“But I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.”-1 Corinthians 9:27
In the last article, we had spoken about Moses, God’s representative on earth, who failed to treat the name of the Lord as holy, and, as a result, was not permitted to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Moses’ failure to revere the Lord before the people of Israel brought severe consequences to him. He himself was not allowed to lead the people, nor enter himself. In his stead, the Lord commissioned Joshua the son of Nun to lead the people into the land beyond the Jordan. Now, if one like Moses can be replaced, then, no doubt, any of us can be too.
When the subject of being disqualified is brought up, I have been told by some, “The Scripture says, ‘The gifts and calling of God is without repentance.'” This Scripture is from Romans 11:29. With any verse that we approach to interpret, we MUST always interpret that verse or verses in their proper context! I say this emphatically, not to offend, but only to help us see the importance of interpreting the Scripture correctly. Romans 9-11 addresses Israel according to the flesh, specifically, that our Lord has not abandoned His people altogether. In Romans 11 we read of a remnant of Israel that will be saved in the same manner as the Gentiles, and an emphasis toward the Gentile believers that they should not be puffed up because they have been grafted into Israel. It is important for you to read all of these chapters, but for now, we need to at least look at the immediate verse before 11:29. Romans 11:25-29 states:
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uniformed of this mystery-so that you will not be wise in your own estimation-that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written, “The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.” “This is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.” From the standpoint of the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but from the standpoint of God’s choice they are beloved for the same of the fathers; for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
The entire context is speaking of God not disregarding His calling and gift of salvation to ethnic Israel. Just as Paul states earlier in the chapter, the Lord will save a remnant from Jacob in the same manner as the Gentiles. The context speaks nothing of “spiritual gifts.”
The apostle Paul understood the great responsibility that he had in revering the name of the Lord and setting an example for others to follow. He states in 1 Corinthians 9:27, that he disciplines his body-meaning, “I give my body a black eye”- so that after he preaches, he himself will not be disqualified. Paul knew that he could be disqualified from his office if he failed to revere the holiness of the God, and indulge in the very sin that he is exhorting others to abstain from. The sad truth is, there have been a number of pastors and leaders who have committed heinous sins, and believe that since they have been forgiven by the Lord, they can continue in their leadership position or pastorate. One man who says he is a preacher is divorcing his wife, without biblical cause, and is already in a relationship with another. He, predictably, quoted Romans 11:29. Another pastor committed adultery and still maintains his position as a preacher. This is absolutely unacceptable for leaders to do!
A pastor is to be without reproach, committed to his wife, and have a good reputation with those outside the church. If these qualifications are not yours, then you cannot be in a position of leadership. After you have confessed and repented of your sin, you can still be used of God in another capacity, but not in what you had previously. Guard yourselves, Beloved. Do not allow sin to overtake you and disqualify you from serving God to the fullest measure.
Joshua Banks is senior pastor and founder of Shepherd’s Rock Bible
Church in Kingsport, TN. He holds a Bachelors degree in Ministry from
Luther Rice University, a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, and a
Master of Divinity both from Liberty University. Joshua and his wife
Amanda, along with their 5 children, reside in Gate City, VA.