An Appearance of Godliness: Case Studies in Evil (Part 12)

John 15:18 ESV  “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

Sometimes evil comes at us in the form of some organization. A group of people organized together to form a – monster. The world is a beast like that. The world consists of individual people and yet those individuals are formed into a “cosmos” that is of one spirit – the “god of this world.” When evil is organized like this, it becomes exponentially more evil.

Genesis 11:5-6 ESV  And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.  (6)  And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.

One of the forms of organized evil that I have met with is organizations of churches, generally called denominations. For quite a few years myself and our church here really wanted fellowship with other local churches. We sought it in the typical way – find a denomination that we agree doctrinally with and become a formal member.

I have done this now four times. I will never do it again. Not because I do not want to have fellowship with other Christians, but because every single time I have tried in this particular way, it turned out that the thing was counterfeit and ruled over by wicked people. I have come to the conclusion that local churches are not to formally band together. I say formally – I am not talking about some informal friendship between two churches, for instance.

Think about this carefully. As soon as a group of churches (it’s hard enough to keep things on track in just one local church!)…as soon as they join together and establish a type of constitution, a home office, a board of directors, etc., you have the beginnings of Rome. How do we think the Roman Catholic persecutor of Christ’s true church got started in the first place? It was in just such a way. “Hey, let’s get together and form an formal association and pool our resources and do sooooo much more for Christ.” And then –

3 John 1:9-10 ESV  I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority.  (10)  So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church.

Every one of the four associations, as I said, that I joined (and three of which our church here joined as a church) turned out to be in fact dominated by a Diotrephes. A wicked man or men who crave power and authority. Abusers. Liars. Legalists working to enslave Christ’s flock. Let me describe one example.

Now, this illustration which I experienced sounds like a rather small thing, and yet I now realize that it betrayed the real spirit of the “mission” organization. When I applied for this home missions organization, I had just graduated from theological graduate school and I was looking for a way to serve Christ. My wife and I were accepted by the organization and in the process of orientation we were visited by one of the supervisory pastors. We were going to be sent out to a small church where I would be the pastor.

In the course of this orientation, the representative very soberly told us not to make the mistake of letting any woman in the church share “too much” with us. He said that he had made that error years before, listened to her tell about her troubled marriage, and after that he felt that he could not be comfortable around her, nor she around him. So, he said, be careful to not permit a woman in particular go into too much detail – especially about any sexual troubles.

What does this mentality betray? It evidences an attitude – that would spread like a cancer throughout the entire organization and all of the churches in it – that pastors should not permit anyone in their flock, especially women, come to their pastor for help. It also demonstrates an evil attitude that maintains that people’s troubles (especially women in the church) are typically blown out of proportion. So blow them off. Remain distant.

When evil bands together, just as we see in the case of the wicked at the tower of Babel, its linear (straight line) growth evolves into what we call exponential growth. It isn’t the devil to the first power anymore. It is the devil squared, and cubed, it is Satan to the x power.

Many, many, many of you have come up against such a beast. Think for instance of the common scenario an abused woman meets when she even separates from her abuser and her church starts the engines of the “church court.” She is put on trial and even when she appeals a condemning verdict at the local level, the larger body on up the line almost always finds in the abuser’s favor, if they even agree to hear the case at all!

So, this case study in evil is describing a church or a denomination of churches that has an appearance of godliness, but denies its power. In other words, the beast is no church. It is a Babel Tower that the Lord forbids and desires to be torn down.


4 thoughts on “An Appearance of Godliness: Case Studies in Evil (Part 12)

  1. So well said, so often experienced in organized churches. It’s always the woman’s fault. Thank God for pastors like yourself, who care for all the sheep

  2. This actually makes a lot of sense. I never thought of it like this before but that has been my experience too. Went through 3 denominations and they are corrupt.The more power you give a person or an organization the more likely it will become corrupt. Human authority needs to be very limited.

    I was wondering what should someone do if they are in a church that is part of a corrupt denomination? Leave and join a church that’s not part of a denomination? Is it possible for a few churches to be biblical within a larger denomination? Are members culpable for staying in a church that’s part of a corrupt system?

    1. Noka – good questions to think about. I would say for myself that if a local church is knowingly part of a corrupt denomination then they should be exposing and fighting it. If they arent and they just keep on supporting it then they are corrupt too.

      I just think that when fellowship starts to get formalized with officers and “key” individuals and pooled finances – the power and control bully is lurking and maneuvering for power.

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