WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Sin often is a combination of three things: an undetected weakness, an unexpected temptation and an unprotected life, Adrian Rogers told students at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary during the annual fall convocation on the Wake Forest, N.C., campus, Aug. 22.
“Put those three together and you have the making of tragedy,” said the pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church, Cordova, Tenn., and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 1979-80 and 1986-1988.
If ministers do not stay on guard, Rogers said, they can easily fall into sin, creating a chain reaction of consequences. The sin of casualness leads to carelessness, which develops into callousness, he said, for “sin fascinates and then assassinates. Sin is so deceitful.”
Over the years, a person may become careless, especially those who have been in the ministry a long time because “we can think that we’ll never be overcome by that sin or this sin.”
“Then I’ve seen strange alchemy, a devilish metamorphosis takes place,” Rogers said, of watching preachers stumble. “I’ve seen them do and say things that they would never have dreamt of doing or saying before they were hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
Rogers challenged the students to study the lives of the great men of God who committed sin. When they fell, “you’ll find almost every one of them fell not at the point of their weakness but at the point of their strength,” such as Abraham, who is known for his great faith, but did not have faith to trust God for the care of his wife, and Simon Peter, who is known for his courage but was reduced to cursing and denying Christ “at the finger-pointing of a little girl.”
A Christian can be used for evil “if you take your eyes from Jesus Christ and become casual and careless,” Rogers said. Before long that person will become callous, and that’s when disaster can strike, including death, he said.
Sin has a cost, so “deal with sin quickly,” for a life of unconfessed sin leads to “spiritual dryness” and a lack of joy, Rogers said.
When a Christian sins, God has four steps he can take that person through, Rogers said:
1) Conviction. Conviction is a feeling of being dirty, along with a desire for cleansing. However, “If you’re living in sin and there’s no conviction, let me just tell you plainly, you need to get saved,” Rogers said. “If God’s hand is not heavy upon you, you are lost.” If a person does not get his life right with God because of conviction, then God uses a second step.
2) Chastisement. Chastisement can take a variety of forms, Rogers said, citing sickness, sorrow, failure and heartache. If after conviction and chastisement the Christian has not turned from his sin, Rogers said God uses a third step.
3) Challenge. “You don’t want to be there,” Rogers said. Usually a challenge “will come only one time,” from either a preacher, a family member, a tragedy or a sermon, “but God in some way will say, ‘You are the man'” who did something wrong, as the prophet Nathan told King David. If a Christian still has not repented after conviction, chastisement and challenge, Rogers said God brings about a fourth and final step.
4) Consummation. At this point, Rogers said, God is saying, “Something is going to be done about this” because if a person is truly a child of God he cannot continue in sin. “I’m telling you, there is a line that you cannot cross,” Rogers said. “God will kill you because you’re his child. If you’re living in sin and God kills you, you’d better thank God for it because if you’re living in sin and God doesn’t kill you, you’ve never been saved.”
Rather than being casual, careless and then becoming callous toward sin, Rogers said, “I want to plead with you from my heart: Pay the price, stay pure.” Though other ministers may give way to sin, “you cannot,” and, he added, “[W]hen you’ve been on the trail as long as I’ve been on the trail, I can promise you, you’ll be so glad you did.”
Before Rogers’ sermon, Academic Vice President and Dean of Faculty Russ Bush officiated during the traditional signing of the school’s Abstract of Principles by new trustee-elected professors. This year William Brown, assistant professor of evangelism and church planting, added his name to the list of faculty members from the seminary’s 50-year history.
Also, Keith Eitel, professor of Christian missions, received the annual Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award.