Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. – James 4:1-4.
Ted Haggard is no longer pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Haggard said in a letter read to the church, “The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality, and I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There’s a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life.”
I am no longer surprised to hear such stories, such revelations. I am no longer surprised by them, because they occur so frequently. I personally know of several churches and staff members, who have been affected by sexual immorality in the area I live (In the past 20 years, not anybody who is currently serving). It seems as though, it is several times a year that there are similar stories in state newspapers, with those involved not being as prominent in religious life as Haggard. If there is a scandal involving someone in a church – whether it is a bus driver, Sunday school teacher, deacon, pastor, secretary, or staff member; you can be sure it will be on the front page of the paper.
Our culture and our society expects Christians and Christian leaders to live up to what they profess. The sad truth is that we are not perfect, and we do have our flaws, not having become completely conformed to His image (Romans 8:29). I believe that among non-Christians, the numbers of those involved in sexual immorality is exponentially greater. This does not excuse those of us, however, who as Christians have failed to resist the temptations of the world. This does not excuse us of the spiritual adultery. We have not only failed our husband or wife when we commit adultery – we have sinned against God. As we can see in the adultery of David with Bathsheba (and the arrangement of David for the murder of Bathsheba’s husband Uriah.) in 2 Samuel 12:13, “So David said to Nathan (the prophet), ‘I have sinned against the LORD.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.’” In Psalm 51, it is the prayer of his confession and plea for mercy.
We are beginning an in depth study of the Book of Ephesians at our church, and last night I was struck by how the apostle Paul begins the epistle. He says, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 1:1).” The old KJV puts the last few words of the verse as, “to the faithful in Christ Jesus.” “To the faithful….” That is what our Lord calls us to be, “faithful.”
Being “faithful” is a challenge, because temptations do assail us in this world in which we live. However, God has provided for us all that we need to live faithfully for Him. In the first chapter of Ephesians, we see that by the blessings we have been given through Jesus, that we have all we need to live “faithful” lives. In Christ Jesus, according to the apostle Paul in Ephesians, we are blessed (1:3); chosen (1:4); predestined (1:5); adopted (1:5); accepted (1:6); redeemed (1:7); forgiven (1:7); enlightened (1:8-9); given an inheritance (1:11); sealed (1:13); and, assured (1:14).
You may have failed. You may have sinned against the Lord, as David confessed that he had done. However, you too can begin anew and receive forgiveness. You can begin a new walk of faithfulness. You can write a new chapter in the story of your life. You can pray as David did, “Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the multitude of Your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin (Psalm 51:1-2).”
(Our culture and our society, expects Christians and Christian leaders to live up to what they profess.)