Isaiah 55:1-3a ESV
“Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live.”
We are living in a day and age when deception and sexual immorality abound, but not just outside in the sinful world, but inside the gatherings of the church. And, it is not just among the congregants of the church, either, but the problem is massive and growing among church leadership, too. And, this has been going on for a very long time.
It has continued for a lengthy time because it has largely been covered up, concealed, and it has not yet come into the light just how huge of a problem this is within evangelical Christianity, and within protestant church denominations. So many pastors today are addicted to porn, but it isn’t just that. They are involved in extra-marital affairs, having sex with teens and possibly with young children, going to prostitutes, and the list goes on.
These men who are church leaders, or who are heads of households, are living independent and separate lives from God, from their spouses, and from what they know is the truth, the law of God. Yet, they choose to continue in disobedience to the Lord without regard to the counsel of God or the counsel of other believers who care about them, and who want to see them walk in freedom. So, literally they are hanging themselves, i.e. they are in a mode of self-destruction via the wrong choices they make.
They are living double lives, too. There is the life that everyone can see, and it is where they reveal only what they are willing to reveal and no more. It is a façade, often presenting a godly life on the outside while living in filth and immorality on the inside. God has been working on many of their hearts, because they know the way of truth, but they have been putting up barriers and have hardened their hearts so that they will not allow the light to shine into the darkness to expose what is inside there, so that they can be free.
These men are like the Pharisees who often appear righteous and good on the outside while inside they are full of wickedness. So, they work hard at presenting just the right façade on the outside so that others will think well of them, and so people will have a favorable impression of them, while truly their lives have a black mark against them, that if known, they would be regarded with disfavor, instead, which is why they work so hard to conceal their double lives and to hold on to their secret sins.
Note: This situation is not limited to church leaders or heads of households or to men only, but today I believe the Lord is having me address specifically the situation within the church with pastors, elders and heads of households.
The Bible speaks much to this issue of the heart and of hypocrisy, too, i.e. of presenting one image on the outside while secretly engaging in another lifestyle on the inside. Our confession of Christ as Savior of our lives cannot be outward only, but it has to change our hearts. If we walk according to the flesh, the Bible teaches, we will die in our sins, not have the hope of eternal life with God. If we claim to have fellowship with God, but we live sinful lifestyles, addicted to sin, then we are liars, the Bible tells us.
Many of these Pharisees (hypocrites) will give lip service only to God, but their hearts are far from him, which is evident by the things which they do. Yet, words are just words if they are not followed up with action. Our actions speak louder than our words. If you say you love God or that you love your spouse or you claim that you are having great times of fellowship with God, but you are cheating on your spouse, lying to her and to your congregations, and/or abusing and using others to your advantage, then you don’t love God or your wife, but you are self-absorbed, living apart from God and spouse.
If these hypocritical leaders of homes and churches choose to continue in their secret sins, and refuse to bring their sins into the light, they are choosing to remain in the darkness, and the darkness is the devil’s stomping grounds. Thus, they truly are walking on dangerous ground and are hanging themselves, just as much as if they tied a noose around their own necks.
Forsake and Return
Isaiah 55:6-9 ESV
“Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
One of the biggest things going against these men is their self-deception and their pride. They tell so many lies that they end up believing their own lies. They live in denial, they blame others for their problems, and they minimize the seriousness of their sinful addictions. They like to compartmentalize each situation while ignoring the whole picture. They think they are pretty good people with a little problem, for they are refusing to acknowledge how big of a problem they really have. And, the church is doing this, too.
Yet, if they do not face the reality of their sinful addictions, or if the church does not face the reality of the vastness of sinful (immoral, sexual) addiction within the church, and among the leadership, it will stunt their spiritual growth and will prevent true heart change from taking place. We can’t ignore this and think it will just go away. It will grow like gangrene! And, it will destroy the life of the church and families and marriages and individual lives.
So, if you are serious about getting your heart right with God, and if you are serious about getting free from your chains of addiction, you have to get serious about letting the light shine into your dark hearts and expose what is in there, and then be willing to accept whatever the natural consequences may be, as a result of the revelation.
So many people stay trapped in sin because they are more concerned about what it might cost them if they are honest about their double lives, than they are concerned about the harm they are doing to others and to their relationships with the Lord.
We have to be honest, not only with God, but with ourselves, with our spouses, and with the church, the body of Christ, who can hold us accountable before God to make certain we walk in holiness and no longer in the darkness. This is the only way to true freedom! Lies and deception just breed more lies and deception and only keep the gate open for continued sin. Telling the truth and exposing the lies releases you and frees you up so that you can now walk in freedom and no longer in bondage.
But, you have to turn away from those sins, throw off whatever is leading you into sin, and then walk according to the Spirit and no longer according to the flesh, empowered now by the Spirit of God living and working within you, as you now yield control of your life over to God and do what he says.
God’s Purpose Accomplished
Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
An individual who is addicted to sin may go to counseling and support groups and read all kinds of books and literature on how to be set free from sinful addiction, and still remain trapped in sin. Especially pastors of churches, who have had all kinds of training and teaching, and who have been teaching the Bible to others, are not lacking in knowledge. What they are lacking in is obedience.
There is a serious lack, though, of those within the church these days, who are walking in holiness and who are living godly lives, who are spiritually able and willing to disciple these men, to hold them accountable, and who will expect change from them. For, so many leaders within the church are living in sinful addiction themselves. Thus, sin is running rampant in the church, and not much at all is being done to put a stop to it.
God is very patient with us, indeed, and he may allow us, any of us, to wander in sinful rebellion for a prolonged period of time, and not face the consequences of our sin, but there may come a time when he pulls the plug and he says “Enough!” and he allows our sins to be exposed which we would not willingly expose ourselves.
In other words, he may bring some of these heads of households and church leaders, who have hardened their hearts against him for so long, to a place of public humiliation where God exposes their sins. This may be necessary before they will ever come to their knees in humility before God, which will then allow the light to shine into their dark hearts.
God warns of such judgment as this in his letters to the seven churches in Revelation and in other NT books in the Bible. It appears judgment is now necessary to put the church back to where she needs to be spiritually, to revive human hearts, and to turn them from darkness to the light of truth.
Lord, I Need You
Songwriters: Christy Nockels / Daniel Carson /
Jesse Reeves / Kristian Stanfill / Matt Maher
Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You’re the One that guides my heart
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
Saturday, March 3, 2018, 7:44 a.m. – Thank you, Jesus, for this teaching from your Word today. Bring it home to our hearts, I pray in Jesus’ name.