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.

 

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.

The Danger of Confusing Faith with Superstition

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Many non-Christians accuse Christians of being superstitious (and therefore foolish) people. Some of these accusations are correct. Let me show you why. First, some definitions:

Faith is trust in God. Superstition is trust in man.

Faith is reliance upon God’s Word. Superstition is reliance upon man’s word.

Faith has what is unseen as its object. Superstition’s focus is upon man’s visible, tangible actions.

Faith is reliance upon God’s actions. Superstition is reliance upon man’s actions.

We could continue making these contrasts, but this should be sufficient.

Now, why do I maintain that the “faith” of many professing Christians is actually superstition? Let me give you some examples.

  • I have been very good today. God will give me that new job.
  • If I just keep working harder and harder on submitting to my abuser husband, God will work a miracle and change him.
  • If I don’t go to church this Sunday, God will not bless me this week.
  • I am going to gather as many people together to pray and God will heal my friend. The more people we get to pray, the more likely God will hear us.
  • I faithfully tithe to my church. God will give me back more than I give.

Understand? Do you see that these common notions are all examples, not of real faith, but of superstition? It is pure myth that by my doings I can manipulate God. That is not Christianity. It is pagan magic. You see it in Rome. Say this many hail whatevers, crawl up so many stone steps, etc, etc, and God will act. But evangelicals have their own brand of chants, charms, and mantras.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse and if you are a Christian, there is a very high probability that you have been told/taught/indoctrinated with superstitions of this sort. And perhaps you are even still clinging to them. They need to go. To the dump. Right away.

Superstition has as its agenda man’s agenda. Faith trusts in God’s agenda. So to remain in an abusive marriage under the guise of “faith and obedience” as the path to the salvation of your abuser and the healing of your marriage is superstition. It is seeking your own agenda. Most often, God’s agenda is radically different than ours – and radically better. The one is fiction, the other is reality given and scripted by God alone.

Take a close look at yourself. How much of your “faith” could actually be superstition? And in what ways is that superstition working to keep you in bondage?

 

 

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.

The Evil Man Consistently Works to Make the Righteous Look Bad

Then the Rabshakeh stood and called out in a loud voice in the language of Judah: “Hear the word of the great king, the king of Assyria! Thus says the king: ‘Do not let Hezekiah deceive you, for he will not be able to deliver you out of my hand. Do not let Hezekiah make you trust in the LORD by saying, The LORD will surely deliver us, and this city will not be given into the hand of the king of Assyria.’ Do not listen to Hezekiah, for thus says the king of Assyria: ‘Make your peace with me and come out to me. Then each one of you will eat of his own vine, and each one of his own fig tree, and each one of you will drink the water of his own cistern, until I come and take you away to a land like your own land, a land of grain and wine, a land of bread and vineyards, a land of olive trees and honey, that you may live, and not die. And do not listen to Hezekiah when he misleads you by saying, “The LORD will deliver us.” (2Ki 18:28-32)

Hezekiah was a righteous, godly king whose faith and trust were in the Lord. This righteousness was the very point at which the enemy attacked him by calling the King’s faith foolishness. The Assyrians were trying to alienate the people from their king by deceptively accusing him in their presence.

We must be wise to this tactic. I have written about it before but we really cannot be reminded often enough. Satan, by nature, is an accuser. He accused God in Eden and successfully turned Adam and Eve into rebels.

I have found that while abusers and other evil people frequently if not typically appear to be quite inconsistent, they are really very constant. You get the feeling that you never know what direction they are going to go, or which side of an issue they are going to come down on. They appear to be very unpredictable, and this unpredictability on their part is quite intentional. They want to keep us guessing so we don’t know what they are up to. The evil man wants his targets to be off guard.

But what clears the fog of this seeming multi-directional “going off” is to realize that by his nature, the wicked man who craves power and control, turns every situation that he can to his own advantage. Consistently and quite naturally he sees opportunity in a given situation that comes along to use it to make the righteous look stupid or mean or guilty. Satan’s agents are really quite skilled at this, able to pull it off without really having to even think about it but for a split second. You see this very think in Diotrephes:

For they have gone out for the sake of the name, accepting nothing from the Gentiles. Therefore we ought to support people like these, that we may be fellow workers for the truth. I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who likes to put himself first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. (3Jn 1:7-10)

This evil must be exposed. We must be able to recognize it, shine light on it, and not be duped. “Stop that! We know what you just did. Repent of your wickedness, or leave our midst.” Put Diotrephes’ name in lights and most always he will hit the road, bound for greener pastures where he can practice his dark trade.

 

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.

 

“No Trap is so Deadly as the One You Set for Yourself” (William Manchester, The Last Lion)

2Co 11:4 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.

Listen to the following quotes and see if you can guess who their subject is:

“The central fact today is that he does not want war and is prepared to renounce it as a method of settling disputes with his neighbors”

“He seeks our friendship. If we fail him, he will turn elsewhere and we shall be sorry to have refused him.”

“He is the greatest living [citizen of his nation] and I told him that to his face.”

“He is a born leader, a magnetic, dynamic personality with a single-minded purpose…to keep the peace.”

“With this man at the helm, [his country] will never invade any other land.”

“I only wish I we had a man of his supreme quality at the head of affairs in our country today.”

Well, you have probably guessed that all of the lauds were spoken of none other than Adolph Hitler by leading members of the English government – Lloyd George the famous Prime Minister being one of the most outspoken. And perhaps the most mind boggling of all was this statement that came from leading Anglican churchmen:

“[We have] boundless admiration for the moral and ethical side of the National Social (Nazi) programme, its clear-cut stand for religion and Christianity, and its ethical principles, such as its fight against cruelty to animals, vivisection, sexual offences, etc.”

You can find all of these quotes and more in William Manchester’s second volume of The Last Lion, pp 79 ff, Bantam books.

All these people and more wanted to believe that Hitler was for peace because peace is what they wanted. They wanted peace so much that they were willfully blind to the facts, embraced fables, and in the end had the furious firestorm of this despot unleashed upon their homeland, nearly to its destruction. Oh perhaps some of them more noble than others truly sought peace because peace is good, but the mass of them acted out of purely selfish reasons. Their self-serving motivation became increasingly evident as more and more facts about what Hitler really was came out.

2Co 11:14-15 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. (15) So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds.

All during this time of Hitler’s rise to nearly unstoppable power, there was one voice issuing warnings – that of Winston Churchill. He was not only disregarded, he was mocked and put out to pasture, relegated to a mere back bench in Parliament. He saw the rising evil tide, he warned of the consequences of this blind quest for a disarmed world in which there would never again be war. But for the most part, no one listened. As Manchester summarized, “no trap is so deadly as the one you set for yourself.”

The state of the visible church today is very much the same. For the most part, pastors and professing Christians, churches and their members, simply do not want to be troubled by reports of evil in their midst. It seems to me that one of the quickest ways for a pastor to insure that he is “back-benched” and regarded as “finished” (“too bad. The fellow had so much promise you know”) is to declare that all is not well in the pews nor in the pulpits.

Micah 2:6 “Do not preach”–thus they preach– “one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.”

But disgrace did overtake Israel. Because they would not listen.

Let me close with one final sobering illustration of willful blindness to evil. While Winston Churchill was poring over facts and figures in reports from Berlin which showed what Hitler was really up to, Americans also entered into the fantasy of Hitler as “good guy.” Here it is:

The most painful toast to Hitler, for Americans, is a Walter Lippmann column which appeared in the New York Herald Tribune on May 19, 1933. Lippmann had heard a speech by the new chancellor (Hitler) and described it as a “genuinely statesmanlike address,” providing convincing “evidence of good faith.” He told his readers, “We have heard once more, through the fog and the din, the authentic voice of a genuinely civilized people. I am not only willing to believe that, but it seems to me that all historical experience compels one to believe it.” He went further. Persecuting the Jews served a purpose by “satisfying” Germans’ yearning to “conquer somebody”; it was “a kind of lightning rod which protects Europe.” Walter Lippman was a Jew. [ibid, p 81]

Willful blindness to the obvious. A willingness even to sacrifice  one’s own countrymen in order to persist in a selfish fantasy that “all is well in my world.” And so it is in the visible church today. If you doubt it, just look for example at how victims of sexual or domestic abuse (abused even by pastors and/or church members) are treated in most local churches and denominations when they report what happened.

Such acceptance of evil is evil itself. Those who embrace it eventually become unable to discern truth and they will believe the lie instead, to their destruction.

 

Just Give me that Old Time Religion – And Don’t Bother me with Truth

Joh 8:44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

Because the devil is the father of lies, whenever he speaks – he lies. There is NO truth in him. None. Even the half-truths he uses to deceive are lies because a half-truth is no truth at all.

Now, one of the most common characteristics of the evil one and his agents is that in their lying they avoid coming directly at a subject. At least at first. Satan told Adam and Eve for example “you shall not die,” but only after he had first fogged their minds with “has God said?” The serpent is quite slippery and so are his servants. Let me give you an illustration and then I will show you how the very same avoidance of truth and facts is the spirit of the age in most every local church.

In the years prior to the second world war, Sir Winston Churchill stated facts and truths head on with directness. Those who did not love the truth (and that was the majority) rejected what he said and sometimes even mocked him. So it was when he was warning the English people that if India were given dominion and Britain largely withdrew from the country, a horrible bloodbath would ensue. Winston of course was “the last lion” as William Manchester called him and wanted the British empire to endure. But whether you agree with him or not on the issue of self-government for India, you must acknowledge that Churchill put it right out there, saying plainly what he meant. With that background in mind, listen to the historian Manchester [The Last Lion, Visions of Glory, 1874-1932]:

No one can doubt that he (Churchill) was moved by genuine conviction. That cannot be said of those with whom he was parting company. The Tory leaders were uninspired by Indian nationalism (ie, India’s desire to be free of Britain). One searches in vain for ringing affirmations of freedom or admiration for Gandhian saintliness in their speeches, letters, and diaries. What comes through, like the pounding on a wall of a man who wants the party in the next apartment to quiet down so he can sleep, is a determination to avoid discord, unpleasantness, or any rude interruption of long serene weekends in the country.

Confused in mind about everything, except the main chance – its own preservation – it survived from year to year, from month to month, from day to day, by blurring the clarity of all issues, even the most dangerous – that of the nation’s safety; it maintained its enormous majority by electoral trickery, it spoke and perhaps thought in the language of humbug, it hoped to stave off conflict….by offering appeasement.”

When a victim of evil steps forward in a local church (or in most any setting for that matter, but then, the church is supposed to be different from the world, right?)…the very same dynamic and mentality kicks in. Here a poor, oppressed woman cruelly abused by her wicked hypocrite husband, or someone who blows the whistle on a child molester hiding in sheep’s clothing, comes forward. They speak the truth. What happens?

Church leaders and members show that they do not hunger and thirst for righteousness. They do not race forward to effect justice for the victim and upon the perpetrator. Rather, they are motivated by what so many of Churchill’s countrymen were – their own preservation. The preservation of the entity they call “the church.” There are no ringing affirmations of truth and justice as Jesus declared in the Sermon on the Mount. No. They simply want the party to quiet down so they can sleep. They crave to avoid discord, unpleasantness or rude interruption so that they can continue enjoying those serene weekends in the country that characterize “the Lord’s work” they claim to be doing. “Go away, victim. Stop complaining and be quiet. You are being quite too specific here. You exaggerate.”

The exposure of evil, you see, requires specifics. Facts. Definiteness. Names must be named, times and places identified, and charges stated in detail. Evil does not like such blinding light of truth, you see. Sermons are quite fine as long as Pastor Pleasant skirts around the specifics adequately so that any mention of sin from the pulpit could apply to all, or to none. The serene weekends are enabled to continue undisturbed. “Wasn’t that a great sermon” the people remark as they head home to their pot roasts.

I have been contacted more than once by professing Christians who complain to me that I am too judgmental. They do not like me to say “thou art the man” by naming names, no matter how idolized those names might be. To such people, I say just as I am sure that Winston Churchill would respond – “You simply want the noise of the party next door to quiet down so you can go back to sleep. You have determined to avoid discord, unpleasantness, or any rude interruption of the fantasy land which you call ‘Christianity.'” And in the end, such people have resolved to reject God’s truth. They become a hot tub society where evil thrives while their only real concern is that the temperature of the water stay constant and those jets keep caressing their flesh. Scripture has a sober warning for anyone of that ilk-

2Th 2:11-12 Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, (12) in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

In other words, choose to remain in your truth-rejecting hot tub religion long enough, and the day will come when you will no longer be able to discern the delusion of Satan from the truth of the Lord.