The Secrecy of Evil

Act 26:16-18  But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you,  (17)  delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you  (18)  to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

Satan’s kingdom is very often depicted in the Bible as “darkness.” A place where people are blind and lost. The realm of death. Satan is in the business of keeping people blind to the glory of Christ (see 2 Cor 4:3-4).

And with this darkness comes secrecy. The darkness covers up. It hides things. It lies and deceives to keep its secrets. And evil is highly successful at all this secrecy business. For now anyway:

Luk 8:17  For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.

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This Should be Happening if a Local Church is a True Church

1John 2:19-21 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (20) But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge. (21) I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth.

Church growth. What is it? Well, “church” growth necessarily requires a “church.” A real church. Otherwise any increase might be “growth,” but it won’t be “church growth.” Still with me?

A real church is a local group of people who truly and genuinely know the Lord Jesus Christ, gathered together to serve and worship Him. A body, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, growing together into the image of Christ. John is addressing just such a church here in his First Epistle. He tells the believers there that they are anointed and taught by the Holy One. They know and believe the truth of Christ.

But there had been some other kind of people present there as well. They were people who were not, as John puts it, “of us.” They claimed to be Christians, but when faced with the truth of Christ, they rejected it and left. They were false sheep whom Christ did not know.

John presents this in terms that are meant to encourage the real Christians in that church. It is always a bit disheartening when a group of people who claimed to be your brethren in Christ, say “adios.” More often it isn’t “adios” (which means “God bless”) but something more akin to a curse! I have seen such people literally take their shoes off as they went out the church door and shake the “dust” out of them so as to say, “you are filthy and I don’t want even the smallest dust particle of you clinging to me.” Oh yeah. That’s a lot of fun.

But John tells them not to be discouraged. In fact, he explains the thing as something that needed to happen and therefore is actually encouraging. It is a sign that the church is real. That Christ really does dwell there. That is the reason these counterfeits left, you see. They don’t want to be in the presence of Christ.

Now, think this through. This means that we must not think of “church growth” as something that always results in bigger numbers. Just as a healthy human body is healed when an infection leaves, so it is in the church. Christ and anti-christ are incompatible. And therefore, if such a departure, a going of separate ways, never occurs in a local church, we must ask some hard questions. Why is it that the church down the road is just growing and growing and growing? How is it that the building program can’t even keep pace with the numbers? Why does “everyone” seem to be so happy and content there?

One final application. I deal in my ministry with Christians who have been or are victims of domestic abusers who most often pose as fine “Christians” in the local church. Let me ask an obvious question. How is it that such an abuser can continue in “fellowship” in a local church and be quite comfortable – even enabled and comforted? He is clearly of the spirit of anti-christ, so why doesn’t the true church dynamic John writes about (they went out from us but were not of us) kick in when it comes to this abuser? Why is darkness comfortable among people who claim to be “sons of light”?

I think the answers to these questions are rather obvious.

So Just How do we “Test the Spirits?”

Gal 1:8 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.

2Co 11:3-4 But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (4) For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough….2Co 11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.

1John 4:1-2 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (2) By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,

We are seeing claims of late that Jesus Christ has appeared as a so-called “light man.” The claim made is that since the Bible says God is light and Christ is the Light of the world and so on, then if someone reports that “the light man” appeared to them and said he was Jesus bringing them salvation, we must at minimum believe that such a claim is possibly valid. Even if it is made by a woman who claims to have been molested as a child by Billy Graham, Richard Nixon, and other notables who were all part of a secret conglomeration conspiracy organization consisting of the CIA, the Masons, the Roman Catholic Church, and others. The woman insists that at the age of six she was held in a cage with other children in subterranean levels of an army base and these children told her that they used to get visited by “the light man”.  When asked during an interview what does that mean, the woman said,  “they (the other children) described him and I said to them, “oh yeah, I know him.  That’s Jesus Christ.’”

And now we are being told that if we don’t believe these reports then we are denying the ways that Christ works today, that we are refusing to help abuse victims, and worse.  But this is not Christ. Nope. It is not, and I will tell you why.

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