 “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”
Giving Satan An Advantage
At the end of the day, none of us deserve to be in the ministry. One fallen minister asked another elderly one, “Do you think I deserve a second chance?” The wise old preacher replied, “Brother, you didn’t deserve the first one.” The truth is that we all deserve to be in hell with our backs broke (as the old-timers used to say). To claim that any of us deserves to be in the ministry would be the epitome of arrogance. However, to make ourselves even less deserving then we already were through wicked and immoral behavior and yet still insist that everyone accept us back into the pastorate requires an incredible amount of self-will, arrogance, and pride.
Pride opens the door to the devil and leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18). In fact, that was the second thing that Paul warned of in 1 Timothy 3:7. Those who put themselves into the ministry when they do not meet the qualifications will fall into the snare of the devil. This is guaranteed because the Bible says so.
Satan does not know everything. He is not omniscient like God. But we would be ignorant to think that once we have revealed to him our weaknesses that he will not do everything within his diabolical power to continually attack us in those areas with strong temptations to the day we die (1 Peter 5:8). He tempted us before but once he knows which trap works best, that will be his device he consistently uses against us going forward. Better to have a man in the pulpit who the devil is still trying to figure out than the one he has already had success with.
The Necessity Of Faithfulness
Paul said in 1 Timothy 1:12 “And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry”. None deserve to be in the ministry. But when God decides to call one, He chooses those who have a proven track record of faithfulness, not unfaithfulness.
A friend of mine, who I won to the Lord, years later asked me if I thought he should take the pastorate of a church he was attending that needed a pastor. I told him, “Brother, I don’t know what God’s will is for your life. But if you’re asking me for my honest opinion, and I could be wrong, but honestly, I don’t think you’re ready to pastor a church. And the reason why is because you don’t have a track record of faithfulness in attending this church.” You see, I knew that this brother was a hit and miss as far as attending this church. I knew that this brother had been a very inconsistent and unstable Christian ever since I’ve known him. I also knew that the former pastor of the church left the church partly due to discouragement because of the lack of faithfulness and consistency of the church members. As much as I love this brother, I felt he was part of the problem in this church. But I encouraged him to start establishing faithfulness and consistency in his life so that God could use him. Another thing I know about the pastorate is that many times the people will reflect the pastor. So I asked the brother, “Would you like to pastor a group of people who were just as faithful and consistent as you are?” He admitted, “No.”
Paul said that God put him into the ministry because he was counted faithful. Faithfulness is required. 1 Corinthians 4:2 “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” An unfaithful man in the pulpit was not put there by God. He was put there by himself and others like him.
Do not misunderstand me. I would never want to hold anything someone did before he got saved against him for service of the Lord in the future. Praise God our past is under the blood! Our sins and iniquities He will remember no more!
However, a man who has not established a track record of faithfulness as a Christian should not be a candidate for the pastorate of a church. Let him become faithful in the little things first before giving him what is possibly the greatest responsibility within the body of Christ. Paul is very clear on this. God put him in the ministry due to his faithfulness.
When a married man makes the vile decision to sleep with a woman who is not his wife, we call that being unfaithful. You are foolish if you think that God will call a man who has proven to be unfaithful to his wife into a position where faithfulness is required.
The Accusations Of Phariseeism & Lack Of Love
Some will say that we are making those who cannot serve in the pastorate “second class Christians”. Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no such thing as a second-class Christian. All who have been saved by His grace are God’s beloved children. Just because someone should not serve in the pastorate does not make that individual a lesser child of God. We are not Nicolaitans. There are no lesser Christians. We are to esteem each as better than ourselves.
Besides, there are many Christians who meet all of the qualities listed by Paul in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 who God will never call to the pastorate. There may be Christians in the pew who are closer to the Lord than the pastor is. That, however, does not constitute a call to the ministry. Not everyone can be the pastor. Someone has to be in the pew. The church needs all kinds of people. There are many, many ways to serve God. There are many ways to preach God’s word without being in the pastorate. The pastor cannot do it all. The body has many members with many functions. None are less important than the other. We are all important to God. The problem is that some feel that they are not important unless they are in the pulpit. That is pride.
The fact that one is unqualified for the pastorate does not make those who are better. It just means that God has a different function for each member of the body of Christ.
There are also those who will accuse me of being a self-righteous Pharisee for what I have written here. Frankly, I don’t care. It’s ok. I’m used to that by now. Preachers who preach against sin will always be called that. That doesn’t change the responsibility we have, however, to preach against sin.
1 Timothy 5:20 “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.” Titus 1:13 “This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith”. 2 Timothy 4:2-3 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears”. Isaiah 58:1 “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.”
If we are Pharisees for speaking against sin and for righteousness, then so were all the prophets of Israel, all the apostles, and Jesus Christ Himself.
The false accusers will also accuse us of not loving our brethren. They must judge our hearts and motives because they have no scriptures to justify their support of immoral, unqualified men in the pastorate. They must resort to delusion, sentimentalism, ad hominems, and straw man arguments. The truth is that all this has nothing to do with a lack of love for the brethren. To them, loving my brother means that I must agree with a disqualified, immoral man in the pulpit. If I don’t then that means I hate him. To them, we are kicking a brother while he is down if we don’t ignore 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and support him back into the pastorate. That’s the way their twisted, ungodly minds work.
They resort to God’s mercy upon sinners as their defense, but they fail to realize that they are abusing God’s mercy. According to Lamentations 3:22, it is because of God’s mercy that He doesn’t consume us the very moment we do wrong. But some are not content with that. They must abuse God’s mercy by using it as an excuse to ignore 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and put a disqualified man in a position where he doesn’t belong. God is merciful but He is holy as well. Have we forgotten about His holiness? You are deceiving yourself if you think God will bless those who abuse His mercy.
Why can’t I love my brother and also obey the Bible and its clear instructions about who is qualified for the pastorate and who is not? Why is it our love that is questioned instead of an adulterous preacher’s credibility and qualifications? Why can’t the fallen minister be content with serving the Lord OUTSIDE the pastorate? Is the pastorate the only way for him to serve God?
How did WE become the problem for taking a biblical stance when this whole discussion started because of foolish preachers who decided to do abominable things like crawl into the bed with a woman who is not his wife to have sex with her? You see compromisers must find ways to make us monsters in order to justify their cowardice to stand for what is right. No, the problem here is not a lack of love for a brother. The problem here is immoral behavior, weak and cowardly compromisers, and rebellion against the word of God.
Standing for Bible truth and denouncing sin has never been popular and never will. That should not deter us from proclaiming what the Bible clearly says. The problem is that too many Christians today are driven by their emotions and sentimentality rather than the word of God.
This is true of even preachers today, which is a shame. These cowards should step down from the pulpit and not return until they grow a backbone and develop the fortitude a man of God needs to preach the WHOLE counsel of God, not just the parts of the Bible that are convenient for them and their agendas. All this mess is the reason why God has written Ichabod over so many churches today.
God help us to not only see clearly the plain instructions of God’s word but to obey them.
1 Samuel 15:22-23 “And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”