WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Hear and heed the “alarm of God,” Robert E. Reccord counseled students at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary March 28.
Reccord, president of the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, recounted the tragic story of a close friend in the ministry who ignored God’s warnings against sin and participated in an extra-marital affair.
“I just had to ask him why?” Reccord said. “Did he not hear the alarms ringing? Had he not heard God’s warning of what was happening? My friend’s response came after a long moment of silence… ‘Yes, Bob, I heard the alarm, but I decided to disconnect the wires.'”
In his message at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus, Reccord contrasted two men in Scripture who came face to face with temptation: Joseph and David.
“One man stood tall and one man fell flat,” Reccord said, directing attention to Genesis 39 where Joseph refused temptation, even though Joseph’s master’s wife pursued and wrongly accused him. On the other hand, in Samuel 11, David was in the wrong place at the wrong time and embraced sin.
“One recognized his weakness; the other overestimated his strength,” Reccord said. “Joseph understood there is an innate weakness in every one of us … but David was probably one who would have said, ‘This will never be a problem for me.'”
For those flirting with the possibility of an affair, Reccord recapped some consequences of immorality as stated by Chuck Swindoll.
“If you fall morally in ministry, your mate will experience betrayal, shame and rejection, and no amount of repentance will ever take it fully away,” Reccord recounted. “Second, your mate can never say again that you are the model of fidelity, for suspicion will always lurk in the back of his or her mind. Your escapades may introduce into your marriage something you never expected, that is, sexually transmitted disease. Fourth, the total devastation of your sinful actions on your children will be immeasurable. Their growth, innocence, trust, and healthy outlook on life will be severely and permanently damaged. The heartache — fifth — that you cause your parents, family and peers will be indescribable.”
Reccord also pointed out that Joseph used his authority responsibly whereas David irresponsibly abused his authority.
“The responsible use of authority always comes from solid accountability,” Reccord said, challenging Southeastern students to find an accountability partner who will ask hard questions. “Have you had lustful thoughts about anybody other than your [spouse] in the last week? Have you been tempted to do any unethical thing with your finances and are you tithing to the Lord? Are you working to stay physically fit? Are you spending quality and quantity time with your family or your spouse? Is your thought life clean? Have you lied to me about any one of the other answers?”
Noting that Joseph “placed a guard on his heart” while David “left his heart unguarded,” Reccord cited Proverbs. 4:23, “[G]uard your heart for out of it will come the issues of your life.”
Failure to guard one’s heart results in disobedience, Reccord said. “The heart begins to drift, obedience begins to lag, and then we look to something or someone to fill whatever God should fill himself,” he said. “That’s how affairs happen … someone starts taking the place that only God can fill.”
Most importantly in looking to these two men, “one man fled and one man stayed,” Reccord said.
Referring to James 1:15, which states, “[A]fter desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin when its fully grown gives birth to death,” Reccord identified the pattern of sin. “It means that when I give in to temptation, there’s part of me that dies. There’s a part of me that becomes insensitive to the warning sounds of the alarm of God. That’s the dangerous thing.”
Reccord encouraged the seminarians to do what Job did in Job 31:1, to make a “covenant with my eyes to the Lord that I will never look lustfully after a young woman.”
“I just want to remind you that [sin] comes in such subtle ways,” Reccord added, referencing magazines such as the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated and even the Victoria Secret catalogue, which can become a lure to pornography.
Offering three points of counsel, Reccord said, “Make sure there is no area in your life that he’s not Lord of and there’s no sin in your life that you haven’t confessed. Number two, resist the devil, and he will flee from you. But make sure you’re prepared to do it before the temptation comes. Third, come near to God, and he will come near to you.
“Stay close and you’ll stay clean, but drift away, and you won’t,” Reccord said. “[W]hen the alarm sounds, I beg you, I beg you … please don’t disconnect the wires, but listen to the alarm and get out of there!”
Thompson is a newswriter at Southeastern Seminary.