"Why do they fall? They fall for the same reason that all Christians fall," Pastor Shane Idleman, founder and lead pastor of Westside Christian Fellowship in Southern California, wrote in an article for Charisma Magazine. He originally posted the article in his official website.
"Each of us are drawn away by our own evil desires and enticed. When these desires are acted upon, they lead to sin (James 1:14-15)," he explained. "Sin has a life cycle-it either grows or withers, depending on whether we feed or starve it."
He then quoted the prolific Puritan author, John Owen, "Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you."
Idleman then wrote outlined seven ways or reasons Christians can fall into sin:
"It will never happen to me"
Pastor Idleman reminded believers to be careful even if they think they are standing firm, as stated in 1 Corinthians 10:12.
"Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall" (Prov. 16:18), he quoted before explaining why believers should value humility more than pride as pride opens the door to unwise decisions and it ignores convictions.
"Pride says, "I've never committed adultery. It will never happen to me."
Humility says, "By the grace of God, I haven't, but I can,"" Idleman explained.
He also added that Christians can find strength by admitting their weaknesses, as per 2 Corinthians 12:10b, which says "For when I am weak I am strong."
"I'm too busy"
He explained how all people are susceptible to putting God second and ministry first, adding that people can be too busy to cultivate a prayer life that places God as our top priority.
Men who pray better have a better life because it's hard to fall "when you're always on your knees," praying to God, Idleman said. But people are often too busy doing too many things and forget that God should always come first.
"Nine times out of 10, when a leader falls, he or she has no meaningful prayer or devotional life," Idleman added.
"Holiness is compromised"
Pastor Idleman described holiness as a vital weapon of defense against evil, as stated in Ephesians 6:14. But holiness should be rooted in "brokenness and humility, not legalism."
A low view of holiness will damage a believer's morality, which will in turn cause him to choose to "rationalize instead of repent."
Idleman says he's convinced that the media in today's society play a big role in the decline of holiness as Hollywood has a bigger influence than that of the Holy Spirit.
"We cannot fill our mind with darkness all week and expect the light of Christ to shine in our lives," he added.
"Many build unhealthy relationships with the opposite sex"
Believers should be highly aware of this area, Idleman said. Those who are married and are attracted to someone else, for example, should immediately take action to remove themselves from that situation because adultery begins with small compromises.
"Don't fight sexual desires; don't entertain them-flee," he said, citing 1 Corinthians 6:18.
"We fail to strengthen weak areas"
Challenges in life often tempt humans to seek comfort in alcohol and other unholy things.
"The enemy uses "opportune times" to draw us away from God (Luke 4:13.) The line is so thin that it is often hard to determine when we cross over." Idleman said.
Weak areas such as alcohol, drugs, adultery, anger, etc., are opportunities for evil to tempt believers. These areas should be strengthened and exposed through repentance. Christians should then install safeguards and seek accountability.
"Accountability is often breached or minimized"
Accountability adds a safeguard in the battle against sins, but it is not bulletproof. Believers should focus their hearts on honoring God's Word.
Evil likes to work in darkness and deceit, exposing the weaknesses of Christians, that is why it is imperative for believers to tell people they trust about their struggles and ask them to pray with them and ask them the hard questions that are often uncomfortable asking, such as a person's private life.
"The greater our influence, the greater the need for accountability: spiritually, financially, and relationally," Idleman added.
"Loneliness becomes an excuse"
Feeling a sense of entitlement, especially for Christian leaders, often leads to bad decisions due to hardships from the ministry that took a toll on them.
Believers can become jealous of those who seem to have "all the fun" but don't live by God's rules.
Idleman quoted Oswald Chambers who said: "God buries His men [and women] in the midst of paltry things, no monuments are erected to them; they are ignored, not because they are unworthy, but because they are in the place where they cannot be seen."
Pastor Idleman then encouraged believers with a Bible Verse from Luke 17:10 which states, "So you also, when you have done everything commanded you, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done our duty."
God gave pastors the privilege to serve Him and proclaim His Word of Truth to others, Idleman said. For these reasons, pastors must not allow frustrations and hardships to lead them down the wrong path.
Idleman reminds Christian leaders to take time to examine themselves and repent of any sin. The process might be painful, but it will result in a "fruit" that far outweighs the effects of the sin being exposed and revealed. He then cited Numbers 32:23, which says:
"But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the Lord; and be sure your sin will find you out."
Idleman encourages Christians to repent of any and all sin. Repentant people take full responsibility for their actions, and do not excuse themselves. Excuses, he said, "need to stop before healing can occur."
Genuine repentance might not feel good and will not give believers room to use "but" when asking for forgiveness, but it is always better to "live in God's healing arms of forgiveness rather than to live broken outside of His will."
For the truly repentant, Idleman says " God's grace will see you through."