One of the most damaging events to the credibility of the gospel is the fall of a hero. I’m walking with a friend through that right now. I’ve faced it before, and you probably have as well. Someone who has impacted you spiritually, discipled you, or served with you in some ministry capacity is caught or confesses hidden sin.
When someone you respect as a spiritual leader falls, you are left hurt, disillusioned, angry and perhaps struggling with doubt.
If you’ve not experienced this, you’re probably a young believer. I’ve had many “heroes” fall. And I’ve probably unintentionally disappointed people I’ve invested in spiritually. It is perhaps the most unexpected of betrayals, but it is the nature of living in a fallen world.
I’ve witnessed too many pastors losing their testimony because of immorality, seen too many worship leaders step down because of sexual addictions, experienced the disappointment from too many “heroes” turning back instead of pressing on in spiritual growth.
And when that happens, we are left sorting through the mess and processing our personal disappointment.
What do we do with that?
Why do heroes fall?
Is it because the power of the Word is impotent in the battle against sin?
Is it because this is all a fairytale, and there’s nothing to this “Christianity” thing after all?
Is it because the gospel is a racket rather than a reality?
In today’s post, I want to attempt to answer those questions, and tomorrow I will give us some thoughts on navigating the betrayal. When a Christian’s hypocritical life is brought into public view, the skeptics have a hey-day, but believers may also struggle with some of the issues the scoffers raise.
When the fall of a Christian leader is used as a means to discredit Christianity be prepared to answer these questions:
Is the Word impotent in the battle against sin?
The Word is a powerful tool in our battle against sin, in fact, it’s referred to as the “Sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17), but that sword must be wielded by a believer (important note: not all “fallen heroes” are Christians) who is engaging in battle with the Spirit’s aid.
How does a believer effectively “kill sin?”
[box]“If you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” (Romans 8:13)[/box]
Notice the way we “put to death the deeds of the body.” It is “by the Spirit.” We cut off sin’s power as we cry out for grace and victory from the Spirit and apply the truth of His Word (the Sword of the Spirit) to that area of temptation.
If the Word says “Flee immorality . . .” and you’re attracted to a married man on Facebook (who is not your husband!) un-friend him, run, FLEE! Apply the Sword (obey the Word) through the empowering grace of the Spirit and surgically remove that temptation (1 Corinthians 6:18).
The only time the Word is impotent in our battle against sin, is when we don’t use it to battle our sin.
Does this hero’s fall prove that Christianity is a fairytale?
Betrayal by a spiritual hero can happen because all spiritual heroes still struggle with sin.
The danger is when their struggle with sin ceases.
Betrayal happens when sin is left unattended.
And this is one reason that even heroes need accountability built into their lives. We are all prone to sin, but the most dangerous thing about sin is its deceptive nature. We are easily blinded to our sin and unable to recognize it at work in our lives. That is why Scripture has a built-in process of accountability within the Church (Matt. 18:15–17; Gal. 6:1–2).
Is the gospel is a racket rather than a reality?
The fall of a hero is one of many examples of why the gospel IS reality. We need a savior—desperately. Our only hope IS the gospel. And when one who has delivered truth, falls and is not living out the truth, it doesn’t invalidate the need for that truth or the validity of that truth. Their fall underscores to a greater degree why we need the gospel and why our Savior came.
If you were spiritually impacted by a pastor, a teacher, a mentor or leader, who has fallen into sin—don’t be confused by the fact that God worked in your life “through” them at some point. Don’t doubt the work God did in you, it was His work—not that individual’s. If they were speaking truth from God’s Word—it was His truth, His powerful, life-changing Word—it was the gospel that was accomplishing His work in your life.
Pausing to pray now for those of you who may have experienced this type of betrayal.
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