An Appearance of Godliness: Case Studies in Evil (Part 16)

2 Timothy 3:1-5 ESV  But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.  (2)  For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,  (3)  heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good,  (4)  treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,  (5)  having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

There is the central scripture passage once again for this series of articles. Having an appearance of godliness but in fact being devoid of and even denying the truth of being born again. What is the fountain of real godliness? A new heart. A new man. A new creation in Christ. The wicked who parade themselves with an exterior skin of “holiness” detest this truth – you must be born again. 

And local churches, including the pulpits, are typically filled with just this kind of counterfeit. It is the intent of this series to present you with real life examples of wolves in wool who are always at work to creep in among us and bring us into bondage.

Jack is regarded by his fellow church members as being a model of godliness. The finest Christian man they know. Jack quickly and easily advanced into a leadership position in his church because of these opinions.

But Jack’s apperance of godliness is just that – an appearance. An outward show. In reality, as to who Jack really is, we would find an unconverted, evil heart that motivates Jack’s every action. Self. Self-glory. Power. Control. These are the motivations for all that Jack does and for every word he speaks.

Consider what many would think of as unimportant, mundane issues, but which really reveal who Jack actually is. Be wise. Learn these things. Else you will be duped and become Jack’s ally in evil.

When security issues arose repeatedly in respect to the protection of the church grounds and building (ie, vandalism, littering, trespassing, etc), a logical and reasonable proposal was made by the pastor. The entryways to the parking lot should be fenced, with gates installed that would only be opened when there were meetings at the church – primarily on Sundays. In addition, an alarm security system should be installed to protect the building and valuables inside. These proposals were met with agreement by virtually everyone.

But Jack was opposed to it all and he let his disagreement be known.

Jack said that these actions would be a “bad testimony” to the community. He insisted that taking these steps would be a failure to trust in the Lord. And he added that suffering for Christ was part of the Christian’s duty, so that if the property were damaged or burglarized, we should “rejoice and be glad” that we had the privilege of suffering for Christ.

The fencing and the alarm system ideas never happened. Jack had pitched a successful presentation of himself as a super-saint, and everyone caved.

But what was Jack’s real motive? This certainly wasn’t the only time Jack used his holy disguise to maintain power and control. What made him tick? What was he thinking? I can tell you.

Jack was anything but holy. Most probably he was not a Christian at all. He had an appearance of godliness, but it just a mask. Jack craved to be first. He craved to be the “go to” guy in the church. He lusted to control people and bring them into bondage to himself. He was not opposed to these security measures because he really believed they were a lack of trust in the Lord. As the years went by you could see, if you were observant, that Jack flip-flopped on matters like this. He was the master example of the double-standard. He would not hesitate to fence his own property and would be totally irate if anyone vandalized his home or stole his possessions. What people like Jack do when some situation arises or some decision is to be made, is VERY quickly and naturally process what is happening, and like some computer kick out what response will effect the most self-glory for them. This is why abusers like Jack (and that is what Jack is) seem so haphazard and unpredictable. But they are predictable if you once realize what truly motivates them. Power. Control. Self-worship.

Jack pulled these kinds of “pious” behaviors in many, many situations over the years. Once when church finances were short, he announced to everyone “we must pay the missionaries. If we have to have the electricity to the church building shut off to save money, we need to do it.” (People like Jack often say just plain stupid things like this and assume everyone will praise them for it). When the pastor told Jack that if utilities were shut down at the church building, there would be no way the church could even meet on Sundays. There would be no heat, no water, no restroom facilities, no telephone (pre-cell days), no office equipment, no – nothing. “Well, said Jack, “think of the early Christians in the catacombs. We should be able to carry on anyway.”

Jack really expected his views to be received by everyone as the most wonderful example of faith in the Lord. And sadly, in most cases Jack was successful in selling himself to others as the man his disguise portrayed.

But Jack in reality was a reviler. He was a man who assaulted others with his words. He grew angry and accusatory when his control was resisted. And if you were observant, you would see it. Most of the time these red flag identifiers took place behind the scenes, out of sight of most people. But an observant eye and ear could spot them. Jack, for instance, was once seen on a shopping trip with some other church members and his wife, responding to his wife’s statement “I am going to go in the restroom now.” Jack’s response? “No, you aren’t. Come with me.” Jack boasted of how he informed his wife that according to scripture, she was to obey him. Those two incidents in themselves are sufficient grounds to identify Jack as an abuser and reviler, and as such a counterfeit to be put out of the the church. 

So let’s wise up. Let’s stop falling for these “saintly” positions and words from the wicked. Let’s start identifying them for what they really are – evil.

 

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