The following was written in response to the crisis of faith that is spreading across the nation because of the publishing of weaknesses in well-known clergy. If we look to people as examples, we will always be disappointed. There is only one example that can stand up under scrutiny, and that is Jesus. He is our pattern of behavior; he is our example; and to be like him is (or should be) our goal.

Moral failures are not small things, and I do not take them lightly; but remember, we ALL have them. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone. … And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one,” John 8:7b & 9 (KJV).

Everything that can be shaken will be shaken. “Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. … For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:26b-27 & 29.

Judgment begins at the house of the Lord. “… and begin at my sanctuary.” Ezekiel 9:6. “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” 1 Peter 4:17-18.

Jesus is our example and pattern. We are not to look to others for how to act. “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. … For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” John 13:13 & 15. “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” 1 Peter 2:21. We follow His example when we suffer the faults and sins of others without rising up in judgment against them. “And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” John 12:47. We should see faults of others only to know how to pray better and more effectively for them. ALL have sinned (Romans 3:23)–even Christian preachers. Even me. Even you.

Especially in this day of the shaking down of TV ministers, we should realize that if they fall, it is because we have elevated them where they did not belong. We are all on the same ground level before God. No one should be elevated above others. The greatest are the servants and slaves who live to serve and do not seek glory for themselves–or give glory to men–but honor all men as better than themselves. We should be grateful for those God has blessed to minister to us and teach us, at the same time that we pray diligently for God to cleanse and uphold them.

There are those who say, “If so-and-so is a Christian, I don’t want to be one.” That is like saying, “If baby Jones is a human being, I don’t want to be one.” There are many baby Christians (some of many years standing) who live in mature or even old bodies. That does not mean they are mature in their Christian walk. Sometimes they have been stunted in their growth by severe injury (often at the hands or mouths of other Christians); or by lack of the kind and amount of nourishment needed for proper growth; or by clinging to bitterness, resentment, and/or unforgiveness. They need encouragement for what they do right and not to be slapped down for their failures. We all have failures, and sometimes we are even aware of them. The things we are most likely to condemn in others are the things of which we ourselves are guilty. Sometimes it is needful to go to a brother or sister and point out their error. But it is mandatory that we first examine ourselves and confess our own sin (of heart or attitude as well as action) in the same area, if we are not to do serious injury to the other (and ourselves).

“Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 (& Mark 1:17). Jesus called us to catch the fish, not to clean them. That is the job of the Holy Spirit, and he is quite able to do it without our help. It is true that as we yield to him, he uses us to reach out and teach; but we are to work ourselves out of a job as quickly as possible by helping them learn to hear from him themselves.

We are to encourage one another–each the other. All are teachers of all. All are students of all. If you cannot learn from the most humble, meekest one around, you cannot learn. God will use a donkey to teach us (Numbers 22:28) if that is the only one available for his use.

In the Bible the sword is used as a picture of the Word of God used to cut away sin. The only time it is in the mouth (to use on others) is in Revelation (1:16, 2:16, 19:15, 19:21) where it is in Jesus’ mouth. Otherwise, it is in the hand (to use on ourselves).

We are called to “love one another”(John 13:34, 15:12 & 17, Romans 13:8, 1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 3:11 & 23, 4:7 & 11). “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” Proverbs 10:12. “He that covereth a transgression [of another] seekest love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” Proverbs 17:9.

What is this love that covers? It is giving others the right to be wrong–with complete trust that, if indeed they are wrong, the Holy Spirit is able to correct them; and if the fault lies in me, he will also correct me. It is giving others the right to fail without condemnation. It is giving others the right to aim in a way that, in our eyes, will miss the mark–because we do not have their perspective or God’s. All this we do without demanding these “rights” for ourselves. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” Romans 13:9b-10.

I am the only one I can change or control (and I do not do a very good job of it). When we try to change or control someone else, or go beyond what God wants us to do toward correcting them, everyone gets hurt; and what “progress” there is, is in the wrong direction.

I used to have a particular horror toward sexual sin, until one day the Lord spoke to my heart. “You are worse than the worst prostitute or the lowest Bowery bum. Your self- righteousness is a stench in my nostrils. But for my grace and my hand upon you, you would be living in worse degradation than they. Pray for them. Lift them up. I need a channel for my blessing to reach them. Be that channel, and you will receive a blessing also.”

I was devastated for days. Then I began to realize what freedom it gave me. I no longer have an image to uphold. I cannot look “down” on anyone. And it is easy to give someone a boost up when the opportunity arises because there is nowhere for me to fall. Whatever the sin may be–there, but for the grace of God, go I. “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” Hebrews 12:12-13.

The heart of every human contains the seed of every sin ever committed. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” Mark 7:21-23 (& Matthew 15:19). “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23.

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquities, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me… . Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalms 51:1- 3 & 10. God must create a clean heart in us, for the one we have is deformed and blighted with sin. “If we say that we have not sinned, we make him [God] a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:10.

The only way we can be truly and completely happy is to walk in total obedience to God. “Is that possible in this life?” you ask. I don’t know, for I have not arrived there yet. But the theme of the whole Bible is trust and obey. He has commanded us, and I know HE IS ABLE. He will keep all that we entrust to him (2 Timothy 1:12). Our job is to turn over more to him each day until there is nothing left. Our trust is not in people. They will fail us and fall. Our trust is in God to bring victory out of disaster.

July 13, 1988


When someone makes a statement about their own shortcoming, to agree with them is judging. If it is true, neither should you disagree. Accept the statement as confession and point them to Jesus for forgiveness and healing.