|Image from Daily Mirror.|
I often see pastors giving another leadership chance to their leaders who fell into willful sin. Like that church leader who left his wife and did adultery with another woman. He was suspended from ministry for a while but the pastor later simply put him back to leadership roles even without repentance. The pastor reasoned, repentance was between the sinner and God. So, there he was, this erring leader, doing ministry again even if he continued with an adulterous relationship. And the pastor thought what he did was in line with God's grace and mercy.
Give guys like that "second chance"? God's grace and mercy is very different from what they mean about a "second chance." If you fall into sin and God gives you mercy and grace, it is in aid of repentance. You cannot repent unless he gives you the grace to. So by his mercy, you realize your sin, be ashamed of it (that's the result of grace), repent and continue in Christ. True repentance makes you meek and lowly, not conceited and re-assume leadership just because you feel like it. If you produce this fruit of repentance, then you can be given a second chance.
John the baptizer emphasized it---produce fruit in keeping with repentance, or produce the fruit of repentance. Without that fruit, nobody should be given a second chance. If you do, you make a play thing out of God's work. You treat God's work as a playground. You desecrate it. No one who lives willfully in sin should be in ministry. If he must be given a chance, he should be allowed to attend church and listen, not minister. Period.
I've heard ministers worry about losing their members who live in sin if they're cut off from ministry, especially if they're active. They worry about willing sinners getting discouraged if they're taken out of ministry. They never worry about the holiness God requires. They think anything is approved to God as long as it's effective. So if you are effective in ministry, they'd take you in no matter what kind of life you live. All they care about is how their ministries would grow, by hook or by crook. Never mind about holiness.
Don't be Judgmental?
And here's what will bring the church down---it's growing refusal to judge. Even if the sin is right there in front of them, evident, staring them in the eyes, they won't call it sin. They won't discipline the sinner. They'd pretend not to see it and act like everything is normal. And if you manage to call it what it is, they'd say you're judgmental.
Jesus said do not judge---if you are yourself guilty of sin. But the point is, Jesus wants us to get rid of our own sins first before we try to declare other's sins and help them clean themselves. It's not getting rid of judgment totally; it's doing judgment the proper way, according to his Word. "First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye," [Matthew 7.5].
I've even seen how some ministers consider it judgmental gossip to note how a brother or sister is willfully in sin and yet doing a church ministry. What they want is for people to play blind and deaf and just play along like everything was normal. They'd even add, "If God forgave us unconditionally, why not just give that erring brother or sister a second chance?" It's all grave misuse of God's grace and mercy and will take a lot of souls to hell. God said in his Word, if a righteous man does sin willfully and not repent, God will forget all the righteousness of that person. And if we who see it do not give warning, his blood will be in our hands. God does not change.
What "second chance" I'd give the erring person is attend church and listen to preaching and counseling. No ministry yet until he has produced the fruit of repentance. God's work is not some basketball game where we give second chances to those who don't want to play by the rules and keep shooting the ball at the opponent's court.
Just Declare the Sin
However, we cannot make the sinner repent. Only the Holy Spirit can do that. Our job is simply to declare the sin and do counseling if the guy is willing to listen. If we're in authority, we should suspend the erring guy from ministry for a while. He can attend church but not do ministry as long as he's enjoying the sin.
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