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When the Holy Spirit trumps godly counsel in the case of infidelity

 In this short series of posts, I relate some of my experiences as a pastor for close to 30 years, and the ministry lessons I have learnt from each.  Given my many years  in ministry,  I have potentially over a 100 of these to share, but before I do, I would like to hear from you whether or not you found them interesting or useful. So if you do, won’t you give them a thumbs up and ‘Like’ each post or feel free to leave a comment or send me an email! I would love to hear from you!

One of my church members came to me  for advice on a delicate situation. He had cheated on his wife many years ago but now he felt the need to confess… to her.  “Do you think I should?”, he asked with downcast eyes.  “Well Bart”, I responded (of course his name was not really Bart), “Do you think it is in her best interest if you did that?” I explained my belief that such a confession would simply be self-serving unless it helped her in some meaningful way. I quoted Philippians  2:3-4;Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” I then expressed my opinion that she would probably be devastated and although he would be left feeling relieved, she would be bitterly unhappy. He agreed, smiled tightly, and departed.

About a week later Bart phoned me to say that, contrary to my counsel, he had confessed his past transgression to his wife. And, yes, she had been shocked, devastated and bitterly unhappy. I ‘tsk tsked’ to myself thinking; ‘Silly blighter, he should have listened to me.’ “But”, continued Bart, “after a couple of days she came to me and told me that my confession now allowed her to tell me that she too had been unfaithful in the past.” The result of all this was that they forgave each other and their marriage relationship improved hugely. Just a short while after this Bart was diagnosed with cancer and he died not too long after that. He and his wife shared his last months together with wonderful  love and genuine affection, with no unfinished emotional business  between them to attend to.

When it comes to counselling, pastors sometimes think that they have better judgement and greater wisdom than the people they counsel. We often don’t! Sometimes too pastors mistakenly believe that they are responsible for solving others’ problems. We aren’t! It is the Holy Spirit’s prerogative to change lives, and He alone is the true counsellor (John 14:26)It is the pastors responsibility to point out biblical principles and precedents, to help the counselee to work through the problem in a Christ-like manner, and to pray. Only the Holy Spirit knows the hearts of men and women and only He knows the future course of our lives.  I learned this lesson from Bart … thank you my departed friend.

Picture of Christopher Peppler

Christopher Peppler

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.