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Fallen in Paradise

Genesis 4:1, “And Adam knew Eve
his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from
the Lord.”

I am thinking of a man whose father is a nationally known
preacher.  This man went to a
Christian school and grew up in a Christian home.  He had all the love of a mom and dad that a boy could
receive.  He sang songs such as
Jesus Loves Me, and The B-I-B-L-E, and Zacheaus Was a Wee Little Man. He participated in all of the teen activities.  He went soul winning. 
In spite of this, today he is living a wild, ungodly lifestyle.  He is involved with liquor, the
Hollywood lifestyle, and illicit sex. He even burned down his parents’ house,
trying to kill them.

There is a well-known pastor who has preached behind my pulpit.  If I were to list the ten most popular
preachers of our generation, he would be on that list.  He loves God, and he and his wife had a
great marriage.  However, his
daughter was loose. She thought she could go to Lovers Lane, neck and pet, and
not be affected.  Soon, she became
pregnant out of wedlock, and her dad’s heart was broken. His second daughter
followed the same path.  

Billy Sunday was one of the greatest evangelists who preached across
this nation.  He fought the liquor
crowd. He went to his pulpit one day, and someone handed him a newspaper. The
headlines announced that Billy Sunday’s own son had been involved in a
drunk-driving accident.

Dr. Hyles told me the story of one of the men who drove him around.
This man was a graduate of Tennessee Temple Schools. His dad was a well-known
pastor, and this man became a popular evangelist.  One day, the evangelist went into a bar to collect a debt.  He took his first drink and walked out
drunk. He was married 7 times, and his life was ruined.  He ended up in the Hammond Rescue

There are teenagers sitting in churches all over the country who are
sold out soul winners.  They think
they can live for God while they fool around with the world, but they cannot do
both.  Before long, their lives
will be wrecked and ruined, and they will be looking for help and advice from
their preacher.

Maybe you visited a church and found it was different from any other
church. The pastor preached strong convictions and soul winning. People were
saved and baptized. You sensed the Spirit of God working. You laughed at the
jokes, cried, and went to the altar. You even found yourself saying

You joined the church, thinking you would have it made.  You thought things would go well for
you if you had that particular pastor—a pastor who preached separation from
sin, who had a bus ministry, who preached Hell-fire damnation, who held
standards and never changed. You thought your children would automatically turn
out right if you put them in the Christian school. You thought your sons and
daughters would turn out right in that college with an electrifying
soul-winning atmosphere. 

Now something has happened to you. You discovered the preacher and the
staff members were human. You discovered the members had faults. You discovered
the members gossiped at that church, just as they gossip in every church. It
did not bother you until you were the target of the sermon or the target of the
gossip. It did not bother you until your child received demerits you thought he
did not deserve. 

Suddenly, you find that you are backslidden.  Your children are backslidden. You do not understand how it
could happen in such a great church. 

I believe “influence does influence,” and that is why it is called
“influence.”  A Christian school
pushes for right.  It helps those
who want to be right with God.  On
the other hand, it hardens those who do not want to be right with God.  If you want to serve God, it will help
you be above average; but if you want to be average, it will be a thorn in the
flesh to you.”  No amount of
influence and environment can ever make you spiritual or make you do right; it
simply makes it easier to do right and be spiritual.

Think about Cain.  Both of
his parents were saved.  God had
given both of them coats of skin; they were washed in the blood and born
again.  When Cain was born, Eve
said, “I have gotten a man from the
  Cain’s name means acquisition.  He was cradled in a lullaby of love and faith from
infancy.  He worshipped with his
parents at the gate of Paradise. Every Sabbath day his dad killed a lamb,
placed his hands of faith on its head, and sacrificed it on an altar. He saw
the cherubim and the flaming torch. 
He actually heard the voice of God.

Cain’s parents probably showed him the results of sin.  They made him feel the thorns on the
plants, and then they showed him the poisonous snakes that had once been
peaceful.  They showed him the
weeds in their gardens.  They
warned him that sin would ruin his life, just as it did the rose, the wild
beasts, and the serpent.  They
showed him their wrinkled brows and stooped shoulders, caused by sin.  They explained that their fatigue at
the end of the day was caused by sin. 

There were no dirty magazines in Cain’s home.  No flashing lights lured him to watch a dirty movie.  No wrong crowd led him astray, and no
fallen woman lured him to sin through lust. There were no atheistic professors
to ruin his mind.  No slum area
caused his fall, and no ghetto pushed him to dope.  There were no adult bookstores, no profanity, no television,
no bars, no rock music, and no Playboy
magazine.  There were no disco
joints, no country and western music, no miniskirts, no drug dealers, no pimps,
and no red-light districts. There were no Kennedys, and no John
MacArthur’s.  There was no NIV,
ASV, or RSV.

Cain lived where it was easiest to serve God.  He lived in a utopian place. Yet, he disobeyed God by
bringing the wrong sacrifice, and then he murdered his own brother.

If you had been in the Garden of Eden, you would have blamed God for
your fall. You would have blamed Paradise.  Yet, it is no more the church’s fault that you are not right
with God than it was God’s fault that Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden. You
have no one to blame but yourself. 

Church is a marvelous place, but it will not make you spiritual.
Members come and go. They become upset with the preacher when they quit reading
their Bibles and going soul winning. They quit going to Sunday school and start
working on Sundays, and then they wonder why their children turn out
wrong.  They quit tithing and
giving offerings. They blame the preacher because he did not keep them right
with God.

God did not give you a preacher and a church to keep you right with
Him.  It is your job to stay right
with God.  If you do not read your
Bible for the entire week, you cannot expect the preacher to keep you right
with God.  Pray and read the Bible
for yourself.

The youth pastor only has your children one hour on Sunday morning and
one hour on Sunday afternoon, so it is not his fault if your children turn out
wrong.  There are 168 hours in a
week, and the pastor only has you three of those hours.  It is your responsibility to keep
yourself right with God. 
A dad once said to me, “I gave my kids to fundamentalism, and look what
happened.  I replied, “You should
have kept them.”  It is your
responsibility to raise your children. 

If you are backslidden, you have two choices.  First, you can look for another church that matches your
spiritual condition. You can justify your backslidden condition by gathering
other backsliders around you. 

Second, you can face the fact that the atmosphere cannot keep you
right. It can only point out your backslidden condition. Even though you are
backslidden, stay in your church. 
Then, get right with God. 
When your child gets some sense, he will have a place to come home. 

If you backslide at church, you cannot go to a better place to get
right with God, so stay and get right with God.  There is no better Book to help you get right with God than
the King James Bible. All the other “bibles” are simply perversions. There are
no better truths to give you. There is no better cause than keeping people out
of Hell.  What else will motivate
you and keep you right with God? 
It is your responsibility to keep yourself right with God. 

The greatest tragedy is when a Christian goes to church, hears the
great music, sees the salvations and baptisms, hears great guest preachers,
hears Bible studies and sermons, and goes to summer camp, yet backslides and
longs to return to Egypt. You walk sacred halls, sacred buildings, and sacred
classes every day, but you are not right with God. You go to chapel and hear
men of God preach, but you are not right with God. You are in a spiritual
utopia, yet you are backslidden. Your church preaches the King James Bible is
the only Word of God, and you are backslidden.  Instead of realizing it is your fault you are
backslidden, you blame the pastor. 

It is easier to lose your temper with the principal or youth pastor
because your child was supposedly wronged than it is to lose your temper at the
child for doing wrong.  No, it is
not the preacher’s fault, the church’s fault, or the school’s fault; it is the
home’s fault.  You have no one to
blame but yourself.  We can make it
more conducive for you to be spiritual and for you to raise your children
right, but you have to choose to do right.

Parents do not let your guard down.  Students do not let your guard down.  The preacher will not make you
spiritual. The church and school will not make you spiritual. Throw away the TV Guide, brush the dust off your Bible,
and read it.  Spend time with
God.  Being around spiritual people
will not take the place of your personal walk with God.

You were attracted to the church and people because
you were spiritual.  You
loved to see people saved. You were the best producer at your church. You loved
the singing and the preaching. 
They used the right Bible. You loved the bus routes. You went to that
church because you were on a spiritual high.
The church became unattractive because you became
unspiritual.  The people did not
change; you became unspiritual. If you had been spiritual, you would
have forgiven.w“Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”  Now you are cold and backslidden, and
the church is unattractive.  The
preacher is unattractive. 

God puts imperfect
people in perfect positions on purpose. The pastor is an imperfect man
preaching a perfect Book to imperfect people, trying to perfect them. The
pastor’s imperfection is used by God to help you become more spiritual and
You became unspiritual because you
depended on the church to make you spiritual. 
I was in a Question
and Answer session once with Dr. Jack Hyles when a man asked him, “Dr. Hyles,
how do you keep Mrs. Hyles right with God?”

Dr. Hyles replied,
“It is not my job to keep Mrs. Hyles right with God.  That is her job.”

If you are very
irritated by the preacher, you are unspiritual. When you depend on the church
to keep you spiritual, you will be unspiritual.  Did you read your Bible this morning?  Did you pray?

If you joined a
church because of right, you will not allow your wife or child to make you

However, if you joined the
church because of your wife or children, you will leave because of them. 

One man said, “You
did not get the heart of my son.” 
The Bible says, “My son, give me
thine heart.”
  It does not say,
“My church member, my youth member….” 
Dad, go home and claim your child’s heart.  Quit blaming the church because your children are not doing

Why did you choose
your church?  Why did you choose
that particular church over another church in town?  The answer will determine how long you stay at your church. Our
church has great benefits. However, you should not join a church because of its
great youth program, its music, its preaching, its college, its fame, or even
its soul winning.  You should join
a church because it is the right church for you to attend. 

As father and
priest of your home, if you do not believe your church is the right one,
neither will your children. They will believe and act what your heart
believes.  If you believe in your
church, your children will believe in it, too.   No youth activity or school will induce your children
to love Jesus and serve God. 

If you believe in
your church, you will stay in it even if your children go to the devil.  You will not be affected by the
emotions of your wife or the rebellious behavior of your children. You will not
be prodded, coerced, tormented, or manipulated into leaving it. 

Your wife will be
secure and happy, knowing that you will not move when times are tough, when
friends leave, when the children do wrong, or when she has a bad day at church.  Your children will be happy and secure
because you support the preacher, the principal, the teacher, and the youth
director.  In fact, if your wife
and children think they can sway you or change your mind in such a weighty
decision, they will lose confidence in you as a leader.  If you leave for the sake of their
happiness, they will actually be less happy. 

This unwavering
determination to stay because it is right for you and your family has two
benefits.  First, your choice to
stay where God wants you gives your marriage stability. My wife is happy and
secure because she cannot change my mind. 
Second, this decision to stay gives my children the confidence to stand
for right and the example to follow to turn out right.  

Too often parents change, trying to
salvage their marriage or their teenager, and actually end up destroying what
they were attempting to salvage. If you tell them you were lying about the
church being right, they will wonder what else you lied about. You will become
merely a politician who takes a poll before making a decision or giving a

When your child is
a college student trying to decide what is right for him, your stability and
confidence will make it easier for him to decide the same. He may not decide
the same, but it will be easier for him to do right if he knows Mom and Dad are
staying, regardless of his choice. 

The church will not
make you spiritual.  It cannot make
you do right.  You must be
responsible for your own spirituality.

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