Why Does the Lord Describe the Motives and Methods of the Wicked for Us?

We have been learning about this category of person called the reprobate. The kind of false teacher described by Peter (2 Peter 2-3), Jude, Hebrews 6, and many other Scriptures. Peter says of such people:

These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. (2 Peter 2:17)

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. (2 Peter 2:20-21)

These are not just any sinner, as we have been careful to point out in previous posts. Oh no. These are knowing, willful, evil people parading as Christians, motivated by greed, set out to mislead many and take them to hell along with them. Utter darkness has been reserved for them. Their place in hell is eternally secured. And they brought it all on themselves:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. (2 Peter 2:1)

Anyone who refuses to acknowledge this category of person thereby refuses to believe God’s Word.

Now, I can hear another kind of objector. “Ok, so the Bible does say that there are people who are reprobate. But there is no way WE can know who they are. That is God’s business. We must never judge or even assume that someone is one of them. We must always pray for everyone and work our best to lead them to repentance and faith in Christ.”

My response? If we cannot discern who these false teachers are, then why in the world does Scripture warn us about them, describe them for us, tell us their very motives, and then call on us to put them out of the church?  Pretty good question, eh? Let’s just review what Peter tells us about them:

  • They operate secretly/covertly
  • They actively “teach”
  • Their message is heresy, and it is destructive
  • They deny Christ, particularly making the cross unnecessary
  • Their false gospel is sensual. It appeals to the flesh
  • They are motivated by greed and a lust for self-glory
  • They despise authority
  • They have no shame – they revel even in the daytime
  • They particularly target “unsteady souls” (Oh, hello there new young person. Come to my house and I will disciple you).
  • They are very, very deceptive and able to mimic a sheep quite well

Want me to go on? I could by simply looking at other similar Scriptures like Jude. But just look at this list and ask yourself once more – If Peter did not expect us to be able to identify these evil ones as they creep in among us, if in fact identifying them is something ONLY the Lord can do, then WHY did Peter even bother telling us all this? Understand?

The reason God’s Word shines its light on the darkness of these deceivers is because by applying the truths it tells us about these wolves, we can see them for what and who they are, avoid being deceived by them, and put them out from among us.

And yet, what is the prevalent mentality and teaching in the visible church today in this regard? Don’t judge anyone. Only God knows. God’s mercy is infinite. God loves everyone. And on and on and on the formula goes. It is a teaching from the enemy. It is darkness.

Shine the Light of Christ’s Word on it and show it for what it is.

 

When Churches Exceed Their Authority, Evil Comes into the Church

This is a guest post kindly submitted at my request by James and Linda Sander. They are the authors of Rethinking Biblical Divorce: Let Scripture be Your Guidewhich I highly recommend. Let me introduce their article with a few words:

Without thinking, most Christians assume that they must obtain permission from their pastor/church in order to divorce their spouse. And local churches certainly behave as if this were true, even to the point of ex-communicating a member who divorces for “unbiblical” reasons (as defined by that local church or pastor). James and Linda Sander maintain that Scripture nowhere gives churches that authority and they outline at least part of their argument here in this post. I fully agree with them.

Let me make a clear point lest anyone misunderstand. Neither the Sanders nor myself are denying that the church has Christ’s authority in certain arenas. The Word of God is authoritative and when the church preaches it in truth, there is authority. And of course the church has authority to put wicked counterfeits out of their midst and to admonish those who are sinning. Largely in our day churches are failing or refusing to exercise this proper authority and instead are claiming authority that is not theirs. The result is that the wicked are enabled while the innocent are cast out.

In their book the Sanders also argue (quite well I might say) that no one but the individual Christian has the right to decide if remarriage is permissible and that when a church claims authority in this matter, that church is contradicting Jesus’ words:

The disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry.” But he said to them, “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let the one who is able to receive this receive it.”  (Matthew 19:10-12)

Here then is what the Sanders maintain about church authority and divorce:

Jesus said,

Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. (Matthew 19:4-6)

And the cross reference,

But from the beginning of the creation, God ‘made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’ so then they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate. (Mark 10:6-9)

In discussing these verses, we will focus on the words, “Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (or “let no man separate”).

If asked, “What do the words, ‘What God has joined together, let no man separate’ mean?” many Christians will answer (perhaps somewhat uncertainly), “It means we should not divorce.” But is this what the words are really saying? There are three difficulties with this understanding.

  • One, most Christians agree the Bible does allow divorce.We might differ regarding when it is allowed, but most of us agree Scripture does indicate divorce is allowed. Therefore, it would be inconsistent to assume Jesus’ statement, “What God has joined together, let no man separate” means we should not divorce.
  • Two, the command,“What God has joined together, let no man separate,” is found only in this confrontation with the Pharisees; it is found nowhere else in Scripture.Jesus said this as a retort to the Pharisees in their attempt to trap him.

We often see in Scripture that Jesus spoke to the Pharisees in a different way than he spoke to his followers or to the receptive crowd like the one listening to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. This makes sense because the Pharisees were antagonistic and were not interested in learning from Jesus’ answers nor were they interested in becoming followers of Jesus. In the passage we are considering, the Pharisees confronted Jesus and were attempting to trap him and publicly discredit him. Because of this, Jesus does not answer them in the same way he answered questions from his followers who were seeking truth. [NOTE from Jeff: This point about Jesus speaking in a different way to the Pharisees than to receptive people is incredibly important and is in my opinion one of the most important interpretive principles that the Sanders emphasize both here and in their book]

  • Three, there is another meaning of this command that better fits the context. We take a step toward understanding what Jesus meant when we keep in mind that the Pharisees thought of themselves as the arbiters of most issues of Jewish life. They considered themselves to be the ones with insight and understanding. Further, they considered that their rulings should be deemed authoritative for the masses in issues of daily life and religion, which, of course, included divorce.

Once we realize the Pharisees claimed the religious authority to say under what circumstances a husband and a wife could divorce, then we begin to understand how Jesus’ command would challenge their position.In fact, Jesus was doing this very thing with his command—he revealed to all that the Pharisees’ authority was self-appointed rather than from God.

The word “man” is anthropos, here meaning “human being” (male or female). Jesus said, “What God has joined together, let no human being separate.”Jesus is contrasting mere man with the Almighty God. God created marriage and God is the one who joins a couple together in marriage. The idea is, “If God joins a couple (and everyone in Jesus’ audience agreed that this is true), then who is a human being to say when a couple is permitted to divorce? How did the Pharisees, mere human beings,obtain such an authority that they can separate something God has joined together?”

Picture Jesus developing his argument as he responds to the Pharisees’ attack (and the crowd listens in)—

  • “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female,” and everyone agrees with these familiar words.
  • “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife.” Again, they agree with this Old Testament statement describing marriage; a new family unit begins.
  • “And the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh.” And again, all nod their heads understanding that in marriage and in the sexual relationship, the man and woman become one.

No one would disagree with anything Jesus said; in fact, they are all in agreement. They revere the words of the Old Testament.

Then Jesus quashes the Pharisees, “What God has joined together, let no human separate.” Jesus bluntly tells them that no human has authority to separate a marriage God created.

The Pharisees had usurped an authority that belongs to God alone, and with these words, Jesus exposed their lack of God-given authority.

The correct way to think is, “What God has joined, God alone separates.” No Pharisee, or any other human being or any human authority, has the right to separate what God has joined together.

“What Godhas joined together, let no humanseparate,” means “It’s not up to you—mere human beings—to decide who is allowed to divorce.” Jesus used the “let no man separate” command to challenge the Pharisees’ self-appointed authority that they are the ones who determine if a couple can divorce. Pharisees should not decide when a divorce is allowed, and they should not decide for a couple if they are permitted to divorce.

Jesus’ command includes the word “therefore.” “Therefore, what God has joined together, let no human being separate.” The “therefore” lets us know that this is the summation and answer to the Pharisees’ original question. The Pharisees’ original question was, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason?” Jesus’ “therefore” statement renders irrelevant the Pharisees’ question whether it is lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason—Jesus commands that no human, which includes these Pharisees, decides this.

There are two interesting points of grammar about Jesus’ words “Let no man separate.” First, it is clear in the Greek that this is a command; we might not fully realize it is a command because of the use of the word “Let.” But make no mistake, this is an imperative—Jesus gave a command.

Second, notice Jesus’ use of third person here. He included other people besides these Pharisees. He uses third person because he is stating a command that goes beyond the Pharisees.

Although Jesus’ command was initially directed to the Pharisees and was designed to strip the power from the Pharisees (who were the ones ruling on divorce issues at that time), the use of third person strips the authority from any who would claim such power today. It removes the right from anyone who would decide for a couple if they are allowed to divorce—or from anyone who might be tempted to take on such authority.

There is no place in the Bible that gives one person the authority to decide or pronounce when or if another person is permitted todivorce. In fact, we see in Jesus’ words to the Pharisees it is just the opposite. Only God has this authority. This is the purpose of the “Let no human separate” command. It is not a statement explaining if or when divorce is allowed.

So in this passage, it is critical for us to note that this command does not prohibit divorce. What it states is that no human has the authority to say if or when a couple can divorce.

Since Scripture does allow divorce, we are then left with the questions, “Who is allowed to divorce?” and “How is it decided?” Simply, Christian men and women decide this in the same way they decide any other issue that might come up in their lives—by prayer, by spending time in the Word, and by the leading of the Holy Spirit.

We explain more about this topic, and others, in our book Rethinking Biblical Divorce, Let Scripture Be Your Guide (available at Amazon).

 

Evil Always Has an Element of Betrayal – And this is Very Telling

Matthew 26:47-49 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. (48) Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” (49) And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him.

Judas, the epitome of betrayers. He is infamous for his evil. One of the twelve, as Matthew reminds us – and with a kiss – a most cruel symbol of false loyalty wrapped around a heart of wicked treachery.

Psalms 41:9 Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.

I want to talk today about this quality of betrayal that is present in evil. Anyone who has been the victim of evil has felt it, though perhaps not every victim fully understands that they have been betrayed. A vow or trust has been broken. And that is very painful, especially when it comes from a close friend or spouse or some other person who you thought loved you and was loyal to you.

I think that I have felt the most pain from the betrayal of people who were closest to me, and it is for this reason that I can very much empathize with victims of domestic abuse. The sharpest and most traumatic blows of betrayal hit us when they originate in someone we absolutely believed loved us. In my case, as a pastor, these arrows have come from people who I literally spent years and years ministering to, counseling, trying to help and who, because we are a very small church, I considered to be my friends and brethren in Christ. They weren’t. As it turns out they were really just using me for selfish motives. Hard lessons to learn.

Evil is treasonous and treacherous. It is only loyal to itself. When a wicked person appears to be reaching out in friendship, the fact is that he is merely playing the role, like Judas, because he wants something for himself that he believes you can give him. Judas, among other things, wanted money from the coin box and perhaps he wanted some kind of attention through associating with the Lord.

When someone you have loved, and whom you really believed loved you, rejects you, abandons you, turns on you as an enemy, the pain of betrayal hits you hard. YOU loved them, so you gave them your heart. But THEY never loved you, so the betrayer (though he may pretend in order to get pity) doesn’t feel any real pain. And as you begin to realize this, the sense of betrayal grows even more intense. I have sat face to face with people who I counted as very close friends, who I had believed were brothers and sisters in Christ, and had them coldly, with no guilt or sense of conscience, tell me they were leaving and would not be seeing me anymore. That is how divorce feels when someone you thought loved you serves you with the papers. And it is how an abuse victim feels when the fog starts clearing that the abuser has cast over their mind and they begin to realize that this spouse they loved all these years, never loved them. Never. Betrayal. Treason. Treachery.

Now, this is important when it comes to our ability to see where the evil really lies. That is to say, sorting out who the guilty one is and who the victim is. The wicked are often quite skilled at making themselves look like the victim and the victim look like the evil one. So we must take care. And one thing we can watch for is – where is the pain? Where is the sense of betrayal? Because you see, Judas had no pain in betraying Jesus – he kissed Him! Whatever it was that led to Judas hanging himself, it was not Godly sorrow. And so it is with the wicked person who betrays. They may moan and groan about how they have been wronged, but remember – they are feeling absolutely no sense of being betrayed. The victim on the other hand, is. For the most part, the betrayer has no pain of conscience, no grief of remorse. They are, after all, betraying, not being betrayed. And this is very, very telling if we watch for it.

Let me give you an example. I have known people who professed to be fine Christians, and appeared to be, only to be found out years later that in fact they have been practicing wickedness all along. Secretly. Some were domestic abusers in their homes. Others were cruel taskmasters to their employees. But when they were found out, they did not evidence grief or guilt or shame. In other words, they did not repent. What they DID do is blame others, break off fellowship with their victims, and effect that betrayal we are speaking of. You will see grief and pain in the ones betrayed. But you will NOT see it in the betrayer. In fact I have noticed over the years that wicked ones like this are not at all bothered if they come face to face later with those they betrayed. All smiles. Just as if nothing had ever happened. And when you see this, you know with certainty who the evil one really is in the situation. They feel no pain or sorrow.

They only leave a trail of it.

Want to find evil? Watch for the betrayer and you will have found it.

 

 

A Common Door Through Which Evil Enters the Church

This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.'(Matthew 15:8-9)

It is, therefore, of the greatest importance for every believer, and particularly for theologians, to know which scriptural truths, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, have been brought to universal recognition in the church of Christ. By this process, after all, the church is kept from immediately mistaking a private opinion for the truth of God. [Herman Bavinck]

Most evangelical Christians assume that they are “Bereans.” Some have even given that name to their church! The Bereans, you know, were said to be of a more noble character than the Thessalonians in that they listened to Paul’s teaching and then searched the Scriptures to see if what he said was true or not. (See Acts 17]

But the fact is that the majority of professing Christians and local churches today do not “search the Scriptures” before they embrace some teaching that has been handed to them since childhood. They don’t search. They assume. And this is how evil enters in among us, bringing us into bondage and leading us away from Christ. Many pastors preach doctrines with a virtual “thus saith the Lord” authority when in reality the Lord hath not “saith” any such thing.

Recently I read a church constitution and bylaws. Included in the list of doctrines which must be believed before someone can be a member were:

  • No consumption of alcohol
  • Divorced persons can never serve in the office of pastor, elder, or deacon
  • Members must cease from all work on the Lord’s Day

And of course we could go on and on and on with a never-ending list of “Bible doctrines” that have in reality been created by men.

Herman Bavinck’s words (quoted above) are wonderful. Scriptural truths which, by the Holy Spirit working in the Christian, have been brought to a universal recognition in the church – these are the common creed. When doctrines which have not been accepted to that degree are pressed upon us, we are in great danger of mistaking man’s private opinion for the truth of God. And that is a disaster. It is an open door for the enemy of our souls to send in His agents.

Did you know that many “Bible-believing” churches today will actually ex-communicate a person if they divorce? It’s true. Over and over again we talk to people who were the long time victims of terrible domestic abuse by a wicked spouse and when they separated from that abuser, they were threatened by their church with ex-communication. Numbers of them ultimately were “handed over to Satan” by their pastors and fellow church members.

Now, think on this very carefully. Is there a universal conclusion throughout the Christian church which recognizes the reasons for which God permits divorce? Let me help you answer the question:

  • John Piper and Jim Ellif and others say God does not permit divorce EVER for any reason.
  • Many teach that adultery and desertion are permissible reasons for divorce, but that remarriage is not permitted
  • Others permit remarriage
  • Many if not most deny that a Christian who is victimized by a domestic abuser can divorce the abuser
  • Myself and a growing number of others insist (and we are right, you know!) that God permits divorce for habitual, unrepentant, ongoing violation of the wedding covenant vows

So, which is it? Does that sound like a doctrine that the Holy Spirit has led the Christian church to universal recognition of? We agree on the deity of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the inspiration of Scripture, the necessity of the new birth, the second coming of Christ, the final judgment….how can one even be a Christian and not confess these truths?

And yet as we said, many churches will actually ex-communicate a woman who divorces her long-time abuser husband if she even separates from him and refuses to return, just as readily as if she stood up in the congregation and announced that she rejects Jesus Christ as the Son of God!

And so, evil comes into the church. Evil-doers creep in among us. They are even enabled and encouraged in their wickedness. All because doctrines of men are elevated to the authority of God’s own Word. Many if not most churches have a lesser or greater degree of legalism’s yoke pressing down upon the flock. Others go the libertine route and announce perversions of God’s Word to be Scripture, rejecting the Lord’s plain truth given to us. The enemy delights in either route.

We cannot love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and soul if we wrap our arms around falsehood anymore than the Pharisees loved Him. In fact, when the true and living Christ shows up among such a people, He is hated and rejected because He is not the idol god they have created.

 

Bear One Another’s Burdens? Then Why are the Oppressed Being Told to go it Alone?

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

When it comes to evil attacking Christ’s people (always of course in the form of agents of evil who most often disguise themselves as fellow sheep), Christ commands us to come to one another’s aid. We always did this when I was a police officer. Call for help and the whole force would come running to back you up.

For the most part I stopped experiencing this backup when I resigned from the police force on a Friday and became a pastor on Sunday. Although in these past few years now we really do back up one another in our church. We are down to the genuine core.

Wicked people like to single out their victim, getting them away from the flock and abusing, assaulting, molesting, enslaving them in secret. It’s the age old wolf tactic you know. All of us must constantly be on guard for this strategy of darkness and never be surprised when it is discovered among us.

Now, Christ tells us that we are to bear one another’s burdens. He says elsewhere through the Apostle Paul something very similar-

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

And so I want to ask you. In these dark, dark times in the evangelical church, are we seeing churches being obedient to these marching orders of our Lord? With few exceptions, I have to give this answer:  no way. In fact what is happening is that people who are being oppressed by evil are being sent away by churches and essentially told, “go suffer for Jesus. Stay in the oppression. And don’t bother us by talking about it anymore.”

You say that is too harsh and that I am exaggerating? I can prove to you that it is not. All you have to do is read the first hand accounts of hundreds of people who testify that this is precisely how they were treated when they exposed the evil they were being assaulted by and asked their pastor, elder, fellow church member, for help. Did they experience a whole team ready to back them up, all set and prepared to shoulder their burden and do what was necessary to protect them? In a few cases, yes. But in very, very, very few.

How can anyone claim to be living out the love of Jesus Christ when their “bearing another’s burdens” is all just talk? Or worse, outright telling the “victim “it’s your cross to bear”? That is precisely the evil that James shouts at hypocrites about:

James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

Let’s translate that so no one misses it. “If a brother or sister is being abused or sexually molested, if they have no money because their abuser refuses to provide for them, and you say ‘Go! Be quiet now. Trust Jesus. Forgive your oppressor and reconcile with him,’ when all the while you have the necessary means to stop that oppression, what good is your religion? It is worthless. It is worse than worthless.”

Where we see a habitual refusal to share the burdens of the oppressed among us, we can know that we are looking at counterfeit religion.

A Typical Distortion of Scripture Used by False Shepherds to Protect the Wicked

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, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

This is a wonderful passage of Scripture that shines Christ’s light brightly on the darkness that is so widespread in local churches today. But alas, there is no end to the attempts to distort even the clearest statements of God’s truth and here is one I heard of again recently (not for the first time).

As you can see from Paul’s words, people who walk in sin, who are characterized by the same wickedness that has always characterized them, can claim to belong to Christ all they want. The fact is they do not. They have no inheritance in His kingdom.

Now, it is plain that the people Paul is speaking of are not rank pagans who make no claim to Christ. No. These are people who come in among us in the church wearing a saintly disguise. Else why would Paul even have to state the obvious if he were only speaking of people who make no profession of faith at all? No, these are counterfeits and he wants us all to be very clear in our thinking about them. You cannot walk in sin, you cannot live the life of a worldling, and have your cake (heaven) too.

Now notice that one of these kinds of people is of a class that we should be getting quite familiar with – the reviler. Revilers will not inherit the kingdom of God. Revilers are dead in their sin. And what is a reviler? A reviler is a person who uses his tongue to assault others. He villifies, he makes them the villain, he accuses and blames and shames. And he does it all falsely. Here are some other references to this kind of evil person:

“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (Matthew 5:11)

For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘Whoever reviles father or mother must surely die.’ (Matthew 15:4)

“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! (Luke 6:22)

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. (1 Corinthians 5:11)

having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. (1 Peter 3:16)

Pretty plain, right? Revilers make false accusations against others, specifically against believers, and they do so specifically BECAUSE their target is a believer. Ultimately, revilers are reviling God Himself.

Anyway, here is the preposterous “end run” excuse a church leader recently used when he was called on to deal biblically with a reviler. He said,

But Paul is talking about people who reviled God. He doesn’t mean those who revile other people.

Can you believe that anyone would even make such a claim? Need I say anymore to disprove this claim? All we need do is read the Scriptures quoted above. Revilers are people who habitually revile other people, and on some occasions directly revile God Himself. And as I said above, a reviler who is reviling a Christian for being a Christian (even if the reviler does not say so in overt language) is also reviling Christ.

This church leader, you see, does not want to put the reviler out of the church. He wants to keep regarding the fellow as a Christian who just needs to be “fixed.” And so, under this leader’s watch, there is no watch. Wolves are permitted to put on their wool coats, come right on it, and devour the flock.

Blind Guides End up in the Pit Too

Let them alone; they are blind guides. And if the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)

I have written many times about how pastors, counselors, authors, and other church leaders lead people like victims of abuse into a pit. They keep them in bondage. They sometimes even get them killed. Blind people need light, and that is something another blind person cannot provide.

What I noticed this evening in this Scripture is that Jesus says that the blind guide will also fall into a pit, not only those who follow his advice/counsel/teaching. And I suppose that is what the Lord and the Apostles meant when they wrote things like this:

They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. (2 Peter 2:19)

Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. (John 8:34)

Our churches are infested with these kind. They present themselves as authorities on God’s truth, knowledgeable about most any subject. Marriage and all its nuances, finances, child-raising…just bring up the topic and off they are expounding. Oh, and even if you don’t ask them they are always ready to announce their position and insist that God requires everyone else to submit to it.

Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. (1 Timothy 1:6-7)

So as they lead others into a pit of slavery and bondage, they take themselves into that same abyss as well. Let me give you a real example.

Bob knows it all. Bob presents himself to his fellow church members, to his wife and children, to his relatives and most anyone else he is in contact with, as the finest Christian man to be found. And most of them, at least those who are blind, believe him. Bob almost always has one or two “disciples” over at his house for instruction. But what Bob is teaching is anything but Christ and the freedom we have in Him. Rather, he is teaching his own enslaving false doctrine:

  • A wife must obey her husband just like the children and he needs to tell her so when she “wanders”
  • Children, especially daughters, are on this earth to serve their father
  • Doing any work on the Lord’s Day is not permitted by the Lord. Bob once admonished the church secretary for filling out the Sunday offering bank deposit slip in the church office after the service.
  • Christians are required to be accountable to their church, even in making decisions such as whether to buy a car, where to buy a residence, whether to have television, and so on.

Now understand. Bob doesn’t establish formal doctrine on these topics and put them into print. No. Bob works behind the scenes dropping his dagger comments, usually when no one else but the target is around. Sometimes he will attack and accuse you in front of others, but only when he can do so to his own glory.

In reality, Bob is a reviler. Revilers, says Scripture, do not know Christ and will never see the kingdom of God. You can spot the reviler, people like Bob, by watching them repeatedly issue admonishments and guilting, shaming, accusing words to others. It is their habit. It is who they are. It is who Bob is.

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, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

But not only is Bob leading others into a pit, as a blind guide himself HE is headed for that same pit. In fact, in many ways he is already in it. His enslaving, bullying, guilting teachings proceed from a heart that is evil. As Peter says, Bob is already a slave himself. Oh, he fancies himself to be his own man. He often employs the typical double standard of application to others while he himself does what he likes. Nevertheless, Bob has one foot in the pit already.

Bob is darkness and he is always at work to bring us into that darkness. We must all become wise about the Bobs who are so commonly found in our churches, and we must never yield to the yoke they are trying to put on us (Galatians 5:1). In fact, Bob is to be expelled from the church. We are not to even eat with such a one.

So why aren’t we doing what Christ so plainly instructed us in respect to these things? Why?

 

 

If We are to Walk in the Light, We Must See the Darkness

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5-7)

Christ is the Light of the world and the truth of His Word is the lamp that guides our feet along the path He calls us to follow – the way of faith in and obedience to Him.

Light illumines the darkness so we can see what is lurking in it. Peter says we are to give careful attention to Christ’s Word as if it were a flashlight shining in a dark cave:

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, (2 Peter 1:19)

A Day is coming when Christ’s Light will be gloriously unveiled in all creation. His truth will shine fully in our hearts and minds. But right now, in this dark world, we must take care to pay close attention to His Word. Most people who claim to be Christians are not. So they are stumbling around in the darkness, blind to the enemy’s lies and unable to discern truth from error. Are they even Christians?

Now, here is a very important example of the Light of Christ illuminating evil hiding among us. If this all is starting to sound familiar to you, well then, very good! I have written about it before and will keep doing so. Alright, listen to this:

These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption.

For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:17-22)

This Scripture is having a very powerful effect on me lately and I hope that it will do the same to and for you. Do you grasp what Peter is telling us here about the false prophets (the creeps who creep in among us, see Jude 1:4)? It is rather incredible actually and reveals the amazing deceptive abilities our enemy has. These are people who:

  • Claim to be servants of Christ
  • Say they are teachers of Christ’s Word
  • Actually demonstrated apparent “new birth” through a repentant and reformed life
  • Have “known” Christ in some way
  • But have then turned away from Christ’s truth, denied the Master who bought them (see 2 Peter 2:1)
  • Who, it turns out, were never really regenerate at all and have now once again embraced evil, preaching a sensual, flesh-pleasing false gospel, deceiving many

Now get a firm grip on all of this and its implications. Peter is telling us that there are people among us in the visible church who even appear to have had remarkable and powerful “conversion experiences.” People who left off their old evils and appeared to become zealous servants of Christ. But, eventually, if you watch them, these ones who “washed” themselves “clean” like a pig in water always return to the muck and mud. Turns out they were never changed at all. But they keep right on teaching and preaching, all the while wearing the holy disguise.

What does this mean for us? It means that the Light of God’s Word is shining upon a great evil that we all must be on careful guard against. It means we must all STOP listening to the false gospel of our day that is telling us the lie that it is wrong for us to judge anyone. It means that we must be skeptics when we hear of some notorious and even famous sinner “getting saved” and the masses in the visible church start calling for that person to go on a speaking and conference and book writing tour.

Because Peter is carefully and plainly warning us that the enemy is quite capable of amazing caricatures of saintliness. Listen to him again:

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. (2 Peter 2:20)

I can tell you from years of personal, firsthand experience with these evil ones and in speaking with their victims, there are many of these in the visible church today. In fact, I suggest very pointedly to you that the darkness of their evil is continuing to increase rapidly and as a result the counterfeit “church” is very much on the rise.

If we are to walk in the Light of Christ, then we must necessarily acknowledge that darkness and evil exist, always working to creep in among Christ’s people. Don’t look for “spirits.” Evil always comes to us embodied. With a face and a name. Looking, always looking and sounding, ever so pious and “Christian.”

Fail here and the darkness will sweep over you and your church. Christ will depart and you will become Ichabod.

 

 

What Would John Piper, Jim Elliff, and Other “No Divorce for Any Reason” Dictators Say Now?

By now most everyone has heard the details of the shooting murders of at least 26 men, women and children in a church in Texas yesterday. The murderer (too nice of a word for him) was a convicted domestic violence perpetrator. Do you all understand what these “permanence view” dictators in the church who deny that God permits divorce for ANY reason would tell a wife of such a person?

Let’s say that this murderer had been taken into custody alive. He has just slaughtered 26 people and wounded others, some of whom may still die. And let’s say that he were still married to the wife he assaulted in the past when he was convicted and sent to jail for one year. Do you realize that Piper and Elliff (self-made bigwigs in Christian circles) would FORBID her from divorcing him? Furthermore, that if she were a member of their church and she went ahead and divorced, they would ex-communicate her for doing so.

And these men claim to be representing Jesus Christ? They are saying “thus saith the Lord” to everyone? They are of the same kind as the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day and we all need to be rejecting them and holding them accountable for teaching such evil things.

 

The Prevalent False Gospel Among Us – “No one is beyond God’s mercy”

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1 Corinthians 5:1-2)

For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:20-22)

For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)

Scriptures like these (and many more like them) are being dismissed by the majority of professing Christians today. How do I know? Because we are showered with the same mantra of darkness: “God’s mercy is boundless,” “No one is beyond salvation,” “Everyone can repent if they choose to,” “We must never give up trying to save someone no matter how wicked.” Sound familiar? This is the stuff that the itching ears of our day love. They flock to places that preach it. And yet what do such people do with Scriptures like those quoted above, and more:

If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. (1 John 5:16)

John has Jeremiah in mind here. The Lord told him the same thing:

“As for you, do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with me, for I will not hear you. (Jeremiah 7:16)

And then we have the testimony of Hebrews:

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:4-8)

Therefore, with even these few Scriptures, we have proven the case. It is an absolutely false representation of the Lord’s truth and His ways to say that His mercy is infinite, that salvation is always available to everyone, that we are required to pray for and seek the salvation of everyone no matter who they are or how evil they are.

Recently I received an email advertising a Christian/biblical counseling conference. I responded as I usually do to such things – I skimmed over it to see if the usual suspects are the key speakers. Sure enough, they were. When I say “usual suspects” I mean the people who are the notables in such a circle as this. The ones who write the books and pass on the same old same old man-made traditions all wrapped up in “bible” talk.

And what else did I see? Well, read it for yourself –

As Christians we know that the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ pierces this darkness with hope, compassion, and forgiveness. In 2018, the ACBC annual conference will focus on the problem of abuse and show how the resources of Scripture equip Christians to counsel abused persons and those who have harmed them.

By the way, please do not confuse my blog here at Light for Dark Times with this group! I am in no way associated with the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors. I oppose them in fact and have done so in many articles and sermons.

Now, notice what sticks out in even this one paragraph from their brochure. These people say they are going to train attendees how to counsel abused persons and those who have harmed them.  RED LIGHTS FLASHING!! WARNING! What is the problem you say? This is the problem:

These kinds of wicked people, these “domestic abusers” (or sexual abusers and others) generally parade as Christians. They are members of churches. Sometimes they are pastors or church leaders or missionaries. And all the while, for years and years and years and years and years, they have been wickedly being who they really are. Behind the scenes they have been destroying lives. They have heard God’s voice time after time after time, but they have hardened their hearts against Him, time after time after time. And they still don’t repent. Yet people like these “experts” at ACBC claim that such people are to be “redeemed.” That through counseling, they can be fixed. That we should never give up hope.

The result? Evildoers are enabled and their victims are oppressed even further. The darkness darkens.

Do you want Light for Dark Times? Well, don’t go to conferences like this. All you will get is more darkness. Open up God’s Word. Look long and hard at it and you will see Light. That Light says that evil exists all around us. That there are many charlatans disguised as sons of righteousness (2 Cor 11) and that they have a reservation with eternal destruction. WE are responsible for recognizing the traits that identify them so that we put them out from among us:

  • Motivated by greed
  • Claim to represent and speak for Christ
  • Preach a message of sensuality and lust that appeals to the flesh
  • Use and abuse Christ’s flock for self-glory
  • Enslave people by false teaching
  • Initially even showed evidence of apparent repentance and salvation, but did not persevere

Such people evidence that they are reprobate, that they are people we are not to pray for or try to “fix,” let alone assume they are Christians. Fail at this point and you contribute to the darkness of our day. People who are beyond God’s mercy are people for whom repentance is impossible (like Esau) and any person who claims we must keep pleading with them and showing them love and mercy is a person who thinks they know better than God.

Understand? We are speaking about a particular kind of wicked person, not sinners in general. We are not talking here about a wicked, pagan person who makes no profession of following Christ. No. Peter and Jude and other biblical authors are talking about people who “know” Christ (but not in a saving way), who have experienced His goodness and seen His truth, who once made a claim to believe the gospel, and yet who are teaching a false gospel of their own making that deceives many. That is the one to watch out for.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-8)