In "The Dissonance Of Sin" Rev. Joshua Martin, a graduate of Westminster Seminary California and an ordained minister of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church who serves as the Pastor of Redeemer Church (OPC) in Santa Maria, CA., said that although good theology is vital it is nevertheless not true to say “good theology leads to good living.” This is because our behavior is not always rational according to our beliefs. This being the case, good theology, good preaching and good teaching will not inoculate the Church against sin:
"Seminary students or young ministers who read this blog should know that there may come a time in your ministry when one of the covenant youth comes up to you after the service and says to you, “Father is a raging alcoholic,” and it will be someone you regarded as a pillar in the congregation. You may get a call at 12:30 AM, and a lady of the congregation will inform you that her husband just walked out of their 30 + year marriage and into the arms of his mistress, and the man in question will be an elder of your session. When this happens you will disbelieve your ears because these accusations will be contrary to everything you thought you knew about this person." (Heidel Blog, August, 2014)
Such sad occasions are reminders for the congregation that in the visible church there are undiscovered tares among the wheat, including “Judases” who are insincere in their profession of faith. But then there are also “Peters,” true Christians ensnared by the deceitfulness of sin who may outwardly appear no different than a Judas. The difference is that God, Who sees into the hearts of all men, has committed himself to renewing "Peter" to repentance and restoring him into Christian fellowship.
In 1544 Martin Luther wrote a letter to George of Spalt, a "Peter" who being overcome by guilt refused to be consoled by the Gospel of the Grace of Christ. Luther wrote,
"My faithful request and admonition is that you join our company and associate with us, who are real, great, and hard-boiled sinners! You must by no means make Christ to seem petty and trivial to us—as though He could be our Helper only when we want to be rid from imaginary, nominal, and childish sins. No, no! That would not be good for us. Christ must rather be a Savior and Redeemer from real, great, grievous and damnable transgressions and iniquities—yes, from the very greatest and most shocking sins…One time Dr. Staupitz comforted me …He said to me: ‘Aha! You want to be a painted sinner, and accordingly, expect to have in Christ a painted Savior! You will have to get used to the belief that Christ is a real Savior and that you are a real sinner! For God is neither jesting nor dealing in imaginary affairs, but He was greatly and most assuredly in earnest when He sent His own Son into the world and sacrificed Him for our sakes." (ibid, Rev. Martin)
William Schnoebelen was a "Peter" who did not know he was a "Peter." He was a real, great hardboiled sinner whose "grievous and damnable transgressions and iniquities" included Satanism and receiving the mark of Satan during an out of body experience.
Schnoebelen’s autobiography, Lucifer Dethroned, is a gripping and hideous account of his descent into the darkest, most frightening side of the occult, magick, astral travel and Satanism and his subsequent restoration through grace and the love of Jesus Christ.
Bill was a psychically-empowered Druidic high priest, high-order Mason, ordained spiritist minister and Satanist who frequently "went out of his body" for various reasons. As he tells it, one night he was "yanked" out of his body and drawn up through the paths of the Tree of Life toward the zone of Binah or Saturn. His strange journey took him to a vast, obsidian trapezoidal temple called the Cathedral of Pain situated in the midst of swirling stars. The inside walls were clear glass,
"...holding back a transparent green fluid. Floating within the fluid...were hundreds of naked (horribly mutilated) human bodies. They were all dead, most with expressions of exquisite terror etched in a rictus on their frozen faces." Then a pillar of light struck an "obsidian throne," a sacrificial altar, and out of the light "appeared a huge being...robed in white.." Mighty wings swept his shoulders. One moment the winged being was an incredibly handsome man, the next a "bull" and the next a "woman." Chanting began in Latin: "Ave Satanas, Rege Satanas (Hail Satan, Satan Rules)" Then the terrifying being reached out his left hand "and placed it on my forehead....I felt a claw tear into my brow (and) insert itself into my brain like a white-hot poker.." Then a voice spoke: "Now you are mine forever." (p. 157-159)
Schnoebelen was forced to return to the terrifying Cathedral of Pain a few more times before turning to Jesus Christ for salvation. One night he finally got down on his knees and,
"...confessed to the Lord that I was indeed a sinner---perhaps the chiefest of sinners (but) I repented (Luke 15:5) and confessed that Jesus Christ died on the cross for my sins and rose from the dead so that I might have eternal life (Romans 10: 9-10). I asked Jesus to save me from my sins (Romans 10: 13), and to be the absolute Lord of my life (Romans 12: 1-2)" Jesus Christ forgave me and set me "free from unbelievable darkness and evil..." Jesus Christ liberated my spiritually oppressed soul."(p. 315)
Though the earth didn't move under his feet nor did heavenly choirs start to sing, Schnoebelen felt an extraordinary,
"...quiet kind of peace (come over him), a peace which even now wells up within me as I write these words years later! It was a peace the like of which I had never experienced in over 30 years of living. I had never known how empty I was until I was filled." (pp. 215-316)
After this, Schnoebelen sought a real bible-believing church where he could receive good, spiritually meaty theology and good teaching. Today Schnoebelen is an internationally recognized speaker who has spoken on four continents and is the author of seven books. He holds Masters Degrees in both Theology and Counseling and teaches on the Bible, deliverance, alternative religions and the occult.
Schnoebelen's message to all sinners, no matter how hard-boiled, no matter if caught up in Wicca, Satanism or any other form of New Age occult paganism sweeping over our nation and into the increasingly worldly church, is that the power of Jesus Christ is,
"more than sufficient! His wisdom is perfect and consoling! His love will fill the emptiest heart! Jesus Christ is Lord!" (p. 320)