Eric Geiger - a Husband, Father, Author, Vice-President of LifeWay Church Resources

05.28.2014

Avoiding a Moral Fall

Every year dozens of pastors fall, and it’s almost always because of a moral failure. Not an ethical one, not a doctrinal one – a moral one. Why?

Mike Minter shares why this happens – pastors “get used to the dark.” That is, pastors become accustomed to the lower moral standards of the culture. Minter explains why this is so dangerous and calls pastors to a high moral standard then teaches some particular ways to maintain this.

Learn more about Ministry Grid and how it can help your church flexibly and effectively train volunteers.

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05.19.2014

5 Things that Killing Sin is NOT

I have been reading the classic work, The Mortification of Sin, by John Owen. Owen famously challenges us to “be killing sin or sin will be killing you.” He strongly states, “The vigor, and power, and comfort of our spiritual life depends on the mortification of the deeds of the flesh.”

It is our duty, as believers, to “be perfecting holiness in the fear of God, to be growing in grace every day, to be renewing our inward man day by day, and this cannot be done without the daily mortifying of sin.” Owen also emphasizes that the killing of sin is a work of the Spirit, not something we can accomplish in our own merit or might. “The Spirit is the only author of this work.”

Only the Spirit is sufficient for the work of sanctification.

Because only the Spirit can mature us and empower us to be killing sin, Owen devotes a chapter to defining what mortification of sin is not. I find his thoughts extremely challenging and helpful so that we do not equate temporary behavior tweaking with true Spirit-induced transformation.

Mortification of sin is not:

 1. Utterly destroying sin

We will struggle with sin as long as we live in this life, in this fallen world, and in these fallen bodies. “It is true this is that which is aimed at, but this is not in this life to be accomplished.”

 2. Concealing sin

Mortification is much different than merely hiding or covering sin with a change in external behavior. Owen explained, “When a man on some outward respects forsakes the practice of any sin, men perhaps may look on him as a changed man. God knows that to his former iniquity, he hath added cursed hypocrisy… He hath got another heart than he had, that is more cunning; not a new heart, that is more holy.”

3. Improving our nature

We can appear to be mortified men by merely improving our quietness, our calmness, when in reality “our hearts are a standing sink of all abominations.”

4. Diverting sin

If we merely divert sin, divert our pursuit of something other than God from one god to another, we are merely transferring idolatry. A man may “change his master, but is a servant still.”

5. Occasionally beating sin

We must be careful that we do not view an occasional conquest of sin as mortifying it. When we view sin as silent, as beaten – that is when we are most susceptible to its deception. Owen earlier states, “Never think your sin is dead because it is quiet, but labor to give it new wounds, new blows every day.”

May God, though His Spirit, empower us to be killing sin. Because “every unmortified sin will certainly do two things: It will weaken the soul, and deprive it of its vigor. It will darken the soul, and deprive it of its comfort and peace.”

6 Comments
04.24.2014

What Bothered Me Most About Bob Coy’s Failure

When you have been in ministry as long as I have (20 years), you have seen plenty of pastors fall into sexual immorality. But the story of Bob Coy’s departure from the church he started and led for moral failure really stung. My wife even asked, “Why is this one bothering you more than others?”

I tried to articulate reasons to her…

He made such a big impact in such an important part of the world… South Florida is significant and strategic, and the Lord used Bob Coy to launch a work that has impacted thousands of people. I have served alongside men who are fruit from Bob’s ministry. Several of the pastors I served alongside in Miami were impacted by Bob’s ministry when they were in their young twenties.

He has been so gracious and helpful… He and members of his team were always available to help provide insight and counsel. When my senior pastor had a massive heart attack; Bob quickly jumped in and recorded a video teaching for us to use.

He just doesn’t seem like the guy who would… This will no doubt come off as judgmental, but I have seen pastors who seem like “the type who would.” Perhaps it is the way they carry themselves with what feels like a sense of entitlement, a sense of “no one should be able to hold me accountable.” Or perhaps it is what feels like an over-emphasis on external image. But as I tried to explain to Kaye, Bob Coy never came off that way to me. He was a normal guy; never preoccupied with image. He was in community, at least from what I understood. I remember lunch with one of his senior staff who shared how a team of their pastors, including Bob, had been in “community together” for two decades—sharing life together.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized the reason for my discomfort was and is my own sinfulness. What bothered me most about Bob Coy’s fall is me. Bob Coy’s moral failure confronted me with my own sinfulness.

It confronted me with a judgmental tendency, my tendency to think, Yeah, he would be a guy I could see falling… even though I never saw Bob that way. Seeing that in myself was frightening as I know “if one thinks he is standing firm, he must be careful that he does not fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

It confronted me with the reality that no matter how much the Lord has used us, we are merely frail and fragile jars of clay. The power is in the treasure within the jar, not in the jar. We are such feeble and weak jars.

It confronted me with the reality that our good deeds, our kindness and graciousness, do not eliminate the sinfulness in our hearts. Our good deeds may mask but they don’t remove the sins beneath the surface.

It confronted me with the sober reality that I am no better. I am fully capable of moral failure—fully capable of taking my eyes off Jesus and His grace and pursuing something other than Him, something other than my bride, and ultimately something less.

It is only Jesus that is able to keep me from stumbling. It is not my grit or my goodness but only His grace. I need His grace more and more, not less and less.

Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25)

 

 

11 Comments
03.24.2014

Paid Debt and Response

Perhaps you have pulled through a Starbucks drive-through and experienced the barista informing you that the person in the car in front of you has already paid for your coffee. In that moment, your heart is filled with gratitude over a small action. It likely impacts the rest of your day. Grace does that to you.

Or perhaps you have attempted to hand your credit card to a server at a restaurant to preemptively pay your bill before it arrives, only to learn that another person has already covered it. The bill you racked up eating the appetizers, the entrees, and even splurging for a dessert is completely covered.

How do you respond in those moments?

Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that we don’t know how to respond to the statement “Your bill has been paid” until we know how big the bill is. The size of your bill determines how you respond to someone who pays for it. You only know how to respond when you understand the size, scope, and magnitude of the bill.

While having my coffee paid for has touched me, I have not chased down the car, lights flashing and horn honking, dragged the person out of their car and embraced them with gratitude. Nor have I fallen prostrate before someone who has picked up the tab at a restaurant. After all, it was a latte and a restaurant tab. A sincere “thank you” seemed appropriate. Of course, if someone paid the full balance of my house mortgage, I would respond differently. The size of the bill dictates our response to the one who pays our debt.

All these illustrations about someone paying our bill or covering our debt, as helpful as they may be, fall woefully short of capturing the magnitude of our sin debt, the scope of our sinful rebellion against our God who is infinitely holy. Christ did not simply pay a dinner bill or pick up the tab on our latte. The bill was one—no matter what we did or how hard we worked—that we could never pay. And in His grace He became our sin, absorbed the wrath of God, and cast our sins away from us.

We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).

Our worship and our adoration will be in proportion to our understanding of the magnitude of the debt that has been paid. May we not live as though He has only covered the price of a small debt.

2 Comments
02.17.2014

Don’t Return to the Corpse

According to Galatians 5, there is an ongoing and internal battle occurring in believers. The Lord has graciously caused His Spirit to live in our hearts, yet at the same time, we are still plagued with our flesh, our unredeemed humanness. And though in our inner being we desire Him and His ways, our flesh desires the opposite. To overcome the flesh, the apostle Paul challenges us to walk by the Spirit (verse 16), to be led by the Spirit (verse 18), and to follow the Spirit (verse 25). He also reminds us that our flesh has been crucified, and to live in our flesh is to return to what we have left behind. And it is foolish to return to a corpse for life. Of this picture, John Stott wrote:

The first great secret of holiness lies in the degree and decisiveness of our repentance. If besetting sins persistently plague us, it is either because we have never truly repented, or because, having repented, we have not maintained our repentance. It is as if, having nailed our old nature to the cross, we keep wistfully returning to the scene of its execution. We begin to fondle it, to caress it, to long for its release, even to try to take it down again from the cross. We need to learn to leave it there. When some jealous, or proud, or malicious, or impure thought invades our mind we must kick it out at once. It is fatal to begin to examine it and consider whether we are going to give in to it or not. We have declared war on it; we are not going to resume negotiations. We have settled the issue for good; we are not going to re-open it. We have crucified the flesh; we are never going to draw the nails.

May we walk in the Spirit and, by His grace, learn to leave our flesh at the scene of the execution.

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01.20.2014

The Trinity of Sin Is Overcome

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In Psalms 32:1-2 and 51:2-3, David used three different words to describe the fullness of our sin: transgression (pesha‘), iniquity (‘avon), and sin (chatta’ah). As transgressors, we willfully disobey the One to whom we owe our allegiance. In our iniquity, our hearts have been twisted. And as sinners, we woefully miss the mark of God’s holiness. Yet in His grace and mercy, He covers our sins and does not count them against us. His grace is greater than all our sin.

How joyful is the one
whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered!
How joyful is the man
the LORD does not charge with sin
and in whose spirit is no deceit! (Psalm 32:1-2)

Charles Spurgeon wrote of this great psalm:

Note that the three words so often used to denote our disobedience—transgression, sin, and iniquity—are the three-headed dog at the gates of hell, but our glorious Lord has silenced its barkings forever against his own believing ones. The trinity of sin is overcome by the Trinity of heaven. Non-imputation is of the very essence of pardon: the believer sins, but his sin is not reckoned, not accounted to him.

Martin Luther wrote of Psalm 32:

They are holy because God in His grace neither sees nor counts these sins, but forgets, forgives, and covers them. We are all sinners alike, only that the sins of the holy are not counted but covered; and the sins of the unholy are not covered but counted.

The Trinity of heaven has conquered the trinity of sin. Our sins are covered and not counted.


Kinvac Nis / flickr

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