That one mugshot you never thought you would see.
That one scandal you never thought could occur.
That one resignation you never saw coming.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. Of all the people who could have been involved in this, you never would have expected your pastor, your youth leader, your Sunday school teacher to be caught in something like this.
And why don’t we see it coming?
Because those who preach the gospel are supposed to have it all together. Right?
Wrong. Just because a person proclaims the gospel doesn’t mean that they’re incapable of sin.
Well, “how can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2)
Because even though Jesus has freed us from the bondage of sin, we still live in a sinful world; we’re still given the daily task of choosing to live according to the spirit, rather than our former sinful nature. And sometimes we don’t choose correctly. We probably choose incorrectly every day.
14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am made out of flesh, sold into sin’s power. 15 For I do not understand what I am doing, because I do not practice what I want to do, but I do what I hate. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree with the law that it is good. 17 So now I am no longer the one doing it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. 19 For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me.
Does that make what they did okay?
15 What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace?Absolutely not! 16 Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?
Just because we know we have received God’s forgiveness does not give us license to sin.
I listened to this person teach about God’s forgiveness.
Now everyone knows about their sin.
How can I still cling to what they taught me?
By rejoicing in the fact that the gospel has been proclaimed.
15 To be sure, some preach Christ out of envy and strife, but others out of good will.16 These do so out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the others proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely, seeking to cause me anxiety in my imprisonment. 18 What does it matter? Just that in every way, whether out of false motives or true, Christ is proclaimed. And in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice.
But they didn’t live out the gospel.
How can I do that when they didn’t?
By living like you’ve been forgiven.
29 No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. 30 And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. 31 All bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander must be removed from you, along with all malice. 32 And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
I know I have to forgive them for what they did.
But there’s no denying that they damaged our church’s witness.
How are we supposed to deal with that?
By continuing to preach the gospel to those who need it–including those who fail you.
20 For no one will be justified in His sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law.
23 For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 24 They are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Him as a propitiation through faith in His blood, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His restraint God passed over the sins previously committed. 26 God presented Him to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be righteous and declare righteous the one who has faith in Jesus.
Romans 3:20, 23-26
If any good can come out of this situation, it can be that we have a deeper understanding of the gospel, which tells us that no one is good enough to save himself/herself; no one is capable of sanctification on their own. And this is our hope! Jesus paid the price to both justify and sanctify us, so that we wouldn’t have to do it on our own.
Any time you remember the disappointment brought about by the church leader who failed you, you can remember the truth of the gospel he or she preached and the God who is gracious enough and sufficient enough to save all those who call upon Him.