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.

The Wicked Blame Everyone but Themselves

Mal 1:6-7 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ (7) By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised.

If you have dealt with thoroughly evil people – domestic abusers, sociopaths, rank hypocrites who claim to be Christians but do not know the Lord – then you know that they never accept blame for their sins. They always blame others – particularly their victims.

You see this very thing here in Malachi. The wicked are such deceivers that they even deceive themselves, entering into contention with God! “How have we despised your name?” “How have we polluted you?” Here is another example:

Mal 2:13-14 And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. (14) But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant.

And still another:

Pro 30:20 This is the way of an adulteress: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong.”

Over and over and over we see this pattern, and if we are going to be wise in regard to evil then we had better thoroughly understand that this is how the wicked operate. Accusing. Blaming. Guilting. Everyone but themselves.

Here is an evil man who habitually, deceptively, and horribly abuses his wife. Oh, he claims to be a Christian and people at church think he is just the most saintly fellow around. So when his wickedness percolates to the surface – perhaps when his victim comes forward and asks for help – very few want to believe her. And even if, over the course of time, the evidence piles up so that the hypocrite is obviously exposed for what he is, what happens inevitably is that those who have to deal with him end up being the ones primarily blamed.

  • They weren’t gracious enough
  • They didn’t forgive him
  • They didn’t handle things as we think they should have
  • They told the whole church and should have kept it confidential
  • Etc, etc, etc

Here you are, perhaps a church elder or a counselor or a pastor or perhaps just the victim’s friend. This evil abuse comes to the surface. It has to be dealt with. Now, unless you are a phony yourself, or a coward, you hunger and thirst for righteousness. Justice must be done. And so you act. Well guess what? The abuser and his allies will now move their sights to YOU! Count on it. The thing is certain.

This shifts blame, you see, off the truly guilty one and puts the focus on others. We see it in the news every single day. An evil criminal is out doing his evil – perhaps even murdering people – and the police catch him. What happens? Soon loud outcries are pouring out of people against the police. Everyone seems to have short term amnesia, forgetting the fact that – “hey, this all started with the criminal! The police didn’t create the situation. They just had to deal with it.”

And so it is when we confront the wicked who are oppressing victims. It happens in the local church all the time (at least in churches where evil is truly exposed and dealt with as the Lord commands). Pretty soon the focus shifts from the wicked man to the victims and to those who did not ask to have to deal with the situation but who are charged with doing so. Now they are being blamed and the real culprit loves it.

There are many people who hate me. Why? Because as a pastor myself and our elders had to deal with evildoers. They didn’t like how we dealt with them. Which is to say, by the way, they didn’t liked that we DID deal with them! Soon, people started listening to their outcries. “They didn’t handle this right. They should have…they should not have…they were too harsh…” and on and on.

But the reality is…what? The evildoer is the one who started the whole thing with his wickedness.

Do righteousness and you will have nothing to fear. Walk in evil and you have no complaint about how you are dealt with.

Rom 13:3-4 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, (4) for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.

 

The Reason Churches Protect Abusers and Cast Out Victims is that they do not Fear a Holy God

Most all of you know the sickening pattern. Wicked, evil person hiding in the church behind a disguise of “saint.” He victimizes the innocent who then cry out for justice. Victims are marginalized, disbelieved, silenced, and even thrown out of the assembly. The evil one? He is not only allowed to remain in the church, but he is often coddled, pitied, and even put into a ministry position?

Why? Why this same evil mantra pattern? Over and over it happens. Why?

Let me tell you. I believe I know the answer. First, read the following account of two deceivers in the early church – Ananias and his wife Sapphira.

Act 5:1-11 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, (2) and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

(3) But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? (4) While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God.” (5) When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last.

And great fear came upon all who heard of it.

(6) The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him. (7) After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. (8) And Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much.” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” (9) But Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”

(10) Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.

(11) And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

I am not sure where to begin, so I will simply begin. Over a decade ago, a great evil occurred in our church. Initially, as it was the first time most of us had had to deal with such a thing, it took some sorting out. Immediately we informed the perpetrator he could no longer be present in our church (for the protection of the victim). We reported the matter to the police. He and his family left our church.

Subsequently, I studied this matter of abuse (in its multiple forms) and eventually preached a 22 sermon series on the specific subject of domestic abusers hiding in churches, exposing not only them but the typical ways local churches and pastors covered for the wicked and oppressed the victims. That sermon series is still available at sermonaudio.com/crc. And ultimately I wrote my first book on the same subject, A Cry for Justice.

What was the outcome? Justice for the perpetrator. Validation for the victim. All’s well that ends well, right? Not so fast.

Ultimately many people left us. Our church now has about 30 people in it. One or two people became so hostile that we did not “forgive and forget” the whole matter that they became antagonistic and divisive and eventually had to be put out of the church. We are labeled. Unforgiving. Mean-spirited. Made a mountain out of a mole hill.

In other words, standing for righteousness proved to be quite costly.

But only in the short term. On that Day it will not be those who stand for victims of oppression who are going to pay the real price.

Now, back to our original question. Why is it that people – church members, pastors – normally champion the cause of the evil man and not that of the victim? Why is it the victim that is so typically oppressed, silenced, and put out of the church? I said I know the answer, and here it is:

Professing Christians in large part do not fear the Holy, Holy, Holy God. They look upon sin quite lightly and convince themselves that God does as well. They think, in the end, that Ananias and Sapphira got a rather raw deal, and that their case was not the norm.

You see, if we deal with sin in the church as Christ has commanded us to do, if we do not even eat with a person who says they are a Christian but lives like the devil (1 Cor 5) then suddenly sin rattles our world. Old Mr. Smith the deacon who, it turns out, has been abusing his wife for years, is suddenly put out of the fellowship and his evil exposed. The business is scary. Earth-shaking. Uncomfortable. Why, if I do what he did, I just might be the next to be expelled.

That is how it was when this young man decided he could treat God as no more than a man:

Jos 7:19-20 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the LORD God of Israel and give praise to him. And tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me.” (20) And Achan answered Joshua, “Truly I have sinned against the LORD God of Israel, and this is what I did:

Jos 7:24-25 And Joshua and all Israel with him took Achan the son of Zerah, and the silver and the cloak and the bar of gold, and his sons and daughters and his oxen and donkeys and sheep and his tent and all that he had. And they brought them up to the Valley of Achor. (25) And Joshua said, “Why did you bring trouble on us? The LORD brings trouble on you today.” And all Israel stoned him with stones. They burned them with fire and stoned them with stones.

Whoa! Poor Achan. Man, he said he was sorry. Today (you know this was Old Testament stuff) we hug Achan and tell him everything is ok. We tell him he is forgiven and no one is to ever mention what he did again. Grace that is greater than all our sin, you know. Makes us feel really warm and fuzzy and good.

But then there is that troublesome account of Ananias and Saphhira. Hmmmm….book of Acts. I think that is in the New Testament. Maybe things haven’t changed quite as much as so many professing Christians would like?

And that is exactly right. God has not changed. God is holy, holy, holy today and always. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, that he shall also reap.

Professing Christians today (and I say “professing” purposely because far more who claim to be Christians are in fact unconverted) do not fear the holy God. That is why they want to treat even the most evil sins in the ranks of the church so lightly. It is why they want to forgive and restore a pastor who has been involved in shocking or even criminal sin. Because if in fact we are required by God to tell such people they should fear God’s wrath, if we seriously hear the Apostle Paul tell the Corinthians that a number of them are weak and sick and some are DEAD! for mocking the Lord’s table, then – well, hold on just a minute….

Heb 10:26-31 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, (27) but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. (28) Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. (29) How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? (30) For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” (31) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Most professing Christians do not believe this. This is not their god. They have no fear of the Holy One.

And THAT is why they will not act in holy obedience to the Lord when an Achan or an Ananias or a Sapphira crops up in their midst. Like the Corinthians whom Paul chastised, they arrogantly boast of their “graciousness,” embrace the wicked man, tell the victim to embrace him too or leave, and everyone sings another chorus of Jesus Paid it All.

 

A Vital Sermon to Hear – What is Wrong with the Visible Church Today?

I delivered the following sermon yesterday here at Christ Reformation Church as part of our ongoing series in the Gospel of Matthew, specifically the Sermon on the Mount.

You can read or listen to the sermon HERE

Do you wonder if the true church even exists anymore today? Of course we know it does, but where is it? Why is it that local churches are so commonly havens for the wicked? How is it that the righteous are cast out? Well, it turns out that the very same conditions existed in the days when Christ was here on this earth.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus identifies what a true citizen of His kingdom looks like (the Beatitudes) and then he exposes the phonies. In His day those were the Scribes and Pharisees and their crowd.

They are still with us today and in many, many cases local churches are in fact those dens of robbers and synagogues of Satan that all through church history have paraded as Christ’s church. They are not. And unless we know these things thoroughly, believe them, and are wise, then we are going to grow weary and discouraged. Our faith will be assaulted.

So read or listen to my sermon (click on the link above) and see just what “having a form of godliness but denying its power” means.

Shunning is Not Always Wrong

Many times I have heard people criticize churches and Christians for “shunning” someone. And in many of those cases the criticism is valid because the person being shunned is in fact a victim of some evil which the church refused to confront. Instead, they blamed the victim and threw them under the bus.

Somehow the idea of “shunning” someone has become something that is thought to be always evil and wrong. But that is not so. The Bible is quite plain that there are people with whom we are to have nothing to do. People we are to shun. Here are some scriptural examples:

1Co 5:11-13 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. (12) For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? (13) God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”

Rom 16:17-18 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. (18) For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.

2Th 3:6 Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.

I could go on citing more, but this certainly should suffice to prove that the Christian is to keep away from, avoid, and not even eat with certain people. Namely and especially, people who claim to be Christians but who are walking in evil and therefore are servants of the devil.

This idea that shunning is always wrong and evil in itself is something that is often used to justify keeping the wicked in the church, enabling them in their evil. But to do so is to refuse to obey the clear commands of the Lord. For myself, I simply cannot understand why any real Christian would want to continue in fellowship with a counterfeit believer who has crept in among the brethren to destroy and harm. We are light in the Lord. Why would we want to associate and be bound together with darkness?

Notice once again (you see it in the verses quoted above) that it is not the average, normal unbeliever that is the most serious threat to the church, though of course we are not to be intimately connected with them either. I count numbers of unsaved people as my friends. But I wouldn’t marry one. I socialize with them (as Jesus ate with sinners) but I realize that we are not at all on the same page when it comes to ultimate truths of God’s Word. Nevertheless, the greatest evil, the most wicked and dangerous person, comes to us disguised as a sheep, yet is a ravenous wolf. If someone claims to be a brother in Christ but in fact bears evil fruit as a regular pattern of his life, then that is the person to shun.

So, yes, I shun certain people. Our church shuns certain people. And in doing so we are obeying our Lord’s command.

You Cannot Appease Evil – It Will Just Grow Stronger

Pro 22:10 Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out, and quarreling and abuse will cease.

A widespread, common, and dangerous fallacy rampant among Christians is that if victims of evil just submit to it, if they work harder at not provoking it, if they look within themselves and try to see that they have a share in the blame for the abuse, then eventually the evil oppressor will be satisfied and back off. Appeasement is the word for all this. Appeasement of evil by giving it what it wants.

If you study the buildup in the 1930’s to the second world war and watch the policy of appeasement toward Hitler and the Nazis at work, you will have a real lesson in wisdom. The leaders of Britain, with very few exceptions, embraced the policy of appeasement by giving Hitler what he wanted time after time. Even France held back at critical times when they should have been preparing for war because they didn’t want to make Hitler mad. Chamberlain and others embracing this fantasyland philosophy of appeasement sold out Czechoslovakia, Poland, and other countries all with the goal of giving Hitler what he wanted to appease him. Eventually, they insisted, he would be satisfied with what he had and his aggression would cease.

Wrong. WWII. Near destruction of all democracy in Europe if not in the world.

You cannot appease evil. You must not appease evil. Evil sees appeasement as weakness. Hitler viewed Chamberlain and his crowd was wimps and fools, which actually they were.

The same kind of appeasement policy is being pushed for by today’s political liberals. Don’t do anything to upset the tyrants. Give them piles of money. Promise to stay out of their business. Wear the blame for all that is wrong in the world. Believe their promises. And all the while they continue to secretly arm themselves for world domination. Hitler, you know, had specific plans for invasion of England and it included rounding up all males of age and shipping them into Europe to serve the Nazis as slaves. It very nearly happened. And then he planned to come for us here in the U.S.

In churches today, evil is being “dealt with” by a policy of this same kind of appeasement. “Don’t push his buttons,” abuse victims are told. “Submit even more and eventually he will change for the better.”  And we in the church, well, we are supposed to love, love, love the unrepentant evil man or woman with the same kind of insane foolhardiness that Chamberlain used on Hitler.

Evil is never appeased. Never. The devil never has enough slaves, never tires of working his wickedness. He is a murderer and the father of lies by nature, and so are his children (see John 8). We must stand up to evil. We must call it out. We must expose evildoers who are parading as Christians in our churches, and we must never, ever tell abuse victims that they must work to appease their abuser. That is spiritual malpractice. It is to ally with the wicked.

 

The Blindness of Seeing Only What we Want to See

Jer 6:14 They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.

The Jews knew full well what the Law of God said. They also knew the promised blessings for obeying that Law and the certain curses for disobeying it. In addition, they knew that they had been doing anything but living in obedience to the Lord. Jeremiah’s preaching exposed their sin and announced coming judgment.

But they did not want judgment. They didn’t want to see it. So they didn’t. They embraced the message of “peace, peace.” Until the hammer fell.

So it was in France and England in May of 1940. The allies were “at war” and yet they did not believe there would be a Nazi invasion. Here is an example of this willful blindness taken from William Manchester’s biography of Winston Churchill (Volume 2, The Last Lion) –

One French pilot did see the [Nazi] buildup on the evening of the eighth of May. He was over the Ruhr, returning from a propaganda mission, dropping leaflets urging the German people to overthrow Hitler and thus bring peace. Above Dusseldorf he looked down and saw a 60 mile line of tanks and trucks headed for the Ardennes [where the Germans were going to pull off a surprise attack]. They were driving with their lights on. He reported his discovery. It was dismissed as not credible.

And again:

Five months earlier, as Europe slept away the winter, a German airplane carrying two staff officers was blown off course and forced to land in Belgium. The officers tried and failed to burn the papers they carried, which happened to contain the OKW’s [German High Command] revised operation orders for the invasion of the Low Countries (Belgium, Holland, etc) including a thrust through the Ardennes. British intelligence perused the captured papers. The high arts of deception and double cross being well practiced by both the Germans and the British, it was concluded that the papers were a plant, a ruse, and therefore, unbelievable.

But they weren’t. The Ardennes was precisely the point the Nazis would invade through, and the very point that the French military leaders insisted was an impenetrable maze that no army could ever come through.

The French and the British, in these cases, had hard facts and proof thrown right into their faces. Yet they disregarded those facts. Why? Because they did not want to believe what the facts proved. There would be no war. Or if it came, it would come at points that were well fortified and defended. The allies would soon pay a high, high price for their refusal to see what they did not want to see.

And so it is when the facts tell us that evil has come in among us. A mother and wife goes to her pastor and tells him about the horrific treatment she has been suffering at the hands of her upstanding, well-respected, “christian” husband. Church leaders and members see a man, a member of their church, energetically pursuing “ministry” with troubled young people or maintaining age-inappropriate relationships. They receive reports that this man is taking a few young people “camping.” But he is such a fine “servant of the Lord.” The most likable fellow you could ever meet. The facts point to the need for great caution and the establishment of firm boundaries. But no action is taken. Why? Because the church leaders and members do not want to see what the facts are pointing to. They do not want to consider that evil is sitting right there in the pew with them Sunday after Sunday, year after year.

Willful blindness is a sin. It enables evil. It oppresses the victims. It ignores the warnings and instructions of the Word of God. It is selfish. Rather than face up to the truth that the Nazis are coming, willful blindness chooses to embrace the fantasy even though millions are going to die as a result.

When We Believe the Wicked and Dismiss the Oppressed, We are Guilty of Cowardice

Forcing the weak to submit [to an evil oppressor] is clearly easier than confronting the strong, particularly if you have persuaded yourself that the weak deserve what is coming to them. (William Manchester)

This quote is taken from Manchester’s observations on how the English government (Chamberlain, Halifax, and crowd) put the pressure on victimized countries like Poland to submit to Hitler’s demands rather than confronting the real culprit – Hitler.

And so it is whenever wickedness is at work victimizing, using power to control and punish. It takes courage and a willingness to pay a price in order to stand with the weak and most people simply are not willing to carry the heavy weight of truth and stand for it no matter the cost. This is a huge part of the reason victims of all kinds of abuse are dismissed and minimized when they go to their churches for help. Their abusers almost always have far more resources – finances, allies, etc – than do the victims. Therefore many professing Christians treat victims as if they were lepers. It is why the normal wicked scenario in churches is that the victim is ultimately cast out while the perpetrator of the abuse is allowed to remain, the recipient of much empathy. “Poor fellow, he tried so hard, you know.”

I charge the majority of pastors and local churches with cowardice. They have convinced themselves, for their own gain and comfort, that the victims among them have whatever they get coming to them. “She wasn’t forgiving. She wasn’t merciful. She didn’t…..” – you fill in the blanks.

Many German people knew full well that the Nazis were persecuting and murdering Jews. Very few tried to do anything about it. I guess they convinced themselves that the millions of Jewish men, women, and little kids had the gas chambers coming to them. What goes around comes around, you know. Those Jews were an odd bunch anyway.

The Mortal Danger of Living as if Evil is Non-Existent

As a contributor to the Yale Review has pointed out, [Winston Churchill’s appeal for a recovery of moral health] was his way of saying that the English after Munich had to learn all over again to recognize evil. They had lost the sense of villainy; they had no solid principles, unshakable convictions.” [William Manchester]

But [Neville] Chamberlain still did not believe in standing up to Hitler. All evidence to the contrary, Chamberlain remained convinced that if the Fuhrer were treated with generosity, he could become Britain’s best friend. [Ibid]

In politics the squeaky wheel gets little grease. This is particularly true when a public figure challenging the leader carries a controversial reputation in train. The mass distrusts controversy. Reluctant to reconsider its convictions, superstitions, and prejudices, it rarely withdraws support from those who are guiding its destinies. Thus inertia becomes an incumbents’ accomplice. So does human reluctance to admit error. Those who backed the top man insist, against all evidence, that they made the right choice.” [Ibid]

As is evident in just these three quotes from Manchester’s wonderful book on the life of Winston Churchill (these taken from the second volume covering the decade before World War 2 when Churchill as a lone voice was trying to warn of the growing Nazi menace] naivete and ignorance regarding evil can be catastrophic. In this case, it led to some 60 million people dying. SIXTY MILLION! In some ways I regard Chamberlain as guilty as Hitler.

If you really want to gain wisdom regarding evil, read at least this second volume of the series (The Last Lion, William Manchester). If you are at all aware of the nature and tactics of domestic, spiritual, and sexual abusers who hide in sheep’s clothing in churches, I assure you that as you read you will find yourself very often exclaiming, “that is exactly what we are up against in the church when we try to point out evil!”

You have three perfect examples of this in the quote above:

  1. When Christians live in an isolated Christian “bubble,” when children grow up all their lives in such a place, they lose all sense of, as Churchill would put it, “villainy.” “Goodness gracious!” is about as strong of language as they hear. Bad guys are always dressed in black and in the end the good guys in white always win. And all this leads such people to this….
  2. If we just treat even the most nasty people with generosity, if we appease them and give them their way whenever we can, then surely eventually they will be truly thankful to us and become our bestest friends.
  3. When evil is uncovered in, for example, a local church, institutional inertia demands that it be discounted and ignored. Everyone is quite reluctant to admit that they have been duped by saintly old deacon Smith who, it turns out, has been sexually molesting children or abusing his wife all these years.

As for those who report these evils, such as the victims of it all, well, as Manchester put it, “the squeaky wheel gets little grease.” In other words, victims are ignored or told to stop squeaking! Why? Because they are upsetting the momentum of the institution that has been running oh so smoothly for a long, long time. To receive and believe the victim’s report of evil in the pews would demand a total reboot of, well, of just about everything that is held dear.

Willful ignorance of evil on the part of pastors and church members, counselors and popular Christian writers, has been enabling evil and oppressing its victims for far too long. Just as Neville Chamberlain and his “peace in our time” crowd had been provided with mountains of evidence that Hitler was arming Germany at an astounding rate, so Christians have been given God’s own Word that clearly exposes wickedness. How it hides among us. What its schemes are. What our weapons are. Paul reminds us-

2Co 2:11 so that we would not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.

Eph 4:14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

But we are children. We are ignorant of his designs. There is a multitude of reasons for this. Sometimes we are taught by leaders who do not belong to Christ at all. Sometimes professing Christians plug their ears to the truth when it is preached and cry “no more!” like the Israelites at Mount Sinai. And often we have carelessly embraced the traditions of men as the Word of God because we have not searched the Scriptures carefully ourselves. But whatever the cause, the widespread willful ignorance to the nature and tactics of the evil that has crept in among us in the church is permitting and even empowering wicked, ungodly men to parade as eminent holy men while all the while they feed on the flock.

Wake up, Christian. Listen to the victims. Believe them. Admit your ignorance about the devil and his methods and start taking serious steps to correct that ignorance. World War II never needed to have happened! There were scores of opportunities and years of time to stop the enemy without a shot being fired or a life being lost. So it is in your church and your family when it comes to protecting Christ’s people from the wicked.

1Th 5:4-8 But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. (5) For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. (6) So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. (7) For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. (8) But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.