|Publisher:||B&H Publishing Group|
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About the Author
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When Godly People Do Ungodly Things
Arming Yourself in the Age of Seduction
By Beth Moore
Broadman & Holman Publishers Prime Targets
Copyright © 2002 Beth Moore.
All rights reserved.
I am terrified ..." Not just a tad concerned. Terrified. I'm convinced that s what the apostle Paul meant when he wrote, "I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:3).
For a people who fear so much that is unnecessary, we have doused the term afraid with our bottled water until it slips comfortably into sentences such as, "I'm afraid the ball game might be rained out." That's not what the fiery apostle meant.
The Greek verb phobeo encompasses a far greater alarm than tempered concern. Imagine the pitch of Paul's voice erupting from the passion he felt for the infant church in Corinth. I think he was terrified for them. Mind you, he wasn't afraid of the serpent. He preached alertness and aggressive resistance, never phobia. He was terrified that this inexperienced and passionate young church might fall for the serpent's schemes.
I will probably live my whole life without grasping a fraction of Paul's spiritual perspective, but I have come to share a heaping cupful of his prophetic alarm in this unsettling Scripture. I am terrified.
A strange thing began to happen soon after my books, Breaking Free and Praying God's Word, werereleased. Probably because I admit to such a flawed and sinful past, letters began stacking on my desk from Christians confessing, often for the very first time, to harrowing rounds of defeat at the hands of the devil.
You may be thinking, So what else is new? Satan has attacked man since his creation.
I'd like to suggest that there is something about this spiritual phenomenon that might just have taken demonic assault to a whole "new" level. In the course of this ministry I've read countless letters, and I have come to discern the difference between blatant accounts of mercifully forgiven rebellion and the testimonials I'm talking about here.
What has terrified me is the growing stack of letters from believers who loved God and walked with Him faithfully for years then found themselves suddenly overtaken by a tidal wave of temptation and unholy assault.
Many believers are convinced such things can't happen. "Not to good Christians." They are wrong. And through the course of this book, I hope to prove it.
Skeptics ask, "How do you know these people are not lying or trying to make themselves sound like innocent victims?" Undoubtedly because I was so desperate and prayerful for discernment, through the last several years God has developed such an acute awareness in my spirit toward deception that the ability makes me uncomfortable.
I don't quite know how to explain it, but the Holy Spirit in me often causes me to detect when something is not what it seems. I am convinced many of these accounts of formerly pure lives suddenly knee-deep in the mire are absolutely authentic. Not one of them presents him or herself as an innocent victim. They are horrified and taken aback at what they have done and appear capable of doing. A flood of shame pours forth like rusty water from a busted pipe. (That's one way you can detect who's at the bottom of it. Shame is Satan's game.) Shockingly few of those who have told me their stories were looking for excuses. They were looking for explanations. Big difference.
Another skeptic might ask, "How do you know they are telling you the whole story?" I don't doubt they may not be telling me the whole story. I'm not sure they know the whole story. I surely don't know mine. I'll have questions about some of the things that have happened to me until I die!
One of the chief purposes of this book is to hopefully shed a little light on parts of our stories that we don't know but, thankfully, can know. Over and over I've heard renditions of the following statement: "For the life of me, I can't figure out how something like this could have happened." When we turn the last page of this book, we still won't know everything about how godly people can turn around and do ungodly things, but I pray we'll know more than we do this moment.
My insatiable search for all the answers nearly kept me from writing this book. There are still plenty of things I don't fully understand, and I will openly admit to them as we reach those places.
I am fairly convinced that some of the pieces are simply hidden from our eyes and we won't have crystal-clear understanding this side of heaven. The apostle Paul himself taught that the spirit of lawlessness has a secret power (2 Thess. 2:7). As much as I wanted to wait to finish this book until I understood it all, God placed such an urgency in my spirit that I could not delay another second. I am too terrified for the Body of Christ.
I need to clearly state that three streams of evidence lead me to my conclusions in this book. As we proceed, I want to ask you to consider the significance of each.
I've told you the first stream of evidence: the testimonies of scores of believers. Now lets turn to the second. I don't care how many testimonials I received, I would not give what they suggestthat godly people can suddenly do ungodly thingsa second thought except that Scripture completely supports the idea. Take a good look in the Amplified Bible at the Scripture I quoted at the beginning of this chapter, including the verse that precedes it.
For I am zealous for you with a godly eagerness and a divine jealousy, for I have betrothed you to one Husband, to present you a chaste virgin to Christ. But [now] I am fearful, lest that even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, so your minds may be corrupted and seduced from wholehearted and sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Cot. 11:2-3 AMP)
Wholehearted. Sincere. Pure devotion to Christ. To you, what kind of person does the apostle Paul seem to be describing? That very kind of person can be beguiled by the enemy, whose utmost fantasy is to corrupt and seduce the real thing. Unsettling, isn't it? Let's take a look at another unnerving statement. In Galatians 6:1, the apostle Paul wrote:
Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual who are responsive to and controlled by the Spiritshould set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also. (AMP)
Even the one who is spiritual, "responsive to and controlled by the Spirit," can be tempted by the same sins that have overtaken another. One might argue, "Yes, the one who is spiritual might be tempted, but he surely wouldn't fall for it." Ah, I believe I hear the familiar echo of 1 Corinthians 10:12 in mine ear: "Therefore let any one who thinks he standswho feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firmtake heed lest he fall [into sin]" (AMP).
Not only can the godly suddenly sprawl into a ditch from a solid, upright path, I believe many are. I am convinced, as the days, weeks, and months blow off the Kingdom calendar, that the casualties are growing in number by harrowing leaps and bounds. Many just aren't talking because they are scared half to death. Not so much of God as they are of the church. To say that the Body of Christ would be shocked to know how bloody and bruised by defeat we are is a gross understatement. Among the better pieces of news is that God is most assuredly not shocked. Grieved perhaps, but not shocked. You see, He told us this was coming.
I told you three streams of evidence have led me to the conclusions in this book. The first was the testimony of believers who have been seduced into sin. The second is the warning in Scripture that Spirit-filled believers can be overtaken. The third stream of evidence has to do with the end of the age.
In Christ's discourse to His disciples concerning the signs of His coming and the end of the age, He emphatically warned them of an increase in deception, in lawlessness, and in wickedness. Undoubtedly the New Testament supports an ever increasing wickedness that will rise in furious temperature until "the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming" (2 Thess. 2:8). If the apostle Paul could testify in his generation that "the secret power of lawlessness is already at work" (2 Thess. 2:7), who can begin to estimate the acceleration that has taken place over the last one hundred years?
The biblical study called eschatology deals with the "ultimate" or "last things." Different scholars of wholehearted commitment to Christ disagree over many details of eschatology. Some scholars believe that we either have entered or are about to enter the time of escalating conflict that will usher in the return of Christthe last days. Other scholars point to evidence that the biblical last days extend from the time of the apostles to the return of Christ. Either way, beloved, we are living in the time closer than ever before to the end events of Christian history.
Jesus warned His followers of a time of severe persecution, a time of "great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now" (Matt. 24:21). He warned, "Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold" (Matt. 24:9-12). These warnings of Christ have applied to all ages, but many Bible scholars believe they point specifically to the war going on in our present and near future.
Combined with the evidence of stream one and stream two, I'm convinced we must prepare ourselves to deal with the assault that is here and the one that is coming.
Thank goodness, the news is not all bad. Christ also prophesied that the "gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations" (Matt. 24:14). The president of the International Mission Board in Richmond, Virginia, told me that they are seeing record numbers of people surrendering to foreign missions and can explain it in no other way than the pending fulfillment of prophecy. Furthermore, Scripture prophesies an unprecedented outpouring of the Holy Spirit on God's sons and daughters in the latter days. I have very little doubt that favorable prophecies like these are some of the very works Satan is trying his hardest to both undermine and delay by attacking servants of God.
Clearly, we are living in the best of days and the worst of days. While fresh winds of the Spirit are blowing upon many of our churches and a double portion of anointing on many believers, the Word also strongly suggests that we are occupying planet Earth during the scariest time in human history to date. You only need look as far as your own community to stare 2 Timothy 3:1-5 in the face.
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God having a form of godliness but denying its power. (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
Take a good look at the words "without love." The King James Version captures the meaning of the original Greek with the phrase "without natural affection." The word astorgos means "without family love." Surely no previous society has ever matched the escalating percentages of crimes within the family unit. I believe no former generation has held such staggering statistics of parents killing their own children and children killing their own parents.
Perhaps the end of this age is best characterized biblically by the word escalation. Christ compared the signs of the end of our present age to birth pains (Matt. 24:8)an analogy many of us who have given birth understand with startling clarity. With time, the pains grow far more intense and much closer together. I am not remotely an expert in biblical eschatology, but the birth pains for a coming era have vastly increased and intensified, particularly in the last fifty years.
Many argue that every generation of believers since the ascension of Christ has believed itself to be in the last days. While that could be true, no former generation has possessed our satellite and Internet capabilities, which pave the way for a worldwide "hookup." No previous generation could boast the astonishing modes of worldwide travel and research capabilities that ours can. The twentieth century trotted its way onto the Kingdom calendar by horse and buggy; then pushed the speed of light as it waved its way out through cyberspace.
If we have indeed entered the last days, which I believe we have, we still have no way of knowing how long they may last. While date setting is a waste of time, learning how to cope with escalating crisis is not.
Our present purpose is not to study the mounting statistics of fulfilled prophecy. We want to understand how godly people can do ungodly things and to search out biblical remedies.
So what does the approach of the end have to do with godly people falling before a satanic assault? Everything! Revelation 12 tells us that the "ancient serpent called the devil" is "filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short" (Rev. 12:9, 12).
If you and I have reason to be interested in end-time events, imagine what is at stake for Satan! Believe me, he knows every single sign of the end, and he reads them with the panic of one reading his own obituary in advance. The closer the calendar draws to Christ's return and the devil's crushing defeat, the more furious he becomes.
Who are the chief targets of Satan's ever increasing fury? We are. Why? I believe Satan has two primary motivations: (1) to exact revenge on God by wreaking havoc on His children and (2) to try to incapacitate the believer's God-given ability to overcome him.
Revelation 12:11 says, "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony." Once we are covered by the blood of the Lamb, like the angel of death during the first Passover night, Satan cannot enter our abode. Those of us who have received Christ as our personal Savior are the dwelling places of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19-20). Our doorposts are covered by the precious blood of our Passover Lamb. Neither Satan nor his demons can enter us.
The more we understand what the covering of Christ's blood means to us, the more we overcome a foe that is otherwise far too strong for us. Satan's worst nightmare is being overcomeparticularly by measly mortals. He knows the Bible says we overcome our accuser in two primary ways. If he can do nothing about the blood of the Lamb covering the redeemed, what's a devil to do? Go for the word of their testimony! Satan is out to destroy the testimony of the believer in Christ. The more influential the testimony, the better. His murderous eye is on the sparrow, and he doesn't have much time. His strategy is to kill as many birds as possible with one stone.
We don't have to be rocket scientists to figure out that Satan's favorite prey is a person of godly influence. Peter spoke from the vantage point of personal experience when he said, "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Pet. 5:8). Satan had nearly eaten him alive. Peter continued, "Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings" (v. 9).
Allow me to jump ahead to subject matter we'll approach further in our study by saying that we are certainly not sitting ducks. Later in part 1, we'll learn why some godly people are more vulnerable than others. Then in part 2, we'll learn ways to guard ourselves against that kind of vulnerability.
For now I want you to take a look back at the final word in the Scripture I last quoted from 1 Peter 5:9. The word is sufferings. I don't know how many times I've repeated the statement I'm about to make, but I'll keep saying it until at least one skeptic hears: Not everyone in a stronghold of sin is having a good time.
Excerpted from When Godly People Do Ungodly Things by Beth Moore. Copyright © 2002 by Beth Moore. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Table of Contents
|Chapter 1||Prime Targets||3|
|Chapter 2||Satan's Well-Attended Course||17|
|Chapter 3||Common Claims of the Seduced||33|
|Chapter 4||Susceptible to Seduction||55|
|Chapter 5||God's Permissive Will||77|
|Chapter 6||Seduce-Proofing Our Lives||101|
|Chapter 7||The Safe House of Love||123|
|Chapter 8||See-Through Lives||133|
|Chapter 9||Warm Hearts, Wise Heads||147|
|Chapter 10||Clean Ties||161|
|Chapter 11||Strong Walls and Secret Places||175|
|III.||The Way Home||199|
|Chapter 12||Name Calling||201|
|Chapter 13||Starting Home||207|
|Chapter 14||A Path of Hope and Restoration||217|
|Chapter 15||Trekking with Facts, Not Fear||225|
|Chapter 16||Steps with Indelible Prints||241|
|Chapter 17||A Stop at the Cross||259|
|Chapter 18||Going Home||281|