Men of God and sex scandal: How to overcome temptation
•’If you love jesus, You have to build a defence around yourself’
Recently, a number of ministers of the gospel have been involved in sex scandals, one or two of which have gone viral, courtesy of the social media. This, naturally, has raised the issue of credibility among men of God, who are supposed to be role models to their congregations and the society. Expectedly, there is growing concern in some quarters as to what is happening in Christendom, especially as there seems to be an increase in the number of gospel ministers, who have been enmeshed in unwholesome and immoral acts with the opposite sex. Some even claim these things are happening on a daily basis, just that many of them are covered up before the public gets wind of them. Why are men of God finding it hard restraining their libido? How can men of God avoid temptation and concentrate solely on the job God has called them to do? CHRIS IREKAMBA reports.
‘When You Have Fear Of God, No Matter What Is Dangled Before Your Eyes You’ll Overcome’
(Bishop Lawrence Osagie, Presiding Bishop, Powerline Bible Church, Worldwide)
THE problem is not new. It has been there, even right from the Bible days. As an individual, you’ve got to always monitor where your heart is going. There is what we call ‘covenant relationship with the Almighty God,’ which brings about the spirit and fear of the Lord. When you have the fear of God in your heart, no matter what is dangled before your eyes, there is inward check that gives you the grace to say no. Joseph in the Bible was able to do that. What I’m telling you now; I taught it the other month because that period was our month of purification.
There are physical and practical things you need to do to put some defence around you. For instance, this is my office, and the office opposite mine is my wife’s office. So, if you come in here, she is right there and she can come in any time. She sees anyone coming in. I designed this place to be like that because of me, and not because of any one else, as structures like this can protect you. You’ve got to build your life in such a way that you avoid all satanic arrows. The truth is that every man of God is a target; anywhere you are, Satan wants to create a situation around you that will make you break that covenant. But if you love Jesus and you want to walk with Him till the end, you have to build a defence around yourself. Not because anybody is telling you, but because you know yourself that if you don’t do it, you will fall into temptation. Even Jesus enjoined us to pray: “lead us not into temptation but deliver us from all evil.” If there were no evil, Jesus would not have told us to pray that prayer on a daily basis. So, put structures in place, build defences around yourself and then choose to live an open life.
My life is like a front page of a newspaper, so there is no room for anyone wanting to hold meetings in privacy. Whatever you cannot tell me in the presence of my wife or others, don’t tell me at all. It is not about having female personal assistants and female secretaries; it is about knowing yourself.
For example, this man you are seeing here is my PA, while the female there, is my secretary. Since she was employed, I have never had any personal interaction with her because I don’t have to. If I want to write letters, for instance, I minute all the letters to other staff and tell them to respond. They would respond to the directive as instructed and then give them to her to work on. Most of the time, I’m not even in the office and wherever I am, my wife is with me. If I’m travelling abroad, my wife is there with me. We should make no room for such a situation, where people can build up stories and smear your name, because there may not be truth in what they are saying. But if you have a loose schedule, somebody can tie a story around it and you’ve done yourself harm. And it will take a lot of time to clear your name. Once the damage is done, it is done.
So, it is a question of being conscious of what is inside of you. If what is inside of you is beckoning on those things on the external and you are trying to put up a false front, it will not work.
‘We Must Know Our Areas Of Weakness, The Slippery Paths And Avoid Them’
(The Most Rev. Emmanuel A.S. Egbunu, Bishop of Lokoja Diocese/Archbishop of Lokoja Province, Church of Nigeria, Anglican Communion, Kogi State)
NO one can avoid being tempted. As Adam and Eve were tempted, so Jesus was tempted. We are all subject to temptation. The difference is that even though Jesus was tempted in every way like us, He did not fall into sin, as Hebrew 4:15 tells us. I think what you are asking is how to avoid falling into temptation, so I will go on to dwell on that. First, we must know that temptations do not come from God, “Let no one say when he is tempted, I am being tempted by God, for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.” (James 1: 13–14). Temptations can come from good things that are not right for us at a particular time or context. Jesus was not against food. In fact, at a point, He was accused of gluttony; and at other times He fed the thousands that were hungry. But at the time of His temptation, He knew food was not right for Him. So, with the sexual scandals referred to, it is not because sex is evil, but sex is right only within the context of proper marriage. There will always be many sexually attractive, and even seductive people, but sex outside legitimate marriage – even for those planning to marry – is sinful before God.
Men of God are human. We must recognise that we are not immune to temptation. Apostle Paul counselled, “If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12) We must know our areas of weakness, as well as the slippery paths and avoid them. We must be aware that the enemy is laying ambush for us all the time, because every man of God is a threat to the devil. The Lord Jesus warned His disciples to watch and pray, lest they fell into temptation. Apostle Peter, who knew the bitter reality of falling into temptation (not sexual) also warns us, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8). He goes on to say we should resist him by standing firm in the faith.
But when it comes to sexual temptation, no man of God should beat his chest. Joseph fled from Potiphar’s wife. Some ministry gifts like oratory; miracles, acting drama and musical ability are vulnerable points that expose men of God to sexual temptation. It is one of the most powerful to resist. Those who are engaged in deliverance ministries should also beware of doing such ministries alone. Paul counsels Timothy, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2Timothy 2:22). We must trust God and distrust ourselves and set boundaries before the hour of temptation comes, as temptations don’t always announce their arrival. They are always subtle, but the wise should discern what risks to avoid. Even confidential secretaries should be placed within defined limits. Extensive and regular periods alone with the opposite sex can create overpowering feelings, if not checked early. There should be other staff within the environment, and certain assignments, isolated locations, late hours, or special gifts are inappropriate for personal staff of the opposite sex (e.g. hotel bookings, buying of dresses, perfumes, etc.). In counselling, for instance, the man of God should determine the goal and terminal point of such counselling. When it goes on endlessly, it becomes a dangerous snare.
Finally, we should remember this: “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10: 13). We should be satisfied with the partners given to us by God. The partners are not perfect, as we ourselves are not, but they are God’s most suitable companions for us. Marital conflicts should be resolved quickly. Getting an accountability partner to whom we can open up about our temptations will provide good counsel and prayer support. When temptations are kept concealed, then the snare is more likely to succeed. But GOD IS FAITHFUL and as we fill our hearts with His Word, our thought patterns will change and His Spirit will be in charge to give us victory over temptation (Psalm 119:9-11).
‘It Takes Discipline To Resist Temptation From Women’
(Bishop (Dr.) Chris Kwakpovwe, Publisher, Our Daily Manna (ODM)/ General Overseer, Manna Prayer Mountain Ministries, Worldwide)
WE are humans. There are some temptations you can overcome and there are some you cannot overcome. For instance, Jesus said: ‘Let this cup pass over me and He said no…’ I think some of them God will allow for a purpose. The one that God does not allow, you can pass over it by His grace. It takes discipline and certain principles to overcome temptation. It is not easy, especially if it is coming from women. It is the most difficult temptation, especially if they are determined to get you. If it is a plan, prayer can expose it. Like the man of God you just mentioned his case, it seems like a setup. Everyman of God is human, but they should do their best to avoid being alone with the opposite sex. You can’t avoid everything, and the ones you can, try to avoid them.
It is not right to say that women should not work with men of God as secretaries or personal assistants. Women are fantastic; they are the best to work with. Why should I not employ someone just because she is a woman? If she tempts me, we will resolve that. But I don’t think it is right to say we shouldn’t employ women.
I think if as a man of God you know you have a weakness in that area, then don’t employ a woman. You should work with men, and most of the things you do, please involve your wife. Women tempt me every day, every week and I report myself to pastors.
To avoid such temptation, always report yourself to pastors. In fact, there was a lady, who has been after me for the past three months and she didn’t give up. Night and day, she would call me for one programme or the other. She would praise me, saying ‘you are wonderful, you are handsome, you are anointed and things like that.’ They try to seduce you. For instance, one lady came here and offered me N2m and after a while, she wanted me to come and dedicate her house. If you see this woman, it’s like God took time to create her, as she is very beautiful, no blemish, fair and amazing. But I called the pastors immediately and told them she gave me N2m and requested that I should come to her house. As soon as she said mummy (meaning my wife) should not come, I sensed danger and that was what saved me. Assuming I went to her house innocently and lo and behold, camera captured my photograph! What will I tell the world? So, this is the story of women, they are very dangerous. And what some of these women would do is to give you N5m and within a week, she will come back to you, crying and saying, ‘please Bishop I have a business in Abuja. The minister of finance just called me… I need N10m. Is that not a fast business from where you can make N5m? She will give you N5m on Monday and next time, she will run back to you. If a woman can give you N5m and she returns to say I have a business of N100m, will you doubt her? If you know what I have seen in this office. And they are all women, dangerous people and some pastors fell for such people.
When that lady invited me to her house, I didn’t go, but what I did was to invite her to come to my office, which at that time was just across the road. She came and the pastors saw her when she entered. In fact, it was a very funny matter. She said, ‘this one that pastors are everywhere, are you having a meeting? I said no. I said since mummy cannot come what do we do? She insisted that the pastors must go away and I obliged her, but, at least, they had seen her. She sat in the office for almost one hour and after a while, she said, ‘since you did not come to dedicate the house, can I have the cheque? I opened my drawer and gave her back her cheque.
‘When A Man Of God Feels He Has Arrived, Too Big To Read Bible And Pray…’
(His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Udofia, Primate, The African Church, Worldwide)
THE Bible says with God, all things are possible. The same is also stated in another portion of the Bible, that ‘as many that are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God.’ The moment the Spirit of God takes over anybody’s life, it is very possible for that person to overcome any kind of temptation, which will surely come, as a man of God is exposed to all kinds of people. That is why the Bible encourages us to be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that we will not fulfil the desires of the flesh. Without God dwelling in a person, you can never overcome temptation. It is the Spirit of God that assists a believer to really live above sin, because God’s power is enough to guarantee him/her total victory.
Having known Christ, you have to be filled with the Holy Ghost and that means reading the Bible daily, praying every day. It is possible for somebody to be in Christ today, falls tomorrow or do one thing or the other that may bring shame to the church.
Dealing with the Holy Ghost or God is a continuous process and when somebody feels he or she has arrived and is now too big to read the Bible every day and pray, what else do you expect? That is the beginning of his/her downfall. You see, when people first start this Christian journey, they appear to be serious, but after a while, that zeal begins to diminish because they’ve failed to maintain constant touch with God. What I’m telling you is that the person has relaxed from his commitment to God and when your prayer life has become cold, no more Bible study as before, you’ve created a lacuna for the devil to sneak in and before you know it, the person has fallen. But when you are constantly in touch with your Maker, as the strength of your life, you can hardly fall.
Falling from the grace is a gradual thing, which does not start in one day. Look at what happened to Sampson in the Bible, for instance. Was he not a man of God? But his own desires took over his flesh and what happened? When he separated himself from God, the enemy captured him. His case should be a lesson for us to learn from. And when he came back to his senses and called on God, the power that came back to him was so tremendous. What I’m telling you is that this Sampson that could stand alone and if he were to be here in Nigeria, could defeat all the Boko Haram insurgents, but the same person, the enemies came and captured, as if he was a nobody. With regards to the other aspect, I don’t think it is sinful to employ a female personal assistant or secretary. It is never the solution. Even those who fell did not employ female secretaries or personal assistants. There are other beautiful ladies out there. The thing is that once you allow influence of the devil in your life, something must surely happen. Fornication or adultery is a spirit, which has nothing to do with your working with a lady secretary or lady personal assistant. You can only overcome that, when you’re filled with the Spirit of God. If you are filled with the Holy Ghost, no matter how many ladies are knocking at the door of your office, nothing will happen.
‘PFN Will Continue To Admonish That All Our Leaders Should Live Credible Lives Before God’
(Rev. Dr. Felix Omobude, President, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN)
THE sex scandal is pitiable. A man of God could be accused, but when passed through the tunnel of impartial judges, he must come out clean. I believe the man of God is rising to the challenge of defending himself. The allegations are weighty. PFN does not necessarily shield her own, especially on issues of morality. The person in question is of age, so I cannot tell him not to defend himself. The lady who accused him also has the responsibility to prove her case. PFN prays that the truth will emerge. I do know that in our nation, a man is presumed innocent, until a court of law says otherwise. I appeal that we must not be judgmental and also recognise that no man is God and we should not play God. Men are susceptible to trials and temptations. The PFN will continue to admonish that all our leaders live credible lives both before God and man.