A couple of events caused me to ask this question recently. First, I attended a conference where several flawed men were honored. This was even acknowledged immediately after the presentation. Next, I have been studying Christian history intensely over the past few months. Many men of the past who are honored probably wouldn’t receive an invitation to preach at my church if they ministered in this age.  Most leaders have had imperfections and faults, but we generally remember them based on their embrace of certain truths. So, does God honor flawed men?

Unequivocally, the answer is yes.

He even inducts them into the “hall of faith” and presumably showers them with eternal rewards. How do I know? Hebrews 11 mentions several examples of individuals who personify living by faith. There’s Noah who blighted his testimony forever with drunkenness. Next in the list is a habitual liar (Abraham). Jacob is a man who is perhaps better known for his scheming than his faith in God. Yet the worship offered at the end of his life draws God’s commendation. An angry man who committed murder is lifted up (Moses). Gideon temporarily was an idolater. David, a man after God’s own heart, was an adulterer and murderer. Many of these men had multiple wives.

If your church was going to make a hall of faith, would you like to see murderers, adulterers, and idolaters lifted up as heroes to your congregation? What does this example mean for us today?

1. It does not mean pastors who violate the qualifications in Scripture should be allowed to remain in their office.

OT heroes do not equal NT pastors. NT believers have clear guidelines in order to qualify for the office of pastor. Pastors who violate these make themselves ineligible for the position.

2. It does not mean unrepentant sinners should be embraced and honored.

The individuals mentioned  in Hebrews 11 did not persist in rebellion and unbelief. Members of the church who persist in sin are to be confronted and removed from fellowship; embracing the sinner runs contrary to God’s plan (1 Cor. 5).

3. It does mean God uses imperfect saints.

The imperfections of leaders will not cause everyone to embrace their faults. Great failures do not negate great faith. The frailty of men actually reveals the glory and majesty of Christ (1 Cor. 1:26-31). We must not be afraid to hold flawed men up as examples to others of great faith and victory.

4. It does mean we should deal graciously with imperfect saints.

When rejoicing over the triumphs of others and not their failures, we demonstrate love (1 Cor. 13:6) and God’s gracious spirit (Hebrews 11). The Holy Spirit didn’t even feel the need to qualify every statement about these flawed men with disclaimers about their failures.

None of this is to say God does not recognize and judge sin – ask the saints of Hebrews 11 and they will heartily agree that God is holy and despises sin. However, these truths do challenge my thinking.

I’d like to have your assistance. Could you comment on this article to help refine my thinking? Is there something obvious that I’m missing? What additional lessons can we take from God honoring flawed men? What warnings would you give?

Published by Jack Lamb

I'm amazed by God's grace. Lindsay and I were married in 2001 and we are blessed with four children. I've been in ministry since 2001. Prior to starting Anchor Baptist Church in 2014, it was my joy replant the First Baptist Church in Miami, Arizona.

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  1. Brother,
    I truly enjoyed this article. It was a thought i hadn’t consdered much about; yet, believe it to be very true. These men, though flawed, did receive God’s recognition and praise. I believe the most important aspect of this post is that these men did not continue in their sin. One that recognizes their transgression and then surrenders themselves to the mercy of God…well, it can be said of all the saints. The problem seen in many of today’s ‘flawed’ men is a lack of true repentance. True repentance is a Godly sorrow as found in 2 Corinthians 7 and consists of: a carefulness in the life of the repentant towards that sin, a clearing of oneself in all areas of that sin, a hatred and fear of that sin, a desire and zeal to see others rescued or kept from that sin, and is a repentance not to be repented of. Too many are just sorry they got caught or sorry for the consequences, but a true repentance will result in a ‘revenge’ against that sin. We all know our ‘Baptist” heroes that got caught and then ‘sufferred’ for their sin; but where is the ‘revenge’, ‘zeal’, ‘fear,’ ‘clearing (not hiding)’, and hatred of that sin? Hard to find; yet one that does show a ‘Godly Repentance,’ can be a testimony of the grace of God as you stated.
    I also thank you for pointing out that O.T. and N.T. requirements are different. I grow weary of hearing pastors rationalize their children and continuing to pastor with Eli and his sons. Anyways, good post.

  2. A very well though out article. I wish more would see the the O.T. and N.T. requirements as well. I also believe more of us need to learn and apply that fourth point. Many forget that we need to forgive and help rebuild the faith of those who have fallen and asked the Lord’s forgiveness. Not that everything is the same, but we often cast those aside as if they can never be used in any aspect of the Lord’s work again.

    1. Thanks for the comment Khory. Galatians 6:1 is a great verse related to your comment: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”

  3. God honors us in numerous ways. God’s presence alone, is an honor. I have read invitations that begin with, “The honor of your presence is requested…” God also honors us with: His love, His name, His promises, His Word, His protection, His deliverance, His salvation, His Holy Spirit, His hope for resurrection, streets of gold, and eternal life. God begins the honoring process, and shows us how it is done.

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