|SIOUX CITY, Iowa (BP) -- I had a shocking conversation with an old friend recently. He told me that his wife, whom I had known as a vibrant, passionate, committed Christian, had abandoned her family, her faith and embraced a life of sin with wild abandon. I would have never believed that it was possible. I'd preached to her, talked with her about deep spiritual matters, and watched her grow. What happened?
As I pondered that chilling event, my mind cast back to a pastors' conference I attended nearly 20 years ago. The prominent pastor who hosted the conference was discussing the ongoing problem of moral failure among pastors. And then he said something that shocked me: "That is never going to happen to me. It is not in me to cheat on my wife, to commit adultery. I just do not have that in me."
To my knowledge, this pastor has remained faithful to his wife. But that doesn't change the fact that I think his confidence was foolish. I am a redeemed sinner, indwelled by the Holy Spirit and in the process of transformation to become like Jesus. One day I will be free from sin, from temptation and from any chance that I would ever fall into sin.
This is not that day. Whenever I hear of a Christian brother (or sister) who falls into sin, I am reminded that the darkness that brought their fall lives in me.
I have never cheated on my wife, not before marriage or since. I do not think I ever will. But I've talked to more than one person, looking up from the floor, who said, "I never thought it would happen to me." I don't plan to fall. I really don't. But it would be foolish of me to believe that I cannot.
I had a long conversation in my office several years ago with a Christian leader who was trying to hold his marriage together after he fell headlong into adultery. He was nearing his retirement years, had been a respected leader, one of those guys who no one would ever believe could fall. He did. I asked him to tell me how it all happened. It hit him like a storm -- unexpected and powerful. He had no idea what happened.
But perhaps the root of his problem was his failure to understand what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:12: "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall."
Overconfidence, especially confidence in my own character and ability, is a serious problem. As long as I live in this world, as long as I still await the consummation of my salvation, the darkness lives in me. I need to fight it. I need to walk in Christ's power and make wise choices and draw near to God and resist the devil and be filled with the Spirit and ... well, you know what I'm getting at.
I make an assumption every time a command is given to believers in God's Word: Continued...