I know a few will regard the following remarks as coming from "the deep end." Others will take what I'm presenting and exaggerate it beyond its legitimate boundaries. But I want to focus on one reason why some leaders have serious moral failures. I want to offer an insight into how all of us, as Christians, can protect ourselves from a similar failure.
The idea that a leader whom we've known and loved should suddenly be exposed in a devastating scandal seems incomprehensible. Certainly these who have taught others could teach themselves. Is there not resident within them saving knowledge that would protect them from worldly passions?
What is it then that can worm into an individual's thought-life, burrow into his heart, and then grow so compelling that a leader is willing to risk everything he's loved and attained for a mere fulfillment of the flesh? Is it just sin? Or is there something deeper -- a lack of spiritual discernment -- that left the heart of that leader vulnerable to demonic manipulation?
Their heart was unguarded to the exploitation of hell.
An Unparalleled Warfare
Please note that I am not blaming the devil for every sin we commit. The fact is, selfishness and self-indulgence, which produce sin, are basic instincts of our fallen nature. At the same time, let us also discern the unique warfare of our times. Our world has been flooded with hyper-sexuality and excess. The "red-light district" has moved from the city and entered our homes via the Internet, movies and television. We deceive ourselves if we think we can accommodate an immoral imagination and it not contaminate how we act out our lives.
You see, an unguarded mind that willfully harbors darkness will have spiritual predators cultivating and probing our moral weaknesses. Indeed, through modern technology, an alternate reality -- a fantasy world created by our mind's imagination -- can be created and accessed by the demonic realm. We don't just watch movies; we are absorbed by them. We actually have sports "fantasy leagues" and computer games and apps that guarantee their programs will be addicting.
There is much within the fallen human nature that can be exploited and plundered for evil. When we do not guard our hearts and avoid what is sinful, this fantasy realm unfolds into darkness, leaving our thought-processes open and unprotected against demons that build strongholds in the human soul.
Listen well: what entertains us actually enters us. If you are entertained by pornography or sexual fantasy, perverse or corrupting thoughts, you are opening your soul to hell. You must confront this battle honestly, repent of sin, and set a guard over your heart. If you don't, your battle will advance from temptation to serious, hidden sexual bondage, which in turn will advance to secret attempts to openly fulfill your heightened passions.
People of Destiny, Take Heed
Jesus reveals that a major source of this sexual manipulation is the Jezebel spirit (Rev. 2:20). The rampant immorality we see manifested in Western culture underscores the increasing influence of this ruler of darkness. Indeed, compare our world today with cultural standards of just fifty years ago and it's easy to see that Western civilization is under siege. Too many Christians have their defenses down, and many otherwise good people have slipped into bondage.
Yet Jezebel's arsenal includes more than lust; there is also witchcraft, which attacks and works to disarm the conscience. Remember Jehu's words? "What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?" (2 Kings 9:22).
We are fighting the "harlotries" and "witchcrafts" of Jezebel. Those who have been defeated by this spirit often feel they were drugged by their own passions. They did things that were flagrantly sinful, almost daring God (or the devil) to expose them. I am talking about the war against church leaders. How many more must fall before we realize the need for repentance and discernment?
The Subtle Attack
The Jezebel spirit is a "man whisperer." Its approach typically is not bold but enticing -- seducing and stimulating the degrading thoughts of human flesh. Its quiet power overwhelms and then disarms the human conscience. In your desire to walk upright before the Lord, what you may actually be fighting is Jezebel -- in particular, her many "witchcrafts."
One may argue, "My battle is just sin, not warfare." Perhaps that is true for you, but for others it is a spiritual attack on an unguarded heart. Its power may be aimed at Christians in general, but its specific target is church leaders and those called to places of authority in God's kingdom.
There are times when I think the world has greater discernment than the church. Consider these select words from the old Frank Sinatra song, "Witchcraft":
Those fingers in my hair
That sly come-hither stare
That strips my conscience bare
And I've got no defense for it
The heat is too intense for it
What good would common sense for it do?
'cause it's witchcraft, wicked witchcraft
And although I know it's strictly taboo
When you arouse the need in me
My heart says "Yes, indeed" in me
"Proceed with what you're leading me to"
---C. Leigh, C. Coleman
The song did, in fact, reveal characteristics about the effect of witchcraft. The composers wrote, "[It] strips my conscience bare." It continues, "I've got no defense for it/The heat is too intense for it/What good would common sense for it do?" And then, "When you arouse the need in me/My heart says, ‘Yes, indeed' in me/‘Proceed with what you're leading me to.' "
Of course, we do have a defense for it in Christ, but that defense begins with guarding our hearts from the opportunities and deceptions of the Jezebel spirit.
Set a Guard
I don't want to make too much of the possibility of witchcraft, for becoming overly focused on this type of warfare can itself become a swamp of darkness. Let's keep things in perspective. However, this article is from a book on discernment, and we need to be aware of the spiritual realm around us. Whether witchcraft is what you are fighting or just natural weaknesses of the flesh, you need to close the door to the hyper-sexuality of our world. Indeed, the world has "no defense for it."
However, for those in the kingdom of God, "the weapons of our warfare are … divinely powerful" (2 Cor. 10:4). Our weapons and defenses are mighty, but we must use them. Scripture commands: "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life" (Prov. 4:23). The NIV says it this way: "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
A guard is one armed and trained to recognize an enemy and turn away that enemy's attack. We are in war and must stay militant in attitude throughout our lives. We cannot be casual with sin or temptation. When you use the Internet, use a filtering software program as a guard. Be accountable. Don't feed your sexual appetites, for these kinds of addictions only go from bad to worse (Rom. 1:24-28).
If you are currently in bondage to sin, as powerful as the sin seems, the enemy will also work to isolate your battle from others. The efforts we spend hiding sin are the very tools Satan uses to entrap us in it; so, talk to someone (Eph. 5:11-13). If you have a history of sin, then begin a process of cleansing, of washing your "robes … in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev. 7:14). Confess your sins one by one to God and one another.
Now would be a good time to build yourself up spiritually. Take the next step in your spiritual journey. Get back in the Word, for the sword of the Spirit is the Word of God. Use the authority of God's Word to defend your heart against spiritual attacks.
The most important thing you can do is to return wholeheartedly to God. The Lord promises, "Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name" (Ps. 91:14).
Beloved, it is time to set a guard over your heart.
Lord God, this day I humble myself before Your throne. You see my heart and the battle I have faced. I ask that You restore me; make me wiser. Let not my enemy triumph over me. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and grant me the grace to walk with a pure heart, a guarded heart, before You. In Jesus' name. Amen.
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Adapted from Francis Frangipane's book, Spiritual Discernment and the Mind of Christ on sale this week at www.arrowbookstore.com.
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