Mat 10:16 “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.
How many of you were taught in your family or in your church, as you grew up, about the nature and tactics of evil? How many of you were told about narcissists, sociopaths, psychopaths and other “character disorders”? Oh, there are plenty of these wicked ones in the Bible for our instruction, but did anyone have the wisdom to point them out to us? I am sure the answer to these three questions is “zero, zero, and no.”
And what happened as a result? In our naive ignorance, we became easy prey. We knew the devil prowls around looking for an easy lunch, but what exactly does that mean and what does it look like in practice? We didn’t know.
I was reading the first few pages of John Bunyan’s other allegory entitled The Holy War. As the enemy is holding a council of war, plotting and scheming about the best way to bring the Mansoul (that’s us) into their power, these demons (with names like Apollyon, Lucifer, Beelzebub and Alecto) addressed the question of whether they should march right up to the gates undisguised or not, they settled upon this approach:
Therefore let us assault them in all pretended fairness, covering our intentions with all manner of lies, flatteries, delusive words; feigning of things that never will be, and promising of that which they shall never find. This is the way to win Mansoul and to make them, of their own selves, to open their gates to us and to desire us to come into them.
And they were assured that this tactic of deceit would work because, as they correctly reasoned:
This project will work because the people of Mansoul now are every one of them simple and innocent; all honest and true; nor do they as yet know what it is to be assaulted with fraud, guile, and hypocrisy. They are strangers to lying and dissembling lips; therefore we cannot, if thus we be disguised, by them al all be found out; our lies shall be believed for true sayings, and our deceits for upright dealings. What we promise them, they will believe us, especially if in all our lies and feigned words we pretend great love to them and that our intent is only for their advantage and honor.
I hardly need to make application of this to your experience, do I? Most of us who were raised in the typical Christian home and in the typical church were taught that we must love everyone and never judge others. If someone says they are a Christian, we are required to believe them. They were to be trusted and we were to assume they were what they seemed to be. To do otherwise would have been to be charged with being unkind, unloving, and judgmental. After all, everyone in our church is surely a Christian, right?
Is it a surprise then that so many of you met your abuser in church or in some other “christian” setting? Is it a surprise that children are molested by pedophiles and other predators who masquerade as saints in those places? It shouldn’t be a surprise, but still today, even with all these evils in the news, there is still this ignorance about and blindness to evil.
What does the enemy look like? How does he creep in among us? Or does he? What are his tactics? If Satan can appear among us as an angel of light, what does he look like in that disguise? It seems to me that the church has a ratings system much like is used for movies. And this system rates much of the Bible as “R” and thus inappropriate for children or even for mixed company. So we give them the “G” subjects accompanied by happy-clappy choruses steering them away from Alexander the Coppersmith, Diotrephes, Jezebel, and all the perversions of Romans 1. If anyone does dare mention these things to them, it is usually done with a disconnect. That is to say, we never tell them, “children, not everyone who claims to be a Christian is. In fact, Satan sends wicked people in disguise right onto churches like ours to attack us and deceive us and we all must believe this and learn how to detect them.”
Otherwise, Mansoul will keep right on opening the city gates to the enemy.