SHOW PIC OF ALDRICH AMES
Anyone know who this is? Probably not from this picture. He was born in Wisconsin in 1941. In 1963 he began working for the CIA as in a lower level job simply to put himself through college. The agency fascinated him, however, and, when he graduated from college he stayed. In fact, he remained there for over 30 years. He rose through the ranks and became a U. S. Operative, gaining many secrets about the old Soviet Union during the Cold War.
But while his career bloomed, his personal life tanked. Fights with his wife, Nancy, led to binge drinking, an affair, and ultimately to a divorce. And that divorce was not pretty. It was messy and expensive and that expense, combined with the avaricious shopping habits of his new live-in girlfriend, ruined him financially.
Yet, even though his finances were in trouble on paper, he began to live a lavish lifestyle. He bought a new jag; He paid cash for a half-a-million dollar mansion. Suspicion was aroused and the FBI began investigating. When they reached the end of his money trail, they found that Aldrich Ames had sold out 100 Soviet operatives at a price of over 4 million dollars. His treason cost 10 of those spies their lives. Well, in the mid-90's, Ames gave up his new mansion. Yep, he soon traded it in for government housing. He now serves a life sentence at the U.S. Penetentiary in Allenwood, Pennsylvania. He discovered that treason will cost you. He discovered that defection is expensive.
And most of us, think, “Well, duh! He should have known he’d never get away with any of this. He should have known better than to betray this country.” Political defection sickens all patriots, Well, you are right. If you love your country, you can’t help but feel contempt for the treason of people like Ames. But before you get too comfortable with your judgment, there may be something you should consider: Defection is subtle. It doesn’t usually start out as full-blown treason. It can sneak up on you, especially when you’re in a difficult situation.
We all dislike it when we see it in government spies, yet, in the spiritual realm, the very same kind of treason doesn’t seem to bother many believers. We run in and out of our commitment to Christ with abandon, never considering what our defection costs us. It’s so easy to do because it can begin so subtly. Defection is birthed in the warm comfort of compromise.
Let me show you what I mean. In this postmodern culture where the only absolute is the fact that there are no absolutes, less than half of those who claim to be born again believe that absolute moral truth exists. Our compromise is obvious.
Fully half of those who claim to walk with Christ also admit that family and friends, experiences and observations, and emotions and intuition influence them more than Scripture. Our defection is subtle, yet obvious.
In one recent survey, only 8% of all Christians tithed in a given year while twice as many, 16%, actually gave nothing to their church. Our compromise is obvious.
After studying 131 different indicators of beliver’s lives, George Barna concluded that it is difficult for non-Christians to understand Christianity since few born-again individuals model a biblical faith. Our compromise is obvious.
IN THIS DESPERATE SITUATION WE NEED TO HEAR THE WORDS OF EZEKIEL. EZEKIEL WAS THE PROPHETIC EQUIVALENT OF THE “GRIM REAPER”. IF YOU SAW HIM COMING, YOU KNEW THAT THE NEWS COULDN’T BE GOOD. HE PROPHESIED AT THE BEGINNING OF ISRAEL’S CAPTIVITY, AND HIS MISSION WAS TO CALL GOD’S PEOPLE TO REPENTANCE. IN THE EIGHTH CHAPTER OF HIS BOOK HE DESCRIBES THE SLIPPERY SLOPE OF DEFECTION BY TELLING US OF FOUR VISIONS HE HAD OF IDOLATRY IN THE TEMPLE AT JERUSALEM. (READ TEXT HERE)
EZEKIEL WROTE TO TELL THE JEWS THAT GOD WAS JUDGING THEM FOR THEIR IDOLATROUS DEFECTION, AND JUST LIKE THE JEWS, THE CHURCH IS IN THE DRAINAGE DITCH OF DEFECTION AND HEADED FOR JUDGEMENT. IT HAS BECOME SO PERVASIVE THAT IT IS ALMOST UNIVERSAL.
Now I can hear what you may be saying. “O no! Not another negative message! Come on, Rusty, When are you going to preach something positive for a change?” Well, I just have to tell you that if you think hearing this is negative, you misunderstand! Listen, Peace Church, the entity which we call the CHURCH may be GOING DOWN, BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN YOU and I HAVE TO GO WITH IT. NO! We CAN AVOID GOD’S JUDGEMENT BY UNDERSTANDING THE PROCESS OF DEFECTION IN YOUR OWN LIFE and we can act to stop it. In fact, that is what I want us to do this morning. I want us to understand this process and trust God to stop it in our lives. So, HOW DOES DEFECTION LEAD TO GOD’S JUDGEMENT IN YOUR LIFE? THIS PASSAGE REVEALS FOUR STAGES OF DEFECTION THAT LEAD TO THE JUDGEMENT OF GOD.THE FIRST STAGE IS THIS:
DIV 1: DEFECTION BEGINS WITH TRIVIAL COMPROMISE
THE FIRST STAGE OF DEFECTION IS DEPICTED IN THE FIRST VISION OF EZEKIEL. EZEKIEL REFERS HERE TO AN “IMAGE OF JEALOUSY”, AND IT IS THOUGHT THAT THIS WAS THE IMAGE THAT KING AHAZ COPIED FROM THE ASSYRIANS IN AN EFFORT TO APPEASE THEM. ISRAEL HAD ALREADY BEEN TAKEN CAPTIVE BY BABYLON, AND JUDAH WAS AFRAID THEY WERE NEXT. IN DESPERATION, KING AHAZ WAS LOOKING FOR HELP ANYWHERE HE COULD FIND IT, AND IF FINDING IT MEANT DABBLING IN A LITTLE IDOLATRY, THEN, SO BE IT. THERE IS NEVER ANY INDICATION THAT THE KING INTENDED TO REPLACE JEHOVAH WITH THIS GOD, HE WAS JUST COMPROMISING FOR THE SAKE OF PEACE. AFTER ALL, WHAT HARM WOULD BE DONE BY ALLOWING AN ALTAR TO ANOTHER GOD OUTSIDE THE TEMPLE WALL. IT WAS JUST A LITTLE COMPROMISE, BUT IT WOULD PROVE TO BE A DEADLY ONE, YOU SEE, BECAUSE THAT’S THE WAY DEFECTION ALWAYS STARTS: WITH A LITTLE COMPROMISE.
ILLUSTRATION - SHOW PICTURE
THEY HAD DONE EVERYTHING RIGHT...WELL ALMOST EVERYTHING, ANYWAY. THE MECHANICS AT SABRETECH HAD BEEN HIRED BY VALUJET TO REFURBISH SOME USED AIRCRAFT FOR IT’S AIRLINE. PART OF THAT REFURBISHMENT INVOLVED REPLACING THE USED OXYGEN GENERATORS WITH NEW ONES. AS THE MECHANICS PULLED OUT THE OLD GENERATORS, INSTEAD OF PLACING THE REQUIRED PLASTIC SAFETY CAPS OVER THE FIRING PENS, THEY SIMPLY TAPED OR CUT OFF THEIR FIRING MECHANISMS THINKING THAT THIS WOULD MAKE THEM SAFE. THEY WERE PLACED ON BOARD VALUJET FLIGHT 592
JUST SIX MINUTES INTO ITS FLIGHT, CAPTAIN HAZEN RADIOS THAT THERE IS SMOKE IN THE CABIN. A FEW SECONDS LATER, YOU HEAR CO-CAPTAIN KUBECK ASK “WHAT WAS THAT?” AS A TIRE EXPLODES IN THE CARGO HOLD. THEN YOU CAN HEAR SHOUTS OF “FIRE!” FROM THE PASSENGER CABIN AS FLAMES BEGIN TO ENGULF THE AIRLINER, AND FIVE MINUTES LATER, FLIGHT 592 BLOWTORCHES INTO THE EVERGLADES. IT HAD BEEN A SMALL COM PROMISE, JUST A FEW PLASTIC SAFETY CAPS...BUT IT COST 110 PEOPLE THEIR LIVES.
BUT THAT’S THE WAY COMPROMISE IS: YOU RATIONALIZE YOUR DISOBEDIENCE. YOU SAY THINGS LIKE: “I’LL JUST DO IT THIS ONE TIME,” OR “EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING SOMETHING A WHOLE LOT WORSE THAN THIS,” OR “IT REALLY DOESN’T MATTER.” BUT GOD’S WORD STILL SAYS THAT WE SHOULD “MAKE NO PROVISION FOR THE FLESH” (ROMANS 13:14) AND THAT WE MUST “COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM, BE SEPARATE, AND TOUCH NOT THE UNCLEAN THING” (2 CORINTHIANS 6:17). YOU CAN CUT NO DEALS ON HOLINESS. THERE IS NO COMPROMISE WITH GOD WHEN IT COMES TO OBEDIENCE; LITTLE THINGS ARE GIGANTIC!
SO MAY I ASK YOU: WHAT ARE THE “LITTLE THINGS” IN YOUR LIFE? WHAT ARE THOSE AREAS THE HOLY SPIRIT FINGERS EVERY TIME YOU TRY TO PRAY? YOU CAN AVOID THE SLIPPERY SLOPE OF DEFECTION BY REFUSING TO TAKE THE FIRST STEP OF COMPROMISE, BUT IF YOU REFUSE TO DEAL WITH THE “LITTLE THINGS” IN YOUR LIFE, YOU MOVE ON TO THE SECOND STAGE OF DEFECTION:
THE SECOND STAGE OF DEFECTION IS THIS:
DIV 2: TRIVIAL COMPROMISE LEADS TO SECRET IDOLATRY.
THE SECOND VISION (VERSES 7-12) OF EZEKIEL IS SHROUDED IN SECRECY. WE DIG THROUGH THE WALL OF THE OUTER COURT OF THE TEMPLE TO FIND 70 ELDERS OF ISRAEL BURNING INCENSE TO EGYPTIAN IMAGES. THE SIGHT IS DETESTABLE TO GOD BECAUSE, NOT ONLY WERE THEY IDOLATROUS, THEY ALSO INVOLVED WORSHIPING ANIMALS THAT GOD HAD DECLARED UNCLEAN.
VERSE 12 REVEALS THE MOTIVE FOR THEIR IDOLATRY. THE ELDERS OF ISRAEL ARE WORSHIPING IDOLS BECAUSE THEY SAY “THE LORD DOES NOT SEE US, THE LORD HAS FORSAKEN THE LAND.” IT SEEMS HERE THAT THE COMPROMISE OF AHAZ HAS SPREAD TO OTHER LEADERS. GOD HAS WITHDRAWN FROM THEIR FELLOWSHIP AND IS NO LONGER FIGHTING FOR THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE INVOLVED IN SIN. THEY FEEL GUILTY AND ABANDONED AND, IN DESPERATE BITTERNESS, BEGIN TO LOOK TO OTHER GODS FOR RELIEF. THEIR TRIVIAL COMPROMISE HAS LEAD TO SECRET IDOLATRY.
Author John Killinger tells about the manager of a minor league baseball team who got so frustrated with his center fielder’s performance that he jerked him out of the game and played the position himself. The first hard-hit ball that came to the manager took a bad hop and smashed into his mouth. His next play was a high fly ball that he lost in the sun—until it smacked him in the forehead. The third ball that came his way was a hard line drive that flew between his hands and popped him in the eye.
Furious, he ran off the field to the dugout, grabbed the center fielder by the shirt and shouted, “You’ve got center field so messed up, even I can’t play it!”
God is the subject of more than His share of fingerpointing. As a matter of fact, a seventeen-year-old was accused recently of burning down a church in Nashville, Indiana. At his trial, he explained that he took a cigarette lighter to the nearly century-old building because “I was angry with God.”
One woman, having lost both her husband and son in separate accidents, posted a notice on the Internet: “I am ANGRY at God. I am VERY ANGRY!” She dared to say out loud what you and I really feel sometimes.
But angry at God is a very dangerous place to be. When I am angry at God, I am led very easily into idolatry
AND IT IS SO EASY TO FEEL JUSTIFIED IN YOUR SECRET IDOLATRY. WHEN WE’VE COMPROMISED, AND GOD HAS TO DISCIPLINE US, WE ARE TEMPTED TO BLAME GOD FOR THE SUFFERING OUR OWN SIN HAS CAUSED. WE SEEK RELIEF IN SOME OTHER WAY. WE SAY, “OK GOD, IF YOU WON’T BLESS ME IN MY SIN, I’LL FIND ME A GOD WHO WILL”. SO WE TURN TO THE GODS OF ALCOHOL, OR DRUGS, OR SEX, OR PORNOGRAPHY, SEEKING THE RELIEF THAT ONLY HE CAN BRING US. WE JUST FORGET THAT WHEN GOD DISCIPLINES US FOR OUR COMPROMISE, HE IS ONLY SHOWING US HE LOVES US. AS HEBREWS 12 SAYS: “WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES AND SCOURGES EVERY SON HE RECEIVES.”
ARE YOU A SECRET IDOLATER? HAS YOUR OWN COMPROMISE LED YOU TO THINK THAT GOD HAS FORSAKEN YOU AND IS UNINVOLVED IN YOUR LIFE? ARE YOU BLAMING GOD AND WORSHIPING A SUBSTITUTE? WHAT IS THAT PET SIN-IDOL YOU ARE WORSHIPING?
DID YOU EVER CONSIDER THAT IT’S NOT YOUR UNHAPPINESS THAT’S CAUSING YOU TO RUN FROM YOUR MARRIAGE BUT YOUR OWN SIN, YOUR OWN ANGER?
DID YOU EVER STOP TO THINK, SINGLE ADULT, THAT THE RELATIONSHIP YOU’RE ENGAGED IN AND WHICH YOU’VE REFUSED TO SURRENDER TO GOD IS THE VERY THING WHICH WILL ULTIMATELY BREAK YOUR HEART, DRAW YOU AWAY FROM GOD, AND TURN YOU INTO A BITTER BELIEVER WHO NEVER WALKS WITH GOD AGAIN?
DID YOU EVER STOP TO THINK, BACKSLIDDEN CHRISTIAN, THAT THE DISTANCE YOU FEEL FROM GOD IS NOT THERE BECAUSE CHRISTIANITY NO LONGER WORKS FOR YOU BUT BECAUSE YOUR SIN HAS HIDDEN HIS FACE FROM YOU?
DID YOU EVER STOP TO THINK, TEENAGER, THAT THE REASON YOU ABSOLUTELY HATE MOM AND DAD IS NOT BECAUSE THEY’VE MISTREATED YOU, BUT BECAUSE YOU’RE RUNNING FROM GOD. HEY, YOU’RE NOT FIGHTING MOM AND DAD, REALLY, YOU’RE FIGHTING GOD AND I’VE GOT A NEWS FLASH FOR YOU. YOU READY? OK, HERE GOES: YOU’RE GONNA LOSE!!! NOBODY EVER FOUGHT GOD AND WON.
YOU CAN AVOID THE SECOND STAGE OF DEFECTION BY ACKNOWLEDGING YOUR COMPROMISE AND REPENTING OF YOUR SIN. IF YOU DO NOT, YOU WILL FIND THAT NOT ONLY DOES DEFECTION BEGIN WITH TRIVIAL COMPROMISE; NOT ONLY DOES TRIVIAL COMPROMISE LEAD TO SECRET IDOLATRY; BUT, EVENTUALLY ...
DIV 3: SECRET IDOLATRY SURFACES IN OPEN SIN.
IN VERSES 13-15, WE ARE INTRODUCED TO A NEW “DEITY”. IN THIS VISION THE WOMEN OF ISRAEL ARE PICTURED SITTING AT THE NORTH GATE OF THE TEMPLE “WEEPING FOR TAMMUZ.” TAMMUZ WAS A SUMERIAN GOD SIMILAR TO THE GREEK GOD OF ADONIS. HIS NAME MEANS “SPROUT OF LIFE” AND HE WAS ASSOCIATED WITH FERTILITY AND SEXUAL PERVERSION. IN THIS VISION WE SEE THE WOMEN OF ISRAEL FULLY INVOLVED IN THE WORSHIP OF THIS DEITY, “WEEPING” FOR TAMMUZ. THEY ARE NO LONGER HIDING THEIR IDOLATRY OR THEIR SIN. THEY ARE INVOLVED IN THE MOST BASE KIND OF SEXUAL PERVERSION AND THEY DON’T SEEM TO CARE WHO KNOWS IT. THEIR SECRET IDOLATRY HAS HARDENED THEM AND THEY ARE INVOLVED IN OPEN SIN.
It began way back in 1976. Homosexuality was just beginning its march toward acceptance so the denomination which would eventually come to be known as the Presbyterian Church in America took a clear stand. They said, in part, that we “reaffirm our adherence to the moral law of God . . . that the practice of homosexuality is sin . . .
Their stance was further clarified three years later when they said that homosexuality was “not God’s wish for humanity . . . Even where homosexual orientation has not been consciously sought or chosen, it is neither a gift from God nor a state nor a condition like race; it is a result of our living in a fallen world.”
That was clear, but it certainly wasn’t permanent. By 1980 they had begun to waffle:
They said that the church "... should be open to more light on what goes into shaping one's sexual preferences and reexamine its life and teaching in relation to people who are seeking affirmation and needing acceptance and who are apparently not free to change their orientations."
By 1988 they had commissioned a study to reevaluate their position. Three years later they released a report entitled, Presbyterians and Human Sexuality 1991." in which the majority concluded that the church should consider homosexuals and their relationships exactly as it considers heterosexuals and their relationships. While the report was not adopted, General Assembly documents indicate that no decision was made on either report; neither the majority nor the minority position was accepted. While there has been strong opposition, gradual Presbyterians and Human Sexuality 1991." The majority concluded that the church should consider homosexuals and their relationships exactly as it considers heterosexuals and their relationships. General Assembly documents indicate that no decision was made on either report; neither the majority nor the minority position was accepted. ly various local presbyteries have begun to change their position. For instance, the Charlotte Observer reported this year:
In past years, the Charlotte Presbytery - the fourth largest in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - had backed the prohibition. But after a spirited, civil debate in the chapel at Johnson C. Smith University, the presbytery voted 133-124, with one abstention, to reverse itself.
That means that the seven-county Charlotte Presbytery is now on record as backing a proposed amendment to the denomination's constitution that would open the door to - though not automatically guarantee - ordination of homosexuals.
What’s the point? Simply this: When I allow compromise I will eventually come to value the source of my compromise more than I value God. That idolatry will eventually lead me to open sin in my own life..
YOU MAY BE SAYING, “I CAN CONTROL MY DEFECTION. YES, I KNOW I HAVE COMPROMISED. YES, I KNOW THAT I AM SECRETLY SUBSTITUTING OTHER PLEASURES FOR THE JOY OF THE LORD, BUT NO ONE WILL EVER KNOW. I’LL JUST KEEP IT A SECRET AND NO ONE WILL GET HURT.” BUT GALATIANS 6:7-8 SAYS: “BE NOT DECEIVED, GOD IS NOT MOCKED; FOR WHATEVER A MAN SOWS, THAT SHALL HE ALSO REAP. FOR HE WHO SOWS TO THE FLESH WILL OF THE FLESH REAP CORRUPTION...”
CORRUPTION AND A HARDENING OF THE HEART FOLLOWS SECRET SIN AS NIGHT FOLLOWS DAY. YOU MAY NOT HAVE EMBARRASSED YOURSELF YET, BUT IF YOU SEEK TO CONCEAL YOUR IDOLATRY, IT’S JUST A MATTER OF TIME. YOUR IDOLATRY WILL SURFACE IN OPEN SIN. YOU CAN AVOID A HARD HEART ONLY BY DEALING NOW WITH THE SECRET IDOLATRY IN YOUR HEART, BUT IF YOU REFUSE, YOU WILL FIND THAT NOT ONLY DOES DEFECTION BEGIN WITH TRIVIAL COMPROMISE; NOT ONLY DOES TRIVIAL COMPROMISE LEAD TO SECRET IDOLATRY; NOT ONLY DOES SECRET IDOLATRY SURFACE IN OPEN SIN, BUT...
DIV 4: OPEN SIN ENDS IN COMPLETE REJECTION.
THERE IS AN INTERESTING PHRASE THAT INTRODUCES THE LAST 3 VISIONS OF EZEKIEL. GOD SAYS IN ESSENCE, “YOU THINK THIS IS BAD, EZEKIEL? JUST LOOK OVER HERE AND I’LL SHOW YOU SOMETHING EVEN WORSE.” EACH SCENE IS MORE VILE THAN THE ONE BEFORE IT, BUT NOT JUST BECAUSE OF THE DEGENERATION OF THE PEOPLE. AS THE JEWS BECOME PROGRESSIVELY MORE WICKED FROM SCENE TO SCENE, THEIR ABOMINATIONS ARE GRADUALLY MOVED CLOSER AND CLOSER TO THE HOLY OF HOLIES IN THE TEMPLE. IN THE FINAL SCENE WE SEE 25 MEN, THOUGHT TO REPRESENT THE PRIESTS, THE “MEN OF GOD”. THEY ARE STANDING BETWEEN THE PORCH AND THE ALTAR WITH THEIR BACKS TO THE HOLY OF HOLIES, AND THEIR FACES TO THE EAST, WORSHIPING THE SUN. IN SO DOING THEY SIGNAL THEIR COMPLETE REJECTION OF JEHOVAH AND THEIR WORSHIP OF ANOTHER GOD. OPEN SIN AGAINST GOD ENDS IN COMPLETE REJECTION OF GOD.
CABLE TELEVISION MOGUL, TED TURNER CRITICIZED FUNDAMENTALIST CHRISTIANITY AND SAID JESUS PROBABLY WOULD "BE SICK AT HIS STOMACH" OVER THE WAY HIS IDEAS HAVE BEEN "TWISTED.” THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION REPORTED THAT TURNER MADE HIS REMARKS AT A BANQUET IN ORLANDO, FLA., WHERE HE WAS GIVEN AN AWARD BY THE AMERICAN HUMANIST ASSOCIATION FOR HIS WORK ON BEHALF OF THE ENVIRONMENT AND WORLD PEACE. TURNER SAID HE HAD A STRICT CHRISTIAN UPBRINGING AND AT ONE TIME CONSIDERED BECOMING A MISSIONARY. "I WAS SAVED SEVEN OR EIGHT TIMES," THE NEWSPAPER QUOTED HIM AS SAYING. BUT HE SAID HE BECAME DISENCHANTED WITH CHRISTIANITY AFTER HIS SISTER DIED, DESPITE HIS PRAYERS. TURNER SAID, “THE MORE I STRAYED FROM MY FAITH, THE BETTER I FELT." THE HARDENING OF SIN LEADS TO OUTRIGHT CONTEMPT FOR GOD.
BUT YOU SAY, “I WOULD NEVER DO THAT. I WOULD NEVER COMPLETELY REJECT GOD.” BUT YOU ARE WRONG, BECAUSE IF YOU ARE INVOLVED IN COMPROMISE, SECRET IDOLATRY, OR OPEN SIN, YOU ALREADY HAVE REJECTED GOD IN YOUR HEART. YOU JUST HAVEN’T MADE IT OFFICIAL YET. YOUR CONSCIENCE MAY NOT HAVE INKED THE DEAL YET BUT THE CONTRACT IS ON THE TABLE AND YOUR PEN IS IN YOUR HAND.
IF YOU DOUBT THAT JUST CONSIDER KING SAUL. HE STARTED OUT WELL. HE EVEN PROPHESIED UNDER THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. BUT IN THE PRESSURE OF BEING KING HE TOOK A RIDE ON THE SLIPPERY SLOPE OF DEFECTION AND IN THE FINAL, DESPERATE HOURS OF HIS LIFE, SOUGHT HIS COUNSEL FROM THE DEVIL. HE DIED ALONE, A STRANGER TO THE VERY GOD WHO HAD TOLD SAMUEL TO ANOINT HIM.
COULD THIS BE YOUR FATE? IS IT POSSIBLE THAT YOU WILL ONE DAY BE SHAKING YOUR FIST IN THE FACE OF THE GOD THAT SAVED YOU? I DON’T KNOW, BUT WHAT I DO KNOW IS THAT DEFECTION BEGINS WITH TRIVIAL COMPROMISE; TRIVIAL COMPROMISE LEADS TO SECRET IDOLATRY; SECRET IDOLATRY SURFACES IN OPEN SIN; OPEN SIN CULMINATES IN UTTER CONTEMPT FOR GOD, BUT UTTER CONTEMPT WILL ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS BRING THE JUDGEMENT OF GOD.
BUT THERE IS HOPE. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY. WHEREVER YOU ARE ON THE SLOPE OF DEFECTION YOU CAN TURN AROUND. YOU CAN AVOID THE JUDGEMENT OF GOD.
I REALLY RESPECTED JOHN. HE WAS THE KIND OF PASTOR I REALLY RELATED TO. I HAD NEVER BEEN A MEMBER OF HIS CHURCH, BUT I HAD HEARD HIM PREACH, AND I HAD BEEN IN A REVIVAL WITH HIM. I TRULY BELIEVED HIM TO BE A MAN OF GOD.
THAT’S WHY IT WAS SUCH A SHOCK WHEN I HEARD THE STORY OF HIS DEFECTION. IT SEEMS HIS MARRIAGE AND HIS MINISTRY HAD BEEN SHATTERED BY CONFESSIONS OF HOMOSEXUAL INVOLVEMENT. WHAT A TRAGEDY! I GRIEVED FOR THIS WOUNDED SERVANT OF GOD AND I PRAYED FOR HIM. HE RESIGNED HIS CHURCH IN DISGRACE AND CONCENTRATED HIS EFFORTS ON RECOVERY.
A FEW YEARS WENT BY AND I LOST TOUCH WITH HIM. I THOUGHT ABOUT HIM OCCASIONALLY AND WONDERED WHAT HAD HAPPENED TO HIM. ONE WEEK I WAS TRAVELING THROUGH ASHEVILLE, N.C. AND STOPPED TO EAT AT THE CRACKER BARREL. AS I MADE MY WAY TO MY SEAT I HEARD A VOICE SAY, “HELLO RUSTY”. THERE BEHIND ME SAT JOHN WITH HIS FAMILY. HE HAD REPENTED, SALVAGED HIS MARRIAGE AND WAS INVOLVED IN LAY MINISTRY IN A NEIGHBORING STATE. HIS SIN HAD SCARRED HIM, BUT THROUGH REPENTANCE AND THE GRACE OF GOD, HE WAS ONCE AGAIN ENJOYING THE BLESSING OF GOD.
AND JOHN’S STORY CAN BE YOURS. YOU MAY BE SO FAR FROM THE LORD THAT IT HAS BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE YOU’VE EVEN HEARD HIS VOICE. YOU MAY HAVE PERSONALLY EXPERIENCED THE PROCESS OF DEFECTION: YOU MAY HAVE SEEN YOUR DEFECTION BEGIN WITH TRIVIAL COMPROMISE; YOU MAY HAVE WATCHED AS YOUR TRIVIAL COMPROMISE BECAME SECRET IDOLATRY; YOU MAY HAVE BECOME HARDENED AS YOUR SECRET IDOLATRY SURFACED IN OPEN SIN; AND YOU MAY TODAY BE GUILTY OF UTTER CONTEMPT FOR THE LORD, BUT I TELL YOU THERE IS STILL HOPE.
YOU SAY, “WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO?” IT’S VERY SIMPLE. JUST IDENTIFY THE STAGE OF DEFECTION YOU ARE IN. THEN REPENT. TURN BACK TO GOD. GIVE HIM CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE AGAIN. REDISCOVER THE JOY OF HIS PRESENCE, OF WALKING WITH HIM. YOU CAN DO THAT NOW.