Counselors Reflect on Dangerous Calling by Paul Tripp
A Series to Care for the Care Takers of God’s People
“The blinding ability of sin is so powerful and persuasive that you and I literally need daily intervention.” Paul David Tripp–page 73
The tactic Satan used to tempt Jesus in the desert has always amazed me. The approach he used was gutsy and bold, but above all it was devious. With anyone else it might have worked. But with Jesus it was bound for defeat before it happened. Each time Satan tempted Jesus he audaciously used Scripture to distract him from his mission. Part of the reason this tactic was so insane was because Satan was quoting Scripture to the one who actually wrote the words! Of course, each time, Satan quoted the passages out of context, and each time Jesus quoted Scripture, in response, it was in context. Imagine that! The God who wrote Scripture quoted it in response to the temptations from Satan.
All of this points to the subtlety of sin. Rarely do we hear outright lies from the enemy. Most often we hear very plausible, and sometimes reasonable, partial truths that can be more challenging to recognize, much less reject. At times this displays itself in how we see ourselves: believing too generously or believing too poorly. Sometimes it comes from rogue thoughts where we justify our sin in our head. These thoughts are dangerous when they guide our beliefs and motives. Lastly, these partial truths (lies) can come from the world. The system we live under is corrupt and never stops tempting us to question God’s character (as Adam and Eve did). Our hearts naturally generate idols that fool us into thinking that we need them to be happy. As Tripp points out, sin is remarkably powerful and persuasive.
It powerfully blinds us because our nature is corrupt and although Jesus rescued us from the slavery to sin, he did not remove us from the presence of sin. Our position in Christ is one of righteousness before him, but experientially our hearts are still prone to wander. Like a magnet that mysteriously may draw us to doom, its attractive power over us is remarkable. I often talk to men who know that their behavior and habits will bring them to utter ruin, but these men are often still willing to take the risk. Sin is, indeed, very powerful.
It’s persuasiveness shows up in how we can actually justify or cloak our sin. In our brokenness, sins persuasiveness to convince us that our sin is not that bad or even justified can sneak up on us in extraordinarily subtle ways. Like justifying our anger because we are convinced that someone is wrong. Our tendency to gossip may be seen merely as “knowing how to pray for someone.” A pastor can even justify looking “innocently” at porn because he’s lonely or because “it will be just this one time.” “God will understand,” he tells himself.
These lies, some subtle and some not so subtle, are why I believe we cannot live the Christian life, or life in general, without the help of the body of Christ. Most often that means we should expect people around us to speak as much truth as they do grace. In fact, we desperately need to invite friends to provide that important act of love. We need it to survive in ministry long term. Believing that you can handle the power and subtlety of sin is naïve at best and destructive at worst. This independent thinking can destroy your ministry, your church and your family. It’s simply not worth it. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” Sometimes we need the wounds of a friend to keep us on track.
I encourage you, Pastor or Christian worker, to be honest with yourself and invite people to hold you accountable. Give them the freedom to ask the hard questions. In fact, please invite them to ask the hard questions. Think endurance, not merely survival.
Please stay with us during this series, which will explore the work of Paul David Tripp in Dangerous Calling.
To order a copy of your own of Paul Tripp’s book click on the link below.
|Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry By Paul David Tripp / Crossway Books & Bibles
Executive Director, Bridgehaven Counseling Associates