Holiness and Morality

"But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God's holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place" (Eph. 5:3-4)

A life of personal holiness is not easy. But it is important — both for the Christian himself, for those he encounters and for those whose lives he might someday touch. In my recent book, The Minister's Little Devotional Book (Honor Books), co-authored with Stan Toler, I wrote about someone special in my life:

He was my mentor for preaching. As a young ministerial student, I followed his ministry with great enthusiasm. He could sprinkle the stardust with his oratories. Without question, he will be remembered as one of the greatest camp meeting speakers of the 20th century.

Recently, my hero sat across the breakfast table from me. Having been removed from his pulpit, he was a broken man — a life in shambles and a ministry ruined by years of illicit sexual behavior that had finally caught up with him. At his age, there was little hope for restoration to ministry.

As the tears flowed freely, my fallen preacher hero asked for my forgiveness. I reminded him that I loved and forgave him. I emphasized that God in heaven had also forgiven him. He acknowledged that he was forgiven through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

As I watched him walk away, shoulders slumped, I thought of the mighty cleansing power of God's forgiveness and grace. I then thought of the people who might never hear one of his inspirational messages because of his sin. I still think he's the best ever to stand behind the sacred pulpit.

I know my hero is forgiven by God — just as you and I are. But the consequences of his sin are a grievous thing. We must never forget this any time we are tempted to disobey God's Word or the leading of the Holy Spirit.

I think the point I am attempting to make is that even the best and the brightest of our colleagues often fall prey to the attacks of Satan. When that happens, precious lives are left in ruin, promising ministries are destroyed and priceless future opportunities for sharing God's love are lost. The cost is too high.

There is only one preventative course for us to take — stay very close to our Lord. Admit to Him our weaknesses and surrender to Him our fear ... and then flee. Flee every form of evil, and take ourselves out of harm's way.

We really do need to pray for one another.

Taken from Pastor to Pastor newsletter, Jan/Feb 1999.
Article copyright © 1999, Focus on the Family.
All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

Dr. H.B. London is the vice president of Pastoral Ministries for Focus on the Family and the author of numerous books on and for pastors. He served as a Nazarene pastor for over 30 years in several churches in Oregon and California. He and his wife, Beverley, live primarily in Colorado Springs, Colo., and have two sons and four grandchildren.