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When Believers Fall

28 Feb

I have the feeling that J. West is a very insecure person because he feels the need to judge and condemn others who sin or fall to temptation. If you look at his website with any consistency you would have noticed how he regularly finds some situation in which he can stand in judgement over and feel superior to those he is condemning.

His latest excursion into this area comes when a believer has not been victorious over sexual temptation:

http://zwingliusredivivus.wordpress.com/2014/02/28/another-family-values-conservative-has-to-resign-because-hes-sexually-immoral/

Reprehensible hypocrite…It’s easy to see the pathology of this dictatorial misogynist lurking behind his every word and work.  What’s surprising isn’t that he’s a reprehensible reprobate.  What’s surprising is that it took so long for people to find out.

I only quoted West’s words there so you could see for yourself the self-righteous stand he takes and the utter ignorance of mitigating factors while leaping to label Mr. Gothard a hypocrite.

Jesus was tempted which means his followers will be as well and how we handle temptation can be seen as a progress report of our Christian lives. Since Christians are human, we will sin and fail. We will submit to temptation because we are not always strong nor hide in Jesus or ask for strength to combat the attacks of evil.

Those failures do not grant permission to others who claim to be Christian to judge or condemn. Instead they are opportunities for other believers to take action and work to restore the fallen to good standing n Christ.

It was said decades ago, and I am not sure if it is still used or not, that Christians are the only group that shoot their wounded. Sadly, in their haste to be seen as holy or spiritual many believers kick their fallen brethren when they are down and ignore what scriptures said to do.

We are familiar with the common verses that are used to fight against this trend, ‘Ye who are without sin, cast the first stone’ or ‘do not judge lest ye be judged’ yet there is a verse or two in Galatians that provide instruction to guide the believer in this situations:

Brethren, even if [a]anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.(ch 6 NASB)

Notice it does not say to call the fallen person names or condemn them. Jesus wants those who are more mature to step in and help the fallen believer up.  We are not to label them as hypocrites because hypocrisy doesn’t include falling to temptation or failing to gain victory over sin in one’s life.

Christian leaders are not immune to temptation and we should not be hasty in condemning them when they succumb and sin. We may have to examine how we are praying for them because these people are targeted by evil because if evil can get them to fail then they can get lesser believers to doubt and walk away from their faith.

No believer should take pride or joy in seeing someone like Mr. Gothard fail and fall. it is a sad day because a believer has erred and its implications can be far-reaching in the Christian world. We do need to find the right people to restore him back to spiritual health and not leave him languishing in sin slowly spiritually dying.

Now there is a difference between giving into temptation or not having victory in Jesus and simply walking away from the truth to embrace false teaching. The owner of the formerly fundie website is one of these and in his latest post laments his loss of Christian friendship.

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/the-difficult-aspect-of-christian-friends-must-we-agree-in-order-to-be-in-relationship/

Now I am not going to go through the whole article pointing out where he has erred in his thinking. I am just going to point out one major problem he has. He laments:

This isn’t because our Christian siblings aren’t nice people or incapable of being good friends. Rather, this is because somewhere along the line you and I were taught a horrible lie:

We were taught that we have to agree on everything in order to be in relationship with one another.

It seems this person ignores what was taught in 1st Corinthians 1:

10 Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all [e]agree and that there be no [f]divisions among you, but that you be [g]made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. (NASB)

The owner of that website is desiring that believers disobey God simply because he wants to have Christian friends. But there is a difference between this person’s actions and Mr. Gothard’s. Mr. Gothard may have been a victim of ‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak’ mentality but the owner of that website willingly walked away from the truth and embraced false teaching.

He is creating the division and then demands that Christians who do not think like him or want to be exposed to false teaching accept him for who he is and what he believes. Yet that goes against biblical teaching:

14 Do not be [j]bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 Or what harmony has Christ with [k]Belial, or [l]what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, (2. Cor. 6 NASB)

If a person calls himself a Christian yet does not accept or believe parts of the Bible then we need to question or be suspicious of their claims. Though we cannot be totally sure of their salvation status, we can think that they are not truly believers in God and there is no fellowship or anything in common with those who hold to alternatives to different passages of the Bible.

I am not talking about speaking in tongues differences but actual unbelief in the passages of the Bible and the acceptance of secular thinking instead. people who do not believe the Bible as written are not really believers unless they are new or immature Christians who are in need of proper instruction.

Here is what Paul says in Chapter 11 of 2nd Corinthians:

I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but [a]indeed you are bearing with me. For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if [b]one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. For I consider myself not in the least inferior to the [c]most eminent apostles. But even if I am unskilled in speech, yet I am not so in knowledge; in fact, in every way we have made this evident to you in all things.

Or did I commit a sin in humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I preached the gospel of God to you without charge? I robbed other churches by taking wages from them to serve you; and when I was present with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone; for when the brethren came from Macedonia they fully supplied my need, and in everything I kept myself from being a burden to you, [d]and will continue to do so. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

12 But what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may cut off opportunity from those who desire an opportunity to be [e]regarded just as we are in the matter about which they are boasting. 13 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.

There can really be no true friendship between true believers and those who have accepted false teaching and hold to that false message. True believers are to help these people in times of trouble but that does not men they can be friends and have fellowship with them.

There are 2 other parts of that person’s article that bothers me:

First,

Now, that being said– I do think there’s a time to draw lines. For example, I recently deleted some Christians from Facebook for posting racist content. As a trans-racial family and a decent human being, I’m not willing to be in relationship with people who are racist. Sorry, but that’s one of my lines.

He doesn’t like it when Christians draws a line that affects him yet he willingly does it to others without shame. If he wants to be friends with those who are not the same as him, why is he willfully drawing a line between him and those who disagree with him?

This is an example of hypocrisy in action and not falling to temptation. he wants Christians to accept differences yet he cannot do the same with others. He loses his argument right here. He should not be condemning or complaining about true Christians who do not want to be his friend because he doesn’t believe what they believe. He needs to look in a mirror first.

Second,

Yet, Christian culture has become so “tribe exclusive” that my favorite, most trustworthy friends… are atheists. Why? Well, because they love me for me, want to be in a relationship simply for the relationship, and they’re not going to stop being my friend if my theology shifts.

If he is a Christian then why doesn’t he follow scripture where it says ‘do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly’ (Ps. 1:1) and why does he not walk under the guidance of the verse, ‘ friendship with the world is hostility towards God’ (James 4:4)?

He has stated in other articles that Christians should form partnerships with unbelievers, so if he is a Christian why is he encouraging people to disobey God? He can’t see the truth because his eyes have become deceived. He has willingly walked away from the truth and embraced deception.

Quite a different act from falling to temptation. When people walk away from the truth, they are not temporarily falling to a temptation, they are abandoning the truth in favor of sinful teaching and that makes their actions worse than those who are not strong enough to withstand the attacks of evil.

In each case true believers have instructions in the Bible on how to respond. If the person lamenting his lack of Christian friends takes a hard look at himself, he may see that the problem doesn’t lie with the true believers but with him and his beliefs.

If he is unwilling to change back to the truth then why would true Christians be friends with him? He will only drag them down to his level of unbelief not shore their faith up. I hope people will feel compassion for Mr. Gothard and others like him and take Christ’s way and not Mr. West’s for the latter casts out Christians in need and does not restore them.

****as an aside, if you want to read the whole article it is found here: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/02/28/conservative-leader-bill-gothard-placed-administrative-leave-following-abuse-allegations/

One thing that does need to be mentioned in defense of Mr. Gothard. Because sexual harassment in America has been defined as ‘how it is perceived and not how it is intended’ many sexual harassment complaints may not be truly justified. The misunderstanding of the receiver plays a large role in communication especially when it comes to male/female contact.

So do not let the words ‘sexually harassment’, ‘sexual abuse’ and other generalized distorted words influence your judgement wrongly.

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Posted by on February 28, 2014 in Bible, General Life, theology

 

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