That “Most Holy Guy in the Church” is often an Agent of the Enemy

[I originally wrote this article on my Facebook page but I am publishing it here as well so everyone can see it]

Beware of people who are too “religious.”

I have been a pastor now for going on 35 years. And I can tell you that the people who have caused the most grief and trouble in the churches I have served as a pastor are the people who APPEAR to be the most “holy.” Let me explain.

Christ came into this world to set all who believe in Him right with God. We don’t enter this life righteous. We all know this. No one had to teach us to throw a tantrum or to be selfish or to curse someone who gets in our way, even using God’s own holy name in that curse. Nope. We all know how to do this even in our earliest years. But Christ came to 1) Pay for our sin by dying on the cross, and 2) live a perfect life in perfect obedience to His Father – FOR US. So that when we simply believe this good news, embrace by faith Christ as our Savior and in fact the ONLY Savior who can make us right with God, HIS perfect life and HIS redeeming sacrifice on the cross become OURS. It is all by Christ alone through faith alone by God’s grace alone. NOT by anything we do or don’t do. That is the gospel.

Ok, so what about these “holy” religious people. Well there is nothing wrong with holiness or with religion, as long as it is true holiness and true religion. The problem comes in when “holy” people base their holiness on works – on things THEY do or things THEY do not do. And then they start telling us that we have to keep the same code as them or God will have nothing to do with us. In other words, they teach by example and by word that getting right with God (salvation) requires not only faith in Christ but “doings and not-doings” on our part. The Bible calls all of this “works of the law” – the Old Testament requirement of keeping perfectly the ten commandments. If that is your idea of what God requires of you, well, let me ask you – “how’s that working out for you?” I can give you the answer. It’s not. Because God requires total and complete, perfect, flawless obedience to His Law, and only Christ could ever pull that one off.

But back to these “holy” people I have known and perhaps who you have run into. Listen to what Martin Luther said about these kind:

“Note carefully that every teacher of works and of the righteousness of the law is a troubler of the church and of people’s conscience. The more holy the heretics seem to be outwardly, the more mischief they do.” (Commentary on Galatians)

Man, I have to tell you, it’s true! Luther is right on. I could write books about the grief and false guilt and misery these kind have brought my way over the years. They come into the local church, they look OUTWARDLY like the best most holy Christians you have ever known. People start listening to them and imitating them, thinking this is Christ. It’s not. These people are phonies. As Luther said and as the Bible says, their “holiness” is barely skin deep. Their hearts are evil and unchanged. They crave to be worshiped themselves and they despise real Christians and the real truths of the Bible.

Let me suggest to you that the most holy, perfectly sinless, purest Man who ever lived, the Lord Jesus Christ, at times would cause people like Peter to say, “depart from me, for I am a sinful man.” And yet very frequently and even typically, “tax-gatherers and sinners,” the outcasts of Jewish society in His day, would flock to Him, invite Him into their homes, and listen to Him. He didn’t ever of course enter into their sin, and He told them exactly what they needed to hear. But people who really were “heavy-laden” with the weight and sense of their sin, craved to be with Him. In other words, the Holy One was not “holier than thou” as we say today.

Beware then of people who display great “outward” holiness. They don’t drink alcohol. They never say a bad word (so you can hear them that is). They are all the time quoting Bible verses. All they do, it seems, is religious. Don’t trouble them with “frivolous” talk about daily things. Oh no. They are too “deep” for that. They say long prayers. They are at every single meeting of the church.

And by their counterfeit holiness, they preach in word and in action a false gospel that can never set us free and give us a clean conscience that no longer condemns. In fact, their “law-keeping” actually promotes and energizes sin. That is why you so often read or hear about these kind being “found out.” Turns out what Jesus said about them was true all along:

You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Mat 23:24-28)

Evil is Darkness – It Always Pressures Us to be Quiet

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. (John 3:19)

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. (1 John 1:5-6)

This post is about a subject that most all of you have experienced if you are a true Christian and have worked to expose evil, particularly evil hiding within a church under a “christian” disguise. This is still another tactic that is so commonly evidenced by wicked hypocrites because it proceeds from the very Prince of darkness himself. It is no surprise that his servants reflect it as well. Here is our topic:

Servants of our enemy, so often parading as servants of Christ, always work to silence those who would expose evil. You’ve heard it all before I bet, and certainly if you have seen wickedness masquerading as a saint in your church:

  • You need to be quiet. It isn’t “christian” to say such things about a brother in Christ.
  • You need to stop saying such things. You are trashing Christ’s church.
  • That is gossip.
  • All church members are required to never talk to the media about what has happened in our church.
  • Stop being so arrogant. We are all sinners.
  • The church leadership did not tell the members about Fred molesting his children because there is no need for everyone to know. So you be quiet about it and if you don’t we will discipline you.
  • No, we didn’t report this to the police and you must not either. Jesus wants us to handle this within His church and not get the state involved.

And on and on the list goes. You could easily add many more such wicked statements all designed to silence the light of truth.

Now, what we all need to do is totally blow off such intimidating threats (and that is precisely what these bullying tactics are – threats) and shout out the truth with even more clarity. We must have confidence, knowing that we are doing what Christ would do. “Woe to you, scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites!!” Jesus commands us to call out evil that has crept into His church and put it out from among us. See 1 Corinthians 5 on that as a clear example.

And here is something to add to our confidence. We can know with certainty that anyone who is working to expand and maintain the darkness rather than exposing evil with the light of Christ’s truth, does not know Him nor belong to Him. Oh sure, we might initially (in the days of our naivete) be confused and uncertain and wonder if we are to speak out or not. But if you are a Christian then the Spirit of Truth indwells you and He is going to turn on the lights for us and guide us into all truth. The truth in these cases is, “here is an evil person hiding in the church, claiming to be a Christian, but in fact his deeds reveal that he is still in darkness and is actively working to remain in that darkness. He has crept in among us. He is to be exposed and put out.”

Just read the verses quoted above once more. Pull out your Bible and read 1 John for instance. You either ARE or you AREN’T in Christ. And if you love the darkness rather than the light then I know everything about you that I need to know.

Our little church here in Oregon knows these things are true. We have, by the Lord’s gracious leading, exposed darkness and evil numerous times. As a result we are a small band. We are hated by many who claim to belong to Christ, and the fellowship of churches we used to belong to detests us for speaking out. Lo and behold one of their own “pastors,” Tom Chantry, was subsequently arrested on multiple felony charges and yet they still insist we must all defend him. We parted company with them years ago. And we can see that their persistence in walking in darkness and protecting others who do evidences exactly who they are.

So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:18-20)

Nope, not going to shut up. Do your worst.

 

 

What About Bob? – He’s a Really Nice Guy, Right?

Of course the title of this post is a reference to the movie in which Bill Murray played the agoraphobic, manipulative narcissist – Bob Wiley. The movie was a comedy.

In real life, there is nothing funny about Bob. So, what about him?

If you focus some attention on Dr. Leo Marvin’s wife, daughter, and son, I suggest to you that you will have a pretty accurate portrayal of the average professing Christian today when it comes to being duped by evil. Here is Mrs. Marvin, the kind, warm, loving type person that most people think a Christian should be.

In contrast to her judgmental psychiatrist husband, Mrs. Marvin is accepting of Bob. She invites him into her home, sits him down for dinner, and even permits him to sleep in her son’s bedroom with her son!  When Leo tries his best to show her that Wiley is a manipulating, conniving, sociopath working to take over her family, she simply will not hear it. Bob is a good person.

And so it is in most every local church today if you pop in for a visit and take a look. Their doctrinal statements speak of the depravity of man, of sin, of coming judgment in the Day of the Lord, but that stuff has just about become archaic in practice. Church signs read “Everyone Welcome” – and they really are. Everyone. If a newcomer says they believe in Jesus, well, they can become a member right away and before you know it they are teaching the kids’ Sunday School class or working in the youth group. Nicest people you ever met, you know.

But, what about Bob? In real life I mean. Scripture paints a far more somber and serious picture:

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. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:1-3)

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. (1 John 2:18)

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. 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. (2 Corinthians 11:3-4)

For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15)

In future posts we will look more closely at these Scriptures and at many others like them. This is just a small sampling of the mountain of warnings the Lord has given us about the “Bob’s” who come along with Bible in hand, smile on face, ready to serve,  speaking of Jesus – “just the godliest people you could ever want to meet.” Right.

Over the many years we have served the Lord here in Oregon at Christ Reformation Church, we all have learned some hard lessons. One of those lessons is this: “not everyone who says they are a Christian, is.” While most people would say “yeah, duh” to that statement, in practice they do not believe it. They energetically deny that anyone is “all that bad” and all the while mouth the horrid mantra, “but we are all sinners, you know.” So the sociopath, the narcissist, the pedophile, the domestic abuser looking for a target finds a warm welcome in the very place that is supposed to be, well, this:

if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15)

The very foundation of Christ’s truth is to be evidenced in and supported by every local church. That is not the common scenario today however. What about Bob? Bob is soon an elder in the church, welcomed with open arms, the finest Christian anyone has ever met.

And Bob’s master is very pleased.