Gospel Light Baptist Church, Albany, Georgia
1 Corinthians 10:12-13 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will w ith the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
I don’t know that there are temptations PECULIAR to the ministry in the most strict sense of the word, for 1 Cor. 10:13 indicates otherwise. However, there are temptations which strike at ministers in greater number and force, it seems. I will enumerate ones which come to my mind, having dealt with these temptations since I began pastoring in 1975 until the present. The main points are in out line format, but these are followed by discussion rather than outline subpoints.
I. CONFIDENCE IN THE WILL
1 Timothy 3:6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
A great problem a preacher faces is PRIDE. A novice is more prone to the temptation than an older preacher, for the older man has fallen on his face enough times to know better. Unfortunately, some men still do not learn the lesson and succumb to the temptation even in our mature years. They disdain a younger preacher, when that man may be closer to God than they are.
I mention “confidence in the WILL” for the man of God must realize that even his intentions to stand true to God may be full of pride. That was apparently Simon Peter’s case, for we read in Matthew 26:33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Pride precedes a fall, and Peter fell.
II. COMPROMISE WITH THE WORLD
A bishop is to be “vigilant, sober” (1 Tim. 3:2). He needs to be ever watchful that he doesn’t slip backward in his stand for Christ and the Bible. It doesn’t take much, for a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump. Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom, and he eventually sat in the gate of Sodom. He almost perished in Sodom, and his compromise cost him dearly.
The preacher needs to stay far enough away from sin that he appears to be fanatical to lukewarm Laodicean believers today. If he wants his men to wear their hair like men, he will have to wear his like a drill sergeant. If he wants his people to stay out of the Southern Baptist Convention, he needs to stay away from SBC revival meetings and conferences. If he wants his people to take a step in the right direction, he must take two or three.
A preacher has begun to compromise when he starts calling people with standards “legalists” or “hyper-separatists.” A BBFI leader of years ago accused me of being a legalist because I found fault with his standards (or lack thereof). He later was found t o be a sex pervert and committed suicide. A local independent Baptist preacher, a Tennessee Temple grad, mocked me and accused me of legalism, because of standards. Within a couple of years he had an affair with a woman in his church, destroying the woman’s marriage, and he left town.
III. COVETOUSNESS OF WEALTH
Another qualification for a bishop is that he be “…not greedy of filthy lucre … not covetous…” (1 Tim. 3:3). Charismatics are not the only preachers who get caught up in a prosperity gospel.
Recently I have been approached by two independent Baptist preachers in an effort to get me involved in their pyramid schemes, otherwise known as multi-level network marketing (direct marketing, network marketing — a rose by any other name smells the s ame). These schemes are nearly always based more upon convincing others that they can make money by convincing others that they can make money, by … than by providing a product or a service.
Pastors in search of churches sometimes conduct themselves exactly as unsaved people do when they seek out a job. They want to know the salary, retirement, insurance, vacations, and other benefits. Perhaps it would be best for the preacher to know none of these things before he accepts a pastorate, that he may have a clear conscience that it was GOD who led him to that place rather than filthy lucre.
IV. COUNSELING OF WOMEN
A bishop must “be blameless, the husband of one wife…” One of the things which has caused fundamental preachers to hang their heads in shame more often than ever before has been the defilement of God’s men by immorality.
There are a number of causes of this, but I would like to point out one area which causes me a great alarm, especially because I do not hear other preachers saying anything about the subject. I am referring to the practice many pastors have of cou nseling women alone behind closed doors. Not only does that practice constitute an act of disobedience to the command to abstain from all appearance of evil, but it also makes provision for the flesh and gives place to the devil. A preacher has no busine ss in being alone in a room behind closed doors with a woman other than his wife.
Some alternatives would be: 1. A preacher could allow his wife to counsel women; 2. He could counsel a woman in public view of others (not necessarily so that every word is heard, but so that every move can be seen); 3. He could counsel a woman behind closed doors with his wife or other people present.
IF A MAN IS NOT ALONE WITH A WOMAN TO WHOM HE IS NOT MARRIED, HE WILL NOT COMMIT FORNICATION. That is almost an infallible rule. If a preacher wants to stay clean, I suggest he follow that rule. Let his most questionable behavior be in plain view, where he can be justly criticized.
V. CONVENTIONISM IN THE WORK
A preacher should be totally dependent upon God, willing to cooperate with other preachers of like mind, and fiercely independent of control by movements and machines. Man is a social creature, however, and it is his nature to want to join things and build organizations (illustrations: the Prodigal Son, Lot, Tower of Babel, etc.).
Conventionism is on display when churches support movements rather than individual missionaries; when they replace the Bible with Sunday School literature; when they refer to churches of their movement as “our” churches; and when politics stifle preaching against compromise and sin.
When Simon Peter erred publicly, Paul corrected him publicly, regardless of how it might hurt his standing with the “apostles.” Too many preachers act like politicians. They are afraid of criticizing a leader for the detrimental effect it may have upon their own advancement in the denomination (fellowship, association … a rose by any other name).
VI. CLUMSINESS WITH THE WORD
A preacher is to be “apt to teach” (1 Tim. 3:2), and he is to be counted worthy of double honor if he labors in the word and doctrine (1 Tim. 5:17). A man of God must of necessity be a man of the BOOK.
He should use the Bible to pastor his own home. His ruling of his own house (1 Tim. 3:4,5) should be accomplished by diligent attention to and application of the word of God.
A pastor may be a master planner, promoter, and pulpiteer, but if he doesn’t study and is unable to rightly divide the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15), he is deserving of shame, not “double honour.” It is evident from the size of false churches that a large attendance is not necessarily any indication of soundness of doctrine from the pulpit, and God’s people may be starving while priding themselves upon their large bank accounts and buildings.
VII. COWARDICE IN THE WAR
If an appropriate motivational banner were placed on the wall of the average preacher’s office, one which summarized his attitude toward dealing with sin “in the camp,” it would say, “DON’T ROCK THE BOAT.” Would to God preachers would be mindful that God might expect us to rock the boat in order to wake up the sleeping “Jonah” who is on board and out of God’s will!
The truth is, some “fundamental” preachers avoid preaching on, for example: 1. tobac co in tobacco country; 2. Hab. 2:15 and producing alcoholic beverages when members work at the local brewery; 3. women’s pants when the deacons’ wives all wear them; and 4. compromising preachers (naming such ones as Falwell, Van Impe, Swindoll, etc.) because they know their people adore them.
The preacher is admonished:
2 Timothy 2:3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.
A man says, “I’m not here to split this church.” No, you’re there to PREACH THE WORD. If you preach the word and the church splits, so be it. Our Lord spoke the word and ran MULTITUDES off with one sermon! Only the 12 were left, and He asked them, “Will ye also go away?” (Jn. 6:67).
Preachers get ulcers preparing for deacons meetings. They sometimes are warned by their wives to be sweeter. An old “founding father” of the congregation steps up to the preacher and counsels: “You know, you’re never going to see this church grow as long as you keep preaching against those things.”
CONCLUSION: There are opportunities for falling on every hand. What a joy it is to know that, although, we must take heed lest we fall if we think we stand, we do have this promise:
Jude 1:24-25 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.