Last week, in God’s Armament, Parts 9 & 10, we began to look at the necessity of proper armament by looking at an example that is near and dear to my heart of someone who refused God’s armour…My dear brother, Jimmy. On Friday, we saw how he began to develop a superiority complex when he joined a different, legalistic church. Unfortunately, this was the beginning of the devil’s slippery slide.
We pick up the story today, just after he joined this church. Because this was a relatively small denomination in Belgium, it didn’t take long for my brother to meet other young people his age. One was a pretty young lady. They began to see each other, and within a few weeks they were married.
Unfortunately for his new wife, she had been hit by a truck when she was 12 years old and had suffered a brain injury. Praise God, her recovery was almost complete, and in compensation for the accident, she had received several thousands of Belgian Francs that were held in a trust until she was of age.
Jimmy found out about this money. It was more money than he would ever hope to make as a pastor, and he wanted it. He began talking about it … ALL the time.
Jimmy and his young wife soon left Belgium to study theology in one of his new denomination’s schools in France. I looked up to my brother at that time in my life. When he decided to become a pastor, I decided to do the same, and two years later, I, too, began to study at the same seminary. Because I was still a teenager at the time, my parents placed a sum of money in Jimmy’s care and instructed me that whenever I needed pocket money for anything, I could get it from this money that they had given to him.
It was about this time that I began to notice subtle changes in my brother. Whenever I went to ask my brother for some money, he would tell me that it was all gone. I knew I hadn’t used up all the money that my parents had sent, and I asked them about it. They, in turn, asked Jimmy. His response? His wife must have stolen it…
I still believed my brother in those days. It was only much later that I realized he had used the money himself and blamed her. Needless to say, my parents decided then that I was old enough to manage my own money…
During the entire time that my brother and I were both at the same seminary, I rarely if ever saw him. I did notice, however, that he was always alone, that he had no friends. I thought this was a bit strange. My brother had never had trouble finding friends in Belgium…
My brother finished his degree two years later and returned with his wife to Belgium to become a pastor of a small church in Brussels. It was shortly after this that my brother took all of the money his wife had received in compensation for her accident and bought a huge, expensive American-made car. Now in those days, American cars were rare in Europe. The narrow roads couldn’t support their size, for one thing, and import fees made the vehicles nearly impossible for the budget of ordinary Belgian citizens. What made this even stranger was that pastors aren’t paid much in Belgium, and for a new pastor to be driving such an expensive car…Well we’ll just say it didn’t look good! Meanwhile, his wife’s money was gone…for good!
It was just a little before my brother took his wife’s money and spent it on a car that I received the dream. In my dream, I was on the balcony of my parents’ apartment when I suddenly began to hear Jesus. We were “talking” through my mind, and I heard Him say, “I have a message for your brother. You must tell him, ‘I am not happy with Jimmy!’
The dream changed then and I found myself in the market place. It was market day, and the square was packed with vendors and shoppers. Suddenly hail began to fall, hard and fast. Only one person in the square was hurt by the hail, however, that one was my brother. That’s when I again heard Jesus’ voice: “This is what will happen if your brother continues.”
I didn’t understand the message, but I knew I had to share it with Jimmy. And I did. His response? He laughed! He said, “You are wrong! This message means that I will be at the head of the church and everyone will follow me!”
His response struck me as being very wrong, in complete violation to Jesus’ words to His disciples: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Matt. 16:24 NIV). But Jimmy was, after all, the pastor, and I just a student. What was I supposed to do?
I had no idea, and I decided to make it a matter of prayer.
As time went on, my sister-in-law began to suffer from depression. When her depression only worsened, my brother had her committed to a mental hospital. My parents fully supposed this decision. After all, she had suffered an accident as a child. Surely there must be something wrong with her head! And she stayed in that hospital for many months before her parents eventually begged Jimmy to take her out of there.
It would later become known that during their marriage, my brother regularly chased after under-aged girls, often using and abusing them sexually. He began heavily addicted to pornography. He would be gone from home for hours at a time, and if my sister-in-law dared question him, he would yell at her: “It’s none of your business! I’m the boss. Don’t ask me questions!”
As it turned out, the only mental problems my sister-in-law had were due to the stress of living all of this!
Yes, it all started out with a superiority complex about having joined a different denomination, but this superiority complex provided a foot hold for the devil, and soon my beloved brother was reduced to a thieving, sex trafficker of minor girls.
How could he have avoided all of this? By recognizing the devil’s tricks. By clothing himself in God’s armament. By knowing who he was in Christ. Unfortunately for him, the devil’s hold on his life was fierce, and sadly, he went to his grave without even a single repentant thought.
Friends, we must use the armour God provides for us. It is ours for the taking, and it is designed to protect us from all of the traps of the devil. This will allow us to be able to do as the Lord commands: “Walk in obedience to all that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may life and prosper and prolong your days in the land that you will possess.” (Deuteronomy 5:33 NIV)
You can believe me when I say this is a very difficult story for me to tell. My only prayer is that Jimmy’s story will help someone out there avoid the same traps Jimmy fell into.
(To access the entire “God’s Armament” mini-series, please click here.)