Fire in My Bones, by J. Lee Grady

Want to receive Fire in My Bones by email? Sign up here

When Grace Is Greasy

We face a serious leadership crisis in the American Church.
No biblical character is more pitiful than Eli, the Levite priest who defiled God's house because he couldn't bring himself to discipline his two wayward sons. The Bible says Hophni and Phinehas were "worthless men" (1 Sam. 2:12, NASB).

That was putting it mildly. These rascals, dressed up in their sweet-smelling priestly garb, were responsible for one of the first religious sex scandals in history. They became Eli's greatest shame.

Not only did these guys prey on vulnerable women (and engage in sex with them right in the doorway of the house of God), but they also were involved in the worst kind of financial exploitation. They cunningly manipulated people while taking offerings; then they misused the gifts for their own sordid gain.

Slick-talking preachers with zipper problems and big expense accounts­—does this sound familiar?

Eli's fatal flaw reminds me of a problem we face today. He was timid about confronting sin. He tiptoed around the real problems. He lived in denial at a time when the church was in moral crisis.

Even though Eli questioned his sons' behavior and warned them of the consequences, he did not remove them from their positions. Even though the people in the pews were shocked by Hophni's and Phinehas' sexual escapades and financial shenanigans, Eli let his privileged boys go right on taking offerings and raping parishioners. Year after year he allowed his sons to mock God and infect people with their corruption.

The story does not end well. Because sin had entered the house of the Lord, the ark of God's presence was captured by the Philistines, and Hophni and Phinehas were killed in the raid. The Bible paints an ugly picture of what happened when Eli heard the news of his sons' deaths: "Eli fell off the seat backward beside the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for he was old and heavy" (1 Sam. 4:18).

That's not a flattering obituary, especially with the mention of Eli's obesity. Perhaps the Bible uses such graphically honest language to drive home the point that this pathetic priest was not only timid but also undisciplined in his personal life.

What does this obscure Old Testament character have to do with us? There are plenty of people today who have adopted Eli's theology of greasy grace and sloppy holiness. Their mantra is "mercy." They say there is no longer any need for church discipline or moral standards in leadership.

Among independent charismatic churches in America, we've developed a lovey-dovey culture that shies away from hard-line discipline and makes it easy for disgraced leaders to find new jobs fast. But I don't see this lax attitude in the apostle Paul, who set high standards of character for all his leaders, blacklisted false teachers and even excommunicated people who continued in immorality.

Paul went so far as to turn certain crooked leaders over to Satan so they would learn their lesson (see 1 Tim. 1:20). Sounds kind of extreme, but extreme sin requires extreme measures.

The bottom line: Godly leaders draw lines and enforce moral standards—without becoming self-righteous and unkind. Ungodly leaders, on the other hand, may appear to be nice and compassionate, but they actually are being unfaithful to God if they refuse to require their spiritual sons and daughters to follow biblical standards of behavior.

We face a serious leadership crisis in the American church, and part of our problem is the sin of Eli. I am making an appeal to the fathers and mothers of the church: Will you please do your job? We need your rebuke and your rod of correction.

Please go to those who are exploiting God's people financially and make them stop. Please confront those who are robbing the church for personal gain. Please go to those who are abusing others, sexually or in any other way, remove them from leadership and get them healed.

Please don't let the Hophnis and Phinehases of today have airtime on Christian TV. Please don't showcase them in your conferences. Please stop looking the other way when you hear about their blunders. Please restore discipline to the body of Christ.

J. Lee Grady is the editor of Charisma. Check out his weekly online column, along with many other exclusive Web features, at You can also post your comments about this article on our Web forum.

Best Magazine Deal. Subscribe now and get 3 magazines for the price of 1. Get Charisma, SpiritLed Woman and Ministry Today, all for $24. YES - I want this deal!

3 Reasons Why you should read Life in the Spirit. 1) Get to know the Holy Spirit. 2) Learn to enter God's presence 3) Hear God's voice clearly! Click Here to draw closer to God!

Did you enjoy this blog? Click here to receive it by email.

Your Turn

Comment Guidelines
View/Add Comments
  • Donald Trump certainly needs your prayers.

    Why You Must Pray for Donald Trump

    Here are eight ways I plan to intercede for President Trump regularly.

  • Pastor Jim Garlow in a file photo shown praying.

    Conservative Christian Leaders Gather in DC, Calling Trump's Election an Answer to Prayer

    "Although the news media is predicting protests, what I'm seeing is that everyone is abuzz ...

  • Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    Inner Healing Is the Fruit of the Spirit

    I have been puzzled about the subject of inner healing for some time.

  • Here's a prophetic word for Washington, D.C.

    Prophecy: The Lord Is Raising Up Daniels in DC

    I believe we're on the precipice of a Third Great Awakening the Lord spoke to my heart about in ...

  • 2017 is the year that swords will clash.

    Prophetic Word: 2017 Will Bring a Clashing of Heaven and Hell

    "This is a time to cross over and not pull back."

  • Bishop Eddie Long died at 63.

    Bishop Eddie Long Dead at 63

    "Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate ...

  • Roadblock

    6 Roadblocks That Will Stop Your Spiritual Growth

    God wants you to grow in your faith, but many of us get stuck along the way.

  • The devil will try to silence you in any way he can. Don't give him the satisfaction.

    Satan's 2 Most Potent Lies to Render You Ineffective

    There's something in you so powerful that Satan doesn't want it out. Kyle Winkler reveals ...

  • Watch for these danger signals for choosing poorly.

    4 Signs You're Making a Bad Decision

    Avoid distraction and disappointment by testing your choices with these 4 principles.

  • Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Continue Your Journey with the Holy Spirit

    Follow God on the most fulfilling journey of your life with Encounter the Holy Spirit! Break away from past hurts and press into the One who wants a personal encounter with you.

  • Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Dream the Unimaginable In His Presence

    Reach your full potential and be led by His Spirit. In His Presence takes you to a deeper understanding of who God is and how he communicates with us.

  • Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Set Your Spirit on Fire

    Receive the power and gifts that come through the Holy Spirit Baptism. Don’t go empty-handed; accept all that He has for you! His power is available to those who ask.

  • Put on the Full Armor of God

    Put on the Full Armor of God

    Break every stronghold with the power of the Holy Spirit. Use the power of your tongue to declare and decree the Word of God. Witness heaven move on your behalf.

Use Desktop Layout
Charisma Magazine — Empowering believers for life in the Spirit