Anyone who has been a Christian for even a short period of time knows someone who has left the faith. We hear about a brother or a sister going back into the world sometimes as often as we hear of people coming into the faith. It isn’t easy to understand or to grasp this sudden shift in their affections and thinking and we tend to wonder how it can be possible for someone to leave Christ. It is baffling but yet not abnormal unfortunately.
There is however an even greater impact upon individuals when the person leaving is a leader. It seems to shake things up quite extensively and cause tremendous personal issues for those who look up to these individuals. We are all looking for some stable minded person who we can esteem as having the “real thing” and we tend to strive to obtain what he has. We are inclined to think that this person has it all figured out and they are in fact spiritual above and beyond everyone else. They know their bible and can expound it like none other. Their falling away into sin and turning away from the holiness they once held and preached is nothing short of a travesty for them personally and for those who revered them.
Awhile back, a man that I admire took some time away from his ministry to deal with some sin in his life. What really amazed me was that he didn’t hide his sin away and acknowledged his own weakness. His admission came, not merely with words, but with actions and out in the open. He realized his weakness and took a step back from his ministry to deal with this sin openly before continuing. The reality was that there was room for him to do so within his circles. He could openly admit it and he was allowed time to deal with these issues. The congregation knew that he could fall and so did he!
The problem is that we think that somehow these people are safeguarded from falling away. People, even bible teachers, can fall away into sin. This is a fact that anyone who has read a history book can affirm. Even Christian men crave the lust of the flesh and do not have enough fear of sin to deal with it. They think they have control when they don’t. I remember awhile back a secular man telling me “any man who has not cheated on his wife has not done so because he hasn’t had a woman land in his lap yet”. There is some truth to his statement but when we have a respect for the power of the flesh, we do everything we can to keep that woman off our lap.
What we must learn from all this is the fact that we can’t bank too much on men. Bible teacher, leaders and all those we look up to in the faith are prone to sin. As the Psalmist wrote “do not trust in princes, in mortal man…” (Psalm 146:3). We must learn from these situations that we must daily put sin to death (Romans 8:13) and pray for our perseverance in the faith. We must also pray for our leaders that the Lord might preserve them in living the life that they so often preach to others. We might be shaken by their departure from the faith but we must remember that the wheat will grow with the tares and it is only in time and by their fruits that we shall know the difference.