Thursday, September 09, 2010

Losing the mystery

This is entry #29 from Shepherds Balm, a new devotional for pastors written by Rich Earl. Read more and order copies at

The ministry is one of the most perilous of
professions. The devil hates the Spirit-filled
minister with an intensity second only to that which
he feels for Christ Himself. The source of this hatred
is not difficult to discover. An effective, Christlike
minister is a constant embarrassment to the devil, a
threat to his dominion, a rebuttal of his best
arguments and a dogged reminder of his coming
overthrow. No wonder he hates him.

Satan knows that the downfall of a prophet of
God is a strategic victory for him, so he rests not day
or night devising hidden snares and deadfalls for the
ministry. Perhaps a better figure would be the poison
dart that only paralyzes its victim, for I think that
Satan has little interest in killing the preacher
outright. An ineffective, half-alive minister is a better
advertisement for hell than a good man dead. So the
preacher's dangers are likely to be spiritual rather
than physical, though sometimes the enemy works
through bodily weaknesses to get to the preacher's

There are indeed some very real dangers of the
grosser sort which the minister must guard against,
such as love of money and women; but the deadliest
perils are far more subtle than these. So let's
concentrate on them.

There is, for one, the danger that the minister
shall come to think of himself as belonging to a
privileged class…Seeing whose name he bears, the
unconscious acceptance of belonging to a privileged
class is particularly incongruous for the minister.
Christ came to give, to serve, to sacrifice and to die,
and said to His disciples, “As my Father hath sent me,
even so send I you.” The preacher is a servant of the
Lord and of the people. He is in great moral peril
when he forgets this.

Another danger is that he may develop a perfunctory
spirit in the performance of the work of the
Lord. Familiarity may breed contempt even at the
very altar of God. How frightful a thing it is for the
preacher when he becomes accustomed to his work,
when his sense of wonder departs, when he gets used
to the unusual, when he loses his solemn fear in the
presence of the High and Holy One; when, to put it
bluntly, he gets a little bored with God and heavenly

If anyone should doubt that this can happen let
him read the Old Testament and see how the priests
of Jehovah sometimes lost their sense of divine
mystery and became profane even as they performed
their holy duties. And church history reveals that this
tendency toward perfunctoriness did not die with the
passing of the Old Testament order. Secular priests
and pastors who keep the doors of God's house for
bread are still among us. Satan will see to it that they
are, for they do the cause of God more injury than a
whole army of atheists would do.
— AW Tozer, God Tells the man who cares, pp. 76-77

Then Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, each took his censer and put fire in it, put incense on it, and offered profane fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. So fire went out from the Lord and devoured them, and they died before the Lord. And Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord spoke, saying: ‘By those who come near Me I must be regarded as holy; And before all the people I must be glorified.’” So Aaron held his peace. — Leviticus 10:1-3(KJV)

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