What has happened to Ted Haggard is something that is probably the biggest fear out of anyone in ministry. My greatest fear in life is becoming disqualified. We are judged with a higher judgment and are called to be blameless and above reproach. Obviously, Haggard passed that point years ago, but it is still something that anyone in ministry needs to be continually aware of.
Derek Webb, on his CD “The House Show” says this in the intro to his song “I Repent”:
The best thing that could happen to anybody in this room is that your sin would be exposed to everyone on the 5 o’clock news. Your deepest, darkest most embarassing sin, the one you work the hardest to hide. Because I am so weary of hiding my sin from people and deceiving people. I wish there were huge screens that would tell you the truth about me so you would no who I really was and so I would have nothing but Jesus to hold on to. Take joy in the fact that our sin is real and our savior is real.
Haggard should be thankful that he has been forced to deal with his sin on this side of eternity, rather than die and face God without having dealt with that sin in his life. I’m not going to make a judgment on him whether he was saved or not. What he has realized is that he can no longer hide in his sin. The reality is that he could only hide his sin from those who could not see his heart. He could not hide his heart from God. But God has given him a special measure of grace in that He has allowed Ted to experience forgiveness and restoration while living rather than shame and condemnation after death.
This should strike a chord in our own hearts. We should take this event as a time to deal with our sin. To realize that we have been given a special opportunity through the fall of another pastor. We have been given the opportunity to deal with our sin on this side of eternity. As Christians, I fully believe that we face no condmenation, but I’d rather deal with my sin now, rather than it be exposed later.
I can’t help but be ashamed of my past sins and the current pride I find surfacing much too frequently. And I can’t help but think that when it is all over and I will look back over my life and just think, why couldn’t I have taken my sin more seriously? Why did I take that sin so lightly? Why was I content to let that sin have a part in my life? I can’t help but think that when its all done that I will feel some sense of shame over how I lived my life, or rather how I didn’t.
But what we have to do is to take the advice of Paul in Philippians: “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
We can get focused on past failures (or past successes for that matter, but that’s a different message) and become consumed with focusing on the past that we take our eyes of the Author and Finisher of our faith, Jesus Christ. As Christians we need to realize that our sin, if dealt with, is done and forgotten. Don’t remind God of what He has promised to forget about.
That’s the beautiful thing about forgiveness. It can take the vilest offender, and wipe the slate clean. The sinner no longer has to live in fear of punishment or condemnation. Job 14:17 says, “my transgression would be sealed up in a bag, and you would cover my iniquity.” God has taken the sins of the forgiven, sealed them in a bag, and charges them, “Go, live for me.” Forget the past. Forget your failures. Forget your sin. Run with everything you have away from that life, and pray that you will never be tempted to turn your head to catch a glimpse at your sin. When Christ cried out ‘It is finished’ He was talking about the punishment for your sin. Now live like it.