The moral failures of public figures who profess to be Christian are costly to the cause of Christ. The repentant individual can be forgiven, but the damage is done. Respect for that individual is lost, and bitter souls are given the occasion to ridicule all Christians.
Equally damaging is the failure to uphold sound doctrine. The core doctrines of Christianity are expressed in the historic creeds. They are the line in the sand. When church leaders fail to uphold these beliefs they weaken their members rather than build them up in the Faith once delivered.
The Apostle Paul recognized the threat. He spoke of those who have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof (2 Timothy 3:5). Today we speak of "virtue signaling" and yet there is no virtue in religion itself. True virtue comes from apprehending the power of God in Christ. That alone makes us godly.
The false witnesses with whom Paul contended are found in every age. In the fourth century, Basil the Great wrote in Letter 90, To the Most Holy Brethren and Bishops Found in the West: “The dogmas of the Fathers are held in contempt, the Apostolic traditions are disdained, the churches are subject to the novelties of innovators.”
In his treatise On the Holy Spirit, St. Basil wrote:
"Every man is a theologian; it does not matter that his soul is covered with more blemishes than can be counted. The result is that these innovators find an abundance of men to join their factions. So ambitious, self-elected men divide the government of the churches among themselves, and reject the authority of the Holy Spirit. The ordinances of the Gospel have been thrown into confusion everywhere for lack of discipline; the jostling for high positions is incredible, as every ambitious man tries to thrust himself into high office. The result of this lust for power is that wild anarchy prevails among the people; the exhortations of those in authority are rendered utterly void and unprofitable, since every man in his arrogant delusion thinks that it is more his business to give orders to others than to obey anyone himself.”
Today some fall into apostasy. Others compromise biblical authority but succumbing to the demonic insinuation that God is not to be trusted: "Did God really say?" Jesus said, "If you continue in My word, then you are truly my disciples." (John 8:30)Consider the words of 2 Peter 1:2-10:
"His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.
Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble."