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ReadabilityEmpathy and Compassion: Of Black Olives and Yellow CardsI was just review­ing my day with my lovely wife, Alli­son, when I real­ized that I might have grown up a lit­tle in the past four years. But just a lit­tle. I was telling her about two events that were seem­ingly insignif­i­cant...

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Are Christians Allowed To Enjoy Life Following A Major Sin?

Posted by Ray Carroll | Posted in adultery, blessings, brokenness, compassion, divorce, fallenness, forgiveness, grace, holiness, jesus, judgment, ministry, pastors, preachers, restoration | Posted on 20-03-2013

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Are Christians Allowed To Enjoy Life Following A Major Sin?

I’ve got a fallen pas­tor friend that I’ve grown close to. I don’t think he reads my blog, but I hope he does. He has gone through some of the same issues I went through three and a half years ago when I fell from min­istry when I com­mit­ted adul­tery.

He fell a while back from his place of min­istry. He called sev­eral months ago and we had a con­ver­sa­tion I won’t forget:pastph

Him: “I know you’ll be able to iden­tify with me on this. At least I think you will. You’re the only one who seems to under­stand what I’m going through.”

Me: “Go for it.”

Him: “Since my wife and I divorced a while back, I’ve been see­ing some­one. Every­thing is going great, you know? I feel like despite every­thing, life is good. I couldn’t work things out with my wife. We tried, but we moved on. I have been work­ing things out with God. I’m cau­tiously see­ing this woman. I’m part of a church and that’s going well. But…”

Me: “Let me guess. You feel like the bot­tom is about to drop out because you don’t think you should be happy.”

Him: “How did you know?”

Me: “You said you thought I’d under­stand because I’d been there before.”

Him: “That’s right. It’s been a long road and I know I have a long way to go still. I don’t believe in karma, but I can’t put my fin­ger on what it is. It’s like I’m wait­ing on the other shoe to drop. It’s like I don’t deserve to be happy after what I’ve put every­one else through. Like I don’t deserve to feel this good. It’s almost like God is out there wait­ing to pun­ish me or put me down the sec­ond things really start going.”

Me: “I know exactly what you feel. But I need you to do some­thing. Take a deep breath for a moment and lis­ten. What you’re feel­ing is nor­mal. But what you’re feel­ing comes from sev­eral places.

“First, guilt. I know you’re still work­ing things out with God. You have a long way to go with the sin you com­mit­ted. God is still work­ing on you and I know He’s for­given you, but you still have to rec­on­cile that to your­self. You still have a lot of guilt stored up. You don’t feel like you deserve any­thing good after you cheated on your wife and hurt an entire con­gre­ga­tion, right?”

guiltHim: “Yeah, you’re right.”

Me: “Next, your view of God has suf­fered a lit­tle. In fact, it may not have ever been exactly right. Mine never was. A lot of peo­ple see God as some dude up in heaven ready to strike us down the sec­ond we get a lit­tle bit happy. Worse, we see him as a cos­mic killjoy.

“I’ve told you before about how much John 8 and the story of the woman caught in adul­tery means to me. She was taken to Jesus and they were ready to stone her. Jesus sent them away and He did not judge her. What did He say to her after that? ‘Is any­one left to con­demn you?’ I would ask you the same ques­tion, friend. If you’ve rec­on­ciled to God, is any­one left to con­demn you?

Him: “No.”

Me: “No one can stand as your judge if you are for­given by the judge of all mankind. Only God can know that. And what does Jesus say next to her? ‘Then go and sin no more.’ Lis­ten, Christ sees our flaws, took those sins and sac­ri­ficed Him­self for them. We are, indeed, awful, wretched peo­ple. But He loves us. And thank God for that. But we are free from those sins when we are for­given, right?”

Him: “Right. We are, but it’s difficult.”

Me: “Sure it is. Both me and my wife Alli­son still, at times, feel like we don’t deserve any­thing good in life. After we com­mit­ted adul­tery, after I hurt an entire church, hurt my ex-​wife, dis­ap­pointed a com­mu­nity, hurt my fam­ily, I didn’t feel like I ever deserved to be happy again. And still those feel­ings come up once and again. But Christ doesn’t with­hold His bless­ings from me. Do I still suf­fer con­se­quences because of my sin? Sure. But I have been made pure by Christ and He no longer holds my sin against me.”

Him: “You’re right, but it’s still a strug­gle for me.”

Me: “And it will be. It should be. It takes time. Bro­ken rela­tion­ships with peo­ple take a long time to heal. Work on your sinrela­tion­ship with God. Live a life pleas­ing to Him. Work on the rela­tion­ships you have that are good. When you have a chance to make things right with peo­ple, do it. Say kind words to those you have hurt. Let them see the progress Christ is mak­ing in your soul. It hap­pens, just not overnight.”

Him: “It does take time. Thank you.”

Me: “We can sin in a moment, but com­ing back from it can take a very long time. But Christ is worth it. And I promise you, He wants us to be happy in His will and the life He has for us. Enjoy the life before you. Don’t spend time wor­ry­ing about the sin behind you that He has for­given. Mend those bro­ken rela­tion­ships when you can. But embrace the gra­cious future.”

But then again, there’s always a dis­sent­ing opinion:

http://​www​.youtube​.com/​w​a​t​c​h​?​v​=​h​t​7​m​x​F​9XZiA

I’ve got a fallen pastor friend that I’ve grown close to. I don’t think he reads my blog, but I hope he does. He has gone through some of the same issues I went through three and a half years ago when I fell from ministry when I committed adultery.

He fell a while back from his place of ministry. He called several months ago and we had a conversation I won’t forget:pastph

Him: “I know you’ll be able to identify with me on this. At least I think you will. You’re the only one who seems to understand what I’m going through.”

Me: “Go for it.”

Him: “Since my wife and I divorced a while back, I’ve been seeing someone. Everything is going great, you know? I feel like despite everything, life is good. I couldn’t work things out with my wife. We tried, but we moved on. I have been working things out with God. I’m cautiously seeing this woman. I’m part of a church and that’s going well. But…”

Me: “Let me guess. You feel like the bottom is about to drop out because you don’t think you should be happy.”

Him: “How did you know?”

Me: “You said you thought I’d understand because I’d been there before.”

Him: “That’s right. It’s been a long road and I know I have a long way to go still. I don’t believe in karma, but I can’t put my finger on what it is. It’s like I’m waiting on the other shoe to drop. It’s like I don’t deserve to be happy after what I’ve put everyone else through. Like I don’t deserve to feel this good. It’s almost like God is out there waiting to punish me or put me down the second things really start going.”

Me: “I know exactly what you feel. But I need you to do something. Take a deep breath for a moment and listen. What you’re feeling is normal. But what you’re feeling comes from several places.

“First, guilt. I know you’re still working things out with God. You have a long way to go with the sin you committed. God is still working on you and I know He’s forgiven you, but you still have to reconcile that to yourself. You still have a lot of guilt stored up. You don’t feel like you deserve anything good after you cheated on your wife and hurt an entire congregation, right?”

guiltHim: “Yeah, you’re right.”

Me: “Next, your view of God has suffered a little. In fact, it may not have ever been exactly right. Mine never was. A lot of people see God as some dude up in heaven ready to strike us down the second we get a little bit happy. Worse, we see him as a cosmic killjoy.

“I’ve told you before about how much John 8 and the story of the woman caught in adultery means to me. She was taken to Jesus and they were ready to stone her. Jesus sent them away and He did not judge her. What did He say to her after that? ‘Is anyone left to condemn you?’ I would ask you the same question, friend. If you’ve reconciled to God, is anyone left to condemn you?

Him: “No.”

Me: “No one can stand as your judge if you are forgiven by the judge of all mankind. Only God can know that. And what does Jesus say next to her? ‘Then go and sin no more.’ Listen, Christ sees our flaws, took those sins and sacrificed Himself for them. We are, indeed, awful, wretched people. But He loves us. And thank God for that. But we are free from those sins when we are forgiven, right?”

Him: “Right. We are, but it’s difficult.”

Me: “Sure it is. Both me and my wife Allison still, at times, feel like we don’t deserve anything good in life. After we committed adultery, after I hurt an entire church, hurt my ex-wife, disappointed a community, hurt my family, I didn’t feel like I ever deserved to be happy again. And still those feelings come up once and again. But Christ doesn’t withhold His blessings from me. Do I still suffer consequences because of my sin? Sure. But I have been made pure by Christ and He no longer holds my sin against me.”

Him: “You’re right, but it’s still a struggle for me.”

Me: “And it will be. It should be. It takes time. Broken relationships with people take a long time to heal. Work on your sinrelationship with God. Live a life pleasing to Him. Work on the relationships you have that are good. When you have a chance to make things right with people, do it. Say kind words to those you have hurt. Let them see the progress Christ is making in your soul. It happens, just not overnight.”

Him: “It does take time. Thank you.”

Me: “We can sin in a moment, but coming back from it can take a very long time. But Christ is worth it. And I promise you, He wants us to be happy in His will and the life He has for us. Enjoy the life before you. Don’t spend time worrying about the sin behind you that He has forgiven. Mend those broken relationships when you can. But embrace the gracious future.”

But then again, there’s always a dissenting opinion:

Comments (1)

Yep! God is able and does forgive us. I’m sure glad because I did a lot of sinful things as an immature Christian and He taught me many lessons, but the greatest one is that love covers a thing!

Grace and love are HIS attributes and we are created to live in and enjoy those benefits. Why should it be any different for pastors or other ministers than it is for the unbeliever or believer who repents? Yes, our falls may have a wide impact, but it does not change our unchangeable God. God is quick to forgive the truly repentant but it does take time for the rest of us. Doggone it! Hang in there, walk with HIM and enjoy His blessing as you move forward and closer to the mark.

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