Consider the End of the Wicked – Their Feet are “set” Upon Slippery Places

If we only look at this present time and fail to consider “the end,” then we can easily become bitter when we see the wicked apparently prospering at the expense of their victims.  The Psalmist said it:

Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, “I will speak thus,” I would have betrayed the generation of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. Truly you set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. (Psa 73:12-18)

You can either read or listen to the sermon I preached on this very Scripture recently. As you will see, we all need a tune-up on our eyes of faith so that we set our minds on the promises of God and what He tells us about the true precarious position of the wicked and the sure, solid ground Christ’s people stand upon.

 

The Abuser, Thrashing Tantrums, and the Devil

And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” (Mar 9:17-18)

It would be a great error (which a wicked man would use to garner pity for himself) to treat a wicked, abusive, power-hungry person as if they were victims of a demon. Jesus healed the boy described here by Mark, but you do not see Him “healing” the wicked, evil, unrepentant person.

But I do want to point out something that I have encountered several times in which an evil man, denied his demands or confronted with his wickedness, throws himself down in a fit rather like a tantrum-throwing child might do. And I have a theory. Namely, that this is indeed a sign of the devil’s involvement in the wicked man’s tactics to punish and guilt and control others.

Let me explain.

Some years ago I refused to give in to a man who paraded himself as the most holy saint you could ever find. And yet he was devoid of love, quick to accuse – a reviler if you will. It took a long time to grow in wisdom and understand what we were dealing with in this man who lusted to be “number one” in the church (like Diotrephes, see 3 John).  After we had come to see more clearly exactly what he really was, he tried to isolate me in the church building when no one else was there so that “we could just talk.”

Well, I have had that kind of thing happen to me in my years as a pastor often enough that I knew this was an attack in the making, so I stopped him and told him I was going to call the other elders in our church right then to come and sit down with us and THEN he could go right ahead and say what he had to say.

Well, he kept using his “kind, Christian” meekness for a bit and said “Oh, no, that won’t be necessary. Just you and I can handle this.” I said, “no.” And I picked up my phone and called our elders and they said they would be right down.

This wicked man morphed in front of me, literally throwing himself down on the couch in my office, thrashing around on it, all the while shaking his head and repeating over and over, “no, no, no! Now you’ve done it! Now you’ve ruined everything! Now no one is going to listen to me!” And I remember thinking as I looked at him doing his tantrum thing – “and this guy is supposed to be an adult, a mature, holy Christian man?”

Once the other elders arrived, I told him, “alright, now you have something to say. Go ahead.” Sure enough it was a string of accusations. His bodily agitations and hand waving and head shaking continued. We all rebuked him and it was not long before (he did not repent) we found that his evil deeds in secret were continuing. We put him out of the church.

All of this came to my mind recently and I believe I have connected some more dots. I have mentioned in other recent posts that I am reading the wonderful three volume biography of Winston Churchill by William Manchester. (Read it. Especially volume 2. I say again, read it! Please! If you want to see evil playing itself out and being enabled by naive, cowardly people and victims being thrown under the bus, read this book. The abuser is Hitler. The enabler is Neville Chamberlain and his cohorts in his cabinet who through their cowardice and willful blindness to evil nearly handed the world over to the Axis powers).

But listen to this account Manchester gives and see if you don’t have an “aha!” moment as I did. Hitler was about to forcibly invade and take over Czechoslovakia. The British Prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, had been pursuing a course of “appeasement” for years in dealing with Hitler which essentially was “give the Furher what he wants and he will leave England alone.” This included throwing the Czech people to the SS storm troopers, execution squads, and concentration camps. So Chamberlain flies over to Germany in 1938 to try to make Hitler happy and avoid war at all costs (well, except to Hitler’s other victims of course). When Hitler found out that the Czechs refused to give him the northern part of their country,

…Hitler fell to the floor, writhing in one of his famous fits. [The British envoys] noted that the Reich chancellor ‘shrieked a good deal.’ [It was effective and the Brits decided not to deliver any kind of stern warning that Hitler must not invade Czechoslovakia].

Now, this deserves serious and thoughtful consideration by all of us. Was Hitler demon-possessed? It is very possible, is it not? And what really struck me as I read this account is how similar his “fit” was to what I had observed in the wicked man I had to deal with. So what might we conclude?

Evildoers, sociopaths, psychopaths, wolves in sheep’s clothing who come among us parading as Christians, will sometimes (perhaps more often that sometimes) throw a thrashing fit like this and when we see such a thing we can be certain that we are in the presence of an evil person. What is it such an evildoer is after? Sympathy? Perhaps. “Oh you poor man. I didn’t mean to make you feel so badly.” Or perhaps it is a reviling, shaming, guilting form of assault upon you for daring to deny the fellow his demands. Whatever his motive, he is after power and control. You will submit to his commands or he will thrash and tantrum to punish you.

For myself, I believe that such a thing is in fact demonic. I have no sympathy for the man. I do not see him as a victim of the devil. Oh no. I see him as an emissary of the devil working to destroy Christ’s people. I am sure of it. I will be sure the next time I see such a thing.

You can be sure too.

 

 

The Problem is Often with What is NOT Said in our Sermons and Teaching

The church I attend does not talk about domestic abuse. There is sermon after sermon about how marriage should work, and what each party should be doing, but almost nothing about what you can do if your spouse consistently mistreats you. And the absence of that teaching leaves victims stuck, unsafe, and unsupported.

A wise lady wrote this paragraph to me recently and it deserves serious thought.

The Bible has MUCH to say to us about how to deal with sin and evil and the devil and his servants. Yes, it does certainly give us God’s design for life in Christ, including His design for marriage and family. But when churches only give conferences and seminars and sermons on how things “ought to be,” (and so often they even get that part wrong!), and fail to deal with what a “marriage” looks like where wickedness is reigning, then evildoers are emboldened and their victims are further oppressed.

Evil and wickedness are not pretty. It is not a fun time to study and hear about the dark deeds of the kingdom of darkness: the details of child molestation, what really goes on behind closed doors in the house of an abuser, what “deacon Smith” is really like behind that fake mask, how much evil is hiding in local churches, and so on. But is the Bible silent on such subjects? NO! Just imagine how thin your Bible would be if you cut out all the parts that deal with such things.

And yet….

What are we being taught in our churches? What are the subjects focused upon in conferences, retreats, seminars, and the popular books of the moment? For the most part the answer is “happy things.” Ear-tickling things. Things that give us warm fuzzies at the end of the story (those fuzzies then being called “the Spirit”). After all you know, we can’t lay too much heavy stuff on folks or they will not want to come to church. So we don’t. We don’t say things. We don’t teach about them. We just teach about how “it ought to be.”

And by this omission – let’s face right up to it – we are empowering evil by letting it remain invisible in the darkness.

Just very recently a Christian woman who had left her abuser husband in order to protect her children and herself, was shot to death by him. Her church and pastor? Well, they pretty much told her to do her best with the lot God had dealt her and keep on a happy face. This is how that prescription turned out.

You cannot defend against your enemy if you do not know that enemy. His nature. His tactics. His weapons. Christ calls us to be wise in regard to evil while remaining innocent of it. For the most part, this command of our Lord has been ignored. It seems that ignorance of evil has been turned into an asset. A mark of “true godliness.” It isn’t. The blind only lead the blind into a pit.