When the Good Fight Goes Bad

A new book came across my desk this morning for me to “review.” The title? From This Day Forward: Making Your Vows Last a Lifetime. The authors? Ted and Gayle Haggard.

Let me be the first to confess it. My Christian life has all the ingredients of a moral fall. And so does yours. For even the most godly Christians periods of growth seem to be disrupted by stagnation, fermentation, regression, repentance, and reformation . . . over and over again the cycle repeats itself.

But I’ve discovered that in those moments of stagnation—when I start to let the good fight go bad by dropping my spiritual fists lazily to my sides—God cries to me from the corner of the ring, “Get those gloves up! This fight isn’t over!” And many times the reviving bucket of icy water splashed in my face comes in a chilling form: the news of a moral fall.

If I reach the end of my life without losing my ministry and family to sin, it will be due in part to a hundred men and women who fell. Every time I hear or see a fellow soldier of Christ succumb to the sniper’s bullet of temptation, I instantly drop my head and inspect my own spiritual helmet and armor. I inevitably find that I’ve loosened the chin strap a little too much. Or I’ve stripped myself of the clunky flack jacket and donned a flannel shirt. Or I’ve exchanged my combat boots for Birkenstocks. Sadly, I sometimes get so used to the buzzing bullets of lusts and temptations that it takes the hideous carnage of somebody else’s moral fall to shock me back into combat mode.

In short, when we witness another Christian’s good fight go bad, we should fear. The words of 1 Corinthians 10:12 should nag us: “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

You see, I have no doubts about whether or not I can withstand the barrage of trials and temptations leveled against me by the flesh, the world, and the devil. I am completely confident that left to my own strength, I will fall. When I see a spiritual giant take a mammoth tumble, I fear. Why? Because I know that in some dark, musty closet of my life—unvisited for months by God’s cleansing breathe—some toxic black mold spreads along the walls. And in the life of a fallen giant the mold’s poison was allowed to cultivate in the heart until the viscous spores consumed every chamber of his life.

When I discover the deterioration in my own life, I have a choice—to heed the warning God has placed before me through the downfall of one of his beloved saints . . . . or to pretend like the infection is minor, that it will heal itself, or that it isn’t the same kind of growth that takes a man down. If I choose the latter, stagnation becomes fermentation. Then fermentation leads to regression. Soon I will be drunk by my own self-deception, losing all discernment, tripping inebriated through life with blurred vision and muffled hearing, unable to judge right from wrong. I know that without God’s rude and intrusive call to repentance, my fate will be like the giants who have fallen before me.

Because I know the depravity of my own heart, I also know that the possibility that my good fight could go bad is very real. Given the wrong set of circumstances and left to my own devices, I would find myself up against the ropes reaching for the white towel. Or worse, I would find myself knocked out on the mat with the count of ten ringing in my ears.

So, when I see a book on marriage by Ted Haggard, the last thing I do is cluck my tongue and shake my head, pretending not to understand how a towering giant can stoop so low. I need only reflect for a moment on my own dark depravity for a simple explanation.

So, where are you in the cycle? Is your fellowship with God and His church in a period of stagnation? Are you fermenting in a sour odor of indulged sin? Are you regressing in your Christian life—neglecting family, skipping church, canceling accountability, shelving your Bible?

Or are you at the point of a decision? Has the moral fall of a giant shocked you into examining your own life? We all have a choice today. Either take a leap over the edge and plummet into shame . . . or turn around and run back to the arms of the Savior. He’s ready to grant repentance and revival to all of us who are stuck in a spiritual stupor (see Revelation 2:5; 3:3; 3:16–20).

Yes, another good fight has gone bad. But if we heed the warning of a fallen giant, it can be turned to our good.

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