How do you react when you hear of “Christian” leaders caught in activities that are against what most of them preach? Does it make you angry? Disgusted? Do you feel pain and compassion, saying “there but for the grace of God go I”? Or do you wonder if the power of Christ is sufficient to keep a person out of immorality?
Without any intention to pass judgement on any one individual, I’d like to offer some Biblical principles that focus on the issue of immorality discovered in leadership and how it can be responded to and dealt with.
First, we need to watch our own attitudes. God says, “There is not one who does good and sins not.” So everyone sins. But isn’t it easier to point fingers at those who are more obvious about it? We need to remember that man evaluates sin on a scale, but God says “...whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10).
Therefore the sins of prominent people, sins that make the headlines, are no greater in the sight of God than those committed in secret by those of us who are never get mentioned in the news. And it is definitely not right to talk about those who have fallen so as to feed a pride in our own “spirituality.” God warns, “Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.” Our crash may not be as loud, but it will come, if we nurture pride.
Secondly, sometimes people gain prominence by the strength of their own personalities but are not genuine. They are “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” as the Bible says, but they cannot actually live godly lives. It will only be an “outward appearance”, without the power of God behind it. Eventually that sin of deception will be exposed, sometimes through a public discovery and the person removed from their position of prominence. “Be not deceived, God is not mocked: whatever a man sows, he also reaps” (Galatians 6:7).
Thirdly, it is possible for genuine Christians to be overcome, for a time, by ungodly behavior. Galatians 6:1 says if that happens, “... you who are spiritual restore such a person gently, but watch yourself or you also may be tempted.” Successfully rebuking and restoring anyone caught in sin is never easy, especially if the person is a leader. Most of us tend to think that leaders have “arrived”, that they are somehow beyond falling. Therefore it is too easy to neglect prayer for them and easier still to neglect holding them accountable, face to face, should they show signs of slipping.
Fourthly, God provides all anyone needs to battle sin. His provision includes:
a) The indwelling power of the Holy Spirit: Galatians 5:16 says, “Live by the spirit and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”
b) The Word of God which is the Spirit’s weapon - We are to “hide His Word in our heart so we might not sin against Him” (Psalm 119:11)
c) Prayer - the link between our weakness and His power. We are “always to pray lest we enter into temptation.”
d) Spiritual oneness with other believers - Hebrews 10:25 warns us “not to give up meeting together . . . but to encourage one another . . .”
e) Protection - but we must “put on the whole armor of God” so as to resist the “flaming darts of the enemy” who would lead us into sin.
f) Co-crucifixion with Christ - yet we must “consider ourselves dead to sin and alive to God.”
Any Christian who does not avail himself or herself of the provisions God gives to battle sin is certain to lose a few rounds.
The body of Christ is like the human body. Each member works interdependently with the others. When one fails, the rest suffer. The health and success of the body is based on the members functioning harmoniously -- by discerning false teaching, praying for each another, building up each other, accountability, and making full use of what God has done for us.
Without obeying those things, we cannot blame God that some come crashing down.