Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do. Prov 4:23 (NLT)
These are no small words of warning from Solomon to his young son, truly from God our heavenly Father to us!
It’s with a heavy heart I write today. It seems like monthly, another pastor or leader has resigned due to sexual sin.  As I glance up on my bookshelf and review my Kindle book collection, I see that a few of those pastors, some very prominent, have poured into my life through their writings, teachings, and use by the Master!
It should come as no surprise that adultery is an immediate disqualification from any role in ministry.  Because with it comes deception, manipulation, and a sin-deadened heart, only true repentance can restore a heart toward God, and toward the offended spouse (Psalm 51).

My emotions go up and down after theses types of announcements, tweets, and news articles. I’ve gone from really deep sadness to strong anger, hopefully without sin (Eph 4:26). I think of the wives and children and the pain they must be facing. I think of the congregations entrusted to their care. I think of those that have sinned and what great condemnation lurks in the shadows to finish off a man who almost destroyed himself. I think of the watching world getting yet another piece of ammunition in their anti-God, anti-family rhetoric arsenal. I think of a fellow servants of the Lord who are healing from their own sinful actions and what wounds this announcement must be opening. I think of the countless others who when hearing the word ‘adultery’ are taken to a painful place they didn’t ask to go.  Look, sin is devastating and painful and extracts far more from human lives than we could possibly imagine.

Sin is devastating and painful and extracts far more from human lives than we could possibly… Click To Tweet

My heart goes out to the many, so many men, who are pastors, assistant pastors, elders, and just faithful godly men who haven’t succumbed to the temptation to hurt their wives or children or churches by committing sexual sin. How can we stay strong? What are things to look out for? I can think of at least 7 things I’d like to share related in no particular order.  Of course there are dozens and dozens of things to consider but I’ll only speak of only a few here. (While this is primarily geared toward those who are married, I believe you single men will draw out strong principles for your life as well.)

1. TAKE HEED TO GOD’S WORD. Just because you’re in the ministry doesn’t mean you’ve outgrown God’s Word.  Being in the ministry doesn’t mean you’re somebody now, above the flock and above the Word. Your daily abiding relationship with Jesus is nourished through your regular meditation upon God’s Word. It is binding on you, today! It’s in the Word we’re reminded of His great grace, His sacrifice, His love, His care, His strength, His help, His everything for us in our lives! None of us are immune or exempt from the Word of God and it’s mandated instructions upon our lives. Notice I said “mandated instructions” and not “lofty suggestions”. How can we cleanse our way? How can we remain pure? By taking heed to the Word of God. Obeying it in it’s simplicity. If and when you’re not in God’s Word, you’re close to the edge of sin.

Just because you’re in the ministry doesn’t mean you’ve outgrown God’s Word. Click To Tweet

How can a young man cleanse his way?
By taking heed according to Your word.
With my whole heart I have sought You;
Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments!
Your word I have hidden in my heart,
That I might not sin against You! Psalms 119:9-11 (NKJV)

2. RELY UPON THE HOLY SPIRIT.  The very resurrection power of Jesus Christ lives in you by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. You and I don’t have to attempt to live the Christian life by trying to fulfill rules and regulations in our own strength and wisdom. No, the very power to keep us pure, the very power that animates our lives is “Christ in us the hope of glory!” (Colossians 1:27) Consciously, daily, moment by moment, yield yourself to the Spirit of God in your life. Be careful not to grieve the Spirit in small ways or large (Ephesians 4:30). Be cautious to not quench the Spirit of God in your life by outright known and ongoing sin. (1 Thessalonians 5:19) Instead thank God daily for His provision to live out the life of Christ in you and through you with a power that is not your own. Your reliance upon the Holy Spirit is of utmost importance in every area of your life!

Your reliance upon the Holy Spirit is of utmost importance in every area of your life! Click To Tweet

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever– “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. John 14:15-18 (NKJV)

3. CONTINUALLY REMEMBER GOD’S GRACE IN YOUR LIFE. Pride, the arch-enemy of humility, loves to take root in a man’s heart, especially a man God has sovereignly and graciously decided to use for His purposes on the earth. Remember the Bible tells us that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) Pride is insidious and always wanting to have our attention, consuming us with self and replacing submission to God with a rebellious heart. Pride makes us think we deserve something. Pride then drives us to get what we think we deserve. As I recall, I deserve hell but God plucked me out of the miry pit. Therefore, pride makes we think I deserve something other than judgment. Pride makes us think we are more important than anyone else. Pride is often the sliver of light revealing an open door where the devil loves to prick with temptation. This is especially dangerous to those of us who serve God in the ministry. If we’re not careful pride will slowly but surely take us away from a deep abiding relationship with our Jesus as we begin to read our own press clippings, as we think we’re somebody, as we think we deserve this or that, as we think too highly of ourselves, as we think too lowly of ourselves, watch out! Even reading of another brother falling can swell up pride in us. Crucify it!

Even reading of another brother falling can swell up pride in us. Crucify it! Click To Tweet

If you think you are standing strong, be careful, for you, too, may fall into the same sin. But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can’t stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it. 1 Cor 10:12-13 (NLT)

4. ENJOY YOUR WIFE. For those of you that are married, do everything within your power to enjoy your wife.  Have fun with her. Serve her. Love her. Care for her. Be consumed on how to serve her well, bringing happiness and joy into her life. Get her flowers. Take her to dinner. Read a book with her. Pray with her. Joke around with her. Date her. Go on honeymoon trips with her. Tossing aside all excuses, do whatever you can to keep the joy meter in your wife’s heart as high as possible. A blessed wife is a blessing to her family! I wrote on this last week and it’s worth a second read.   As you purposefully set out to enjoy your wife, you fulfill not only the will of God, but build a wall around your marriage and heart, one joyful brick at a time. Surely testing and trials will come to your marriage, but a three-fold cord will not be easily broken. Your greatest asset in preventing sexual sin of any kind is your wife!

Do everything within your power to enjoy your wife. Click To Tweet

Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth. Prov 5:18 (NLT)

5. STAY AWAY FROM PORNOGRAPHY. Wow Pastor Ed, of course. that’s a given isn’t it? If it was so obvious I wouldn’t have to mention it! Listen, in the world of darkness and deception, where adultery lives, pornography is a close neighbor, if not already at home. So many times men who have committed adultery with another woman, have long since earlier committed adultery with their eyes looking at women progressively lusting after them. Pornography is at an all time high among men, both Christian men and non-Christian alike. Repent of this sin right now, come clean with your wife and the leadership of your church entrusting yourself to a faithful God who will graciously help you walk in victory and purity!

Stay away from #pornography. Click To Tweet

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ “But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. “If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. Matt 5:27-30 (NKJV)

6. WALK IN WISDOM TOWARD WOMEN. Married men in ministry, live wisely as you serve the women around you.  It begins with viewing them as the precious sisters in Christ that they are and treat them with respect, honor, and fidelity. They are not to be those you seek solace or comfort in when times are tough and maybe there is a little friction between you and your wife. Committing sexual sin with a woman is not just a horrific sin against God, it’s also a horrific sin against her as you’ve drawn her into your sinful ways. Have eyes only for your wife and your wife alone. Don’t be alone with women. Be careful how you hug and or touch women. Don’t offer long term personal or secret counseling with women. Don’t carry on texting relationships with women. Don’t initiate or continue Facebook or Twitter conversations with women. The Bible clearly tells us that the older women are to counsel the younger women. Allowing a woman to share all the deep hurtful secrets of their lives with you will surely have an effect of drawing your heart toward her. Don’t do it. As you do interact and serve the women of your congregation or in the ministry under your care, do so in wisdom, walking wisely and openly. Pray and talk to women from the Word in plain view of others, perhaps in an open area like the sanctuary of your church or cafe?  Here at Calvary the leadership team voluntarily submits our lives to a modified version of the “Modesto Manifesto” that has helped the men in the Billy Graham organization for years to remain above reproach.

Married men in ministry, live wisely as you serve the women around you. Click To Tweet

Similarly, teach the older women to live in a way that is appropriate for someone serving the Lord. They must not go around speaking evil of others and must not be heavy drinkers. Instead, they should teach others what is good. These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to take care of their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands. Then they will not bring shame on the word of God. Titus 2:3-5 (NLT)

7. ABIDE IN JESUS. Ministry can make a man tired, busy, and professional. That’s too bad. It wasn’t always like that. When you started serving you served out of a gracious heart, so happy that God would save you and rescue you and then trust you with the ministry. Yes! What a privilege to serve Him. It was from an abiding and growing relationship with Jesus that much fruit came through your life. At the end of a counseling session, or after a person responding to the gospel at Starbucks, or after your wife and you prayed with a wayward teen, you would sit back and bask in the glory of grace upon your life. Then something happened. The reward for faithful ministry is alway more and somewhere along the way you decided to take care of the more without abiding in Christ. You started to lean on your own understanding. You started to refer to textbooks for answers. You became busy, busy, busy. Something had to give and it was your sweet personal relationship with Jesus. That made you a professional minister of the gospel. Professional. It sounds so official. But professional replaced servant. You became so busy you had no time for home, for your wife, for your friends, for your greatest friend Jesus. A life like that leaves you vulnerable and weak. Stop, come back to abiding in Jesus, as He loves you and cares for you! The road to adultery begins with the small little almost imperceptible step away from your Jesus.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:4-5 (NKJV)

Friend, walk wisely in a world that seeks to destroy you, ultimately wanting to blaspheme our Jesus whom we love so much.

Friend, walk wisely in a world that seeks to destroy you. Click To Tweet