Here is a article a dear brother just wrote:
[b]Ted Haggard and The Ultimate Deception.[/b]
[i]by Rev. Chris Curry[/i]
I was all ready to let the whole Ted Haggard thing pass by without much to say about it, until I watched the appearance of James Dobson on Larry King. Dobson was there to share his views on the fallen Ted Haggard. Several things he said really disturbed me, particularly this statement
Ted is not guilty of hypocrisy... he actually believes homosexuality is wrong
this was just his own struggle with it. The fact that he was doing it while knowing it is wrong and while telling others not to do it, is what makes it hypocrisy. Thats exactly what the Pharisees were guilty of. And in retrospect, this is the statement Ted Haggards accuser and gay sex partner Mike Jones made
"I had to expose the hypocrisy. He is in the position of influence of millions of followers, and he's preaching against gay marriage. But behind everybody's back [he's] doing what he's preached against." Even the world knows when they see hypocrisy in the church, and there has never been a better example of it than this. So what is happening here? Why are evangelical leaders so quick to downplay the true nature of this exposed sin in the church? I think its because they themselves are deceived.
In the early 90s Ray Comfort published a book entitled, The Ultimate Deception. In it he appealed to the church to recognize some serious flaws in how we deliver our modern gospel message. The result of preaching a man-centered gospel of life-enhancement, is the mass production of false Conversions, those being people who fall away from the faith even though they may remain in the church. This is a subject rarely spoken about in the church but Jesus addressed it in the parable of the sower. He also said there would be tares among us, those who by all appearances seem like Christians, but will in time be exposed by the bad fruit they bear. They are tares among the wheat, and the one who plants them is Satan. They wll be pulled up and cast away when the gardener comes to reveal them. They are also referred to as dead branches who will be cut down and thrown into the fire because they do not remain apart of the life-giving vine. Heres the problem with the modern church
thats no problem when its the average Joe getting exposed, but are we ready to accept that high profile Chrstian leaders in high places can also fall into that category? This recent event involving Ted Haggard should cause the church to examine how this could happen and find out how it can be prevented. This article isnt primarily about Ted Haggard, its about what the church believes and the potential this has to set a dangerous precedent if we do not understand what is really happening here.
I think what shocks me most about the Ted Haggard downfall is the churches lack of indignation and outrage over this scandal. So far, most of what I hear is people making balancing statements like, were all sinful, and we all have our own struggles, dont judge. Lets get something clear, Teds struggle with his sin ended when he decided to enter into it. Temptation is something all Christians face as the spirit wars against the flesh, but it is not the rule for us to succumb to temptation and bound by sin. For three long years he engaged in homosexual relations with a male prostitute while preaching against sin and rallying support against gay marriage. That is not the mark of a spirit filled, born again believer
that is pure hypocrisy! It is also quite obvious that Ted was enslaved to sin, he even said so himself. He also refferred to himself as a deceiver. That is a strong word that is used in the bible to identify satan. So how can Ted be a child of God when he is a self declared deceiver and has purely displayed the characteristics of a child of the devil?
Another problem I have with this whole thing is Teds own confession and letter of apology to his church, which lacked his own presence. In it he apologizes to his church and expresses pain for how this has affected the people he loves, but nothing to even suggest that he is at all broken over how he has offended the Holy Spirit and sinned against God, not an ounce of godly sorrow reflected in his statement. Only regret over how this has hurt the people he cares for. When referring to the men assigned to guide him through the process of restoration, he said, They will guide me through a program with the goal of healing and restoration for my life.. marriage
and family. Again it is apparent by his words that he only demonstrates concern for his life, but doesnt seem to have any concern for his soul? He ends the statement by asking everyone to demonstrate grace! And that is exactly what those who exploit the grace of God for an occasion of the flesh would say. When David was exposed he didnt appeal to the people for forgiveness. The first words out of his mouth were, I have sinned against the Lord! His concern was for his eternal soul and his relationship with the Lord He so loved. He didn't need counselling or a panel of experts to annylize him, his heart exploded with godly sorrow and brokeness. We all feel bad about the far reaching consequences this downfall will have on Ted, his family, and the church. But this isnt time to feel sorry for Ted, its time to be concerned for the condition of the evangelical church and thoroughly examine how this could have happened.
In The Ultimate Deception, Ray Comfort paints a biblical picture of the Harlot church as described in Proverbs 7. The harlot church is made up of false converts, those who profess Christ but lack the fruit of authentic conversion, particularly the fruit of righteousness. He lays out several characteristics of the harlot church as follows
*She is rebellious (breaks Gods laws) and crafty (deceptive); She lacks the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit; She lacks the heart elements of brokeness and contrition which lead to godly sorrow; Her desire is for pleasure, material gain, and monetary profit; She manifests the works of the flesh rather than the fruit of the spirit; She offers false peace (offerings) through the promise of unconditional forgiveness without repentance; she encourages the grace of God for an occasion of the flesh; She lacks the fine linen of the chaste virgin (righteousness), rather, her bed is covered with Egyptian linen (worldliness); her harlot heart longs to satisfy the lustful desires of the flesh rather than remain faithful to her husband; she preys on the ignorant, those who lack knowledge of Gods law and she masters the art of enticing them. I wonder how many young disillusioned Christians will be seduced by her alluring spell over this controversy.
That is the great deception that is occuring in our world today. Unsuspecting people are being seduced by the harlot church and her gospel of compromise. And now false converts have to come up with an answer for why they lack power over sin. That is something only those who are born of God can acquire, POWER over sin! But some would have us believe that Ted is just a fallen Christian who needs restoration. The question in this case should be, where is the power of the gospel to transform sinners from death to life, darkness to light, depravity to righteousness, and enslavement to freedom from sin? That is what the gospel has the power to do, and that is what the work of the Holy Spirit accomplishes in those who are soundly saved. Will we struggle with sinful thoughts and be tempted, absolutely
but will God allow His children to be overcome by it, No way! He has made it clear that He will keep us, that he will make a way of escape for us, that he will deliver us, because greater is He that is in us
because whom the son sets free
IS FREE indeed! That is the power of the gospel, that all who live godly in Christ Jesus depart from iniquity, that we are no longer slaves to sin, but to righteousness. And I will not accept any gospel that offers continued slavery to sin, that offers an inability to save to the uttermost. That is a different gospel. And the greatest danger to the church right now is that men esteemed by other men, will be used as pawns by the enemy to promote a different gospel. Many will be enticed by the sound of a gospel that promises entrance into the church to those who remain trapped in their sin, that you can keep your sinful habits and still be saved.
This truly is the greatest deception we are seeing before our very eyes
perhaps millions of professing Christians will view this recent failure as justification for their own secret sin. They will draw a comparrison and use it as a precedent. This throws fuel on the fire of the greasy grace gospel that so many have embraced. The common misconception among false converts is that its status quo
its normal to have a continuous cycle or season where sin has us bound. Their mindset will be, if such a high-profile man of God like Ted Haggard can do it and still get to heaven, so can I. They will settle for a gospel that doesnt fully save, doesnt fully deliver, doesnt fully restore.
Lets hope that Ted is now considering the true state of his eternal soul and asking some tough questions. Lets hope he comes to the realization that something was severely wrong with his entry point into the church. The fact that they use the word restoration implies that his salvation needs to be restored, but was there a salvation to begin with? If so, salvation from what? Will any of the Christian leaders who assist him through this time ever stop to consider the possibility that he simply wasnt saved to begin with? Or will they just gloss over this as another fall from grace which simply requires some introspective psychiatry and a prayer from psalm 23? The big difference here is that Ted did not come clean and confess after the first occasion. He continued on for 3 years and was finally exposed publicly. Even then he denied it, until the media preassure became too much and he could deny it no longer. We dont know if he would ever have come clean. And I fear that those assigned to restore him will likely put a heartfelt letter of repentance together for him to read publicly. They will prop him up and convince him that all he needs to do is ask forgiveness and convince the world that hes sorry. It would be better to take the advice of scripture and let him alone with his sin and let God restore him on His own terms
5 hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature [ Or that his body; or that the flesh] may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. 9I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people 10not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. 11But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. 12What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? 13God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you." [b] (1 Corinthians 5 NIV).
The implication here is frightening. If people see Ted as an authentic born-again, spirit filled Christian, what hope is there for any Christian to live a godly life and withstand the temptations, trials and tribulations? And this will be the nail in the coffin for so many
that they will accept this as normal Christianity and embrace it in order to excuse their own sin or to succumb to the desires of their sinful nature. Rather than see this for what it really is and allow godly conviction to pierce their hearts and lead them to true repentance as they are struck to the core with brokeness over their sin , they will enter the harlot church and continue to believe a lie. That is the ultimate deception.
Its time for church leaders to pay attention to what Ray Comfort has been alerting us to for over two decades now. We need to stop making excuses, applying a band aid to a gaping wound. Why are Christians falling by the wayside? Why are they springing up quick and then withering away? Why are they believing for a little while but being led away by the cares of this life? These questions demand answers and demand that we do everything in our power to avoid creating the conditions that cause this. If this recent event does not cause the leaders of the evangelical movement to properly examine and correct where it is going wrong, we will continue to see men fall to their evangelical death while bringing others with them.
* Excerpts gathered from The Ultimate Deception, ch 7, by Ray Comfort; parentheses added.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon