Spotting the Wicked by Watching for their Unguarded Moments

1Ti 5:24 The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later.

If you are a Star Trek fan, you know that the Klingons have a device on their ships called a cloaking device. It makes the ship invisible, though just before they fire their weapons they have to turn it off. They become visible at that point, but for the skilled observer, sometimes the cloaked ship causes a kind of wavy irregularity in space as it is viewed on Captain Kirk’s screen and might be just enough to give away the enemy’s presence.

But you have to be watching, carefully.

The wicked expend large amounts of energy moment by moment maintaining their cloaking device – especially if they are one of the wolves in sheep’s clothing that creep into Christ’s church. Think about it. How much effort does it take to put on a disguise and keep it on, presenting yourself as someone you are not? Quite a lot. All wicked, ungodly people do this to some extent, though not always to keep their cloaking device energized. As Paul writes in Romans 1, all men know God exists and that He is the Creator, but they refuse to honor Him or give Him thanks. Instead, they suppress the truth. And that “suppressing” is like having to constantly hold down a spring lest it spring up into full view.

People who cloak themselves with a disguise inevitably slip at times. Their guard drops in an unguarded moment. The “oh ever so nice” pastor snaps at someone for making a mistake. The quintessential holy saint church member scowls at his wife and speaks to her in a tone of voice you have never heard emanate from him before. The famous “christian” celebrity women’s speaker who has cranked out book after book and can’t keep up with the conference circuit she is demanded by, turns to one of her team members just before going to the podium, gives her an ugly look of disgust, then smilingly and with a saintly air walks to the podium to the adoring crowd’s applause.

See it? You can spot the wicked. The wolf’s sheep disguise isn’t perfect all the time. It slips. There is a waviness in space that betrays who he really is. And if you are wise to this reality about evil, you will be able to spot him. Sometimes the slip is so subtle that it only gives you more of a “feeling” than an objective, measurable “I saw him do such and such” that you can describe in detail. DO NOT IGNORE WHAT YOU SEE IN THE UNGUARDED MOMENTS. Do not just explain your observations away as your imagination. Rather, take careful note and realize that most probably “all is not what it appears to be here.”

Do not be duped. And do not be one of the many who simply “pooh-pooh” it away. “Oh no. It couldn’t be. It’s nothing.” And then such people turn right around and when a victim of the evil man tries to tell them he is not what he appears to be, and say “Oh, come on. Look at him. No one is perfect. He is a fine Christian. You are being way to judgmental.”

If you do that, you become the ally of the wicked.

We Must Understand What Reviling is and What the Reviler Looks Like

Luk 6:22 “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!

1Co 5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler–not even to eat with such a one.

1Co 6:9-11 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, (10) nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I have written several times before about this matter of the reviler, but it is so important of a subject that it bears repeating quite often. A reviler is a person who villifies others. That is, the reviler accuses others and makes them the villain. Villification is to accuse and slander and charge someone with evil, but very typically the word is used in the context of false accusations. And that is what we have in Scripture. A reviler is a person who assaults others with his tongue, who makes false accusations, who guilts and shames his targeted victim.

Now first of all notice carefully from the above verses that a reviler is not a Christian. Nope. Not. The thing is impossible. Some Christians used to be revilers, but once they were washed clean by faith in Christ they revile no more.

Notice also that the worst revilers in Scripture – such as the Pharisees – were quite religious. They claimed to be the people of God. And so it is today. Revilers hide in the visible church, disguised by a facade of saintliness. They are quite deceptive and intentionally do their share of what we call “crazy-making.”

Let me give you some examples.

Bob is a reviler. He is also a church leader. A Bible study teacher. He is viewed by most everyone as a very zealous and “holy” Christian. And yet there is something about Bob that is evident to at least a few of his fellow church members. Bob can be smiling and very helpful, a real servant you know. He can participate with you in an interesting theological discussion. But then, in some unexpected way and time, Bob blasts you. He might say things like this:

  • You should not have bought your new house. It is too far away from the church building and you have no accountability.
  • You were not patient enough with that man who verbally attacked you. You need to show him GRACE! for pete’s sake. (the caps indicate a virtual shouting volume by Bob)
  • You are not being kind enough to so and so.
  • I know what you are thinking about doing and I think it is wrong.
  • I remember when you….

And on and on we could go. You get the idea. Bob is a reviler. Revilers accuse. Revilers make other people (never themselves) the villain. Why does the reviler revile? Because like all abusers he craves power and control over his targeted subjects. He lusts to be numero uno and wants to be seen and praised by others for his zeal. And he likes to keep you off guard so that you are easier to control. After all, if you don’t realize Bob is a reviler by his very nature, if you think he is a genuine Christian who happens to be a bit difficult at times, then you are not going to be able to expose Bob for what he really is.

Revilers keep us down. They load us up with shame and false guilt. They make us believe that we are the problem and that we really just don’t measure up to Bob’s level of sanctity. Therefore, the Lord commands us to be wise, to know a reviler when we see them, and put them out from among us, having nothing to do with them.

Otherwise, I can assure you, you will continue to keep getting in the traumatic train wreck the “Bobs” around us love to cause, and there will never be true peace in our lives or in our church if we keep Bob around.