When Temptation Leads to Slaughter

In a scene in Proverbs 7:22-23, a young man is in thrall to an adulterous woman and we read that “All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life.

In the preceding verses (10-21), we see a taxonomy of scheming temptations. The woman has been pleading with him to succumb to her earnest appeals. And then “all at once” he follows her. This doesn’t mean he wasn’t tempted until this point, but that he feigned unwillingness – but it was all part of the dance. And now this persistent chipping away has exposed the wide fault lines of his weak dam of resistance.

This seemingly sudden surrender was sealed long before the temptations were applied. The young man had earlier ensured his fate by moving toward temptation instead of away from it. The narrator explains: “I have perceived among the youths, a young man lacking sense, passing along the street near her corner, taking the road to her house in the twilight, in the evening, at the time of night and darkness.” (v7-9)

We almost always lose our battles with temptation long before any physical action occurs. Temptations abound; if we don’t recognize and identify them, we will be gently led astray. And if we do, in fact, recognize them but walk toward them anyway, we should not fool ourselves and think that we too will not “all at once” be overcome by them.

Lust, gossip, slander, greed, or some other pernicious sin is at this moment “crouching at your door” (Gen. 4:7), preparing to invite you to abandon the path of righteousness and enter its false haven of pleasure, of finely covered couches and fragrantly perfumed beds.

Recognize this reality early and daily and walk in the other direction. Remain on the path of righteousness by doing as Paul instructs in Galatians 5:16: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

“O God, You Know My Folly”

There are two passages of scripture that regularly come to mind as I go about my life and work as a pastor. These are warning flags and reminders of the sacred trust and serious responsibility I hold due to the work to which I have been called. 

One passage is Hebrews 13:17, where it says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account.” As church leaders, we carry a weighty responsibility; we will be held responsible for the spiritual well-being of those placed in our care.

The other passage that regularly comes to mind is Psalm 69:5-6:

“O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
O Lord God of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
O God of Israel.”

Accusations and Revelations

The news cycle in the Evangelical world of late seems like a never-ending series of painful revelations of past and/or ongoing grievous sin in the lives of those who lead churches. Some are not big surprises while others result in a wave of new doubt, anguish and grief because they are so shocking.

In Psalm 69, David pleads with God that his past follies and sins will not result in shame for those he leads. That those who seek God would be brought to dishonour on his account is a thought that grieves him.

Here he’s not asking God to prevent him from further folly and sin; he’s asking that no harm will come to those he leads and loves due to his past folly and sin. To be clear, he is not asking God to give a free pass to sins for which he has not repented, but to minimize the damage that might come from sins already committed, repented of, and forgiven. Elsewhere he asks God to restrain him from sinning in the future: “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!” (Psalm 19:13); but that’s not his plea here.

Sinning Leaders

We are continually reminded of the sorrowful plight of churches, organizations and movements that are led by people of poor character and dark, even if subconscious, ulterior motives. Many are put to shame through the careless and often callous sinning of these leaders who will not heed warnings, receive correction or repent, even when they are found out and exposed.

Nevertheless, there are hopeful signs in some disgraced leaders’ post-fall stories. Tullian Tchividjian is known for, among other things, being a grandson of Billy Graham and a formerly prominent speaker and pastor in the Reformed Evangelical world. In 2015, he resigned from his church after admitting to an extramarital affair. More recently, he wrote of that experience with sober reflection:

“You would think that after all the damage my wickedness caused to myself and countless others I would fall down to my knees in confession. But I didn’t. Instead, I ran. I ran from honesty, I ran from repentance, I ran from God. Rather than feeling sorry for my sin, I was feeling sorry for myself. As is often the case when we get caught, things got worse before they got better. Flight from God oftentimes accelerates before it stops.”

The trajectory he describes is not uncommon; what is uncommon is to hear one who engaged in such denial and deception admit to it and express genuine remorse and repentance.

Now, not to be overly cynical, but who knows, he might currently be living one thing and writing another just like he did before. Only those who live in close proximity can validate this repentant tone. But it is a hopeful sign nonetheless, and a more refreshingly biblical response than the usual denials and obfuscations that often follow in the wake of a newly-revealed scandal.

Sober Reflection

Regular sober reflection will serve us well in preventing future catastrophes. As for follies already engaged in and sins already committed, we can do nothing more than confess, turn continually from ever doing the same again, and receive the forgiveness that Christ offers. 

We can pray for the Lord’s protection, as David did in Psalm 19:13: “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!” And we can pray for the Lord’s grace in sparing others from any shame or dishonour that might come their way due to our past follies and sins. 

“O God, you know my folly;
the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me,
O Lord God of hosts;
let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me,
O God of Israel.”

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,16). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

Looking For Approval in All the Right Places

Have you ever done something in order to be liked? It is a truly wonderful feeling to be accepted and admired, but chasing that feeling can lead to much trouble. There is a select group of people who seem to like being hated, but this is rare; our default is to seek affirmation and approval. 

That’s not a bad default, but those desires must be turned in the right direction. 

Listen to the words of Jesus in Luke 6:22-23,26:

“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets… Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”

Jesus says that we are blessed if people hate us, exclude us, angrily insult us and reject us with disdain, calling us evil – IF they do all these things on account of our commitment to follow him. Not only are we to accept this, we are to rejoice when this happens – to the point of leaping for joy! 

We will be the recipients of great rewards, BUT these rewards come later, and we are not good at waiting. 

Knowing this, Jesus offers a warning: there is no blessing in seeking the approval of the masses, even though there may be some pretty sweet instant rewards. 

When we are hated for the sake of Christ, we are blessed, but if we continually forsake Christ in order to gain widespread approval, we will be eternally cursed.

Where are you seeking approval and affirmation today?

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

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Repentance is the Daily Substance of Christianity

“Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”

Luke 15:7

Repentance results in joy in the realms of heaven. When someone turns away from sin and toward God, heavenly rejoicing follows. When what was lost is found, when a wanderer returns home, there is rejoicing in heaven. 

When you picture the repentance that leads to heavenly joy, what do you see? Do you see the hardened lifelong sinner, crushed by the weight of guilt, in need of the Saviour? Or do you see yourself, already a child of God, but prone to wander, prone to walk in the opposite direction of the God you love? We should see both.

We may believe the joy in heaven applies only to that initial repentance when a person who was a slave of sin becomes a slave of righteousness. That indeed is a glorious thing, but this rejoicing in heaven applies to all our repenting, not just our initial repentance. 

“Turning from sin and trusting in the good news that Jesus saves sinners aren’t merely a one-time inaugural experience but the daily substance of Christianity. The gospel is for every day and every moment. Repentance is to be the Christian’s continual posture.”

David Mathis

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Michael Krahn is the Lead Pastor of the EMMC church in Aylmer, Ontario, where he has served for the last 13 years. He has been married to Anne Marie for almost 27 years and together they have three daughters (19,18,15). You can find more of Michael’s writing at www.michaelkrahn.com or connect on social media at @Michael_G_Krahn (Twitter), pastor.michael.krahn (IG), and Michael.George.Krahn (Fb)

Photo by Luca Baggio on Unsplash