When a Man of God Goes Astray
There have been several times in my life when I have witnessed a man of God going astray in some major way. God does not take this lightly because a man in a position of spiritual authority influences many for good or bad. In one case, a missionary sought to ridicule me from the pulpit for taking a Biblical stand on the divorce and remarriage issue. Not long after this, he and his wife both developed very serious medical conditions. I don’t know whether either is alive today. An evangelist who reversed his formerly Biblical position in this area and at least one other area in order to “get along” has experienced several life-threatening medical issues since, and his wife has had serious illnesses. A pastor who wouldn’t take the position of simple faith on the English Bible translation issue died in the hospital with multiple holes in his brain. A pastor who told me that I was taking the right stand on the divorce and remarriage issue but who refused to take that stand himself (due to family and friends who were living in this sin within the church) contracted an unusual medical condition which prevented him from preaching. I could go on. This is serious business. I prayed for all of these men and I still pray for those still living. I do not wish them ill, but when a Pastor goes seriously astray and refuses to repent, there are ultimately only two options for the church members: put the pastor out of the church or leave the church. Great caution must be exercised here. An immature church member will take this truth and twist it. A decision needs to be made carefully and prayerfully because when these kinds of decisions are made in the flesh, great harm can be done. It is a fearful thing to undermine godly leadership. Godly pastors have been removed from churches by worldly church members. Immature church members have left churches due to petty issues.
Samuel was a godly man who mourned for Saul when God rejected him as king of Israel, but there came a point where God instructed Samuel to cease from mourning and allow God to anoint a new king to replace Saul. God’s work must go on:
And the LORD said unto Samuel, How long wilt thou mourn for Saul, seeing I have rejected him from reigning over Israel? fill thine horn with oil, and go, I will send thee to Jesse the Bethlehemite: for I have provided me a king among his sons.
I Samuel 16:1
According to God’s word, church leaders are due great respect, but the authority of the word of God must always take precedence over the authority of men. God, through the Apostle Paul, instructed the believers at Corinth regarding this:
….that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.
I Corinthians 4:6
No one is immune from falling away from God’s will:
I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds.
Someone who needs to leave a church due to ungodly leadership must guard against becoming bitter and must continue to love the errant leader. They must realize that faith must be placed in God and not men. They must trust God and praise and exalt his name in the midst of this trouble:
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation. Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation. And in that day shall ye say, Praise the LORD, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.
In the Christian life, the cords of relationships are sometimes strained and even broken. There are times when God’s children must not allow themselves or their family to be influenced by harmful relationships. We must set our eyes upon the One who is always faithful, follow him, and continue to love and pray for that man of God who has gone astray.