Gal 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, (20) idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, , dissensions, divisions, (21) envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
I received a letter once from a person who I had past dealings with. They were not positive experiences. The person was divisive, accusatory and hyper-critical. But this time the letter I received claimed to be a help to me. In it, the person said that they had observed certain ongoing behaviors of another person I dealt with and warned me that those behaviors evidenced a plot to do me harm. Not physical harm, but harm to my ministry. The person warned me that I was being targeted by a narcissist.
Now, what complicated this situation and what caused me to disregard the warning is that the person giving the warning had a track record of being pretty evil themselves. So I didn’t believe the warning. But guess what? The warning was right on target as I had to learn later the hard way.
As I have thought about that dynamic and wondered what in the world was going on there, this thought occurred to me. Could it be that evil recognizes evil? If you look at the Scripture quoted above, notice how many of them (in bold) describe trouble caused by jealousy and envy. I think that the person who sent me this warning was motivated not by any concern for me, but by their own jealousy. They saw one of their own kind working for position and self-glory and recognized what was going on. How? Because I believe that evil is able to see itself. To recognize itself operating in another evil person.
Many of the dissensions and fights in local churches are just this. Not the righteous vs the unrighteous, but the wicked vs the wicked. Each party vying for power and jealous of the other because they see their own power lust in the other.
A kind of confirmation of this theory that evil recognizes evil comes from my experience as a pastor. More than once we have had a party of wicked people banded together in an effort to “take over” the church. They walk into a church meeting all in a group, sit in a group, waiting for a moment to announce their pre-decided slate of demands. But what happens to this party of evil once the battle is over? Let’s say they failed in their hostile takeover attempt. What happens to them?
Well, sometimes they go off and start another “church.” But even then those efforts most frequently end with the same outcome. They all go their separate ways. Why? Because they hate each other. They serve themselves. Their dark alliance was only temporary. They will never work together over the long haul because they are envious of one another. They see the power lust in those of their own ilk and the jealousy rages. Dissensions. Divisions. Devourings.
Herein is a sober warning to those who would be wise. Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin would never have worked together in harmony after the War even if the first two had survived it. They go their own way. And so it is with these counterfeits in churches. They spread out like a black plague. This one goes to that church, that one goes to still another, and the most industrious of them starts his own house “church.”
Do you begin to see why we all MUST proceed with caution when that nice, saintly, most holy appearing fellow and his family show up at our church one Sunday? Oh, your church is the best they have ever been in. And the sermon? Absolutely fantastic and biblical. Not at all like the church they have come from where they were treated so badly you know.
Yeah, right. We’ve heard that before. The truth is that evil saw evil, was intensely jealous of its practitioners, and struck out on its own to sow more seed of the enemy somewhere else.