Don’t Fall for the Enemy’s Lies

CGGC Executive Director Lance Finley

I’ve wrestled over this for the past the three weeks. My mind has been filled with thoughts and questions: Do I share something or do I not? This is serious and needs to be addressed. What’s to be gained by going there Lance?

Three weeks ago it was brought to my attention that one of our pastors had been arrested on charges related to child pornography. I know that in some regions this is already well known and more information has been shared. This situation has been in the local news cycles and so it’s become a public matter. Because it’s an open investigation, I’m not going to share any further details at this time.

The last three weeks have been days of shock, sorrow and grief. Many across our body are working through similar feelings of shock, sorrow and grief. Several you have reached out in your grief and in your attempt to make sense of something that just doesn’t make sense. How does a colleague with decades of faithful and prolific ministry also have a dark secret like this?

I believe the Spirit wants to speak to us in moments like this. I believe the Spirit wants to comfort us and walk with us through our grief, but I believe the Spirit also wants to strengthen us and challenge us to examine our own hearts and lives as well.

Your personal sin always reaches farther than you think it will. The devil is a liar and he loves to deceive. He often deceives us by attempting to convince us that our sins don’t affect anyone else. This is particularly true when it comes to pornography. He works to deceive – “what you do in the privacy of your own home, on your own electronic devices, and in your own mind doesn’t hurt anyone else.” He’s a liar! There’s a family devastated right now. There are multiple churches and communities working through the painful implications of this news. There are hundreds of friends and colleagues who are grieving and in pain. Like shrapnel indiscriminately ripping through the human body, so sin and its devastating results wreaks havoc across multiple lives and communities

We all have the capacity to live double lives. We can give ourselves in service and in public ministry and help accomplish great things all-the-while we can harbor a secret life with dark and devastating consequences. Again, the devil is liar. He tries to convince us that the good of our lives far outweighs the bad or that the sacrifices we make more than make up for our minor indiscretions. There’s no need to judge a brother in a moment like this, but there is plenty of reason to look inward and ask “where am I prone to go off the rails?” Where am I susceptible to live a secret life? Where is it that I am most tempted to let sin rule over me and control areas of my life? Where am I resistant to obey the Lord in my life? Are you repenting and believing? Are you allowing the Spirit to examine your life and bring to light the sin that you don’t see or don’t want to see or acknowledge? Are you working out your own salvation?

The enemy loves to leverage the power of shame in secrecy and isolation. The devil loves to shame us. Over the years, I’ve walked with many brothers who have struggled with pornography. Without exception, the turning point in the battle was the moment they chose to bring what was secret into the light. The devil loves secrecy and isolation. “You can’t let anyone know about this, they’ll never understand and they’ll never forgive you. No one else struggles with this the way you do – you’re uniquely bad and uniquely hopeless.” These are the lies the enemy tells to keep us trapped in hopelessness and isolation.

Find some help. Reach out to someone. Bring your sins into the light and watch how sin loses its power over you. It can’t live in the light. 1 John 1:5-10 is a wonderful reminder about the power of God’s light. I wonder if too many of us try to confess our sins to the enemy – which only brings more accusation, rejection and shame. We’re supposed to confess our sins to Jesus! When we confess our sins to Jesus, we find the forgiveness that we so desperately need. There’s something incredibly powerful about being able to confess my sins to another brother – to bring into the light what I want to hide, that weakens the enemy’s efforts to bring shame, isolation and hopelessness.

Obviously, a lot of folks right now could use your earnest prayers as they walk through a very difficult time. Pray for our brother and his family and the churches that he’s served over the years. Pray for others that are impacted by this heartbreaking situation. Most of all, pray that the Holy Spirit would work in a powerful way in each of us. Invite Him to examine us, to shine His Holy light on our lives to reveal whatever needs to be dealt with so that we can experience the freedom that only comes through the forgiveness that Jesus brings. Perhaps you need to call a friend today and set up a time to talk about what He reveals that needs to be dealt with? Don’t fall for the enemy’s lies this time. Embrace the freedom of living in the light.

Christ’s Peace,

CGGC eNews—Vol. 13, No. 26

2 thoughts on “Don’t Fall for the Enemy’s Lies

  1. Lance – good post. I believe that you did well by choosing to write about this. We must take every opportunity, including the most painful ones. And it has been painful. At the same time, I’m really pleased at the tone and the response from our body. Christians have gotten a reputation for ‘shooting their wounded.’ We have not done that. Grace and truth must be the way we walk in the hard things.

    Your challenge to us is good as well. The word about the power of sin being diminished or destroyed in the light is a needed reminder for us.

    To push your thoughts even a bit further, I think we cannot wait until something ‘serious’ is going on to talk to someone. In my view, for not only the avoidance of major sin, but also for our everyday discipleship to Jesus, we must be in relationships that go deeper than they currently do.

    What this looks like, I’m not entirely sure. But it’s important and I’m going to pursue such relationships…

  2. “…shock, sorrow and grief.”

    Well described, Lance. No one could say it better.

    I applaud you for addressing the matter in this public setting.

    We can’t possibly have too much honesty and transparency in confronting the issue of the dark secrets we hide.

    Because of the nature of my gifting and calling, I think there are issues of truth that are at stake here, issues of what some would call theology.

    As the Gospel of Matthew recounts the story of Jesus, the issues of righteousness and sin take center stage.
    Early in Matthew Jesus says, ” Unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (5:20)

    The remainder of the so-called Sermon on the Mount defines righteousness…and unrighteousness, or sin…in the Kingdom.

    These days, I live in an area heavily populated with Mennonite and Amish. Those people pursue righteousness with vigor, yet, in my opinion, they corrupt Jesus’ definition of righteousness so that, to some, it seems to me, the style of clothing they wear and the color of buggy their horse pulls is more important that love of God and neighbor.

    And, in our own way, we set aside Jesus’ notion of righteousness.

    In the early days of our movement, we, in the Church of God, we concerned, almost to the point of obsession, over the issues of righteousness and sin.

    We talk so little about either these days.

    People in the church will always have dark secrets, yet, I think, a core purpose of Christian community, the church, is to build up one another in our righteous walk and in our battle against the sinful nature.

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