His testimony was a good one. One couldn’t help but be moved by it.
It included his journey out in the streets, wandering aimlessly, living a licentious lifestyle. It, also, included uncomfortable admissions of his crimes, his life-sentence without the possibility of parole, and his need for reform. The man was truly repentant, and I believe has a ministry he is now fulfilling, albeit behind bars to his peers and corrections staff.
An interesting part of his convicting, though humbling, story grabbed my attention. He spoke about his father who happened to be a pastor. He was a highly influential pastor but had a secret life of sexual sins of which people kept quiet about. The man’s testimony about his father included him saying, “I was a product of that infidelity.”
He took it a step further and spoke of his father’s funeral, which he was allowed to attend. It bothered him immensely as the people paraded to the microphone to speak of how great his father was. He didn’t appreciate how they ignored his father's sins. After all, how could he be such a good pastor or Christian if he had such a sexually promiscuous lifestyle?
I want to be painfully clear on this: What I’m about to say is not intended in any way to justify any misbehavior. Sexual sin is wrong, and even considered worse than some other sins (see 1 Corinthians 6:12-20). All sin should be avoided, especially sexual sin. It always leads to collateral damage and absolutely hurts the church when a leader is engaged in it.
It occurred to me when the man said, “I am the product of that infidelity,” Jesus had a similar testimony. Jesus ultimately came from a relationship born out of abuse of power, murder, disloyalty, deceit, lust, denial, arrogance, and adultery.
The story of David and Bathsheba is common but uncomfortable when you peel it back a little and look at it a little more closely. King David, from his powerful and lofty position, ordered a woman he lusted after to come to him. This married woman complied and David caved to his sensual desires and lured her to have sex with him. She became pregnant as a result.
David then ordered her husband to go home to spend time with his wife. This was David’s plan to have the man sleep with his wife so he would think the child within her was his rather than another man’s.
However, David didn’t count on this man’s loyalty to him. The man was a mighty military leader and refused to leave the king unprotected, so he didn’t go home to be with his wife. David hashed a new plan to send this man into a heated battle, and withdraw other soldiers from him, so he would be exposed, and killed in battle.
David essentially murdered the man so he could take his wife home as his own wife.
God sent a friend to confront David about the sin and tell him of God’s certain punishment to him for his sins. David and Bathsheba did have the baby, but the baby did not live long. They were devastated. This punishment of God was overwhelming -- especially because David knew he had royally messed up in many ways and was an incredible disappointment to God.
Even so, God saw that David was contrite and that although David did a series of very evil, sinful things, he still was a man after God’s own heart. Yes, David was punished and the punishment was felt for generations for all of Israel. Still, David was used by God to be considered “the one” by whom the Messiah would come.
Yes, you heard that right. David and Bathsheba not only were not forced to divorce since their relationship was born out of sinful hearts, they were used to bring the world the Messiah. The second child born to them was Solomon, and through him ultimately came the descendant, Jesus of Nazareth. So, Jesus was a product of infidelity because he came from David and Bathsheba, whose relationship began as an adulterous one.
Learn this lesson: Your genealogy, history, or circumstances do not define you, but understanding them can help you avoid making similar mistakes.
Additionally, your genealogy, history, or circumstances do not dictate your future. God’s sovereignty and providence, and your personal choices do. Learning from your mistakes and the mistakes of others can help you to have a great testimony, as well.
One more thing: When a leader makes a grievous error, the devil wins in that moment. Usually, there is a ton of collateral damage. The Ravi Zacharias scandal is a prime example. Even so, just because a leader makes a grievous error, doesn’t nullify everything else the erring leader did. The devil absolutely targets church leaders. If he can get one to err, he can take down many. But be careful not to nullify what has not been nullified. The devil doesn’t have to keep winning in these battles.
Truth is truth, no matter who is telling it. Truth is truth, no matter the motives behind saying it. And truth doesn’t get nullified just because a leader is exposed for not living out the truth. Truth remains truth, no matter how any human behaves. The devil would love to convince us otherwise. Then, he wins more.
The inmate, upset about people saying his father did great ministry was upset because they all seemed to ignore the fact that there he was, a product of his father’s known infidelity, sitting right amongst them. That’s natural. However, it’s clear his father did have a great ministry for Christ, and others testified to that. He simply was hypocritical in part of his Christian life. I sincerely hope he was genuine in the other parts of his life, but don’t know. That’s irrelevant to the point that he still had an effective ministry to others, based on Scriptural truths. That ministry is not nullified. That truth is not nullified. Those impacted lives are not nullified. Don’t let the devil win more than he already has.
“What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar.” – Romans 3:3-4 (ESV)
Pastor Jeff Adams is a professional Christian counselor who travels the world teaching but serves our community. His column appears weekly. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.