Imagine making a list of pastors who fell into sexual sin. Then imagine making a list of pastors who committed sexual crimes. And then finally imagine that this list gets posted on the internet for all to see. As seen in recent days, such things are not hard to imagine.
Recent events should sober us as pastors and encourage us to be pure. This post is simply a quick walk through the Pastoral Epistles to let Paul encourage us as pastors on the matter of purity.
To begin, our purity started with our salvation. The law was good to expose our sins, sexual impurity included, in order to drive us to the glorious gospel of our blessed God (1 Tim 1:8–11; cf. Exod 20:14). Our Savior Jesus Christ gave himself for us in order to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify us for his own possession, zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). This purity began in the heart, mind, and conscience when the Spirit cleansed us by faith in Christ (1 Tim 1:5; Titus 1:15; 3:5; cf. Acts 15:9).
Once saved, we progressed in sanctification to the point where our churches recognized our example in character, purity included (cf. 1 Tim 3:1–7; Titus 1:6–9). We “must be above reproach,” which includes being “the husband of one wife,” or to paraphrase, “a one-woman kind of man” (1 Tim 3:2; cf. 3:12; Titus 1:6). If we are fathers, our “children are … not open to the charge of debauchery,” a charge that could include obvious sexual sin (Titus 1:6; cf. 1 Pet 4:3–4). We must be pure, and we must maintain purity in our homes.
Serving as pastors, we heed the command to “set the believers an example … in purity” (1 Tim 4:12). We keep a close watch on ourselves (1 Tim 4:16). We uphold the charge to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach in every way (1 Tim 6:13–14). We cleanse ourselves from what is dishonorable in order to be fit for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful for the Master, and ready for every good work (2 Tim 2:21). When faced with temptation, we flee youthful passions to pursue righteousness instead, joining those who call on the Lord from a pure heart (2 Tim 2:22).
Practically, when we minister to women, we avoid compromising situations. We do not prey sexually upon sin-burdened women by tempting them according to their passions (2 Tim 3:6). Rather, we encourage “older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Tim 5:1–2). In so doing, we join the older women in encouraging our younger sisters to be “self-controlled” and “pure” and strive to be “in all respects … a model of good works” (Titus 2:4–5, 7).
Pastors, in matters of purity and everything else, fight the fight, finish the race, and keep the faith. We have been called to a holy calling. As we serve with purity, henceforth there will be laid up for us crowns of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to us on that day, and not only us, but also to all who have loved his appearing (2 Tim 1:9; 4:7–8).