Corruption in the Nigerian Church: Confronting Sin

There is no end in sight to the corruption found in Nigeria.
The extent of the corruption was expressed by the Deputy National President of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria:

“Corruption has eaten so deep into the society that it is no just about politicians alone. In the church, you have to almost always pray with one eye opened because in some of the places, even some ushers and finance people steal the offerings. It is terrible.”

This kind of corruption can be seen as shocking, but it comes as no surprise to those who know the signs of the end times. This kind of corruption was warned against in the last days, as found in 2 Timothy 3:

“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.”
(2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Although it may come as no surprise, it is saddening and a cause for anger, none the less. The level of corruption in Nigeria’s government has been frustrating throughout the ordeal concerning the Chibok girls’ abduction; to learn that it has spread to Holy places– the very meeting places of the body of Christ– expresses that sin and corruption are indeed like a virus that quickly spreads without reflection and repentance.

Corruption is Not Forever

This corruption easily leaves observers with a loss for words, and a hopeless feeling in the bones. Thankfully, this feeling of hopelessness when viewing injustice is not ignored by God, but is spoken about in the word. In the short book of Habakkuk, the prophet Habakkuk asks the Lord the very same questions we may ask Him about injustice today:

Why do you make me look at injustice?
    Why do you tolerate wrongdoing?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
    so that justice is perverted.” 
(Habakkuk 1:3-4, NIV)

God does not ignore Habakkuk; no, instead, Christ replies to Habakkuk’s complaints with a sure and hopeful promise.

“‘Write down the revelation
    and make it plain on tablets
    so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
    it speaks of the end
    and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
    it will certainly come
    and will not delay.

‘See, the enemy is puffed up;
    his desires are not upright—
    but the righteous person will live by his faithfulness…’”
(Habakkuk 2:3-4, NIV)

Here, Christ promises that “though it linger,” justice will be served, and that the “righteous person will live by his faithfulness”– that those who live by the laws of God truly live, something that those who practice corruption cannot say. This hope is meant to encourage and uplift those who obey the Lord, confirming that the Lord does indeed see the corruption in the world, and will work to bring justice in the end.

Confronting Corruption
What then can be said about the corrupt churches in Nigeria? All of it starts with the hearts of each and every corrupt Nigerian. These people need to come to the point of realizing that their ways are wicked and deserving of God’s wrath. If they are unable to reflect upon their lives and humbly, honestly repent of their sin, this conviction can only happen through God’s discipline and chastisement. Though it may hurt them temporarily, it is done out of love, Christ wanting these men and women to acknowledge and follow the way of Truth. As Proverbs 3:11-12 states, “…do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.”

What can we, as their brothers and sisters (in the case that their faith is sincere), do to help them repent of their sin? Galatians 6:1 expresses that we should “restore [them] in a spirit of gentleness” while “keep[ing] watch on [ourselves], lest [we] too be tempted.” This can be a difficult thing to do, especially if our brothers and sisters are unwilling to see the error of their ways. In such times, we must remember that we are not responsible for saving our brothers and sisters; we are only responsible for sharing the truth, that will in turn save them, if they decide to receive it. This must be done, as stated above, in gentleness, with much love and prayer. If it isn’t resolved after confronting the sin privately, one-on-one, Matthew 18 gives us a pattern for dealing with sinning believers.

“…But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector.”
(Matthew 18:16-17, NIV)

At the point of excommunication, one would have to question the sincerity of the sinning believer’s faith in Christ. If a person is completely unrepentant after many times of gentle, prayerful, Spirit-led confrontation, their faith in Christ may not be true after all, and they may have (unfortunately) tried to slip into the church to influence it for their own gain. As Hebrews 10 solemnly expresses, the judgment awaiting such sinful behavior is serious.

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.”
(Hebrews 10:26-28, NIV)

In situations such as these, excommunication from the church is the necessary action. But hopefully, believers in sin will receive the confrontation with a soft heart, willing to repent of whatever sin they have been found committing.

Prayer Needed for the Nigerian Church

No matter the result of these confrontations, sincere, constant prayer must be had when dealing with matters concerning other believers. In situations such as these, we pray earnestly for the church, hoping that they return back to honest dealings and correct doctrine. It is only when the Nigerian church realizes it’s corruption, as well as it’s deep need for Christ, that true, profound revival can happen.

Please pray for those who are corrupt within the Nigerian church. Pray that they would be convicted of their sin, and would repent of it in a sincere, authentic way. As our brothers and sisters, they need to know that we will, in a gracious way, hold them to the highest possible standards for living holy lives, and want to keep them in the way of Truth– that is, of Christ (John 14:6, NIV).

Pray for the pastors, priests, and other clergymen in Nigeria. Pray that these men (and, with the title of deaconesses [Romans 16:1-2], women) would grow in their faith and devotion to Christ on a daily basis. Pray that they stay close and true to correct doctrine, and would be faithful in their stewarding of their respective churches. Pray that they’d be bold, selfless, and honest as they shepherd God’s flock. 

Pray for righteousness to not only return to the Nigerian church, but to the Nigerian government as well. Pray that Christ would change the hearts and minds of those in the government, so that they might know Him as their Lord and Savior, and that they would honor Him in their thoughts, feelings, actions and decisions.

Pray also for the safety of Nigeria this Christmas season, as terrorists may use this time to hit soft targets such as churches, schools, market places, and mosques. Pray that muslims would spend this time coming to know Christ, that they may rejoice in God as their Savior.

It is only in a revival, in repentance, that the Nigerian church and government will “come back” and follow the Truth. Pray that this Christmas, Christ would be honored and glorified. It is only when this happens that true righteousness and peace will come to Earth.

Do You Know Jesus?
Are you sick of the corruption in your life? Do you want Christ to forgive and purify you of all unrighteousness, as stated in 1 John 1:9? Do you want a completely new chance to live righteously, in the power of the Holy Spirit?

If you’re tired of the road you’ve been on and you want a fresh new start with Jesus ruling over your life, Jesus would be delighted to come into your heart & life to make it right. To let Jesus into your heart, all you need to do is “believe in the one whom God has sent” (John 6:29, NIV) and “declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead– then, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9, NIV). If you believe, that’s wonderful! To declare it with your mouth, you can say this prayer with me, or say one in your own words:

 Jesus, I believe that you are God-in-Man (John 1:14, NIV). I believe that you were born of a virgin, and died for the sins of the world, being resurrected on the third day after your death (1 Peter 3:18; Acts 10:40, NIV). I have sinned against you in thought, feeling, word, and deed; I deserve punishment for these sins, but I pray that you’d forgive me of my sins and enter my heart and life, so that I can live a life that is pleasing to you in the power of your Holy Spirit (Acts 3:19Galatians 5:16-18, NIV). Thank you, Jesus! Amen.

If you’ve just prayed that prayer with me, then I’m glad to say that Christ has now entered your heart and life! You’ll never be the same. For, “…if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV). For more information on who Jesus was, click here. For more information on the Holy Spirit, click here.

Please be praying that others around you would hear the Gospel and believe in Christ (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV)! Pray that Christ would use you to bring others to Him.

Be blessed in your relationship with Christ! 🙂

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