Note: This is part one of a two-part series. Tune in Wednesday for the second part.
I am about to make a very, very powerful and controversial statement and, if it were it not for the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I would leave it unsaid. But I'm saying it because I am as guilty of it as the next person, and I'm not sure most will have ears to hear it.
I believe the number one enemy of the church in the year 2016 is carnality in the lives of our churches' pastors and key leaders. I do not say this with sarcasm or contempt, just simply as what I see to be truth for far too many.
The word carnal is defined by dictionary.com as: 1. pertaining to or characterized by the flesh or the body, its passions and appetites; sensual; 2. not spiritual; merely human; temporal; worldly.
Allow me to stoke the fire:
- Carnally-minded pastors give birth unknowingly to carnality in their congregations.
- Carnally-minded pastors and leaders can struggle with carnality for periods of time without anyone knowing there is a struggle going on.
- You can struggle with carnality and not know the true effects that are taking place in your mind and in your leadership and interactions with others.
- Carnality is the classic "frog in the hot water" deception that ultimately destroys you, your ministry and even your family ... not always in that order.
Carnality in Its Many Forms
Please know that I am not talking about what many would consider outright public sin or obvious moral failure. I am talking about those slippery slopes we spend way too much time on, thinking we can still maintain our footing and continue the climb, while the whole time we are taking two steps forward and one step back—sometimes vice-versa.
It's lingering too long on that channel late at night. It's letting our eyes rest on something when you know in your spirit they need to bounce. It's just a sip or two too much in the privacy of your own home. It's that social media conversation or "friend" that you secretly think you could "have" if you ever really wanted to. It's that Facebook conversation filled with innuendo and dripping with flirtation.
For some, it's that second helping or that snack before bedtime. For others, it may be sleeping in because you stayed up too late, again leaving your morning prayer and Bible reading for the next day, or the next, or the next. It's the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye that no one else knows about, or something you do that always leaves you feeling guilty and defeated.
For some, it is simply a thought life that wanders way outside the boundaries or that imagination or a photographic memory of days and deeds gone by. I wonder how many of us have spent way too much time fondly remembering or fantasizing about something we'd asked forgiveness for long ago. Maybe for others it's financial irresponsibility that leaves you with more bills than paycheck month after month after month, and a whole series of weekly phone calls you simply let roll to voicemail because you know they will be asking for something you simply don't have, living in a house full of things you bought instead.
For others—and I know I am going to hit a few between the eyes with this one—it's winging it, or a lack of preparation time. It's a church credit card expense that you probably should have paid for with your own money. It's shorting your tithe or not giving to that something you know God said to give to. For some, it's staying at work when you could have gone home two hours ago. For others, it's anger and not guarding your tongue, while for others it's simply hours and hours in front of that TV, knowing there is something else you are supposed to be doing.
It's that word you can type on your computer or phone search engine that takes you to places you know you shouldn't go. It's that selfishness that always leaves you feeling guilty later.
Fill in the blank with anything you know that I did not mention. It's all carnality. In Paul's last letter, he writes to Timothy and has something to say about us. He says it like this:
"Know this: In the last days perilous times will come. Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, slanderers, unrestrained, fierce, despisers of those who are good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying its power. Turn away from such people" (2 Tim. 3:1-5, MEV).
And so we have churches with no power, going through the motions because we have pastors and leaders with no power, no growth, no fruit, and often in a rut. But please know I am not here to cast stones. I am here to throw out a lifeline and to tell you it's not too late, but time is of the essence.
On Wednesday, we'll explore the good news that God has for us to correct this in our lives.
Rich Rogers is the editorial director for Jentezen Franklin's Kingdom Connection Free Chapel. He is also the author of Next Level Living and Next Level Parenting (both Charisma House Books).
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