The Discernment of Sin
So, how could a leader who has failed morally, ethically, monetarily, or even theologically be restored? Pastor Larry Stockstill suggests a procedure that begins with the spiritual discernment of sin (Gal. 6:1). Prophetic discernment is not the same as sin detection. Some sins, for example, are regarded as lapses or indiscretions rather than deep-seated moral failures. An indiscretion may necessitate discipline, whereas moral loss may be terrible enough to disqualify a leader permanently. To enable spiritual overseers to recognize their sins, the fallen leader must answer the following eight questions:
- How deeply ingrained and long-lasting is the sin?
- Has the individual taken long-term steps to conceal his sin?
- Did the leader publicly deny his transgression, losing all credibility with his followers as the proof became unmistakable? Even in politics and sports, we’ve seen that the worst offense associated with a scandal is a public denial of wrongdoing followed by an embarrassing confession when the evidence becomes too heavy.
- Is he cynical about the gravity of his sin, dismissing it as typical or, at worst, marginal behavior?
- Is he willing to end every lousy relationship?
- Has he justified his sin by blaming others and portraying himself as a victim?
- Does he manipulate scripture to justify his behavior or label those who disagree with him as “Pharisaical” or “legalistic”?
- Has he shown regret?
A Willingness to Repent
Repentance must entail a commitment to renounce and forsake the sin and a willingness to surrender and submit to the demands of authority, all without changing authorities during the restoration process.
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