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The man had been taken captive to sin.  It would seem that the man tightly grasped Jesus’ robe of righteousness and let it be his cover.  But, he did not seek help when his marriage and family suffered.  He did not confess sin’s hold on him.  Was there no one to whom he was accountable?

He brought a variety of movies into his home, but was there a reason he avoided “The Passion?”  Many times, I asked his help in equipping us  for spiritual battle.  He didn’t.  Maybe he couldn’t.

Publicly caught in his sin, he did confess — to one time of foolishness. To his wife, he confessed to more.  The public showered mercy and forgiveness upon him.  His wife found herself homeless.  Some tried to hold him to the higher standard of a man who had taken a vow before God, but he maintained that his private life didn’t affect others.

One day, the man told me that his grandson didn’t know how to respond to him.  So, as a grandfather and role-model, the man wrote his beloved grandson a letter of encouragement:  “I understand that you don’t know what to say to me.  Let me offer three suggestions.  You can say, ‘I forgive you.  I love you.  Let’s play golf!'”  After sharing this with me, I feared for the man.  Could this be the summation of his theology?

There was no way I could speak to this man except by using the Word of God.  What follows is part of my letter to him:

My dear friend . . . Moses spoke to the Israelites about the covenant made by God with His people.  No other people had ever received such a promise.  But, in Deuteronomy 29:19, Moses was inspired by the spirit to caution,

Beware  lest there be among you . . . one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’

A commentary on this passage of Deuteonomy reads: “To continue willfully to sin while claiming eternal security in Christ is a dangerous, perhaps even fatal, presumption.”  (One can read the continuing verses 20-29.)

My friend, you have always said that God’s Word changes lives.  For this reason, I proclaim with King David that I love the Word.  It gives me confidence.  It provides instruction.  It leads me to a future of hope.  But, like King David, our bones will waste away and our strength drain away like in the heat of summer if we do not acknowledge, confess, and turn away from our sins (Psalm 32).  You have confessed… in part.  Sadly, I believe you have covered so much repetitive sin with: “I forgive you.  I love you.  Let’s play golf.”

I am as much a sinner as you.  I have my confessed and unconfessed sins.  But, I am called by the Father God to repent and, after I have repented, stop repeating the sin.  I need to be held accountable.  I need others to hold me accountable.  I have and will continue to fail in being righteous.  Thankfully, the forgiveness of God in Christ has been poured out for you and me.  We are washed white as snow for eternity.  But, as one called to be holy, I cannot — must not — cheapen the priceless gift of Jesus Christ by asking for forgiveness and then boldly returning to bad habits, old ways, and repetitive sin.  Such actions carry powerful consequences that reach children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

That being sad, God’s mercy is to thousands of generations of those who love Him.

There is opportunity in this moment.  God has allowed some of your sin to be exposed.  You have expressed sorrow and remorse.  But, confess it all.  Don’t persist in the theology of: “Forgive me.  Love me.  Let’s play golf.”  Confront the pain and grief that years of a repeated sin have caused.  Mourn the loss of the wife that, while sinful herself, remained loyal to your high calling as a Christian leader.  Grieve the loss of damaged relationships with your children.  Confront the reality of your choices.  Be heartsick.  Be sorry.  Be shamed.  Then, turn from your sin… and sin no more.

Watching you these past years, I fear that your bones have been wasting away and your strength drained as in the heat of summer.  Has God’s hand been pressing down on you?   I want this to stop.  Don’t you?

Stop with the “Forgive.  Love.  Let’s play golf.”  Start  new by proclaiming: “Yes, I am forgiven.  yes, Jesus loves me eternally.  Now I must not only face but live with the consequences of my sins.  With the Spirit’s help, I can change my ways.  I beg for mercy and discernment to properly handle the Word of Truth.  I put on the armor of God for continual battle against evil and remind others to do the same.”

This is part of a letter I wrote to my fallen friend.  “Two are better than one . . . for if they fall, one will lift up his fellow, but woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up . . .” (Ecclesiastes 4:10).  This letter is also a reminder to me.  My doubt of God’s Word and the sins that follow bear consequences, too.

It’s a mucky and twisted road we travel.  Danger lurks at every turn.  False security leaves us more vulnerable and places others at risk.  Therefore,

Lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed . .  .

(Hebrews 12:12-17; 1 John 1:5-10)

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