Through the centuries, many committed Christians have turned their backs on God when their passion for short-term personal pleasure blinded them to the long term cost of sin.
We were reminded of that this past week when former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert was sentenced to 15 months in prison. He had lied to FBI agents about “hush” money he was paying to men who he had sexually abused when he was a High School wrestling coach. The judge called him a serial child molester: a statement to which Hastert agreed. For 20 years Hastert had served in Congress representing a Chicago suburb. He was the longest serving Republican Speaker. Hastert was a graduate of Wheaton College, one of the most respected Christian Colleges in the world. Ten years ago more than 10 million dollars was raised to finance a building in his name: The Hastert Center for Economic, Government and Public Policy. Wheaton College has since dropped his name from the building. His fall is beyond tragic.
There are scores of lessons to learn from his sad situation. For me, the ugliness of hypocrisy comes to mind. For decades Congressman Hastert paraded himself before the nation as a moral and good man – all the while keeping his dark secret hidden. He sponsored bills aimed at curbing and punishing the very behavior he engaged in. Today, Satan rejoices over his fall and the foes of Christianity ridicule us. Sadly, Christianity worst enemies are Christians.
How do we protest ourselves? By a constant dependence on the Father in heaven. By daily looking within and making sure we are not harboring ugly thoughts which can easily come to the surface as actions. We pray fervently, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
Martin Luther understood this will and captured it in the battle hymn of the Reformation. He wrote:
A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide,
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
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