Our world is embattled to a greater extent. Wars bombard us on all fronts. We fight for survival from unforeseen dangers and injuries. We eat, breathe, sleep, shower, and do everything that has become routine.
To your dismay and mine, even the pulpit is embattled. This looks scary, right? Maybe you may begin thinking in the line of conflict of the ages. I understand that not only is the Christian life a battle and a march but that the art of being a pulpiteer is a war between truth and falsehood. Every statement said in the pulpit, in its literal sense, promotes or demotes righteousness or otherwise. But that is so obvious yet a bit more technical. It is similar to our daily choices and course of life. By our actions every day, we either dethrone or throne Christ.
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Maybe I would invite you to pause and self-examine the tone of your habitual words and acts. Look at your life in the past year, month, week, day, hour, minute, and second; who has been winning the duel for your allegiance? Don’t share your answers; instead, adjust accordingly.
So what do I mean by the battle for the pulpit? I am talking about moral authority and ground to speak with power and authority over a given subject. Have you ever thought about it? It can be a grave matter, and it will shock and leave you bamboozled. It will also introduce you or raise your spiritual antenna to another consequence of yielding to temptation and sin that many people have never thought about or even imagined.
I will use a classical example that most of us know of; however, I will avoid the danger of presuming everyone is excited with scriptures like I do. However, the story of King David is known by many people, even those who do so purely by hearsay. David is known for a lot of beautiful things and acts of valor. Nevertheless, one bombarding blackspot in his resume is Uriah’s wife’s case. Mistaken voyeurism graduated to hot blood adultery and a cold blood murder. All his attempts to sanitize his mess fell flat on a dead end, and he finds himself face to face with Nathan, the prophet; he ends up placing the sword on his neck when he says, “As the Lord lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!”. His terrible slumber was disturbed by the sentence, “Thou art the man.” You can read the passage in its entirety in 2 Samuel 11 and 12.
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Here is the sense that followed the Prophet’s visitation:
Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more! Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon. Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.’ ” 2 Samuel 12:7-12
David is in trouble here. He has messed up with a person he should not have messed up with; one of his most faithful soldiers. Here is a classical case of the deceitfulness of sin. Just like Adam was not hungry when he was tempted to partake of the forbidden fruit, David was not suffering loneliness when he was tempted to pursue companionship from Bathsheba. But sin is inexcusable and unexplainable.
How did this affect life of David?
Immediately after this encounter, bold and unheard of, the floodgates of iniquity crept into the family. His firstborn, Amnon, raped his step-sister, Tamar. This was a terrible evil that called forth quick retribution, but how did the king respond?
But when King David heard of all these things, he was very angry. 2 Samuel 13:21.
He was angry, but what more could he do? He was weighed down by cognitive dissonance and could not do anything about this issue. He could talk to his family about many issues. He could tell them about his conquests against Goliath and forgiveness towards Saul. He could tell them how he patiently waited upon God till He was ready to fulfill the promise of putting him on the throne. However, on matters of sexual purity, the noble king had lost the pulpit. He was angry and helpless. This resulted in the death of Amnon in the hands of Absalom, Tamar’s brother.
Sin makes us make fools of ourselves and silence our voices that we cannot stand to rebuke or raise a standard against it. How can a drunkard preach against or teach the dangers of imbibing liquor? How can the dean of promiscuity preach the power of fidelity in the matrimonial bed? Here is the heart of the matter in the battle for the pulpit. Anytime we fall, the devil gains twice: First, he makes us losers in our battle for the truth and the right. Secondly, he silences our voices and robs us of the pulpit to address the area where we have fallen. Any failure on our side means some other soul who would have benefitted from our warning will be lost too.
What hope is there really for a City when the watchmen have been arrested and gagged by the enemies?
“If those who profess to be the depositaries of God’s law become transgressors of its precepts, they separate themselves from God, and they will be unable to stand before their enemies.”— Patriarchs and Prophets P. 457