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Pastor sitting on altar

Why Do Pastors Keep Cheating?

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Why do pastors keep cheating?  We have seen it all over the news recently – affair after affair by high-profile mega-church pastors.  I myself am a local church pastor of a multi-site church with locations in Brooklyn, Long Island, and Northwest Indiana/Chicago area, named one of America’s fastest-growing churches. When I see these stories unfold in the news, it breaks my heart, so I want to speak about it from the heart and perspective of a fellow pastor.  

Man being photographedIn my perspective, there are two conditions that create the context for infidelity among lead pastors, especially those who pastor large churches:  

1. An Extreme Need for Comfort  

When you’re a pastor, every single thing you do and say is scrutinized, judged, criticized, and gossiped about. Then when you go home, you talk about church and church people with your wife and family. There’s no relief from the pressures of church life.  Therefore you create a situation where 100% of your life is the work of ministry.  This causes depletion.  Therefore you are in extreme need of comfort. The high demands can mean don’t ever have an off day because you don’t ever “clock out.”  Now hear me – this does not excuse sin.  It only explains explain the context for how sin happens.  

2. The First Class Experience

First ClassThe second factor is what I like to call “the first-class experience.” Pastors who are in celebrity positions can create a false reality where eventually they start to think that the world is afirst-class experience. If you’ve ever flown first class before, you know that it’s a high-level experience.  The seats are larger and more comfortable, and the section is in the front for quick on and off access. In the back, everybody eats peanuts, but in first class you get a full hot meal.  There are two different sets of rules – a set for first-class and a set for everybody else.  

Many churches have a deeply ingrained honor culture. In trying to honor the pastor, they give him a preferred parking spot, seat him and his family in front, they feed him between services, and all manner of “first class” experiences.  It can all be a good thing, because their pastor’s life is more difficult and the honor culture seeks to alleviate some of the pressure and pain. Conversely, this first-class treatment can be blown out of proportion.  This preferred experience can plant a seed of exemption where a pastor begins to believe that the rules that apply to everyone else don’t apply to him.  

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”  When a pastor does not guard his or her heart and there’s an extreme need for comfort, it is an explosive combination. Then, combine it with the first-class mentality that exempts you from normal life.  Eventually, you feel exempt not just from normal life, but from the commands of God.

In John 14:15, Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (ESV).  A lot of pastors who are in sin have learned how to confess their sin but never repent of it.  Even though they may have the honor of the crowds, a special parking spot, a special seat, and first-class plane tickets, they’re not exempt from Jesus’ commandments.  

Pastor sitting on altarJohn 14:16-17 (ESV)

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

God has promised a helper, the Holy Spirit, to abide with us forever.  You can have an accountability partner and still sin.  It is possible to be in the same hotel, even the same hotel room, as your accountability partner and still sin. But you can’t deceive the Spirit of Truth or lie to the Holy Spirit.  

A lot of pastors in sin are ministering out of a gift and not out of a relationship with Jesus.  Preaching is a gift.  Teaching is a gift.  But a relationship with God will cause you to not want to grieve the Holy Spirit.  Because even if an accountability partner doesn’t find out about your sin, the Holy Spirit knows and will be grieved.  

As I think about all of the recent pastors in the news, my heart is heavy. As a pastor myself, I want to walk in humility.  I have to worship.  I have get before God and depend on the Holy Spirit. I have to feed the poor (without taking a photo of it for Instagram).  All of that plays a part in humility. The higher you go, the more you have to decrease.  


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How To Defeat the Jezebel Spirit

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Today we are talking about how to defeat the spirit of Jezebel.  In the Old Testament, Queen Jezebel was the wife of King Ahab, the king of Israel. Ahab “did evil in the sight of the Lord, more than all who were before him” (1 Kings 16:30, ESV).  The two of them were responsible for promoting the worship of false gods and creating a culture that was completely anti-God, where evil was celebrated and righteousness was abhorred.

ControlThe Fight Against Jezebel

The Bible does not give us permission to fight people – not your spouse, your boss, your siblings, or your mama.  But it does say, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:10-11, ESV).

The Open Door

We’ve been given battle-ready armor so that we can fight principalities, powers, and spirits.  Now, there are behaviors and attitudes that are sometimes just flesh, not a demon.  But unrepentant sin can turn into the demonic.  Unrepented sin opens a door.  If I leave the front door open to my house for a little bit, a squirrel or a dog might come in.  But if I leave the door open for a long enough period of time, something even worse will come in.  

Generational Curses

If you persist in sinful, prideful, narcissistic, controlling, haughty behavior, you will open a door to the demonic.  Some have generational curses and have inherited a Jezebel spirit.  If you’ve always been domineering and controlling, perhaps it is due to a generational curse.  And this spirit is not relegated to a male or a female – anyone can have a Jezebel spirit.  

Regardless of how the Jezebel spirit arrived, we have the authority to defeat it.  This is a spiritual battle.  Based on 1 Kings 18, here are three ways to defeat Jezebel.  

1. Come out of hiding.  

The spirit of Jezebel will cause you to go into hiding.  Those who are under the influence of someone with a Jezebel spirit will often feel like they can’t tell anyone what is happening to them.  They are in abusive, toxic, narcissistic relationships and yet keep it secret.  

hiding1 Kings 18:13 

Has it not been told my lord what I did when Jezebel killed the prophets of the Lord, how I hid a hundred men of the Lord’s prophets by fifties in a cave and fed them with bread and water?

Expose the Jezebel Spirit

In this verse, we hear how the prophet Obadiah tells Elijah how he began to hide other prophets because they were scared of Jezebel.  The spirit Jezebel will cause even people who know God’s ways to go into hiding.  This applies to people under the influence of spiritual leaders who have Jezebel spirits, as well as those in abusive marriages.  Most people who suffer under a Jezebel spirit refuse to believe that their suffering is even real because they hide behind an illusion that all is well.  A Jezebel spirit can turn someone’s good intentions into accusations.  Wrongdoing needs to be exposed, and a Jezebel spirit does not take kindly to exposure.  

A common tactic of someone operating under a Jezebel spirit is to turn the wrongdoing back onto the person who is trying to expose it.  This person will make the innocent party feel dirty, guilty, or as if they were the offending party.  When the enemy is exposed, he tries to silence you and make you go into hiding.  The only way to find freedom is to come out of hiding.  

2. Reclaim your identity. 

1 Kings 18:17

When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the Lord and followed the Baals. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

There’s a battle over identity.  Ahab tried to call Elijah a troubler.  Elijah had to respond back and say, “Wait a second, I’m not the troubler, you’re the troubler.”  If you’ve been under the influence of a Jezebel spirit for very long, you will forget who you really are.  Has your spouse in your abusive marriage called you stupid when you’re not stupid?  Have you gone to a church that said you couldn’t sing even though you can sing? Have they said you couldn’t preach even though you can preach? Have they said you couldn’t prophesy even though you can prophesy? 

Your True Identity

Jezebel will try to tell you you’re nothing, you’re no one. You have to respond back to that spirit with a firm knowledge of who you are in Christ:

  • No longer a slave, but God’s child and an heir (Galatians 4:7) 
  • God’s special possession (1 Peter 2:9-10) 
  • Seated with God in heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6) 
  • A new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • Complete in Him (Colossians 2:10) 
  • Set apart (Hebrews 10:10) 
  • Set apart and appointed (Jeremiah 1:5) 
  • More than a conqueror (Romans 8:37) 

These are just a few of the things God has called us that define our identity.  You need to write down your true identity and put it on your mirror so every morning when you go to the bathroom you’re reminded of who you are.  

Don’t Forget Who You Are 

Controlling, narcissistic people will make you forget who you truly are.  Their influence will distract you from the things you love, the things that make you uniquely you, and the gifts and talents that God has placed inside you to be shared with the world for His glory.  Jezebel is a seductress and will try to make you forget who you really are.  A Jezebel spirit is so manipulative and controlling, that it will even affect the way a person dresses, the way they wear their makeup, and style their hair.   

3. Stick with your choice no matter the consequence.  

1 Kings 19:20

So Ahab sent to all the people of Israel and gathered the prophets together at Mount Carmel. And Elijah came near to all the people and said, “How long will you go limping between two different opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal, then follow him.” And the people did not answer him a word.

Stick with your choice.  People will begin to come to my church and tell me they go to their old church for one service and then my church for another service.  Why is that?  Because they have been made to feel guilty for leaving.  This is an example of a Jezebel spirit at work.  They are stuck between two choices.  

Someone under the influence of a Jezebel spirit fears the opinions of that person.  They are afraid of the consequences and what will happen when Jezebel finds out.  A toxic, controlling, narcissistic person can make the life of the people under their control a living nightmare.  So it’s natural that the person being controlled would fear the repercussions of their choice.  You’ve got to be willing to stick with your choice, no matter what happens. A Jezebel will be critical of your choice and even discredit it. Jezebel’s criticism of your choice is a confirmation that you made the right choice! 

In Conclusion

Defeat Jezebel by coming out of hiding, reclaiming your true identity, and sticking with your choice.  You cannot serve two masters – you have to serve the Lord. 


My Breakthrough Community is full of people just like you who are hungry for more of God. If you are interested in learning more, consider joining the Breakthrough Community!

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