by Debbie Moore
Sin often is a combination of three things, Adrian Rogers told seminarians at a fall convocation. The three factors he named are: an undetected weakness, an unexpected temptation, and an unprotected life. "Put those three together and you have the making of tragedy," said the pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church of Cordova, Tennessee, and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Speaking to students at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary at Wake Forest, N.C., Rogers warned that if ministers do not stay on guard 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."
Even those with long careers in preaching may be vulnerable, he said. "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, take place," of watching preachers stumble, he said. "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 all of them fell not at the point of their weakness but at the point of their strength"-men 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.
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, he 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."
"I want to plead with you from my heart: Pay the price, stay pure, Rogers said." Even if other ministers give way to sin, you must not, he emphasized. "When you've been on the trail as long as I have, I can promise you, you'll be so glad you kept yourself pure."