Herbert W. Armstrong
Speaks Out On Adultery!
These excerpts came from a whopping eleven page article from Mr. HA! It may be of some help to someone out there.
In the world wide church of god we were taught that God is not the author of confusion. Yet, paradoxically, that is all most of us who faithfully attended years and years of religious indoctrination of "god's" truth are left with.
Lately, a great deal of confusion has to do with the person of Herbert Armstrong himself. Many have accused him of great wrongdoing, including the hypocrisy of publicly blasting, condemning and disfellowshipping members for unchristian sins, while privately consenting to identical conduct in the privacy of his quiet hours.
What did Mr. Armstrong have to say about the sin of adultery? In particular, what did he have to say about the sin of adultery with regard to the ministry? Older archives of the Plain Truth and other materials are a good source to help clear up some of the confusion. The April 1967 Plain Truth article "WHAT DO YOU MEAN...'THE UNPARDONABLE SIN'" starting on page 9 by Herbert W. Armstrong should shed some valuable light on the subject. For the sake of length, only excerpts can be offered, but interested parties can reference the entire article at their leisure.
And now, Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong:
" Is every sin committed by a converted Christian unpardonable? Or can a Christian commit a sin, repent, be forgiven, and still remain a Christian?.....
As long as the Holy Spirit of God dwells in you, you are Christ's - that is, you are a Christian....
A Christian, then, in God's terms, is one who has, at the moment, God's Holy Spirit dwelling in him.
...Now remember, there are two required conditions, which you must supply, before you receive the gift of God's Holy Spirit. Neither of these supply or earn salvation. But God will not GIVE His precious gift until we put down the hostile rebellion. These two conditions, as stated before, are repentance and faith.
...To repent means a total change of attitude and heart! A continuously repentant attitude! For god's spirit will dwell only in such a mind!
...And you are a spiritual baby! So, you do fall down a number of times - yet you are falling while still on Christ's road, walking with Him. As long as you keep His goal before your eyes - as long as you continue in the spiritual attitude - as long as you desire to go God's Way - as long as you keep trying, and determined, you are still on that road! You are not condemned!
The self in the converted Christian is still there - but, as Paul spoke of it, it must be crucified! A crucified man may be still alive, but nailed up to a stake so he can't get down even though he wants to. The Christian must nail up, so to speak, this old human nature, so that it is NOT ALLOWED to get active and pull him down in the wrong direction.
...But - there's more to it than that! Each time you stumble and fall down - in an incident of sin - you simply failed to fully use this spiritual equipment God had given you.
...But if, when the temptation comes, you find yourself NOT so filled with God's power, that the temptation tries you, you still can cry out, at the instant, for help!
...Do real Christians ever sin? Now we approach our final answer. Suppose the prominent church member, mentioned in the beginning of this article, was actually a truly converted man, and that he actually did commit the alleged adultery. Could he still be a Christian? If God had been previously using him, could God still have used him, after the sin of adultery - if he had not been murdered?
I was mentioning this hypothetical instance to a man who is a begotten son of God. His instant, rather emphatic ejaculation was that definitely he never could have been a truly converted man of God, if he committed adultery.
And I am led to believe perhaps most people would think the same way. BUT YOU WOULD BE WRONG!
Yes, even ministers CAN sin! We need to understand! Not only could a prominent churchman, under temptation, slip and commit a sin...
And we need to remember - even a minister of Jesus Christ - a true one whom the living Christ uses - is just as human as you are!
First, too many people look on a minister as a holy, superhuman, saintly, super-righteous sort of person who is surely not human. They seem to think a minister is not like other humansthat he is automatically above sin! This can get to be a sort of worship, of making your minister "another god before the Almighty God." That can become idolatry!
A minister has the same human nature you have - and I have shown you the apostle Paul had it, too! Surely no minister today is any more righteous than was Paul - and he had a mighty battle striving against sin!
And if we battle against evil spirits in high places - Satan and demons of high rank, and great power - just consider how much more the forces of Satan would try to overthrow a true minister of the living Christ!
God's ministers probably have a far tougher struggle against sin than YOU do! They need your prayers!
.... But I do want to make one thing plain. If he were a converted man, with God's Holy Spirit dwelling in him - with an abiding overall attitude of delighting in God's Law, as did Paul, of obedience to God - and if he actually did slip, and under a temptation you and I may not understand, yield to this INCIDENT of adultery - then IF he truly repented of it, as soon as he came back to his right senses, God would have forgiven!
... But, as he walks this way of life, he is a "babe in Christ," actually learning to walk spiritually, just as a human baby must learn to walk physically. He must try not to fall, yet he is bound to fall down a few times along the road, learning to walk spiritually.
If, through a former HABIT, or being overcome by temptation of the pull of the flesh - of his human nature - or other cause, he encounters an INCIDENT of committing a sin, for which he is afterward truly sorry - and for which he repents - all the while in inner Spirit-begotten mind still in the attitude of desiring to continue on God's way, then he has an advocate with the Father
... Even though, in that incident, under temptation, or neglect of prayer and Bible study, he does yield KNOWINGLY, his mind, for the time being, ASSENTING to the deed. This is doing it, for the moment, WILLINGLY, but it is NOT willful sin.
...The one who changes that overall attitude from one of submissive yielding to god to one of hostile rebellion - the one who changes his life's goal from wanting God's righteousness, and eternal life, to wanting self-centeredness and willfully going the world's way, is in an altogether different category than the one whose goal is the Kingdom Of God, but who stumbles in an incident of sin - or even many such incidents.
...TWO ways into unpardonable sin. I want to be even more specific. I want every reader to understand.
...There are at least two ways in which a spirit-begotten Christian may LOSE the gift of God's Holy Spirit.
...By deliberate choice. This may come from wrong reasoning; from a wrong desire thought out to a final fixed, permanent decision as to his way of life; or, from allowing resentment in his heart toward either God or some person who may have wronged him.
...I cannot put too much emphasis on guarding against harboring resentment. It is spiritual poison - deadly spiritual poison. If ever you begin to feel resentment against some injustice, GO PRAY, asking God to remove it quickly. Do not let it well up inside you - never harbor it. If you do, you will become as "hooked" with it as a dope addict becomes "hooked" with heroin! It is that serious!
...Your bitterness may not harm the other fellow - but it may destroy you!
...Blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Now notice what Jesus said about blaspheming the Holy Spirit.
...The modern "Pharisees" of this world's organized but deceived "Christianity" - resisting the same true gospel of the Kingdom of god, now being heard by the millions worldwide today through this Work of God, use the same tactics against us! They falsely accuse us of being what they are - false prophets. They deliberately misrepresent what we teach....
Now what does "blaspheme" mean? The Greek word, in which it was originally written, means "intentional indignity offered to God or sacred things."
...So, this unforgivable sin is one committed deliberately, knowing they are wrong, after thinking it over, and doing it intentionally, willfully. Jesus said they were in danger of damnation in gehenna fire, the final, second death!
And this sin was committed by unconverted men!
No ordinary sin, even by a Christian, is unforgivable. Jesus said plainly that all sins, and blasphemies - even again God - even against Jesus Christ - will be forgiven on repentance. It is ONLY premeditated, thought-out, planned, deliberate, intentional, willful indignity, insult, false accusation against God's Holy Spirit that is unforgivable." (END OF EXCERPTS)
So, in summary, what are we left with? According to Herbert Armstrong we now know that a minister in "god's" true church may keep his job so long as he repent after each "incident" of the sin of adultery in particular, even if done repeatedly. We also now know that the surest path to the unforgivable sin is to allow yourself to stay upset at a genuine injustice done to you, or offer some insult to the work of god, even if you were never a truly converted Christian. So, according to this eleven page article, YOU now run the risk of committing the unpardonable sin by allowing yourself to become outraged that the virgin daughter that you sent to Ambassador College is being bonked by some high ranking minister at headquarters. Forget Matthew 18! Quick! GO PRAY! Lest you blaspheme the Holy Spirit any further!
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