Sometimes when people come to faith in Christ Jesus they unwittingly believe there will be no more struggle with sin. But the Bible warns against this dangerous error saying, “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12).
The pastoral epistles contain many doctrinal truths about the state and standing of the believer in Christ before going on to exhort Christians to good works with the stern warning: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord” (Heb.12:14).
But what happens when, despite a mother’s tears and a father’s teaching, despite the love of a wife and the hopes and dreams of children, despite the deep and legitimate concerns of a concerned pastor and godly elders, despite the surprise of friends and neighbors, a person sets out on a course of action contrary to their new nature in Christ, contrary to their profession of faith, contrary to his or her own moral compass?
That is the sad story of several individuals in the Bible.
There is the story of Balaam. For the love of money he taught the people of God to sin. Instead of being a shining example and a protector of the saints, he led others into sin being greedy for gain. For more than two thousand years the church has been warned about the error of Balaam (Jude 11), the way of Balaam (2 Pet. 2:15), and the doctrine of Balaam (Rev. 2:14).
There is the story of Mordecai. The story of Mordechai is one of the most vile and shameful stories in the Bible. It is the narrative of a man who knew the Law of Moses, who knew the will of God, who understood the base passions of human nature. Mordecai made careful plans to parley the sexual favors of his cousin Esther into personal profit for himself and her. All that was intended, all that was needed was for Esther to have one night alone in bed with the king of Persia.
There is the story of Saul of Tarsus. Saul of Tarsus was a religious man, a zealous man, a man who considered himself to be righteous and blameless, a man who would not listen to any other voice but his own, a man who mocked the faith and standards of others, a man who was so angry with people he killed them and had them thrown into prison. Oh, the life of Saul of Tarsus is the life a religious tyrant and a spiritual fool. That is, before God arrested his madness.
The power of God came to Saul of Tarsus one day on the Damascus highway. Once blinded by hate and zeal without knowledge, Saul of Tarsus was transformed by the grace of God so that his spirit of intellectual and Biblical superiority was exchanged for humility. Suddenly, Saul, now Paul, was teachable. His spirit of anger was replaced by love. He did not need any stimulant to make him the man he needed to be. He just needed Jesus and the love of God which passes all understanding. Paul did not need to impress anyone, for he was impressed upon by the Holy Spirit and sealed until the day of redemption. Grace had arrested his madness.
The power of God came to Mordecai and Esther to sovereignly overrule the sin in their hearts. So powerful was the grace of God over the sins proposed and the sinners involved in a scheme for self-promotion that these unworthy instruments became tools in the hands of God to save a nation. Grace arrested their madness for it is madness to abuse one’s body for personal pleasure and gain, even if others admire what is done and are willing to engage in the exploitation. “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
The power of God came to Balaam as he went forth to do that which he knew he should not do. Christians know right from wrong. They know that God has a will for their life: geographically, where God wants a person to be, or not be; linguistically, what God wants a person to say, or refrain from saying; occupationally, what God wants a person to do, or not do. Balaam knew he was wrong, and yet he pressed on until grace arrested his madness. It is madness for a Christian to move geographically, linguistically, and occupationally outside the will of God to deliberately embrace that which is profane and unholy.
Christians have an obligation to pray for one another. Christians can pray that the power of God will come once more to a particular individual to arrest their madness. And if the madness is arrested, it will be because of God’s faithfulness and His amazing grace.
Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.
Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!
Why should we tarry when Jesus is pleading,
Pleading for you and for me?
Why should we linger and heed not His mercies,
Mercies for you and for me?
Time is now fleeting, the moments are passing,
Passing from you and from me;
Shadows are gathering, deathbeds are coming,
Coming for you and for me.
O for the wonderful love He has promised,
Promised for you and for me!
Though we have sinned, He has mercy and pardon,
Pardon for you and for me.”
— Will Thompson