But the Spirit saith expressly, that in later times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons,
2through the hypocrisy of men that speak lies, branded in their own conscience as with a hot iron;
1 Timothy 4:1, 2 American Standard Version (ASV)
These two verses pretty much sum up what happened to me because of what happened to the ministry I served. I freely, yet with great Godly sorrow, admit that I fell away from the faith because I finally broke down and gave heed to seducing and deceiving devil spirits and doctrines originating from the devil himself. Of all the statements I could ever make in this life, the above statement saddens and humiliates me the most. How could a young man full of the spirit of God and whose mind was filled with the truth of the Word of God fall away from the very faith he was committed to fighting for? This question has haunted me for more than 30 years.
Ultimately, my failures were linked to the hypocrisy and lies of men whose consciences were branded with doctrinal and practical error. Perhaps because of what happened to me so long ago, I am hyper-sensitive to people and groups who claim to have all the answers and whose doctrines fall in the gray and misty area of Biblical understanding. Just because something sounds good does not mean it is good. Culture, and especially religion, is full of people who say all the right things but do exactly the opposite. This hypocrisy is the breeding ground for deceiving spirits and is the earmark of consciences branded with the hot iron of error.
No young person should have been exposed to what I saw and had to deal with daily starting in 1976. By February of 1978 the abuse of grace and level of deception I witnessed by my immediate superiors was getting so disgusting and alarming I felt I had to do something. I ended up flying thousands of miles to blow the whistle on what was happening in the state I was serving in. The head honchos of the ministry listened to me and then proceeded to turn it all around and told me that I was full of deceiving spirits. They had the audacity to tell me that what I had seen with my own eyes and heard with my own ears never really happened but was only my mind being manipulated by deceiving spirits. I was kicked out of the ministry headquarters utterly and completely humiliated, disgraced and my mind so scrambled that I didn't know what was real and what was influenced by seducing spirits in my thinking. Looking back, if I had any guts, I should have left the ministry then instead of hanging around another nine years.
Don't get me wrong, the ministry was full of wonderful people who loved God and His Word. The corruption, hypocrisy and deceit were limited to a few of the top leaders; but their actions trickled down and influenced countless people like myself. Even now as think about these things, I feel a cold wind rushing down my spine as I cannot believe I was so afraid of losing my dream of working full time for God and the ministry that I quit fighting for what was right after that trip in 1978. After being intimidated, humiliated and told in no uncertain terms by the men I respected most in life that I was deceived; I never spoke again for many years of the devilish things I saw for I was afraid it was me who was wrong.
For an individual believer to succumb to deceiving spirits and fall into the lies of the devil is bad, but from God's perspective, those who promote, teach and live those lies as leaders of God's people are the real villains. All a person needs to do is read Jeremiah 23 to see what God has to say about deceived and vile shepherds, prophets and priests. All one has to do is read Ezekiel 34 to see God's indignation toward those who abuse and deceive His people and what He will do Himself to save them. All one has to do is read the accounts in the four Gospels of Jesus dealing with the Pharisees to understand how evil religious hypocrisy really is.
To be responsible for God's people is the most awesome privilege afforded anyone in this life. Yet, with that privilege there is the responsibility to remain pure, upright, loving and to keep one's head screwed on straight. When those charged with the oversight of God's people fall away from the faith by giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons; they end up speak lies in hypocrisy because their consciences are branded with the hot iron of error. No responsibility in life demands more moral uprightness, purity of thought and motive and sacrifice of selfish desires than to be an overseer of the flock of God.
Although God has forgiven me of the bad things I did when I was an overseer, I must live with the deep pain in knowing that I succumbed to hypocrites and tossed my own moral standards under the bus. The cross I bear in this life is the daily sadness associated with knowing that I hurt God's people, whether I knew what I was doing or not. No amount of time or self imposed exile will ever heal that hurt because I do not want it to. I want that scar to not only remain, but hurt so deeply that I never forget how important the oversight of God's people really is.
For the past 30 years I have tried to live my life honestly and righteously before God. But, even in doing this, I must live with knowing what I allowed to happen in my life so many years ago. I daily thank God for His mercy in allowing me a second chance to live for Him and serve Him in whatever capacity He chooses for me.
28Take heed unto yourselves, and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit hath made you bishops, to feed the church of the Lord which he purchased with his own blood.
29I know that after my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock;
30and from among your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
Acts 20: 28-30 American Standard Version (ASV)
The old saying comes to mind !
We wrestle not against flesh and blood ,but with those of who have men's favor in ammeration of their guidance .
Be forever blessed
Reading this blog I am overwhelmed by your honesty and also the truth of what happened. I can only add this passage of scripture from Hebrews.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 2 Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God
Thank you for your boldness and truth. Demonstrating our weakness in this flesh but our strength through Christ. This wisdom has blessed me
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you
"To be responsible for God's people is the most awesome privilege afforded anyone in this life. Yet, with that privilege there is the responsibility to remain pure, upright, loving and to keep one's head screwed on straight."
With privilege comes responsibility. Many wish to be "great" within the Kingdom of God but they forget that to be great, you must be both an example and a servant. The great do not sit on thrones. Instead they are walking about ministering to others. Sometimes it is to a large group, but I think most of the time it is one-to-one but that is what they are doing...ministering, serving.
I can see through the candidness of your writings that God has used these devastating experiences to teach you priceless lessons; and your sharing them with us is, in return, teaching us valuable lessons as well.
I echo Isaiah's comment by thanking you for "your boldness and truth!" We are truly the beneficiaries.
You're one of the "few" people I know who understands the "awesomeness" of being called to "be responsible for God's people."
Thank you, Kirk!