“Many times I have managed to overcome masturbation for a while but I always come back to fall. It angers me that I am not able to control myself. I feel that I fail God first, and then all of those around me. I serve God in my church, and the truth is that God would fulfill his purpose for me, but being attached to this sin makes me feel very hypocritical, and I feel I should leave the ministry I am in. I would like you to give me your opinion regarding this issue. Should a person who is tied this sin continue to serve God? “
Dude, we’re glad that you asked voluntarily and not because of getting caught. I’ll take my best shot at what I hope is a biblical answer:
If your responsibilities are ministering to the spiritual lives of others (like preaching, teaching, leading the youth or leading worship); you must consider that you might be ministering some dirt that has infiltrated your thinking.
Jesus said: If the blind lead the blind, they both wind up in the ditch.
It is hard to believe that if a person is constantly practicing masturbation (and perhaps consuming pornography or having sexual fantasies) that his spiritual thoughts can manage to stay pure. Example: Some leaders or pastors are promoting incongruities from the pulpit, such as semi approving premarital sex – particularly when a couple lives together without being married – or turning a blind eye to infidelity of his sheep; because his thinking has been corrupted by his own sexual sin.
Others will rant on, condemning porn and prostitution while engaged in such immorality themselves.
What is that about?
Hypocrisy is defined in the dictionary as “the refusal to apply to ourselves the values we require from others” or “counterfeit beliefs, attitudes, feelings or standards that we do not have genuine intention to follow.” In case you’re preaching against something that you still do in private, then that would be an indication that you need to step down from the job.
How could such a ministry further Christ’s kingdom?
Here at Free in Christ, we have seen quite a few Pastors and Ministers who stepped down from their position until they had found freedom from habitual sin. Others have even confessed to their congregations. We do not pressure them to do so – it is a matter of personal conviction.
Also if you are ministering in a church group or counseling people who are involved in sexual sin – then how is it that they can be helped? Remember who leads by example is the best kind of leader. Jesus is our example. He is our measuring rod.
I took this next passage from the Message because it is so easy to understand:
3 1-7 If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good! But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable. He must know what he’s talking about, not be overly fond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry. He must handle his own affairs well, attentive to his own children and having their respect. For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s church? Timothy 3: 1-7 (MSG)
What we have said to this point, pretty much explains who should seriously consider resigning his post.
However – the other side of the coin.
We should clarify that sometimes in congregations, service and leadership are thought to be one in the same. So much so that anyone who is assigned a job becomes a “leaders” or part of the “leadership”. We do not know what kind of responsibilities you have, but you can discern if your question refers to a non-leadership position such as janitorial work, cooking, driving others to church, visiting the sick – and I’m sure there are others. Also I’m certain that you will agree how, unless you are physically endangering someone, that you might, in good conscience, continue that service.
You see, when we are connected to the fellowship, real service keeps our hearts humble. And belonging to the body of Christ with its accompanying communion and resulting humility are two tools that will help us in our quest for freedom from sin. So do not isolate yourself. Remain in the fellowship …and let your conscience and the Holy Spirit guide you as to whether or not you continue a particular job.
Never act from motives of rivalry or personal vanity; but in humility think more of each other than you do of yourselves. Philippians 2:3 (J B Phillips)
Leaving could hurt you
Turning away completely from all your responsibilities is the perfect excuse to isolate yourself from other Christians and surrender completely to sin. Without that bond, gradually you have more excuses not to congregate; to feel rejected and try to comfort yourself with sin.
24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—. Hebrews 10:24-25 NIV
We do not want to lose that! The solution is not to abandon your responsibilities, but to forsake sin. If your decisions include seeking: Christian fellowship, a reconnect with God and your community of believers with a contrite heart; courageous and thirsty for growth in Christ, then you are on the right track.
Remember that you have a call in the Kingdom that you must not give up, but a life in sexual sin puts that in “pause” mode and will prevent you from bearing fruit.
For God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. Romans 11:29 NIV
If you’re struggling to get out of your own sexual sin, we can help. www.freeinchrist.org