After more than four decades of Christian ministerial experience, I think I can now safely say there is nothing that surprises me. Nothing surprises me, and no one can surprise me—no one. As I try to tell individuals struggling with broken hearts and shattered lives, “What do you except of sinners but sin?” Conservative theologians have tried to teach those who will listen about the natural depravity of the human heart. The ancient prophets warned about the depths of the impenetrable darkness of man. Jeremiah said that the heart is “deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9).
Because the words of Jeremiah are true there are casualties in Christendom. This is a serious matter though sometimes the subject is treated with mild humor. I remember the urban story of a man getting on a plane drunk. He saw Billy Graham on the plane and in a drunken slur said, “Dr. Graham! I am so glad to see you! I am one of your converts.” To which Mr. Graham responded, “You must be one of my converts for you would not be drunk if you were a convert of Christ.”
It is possible for a person to have a religious life and never be truly regenerated. Jesus said we can know those who are His by their fruit. The root of righteousness will produce the fruit of the same. The fruit of righteousness is declared to be love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Gal. 5:22).
It is not wrong to look for the fruit of the Spirit in a professing Christian. It is not wrong for a husband to look for spiritual fruit in a Christian wife. It is not wrong for a wife to look for spiritual fruit in a Christian husband. It is not wrong for children, who are very intuitive at an early age, to want mommy and daddy to be sweet to one another and to them. Children know when the home life is not right. Far too often an idyllic childhood becomes a nightmare and tender young hearts are unnecessarily wounded for life.
Despite desperate hopes and dreams of children and adults, reality is harsh, cruel, and disappointing. There are causalities within Christendom. By that I mean individuals do leave Christ. Good and decent men and women and young people will violate every known Christian virtue, practice, and principle. In some, the essence of the soul is transformed from thinking of others to thinking of self. The principle of pleasure becomes the focus of attention rather than the pursuit of holiness, without which no one shall see God. These are the casualties of Christendom.
To confront a soul in an emotional state of revolt against God is difficult work for those engaged in questionable behavior do not want to be challenged, especially by a fellow fallen human. It is the pot calling the kettle black principle. Any type of conversation which is perceived as a reprimand, no matter how gentle or loving is resisted and reacted against.
No matter how guilty a person may really be, they will instinctively produce a defensive, demeanor of self-protection, which will then turn into an accusative counter offensive. This basic pattern of self-defense was established in the Garden of Eden.
Some might think a Christian acting badly is being spiritually influenced, much like Satan desired to have Peter. Such a situation can only be changed by fasting and prayer. Prayer and fasting requires concern, love, patience, and brokenness before God who knows how to humble the difficult personality and to discipline His own. Time is on the side of the praying person who will wait on the Lord and for a good reason. Those Christians who act in an irresponsible and ungodly manner are not as clever as they think, mainly because they are not sophisticated in evil.
Apart from verbal jousting, creative play on words, ability to misdirect, and quickness of mind to minimize or dismiss any damage that arises when facets of truth come out, there remains in this modern era, a paper trail that cannot be covered up or destroyed. And so a sad story is told in phone records, emails, photos, text messages, texts while talking messages, photos while talking messages, credit card receipts, and follow up conversations. It is just a matter of going to the right places and gaining access to the information.
Christian men and women and young people who continue to walk in spiritual darkness and private reveling thinking they are concealing their bad behavior are living in a fool’s paradise of momentary pleasure. Most of their story is already on record and is already known. A few details might be missing, but the general picture can be seen. The only question is how will the inappropriate behavior end? The honest answer is, not well because, apart from the intervening grace of God, the Christian soul saturating itself with behavior contrary to the known will of the Lord no longer cares.
Living with a heart of cold indifference there is resentment of tears of love shed on their behalf. There is resentment for any plea for gospel repentance. There are Christians who have resold, if possible, their souls to the world, the flesh, and the devil. Anyone who tries to warn such a Christian of the danger they are in will be laughed at and pushed away much like Lot was laughed at long ago by the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The Bible is very realistic about the causalities of Christendom for we read in the New Testament of a man named Demas. Once a companion and fellow-worker of the apostle Paul, Demas forsook Paul because he “loved this present world.”
Was it a woman that captured his heart and destroyed his love for Christ? There is no man or women in the world worth going to hell over, said C. H. Spurgeon. Was it good wine and understanding friends that won his heart?
No one knows and it does not really matter. There are some things that should not be spoken about. The prodigal son, when he had come to himself, had many things he wanted to say to his father by way of confession, but the father did not give him a chance after the son said, “Father, I have sinned.” Nothing more needed to be said. The details of the son’s self-degradation were not necessary. The boy was home again.
What God wants is for His children to come home. What Hosea wanted was for his wayward wife, whom he desperately loved, to come home. What any godly wife wants is for her husband to come home. What the children want is for their Christian mommy or daddy to come home. What any Christian parent wants is to be able to rejoice greatly that “the children are found walking in truth” (2 John 4).
But, there are causalities in Christendom. Sometimes people need to prepare themselves to receive that truth and embrace it on a personal level. Love is not always enough to hold a person’s heart.
One day a rich young ruler in Israel came to Christ. He wanted to follow the Lord but Jesus placed a great demand on his life. The rich young ruler turned and walked away – and Jesus let Him go. The Lord Jesus loved the rich young ruler, but He let him walk away from eternal life and from love. Oh, may the stories of the causalities of Christendom be few. “Lord, have mercy and bring the lost sheep home. Search for that wandering soul Lord, and bring that person home.”