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.

 

We Cannot be Careless About Who we Allow Our Children to be With

Mat 19:14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

When I was a youngster I was put in many situations that could easily have resulted in me being victimized by a pedophile or some other abuser. I remember once when there was a record-breaking flood in Southern Oregon. We lived along the river and the water got into our house, so we had to stay with the neighbors. The mother was a very kind woman – she may even have been a Christian. Her husband was a foul-mouthed man and so were her two sons who were in their early 20’s.

One evening when the flood waters were receding a bit, just enough to permit driving on the highway into town, my parents let me accompany one of the sons to the grocery store with a list of things to pick up. He had a car and off we went. On the way, right out of the blue, he asks (I was only 12), “so Jeff, are you masturbating yet?” Needless to say I was taken aback because we didn’t talk about such subjects in our family. But he kept pressing for an answer. I don’t know what I said, I must have mumbled something. But then he proceeded to tell me how his first ______ was one of his high school teachers.

Now, here is my point. Even though nothing else happened, the fact is that my parents, in their naivete, allowed me to be placed in a dangerous and harmful situation. They did not know this young man really. Yet they carelessly assumed. And then they sent me off with him.

I could tell you many similar stories. I had an older relative who kept pornography in his room and my parents often left me there while they were on vacation. Oh, and this was a “Christian” family you know. His parents were very active in their church. He went on in life to embrace homosexuality. Then there was the female relative, a few years older than me, who as I look back on it now was certainly being sexually molested by her much older brother. Yet, again, my parents very often just turned me loose with these people, unsupervised.

Almost all of you, I suspect, could tell very similar stories of your childhood. Some if not many of you probably never told your parents about some molestation episode because, well, you never talked about such things in your family. Besides, would they believe you? Would they think it was really all that serious? Maybe they would be angry with you and tell you it was your fault. And, in your childhood thinking, maybe it was your fault?

Moms, dads, you cannot assume. You must not allow your children to be turned loosed to run unsupervised with the neighbor kids, with some classmate who wants them to spend the night, with those children of your  own siblings (ie, your children’s cousins), with coaches or teammates, school teachers – ANYONE! If you think that I am exaggerating the case, then I would tell you that you are naive and careless.

Evil lurks. Evil dwells in the heart of man. It is all around us.

And woe, woe, woe to the evil ones who cause the little ones to stumble.

 

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.

 

The Abuser, Thrashing Tantrums, and the Devil

And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” (Mar 9:17-18)

It would be a great error (which a wicked man would use to garner pity for himself) to treat a wicked, abusive, power-hungry person as if they were victims of a demon. Jesus healed the boy described here by Mark, but you do not see Him “healing” the wicked, evil, unrepentant person.

But I do want to point out something that I have encountered several times in which an evil man, denied his demands or confronted with his wickedness, throws himself down in a fit rather like a tantrum-throwing child might do. And I have a theory. Namely, that this is indeed a sign of the devil’s involvement in the wicked man’s tactics to punish and guilt and control others.

Let me explain.

Some years ago I refused to give in to a man who paraded himself as the most holy saint you could ever find. And yet he was devoid of love, quick to accuse – a reviler if you will. It took a long time to grow in wisdom and understand what we were dealing with in this man who lusted to be “number one” in the church (like Diotrephes, see 3 John).  After we had come to see more clearly exactly what he really was, he tried to isolate me in the church building when no one else was there so that “we could just talk.”

Well, I have had that kind of thing happen to me in my years as a pastor often enough that I knew this was an attack in the making, so I stopped him and told him I was going to call the other elders in our church right then to come and sit down with us and THEN he could go right ahead and say what he had to say.

Well, he kept using his “kind, Christian” meekness for a bit and said “Oh, no, that won’t be necessary. Just you and I can handle this.” I said, “no.” And I picked up my phone and called our elders and they said they would be right down.

This wicked man morphed in front of me, literally throwing himself down on the couch in my office, thrashing around on it, all the while shaking his head and repeating over and over, “no, no, no! Now you’ve done it! Now you’ve ruined everything! Now no one is going to listen to me!” And I remember thinking as I looked at him doing his tantrum thing – “and this guy is supposed to be an adult, a mature, holy Christian man?”

Once the other elders arrived, I told him, “alright, now you have something to say. Go ahead.” Sure enough it was a string of accusations. His bodily agitations and hand waving and head shaking continued. We all rebuked him and it was not long before (he did not repent) we found that his evil deeds in secret were continuing. We put him out of the church.

All of this came to my mind recently and I believe I have connected some more dots. I have mentioned in other recent posts that I am reading the wonderful three volume biography of Winston Churchill by William Manchester. (Read it. Especially volume 2. I say again, read it! Please! If you want to see evil playing itself out and being enabled by naive, cowardly people and victims being thrown under the bus, read this book. The abuser is Hitler. The enabler is Neville Chamberlain and his cohorts in his cabinet who through their cowardice and willful blindness to evil nearly handed the world over to the Axis powers).

But listen to this account Manchester gives and see if you don’t have an “aha!” moment as I did. Hitler was about to forcibly invade and take over Czechoslovakia. The British Prime minister, Neville Chamberlain, had been pursuing a course of “appeasement” for years in dealing with Hitler which essentially was “give the Furher what he wants and he will leave England alone.” This included throwing the Czech people to the SS storm troopers, execution squads, and concentration camps. So Chamberlain flies over to Germany in 1938 to try to make Hitler happy and avoid war at all costs (well, except to Hitler’s other victims of course). When Hitler found out that the Czechs refused to give him the northern part of their country,

…Hitler fell to the floor, writhing in one of his famous fits. [The British envoys] noted that the Reich chancellor ‘shrieked a good deal.’ [It was effective and the Brits decided not to deliver any kind of stern warning that Hitler must not invade Czechoslovakia].

Now, this deserves serious and thoughtful consideration by all of us. Was Hitler demon-possessed? It is very possible, is it not? And what really struck me as I read this account is how similar his “fit” was to what I had observed in the wicked man I had to deal with. So what might we conclude?

Evildoers, sociopaths, psychopaths, wolves in sheep’s clothing who come among us parading as Christians, will sometimes (perhaps more often that sometimes) throw a thrashing fit like this and when we see such a thing we can be certain that we are in the presence of an evil person. What is it such an evildoer is after? Sympathy? Perhaps. “Oh you poor man. I didn’t mean to make you feel so badly.” Or perhaps it is a reviling, shaming, guilting form of assault upon you for daring to deny the fellow his demands. Whatever his motive, he is after power and control. You will submit to his commands or he will thrash and tantrum to punish you.

For myself, I believe that such a thing is in fact demonic. I have no sympathy for the man. I do not see him as a victim of the devil. Oh no. I see him as an emissary of the devil working to destroy Christ’s people. I am sure of it. I will be sure the next time I see such a thing.

You can be sure too.

 

 

The Problem is Often with What is NOT Said in our Sermons and Teaching

The church I attend does not talk about domestic abuse. There is sermon after sermon about how marriage should work, and what each party should be doing, but almost nothing about what you can do if your spouse consistently mistreats you. And the absence of that teaching leaves victims stuck, unsafe, and unsupported.

A wise lady wrote this paragraph to me recently and it deserves serious thought.

The Bible has MUCH to say to us about how to deal with sin and evil and the devil and his servants. Yes, it does certainly give us God’s design for life in Christ, including His design for marriage and family. But when churches only give conferences and seminars and sermons on how things “ought to be,” (and so often they even get that part wrong!), and fail to deal with what a “marriage” looks like where wickedness is reigning, then evildoers are emboldened and their victims are further oppressed.

Evil and wickedness are not pretty. It is not a fun time to study and hear about the dark deeds of the kingdom of darkness: the details of child molestation, what really goes on behind closed doors in the house of an abuser, what “deacon Smith” is really like behind that fake mask, how much evil is hiding in local churches, and so on. But is the Bible silent on such subjects? NO! Just imagine how thin your Bible would be if you cut out all the parts that deal with such things.

And yet….

What are we being taught in our churches? What are the subjects focused upon in conferences, retreats, seminars, and the popular books of the moment? For the most part the answer is “happy things.” Ear-tickling things. Things that give us warm fuzzies at the end of the story (those fuzzies then being called “the Spirit”). After all you know, we can’t lay too much heavy stuff on folks or they will not want to come to church. So we don’t. We don’t say things. We don’t teach about them. We just teach about how “it ought to be.”

And by this omission – let’s face right up to it – we are empowering evil by letting it remain invisible in the darkness.

Just very recently a Christian woman who had left her abuser husband in order to protect her children and herself, was shot to death by him. Her church and pastor? Well, they pretty much told her to do her best with the lot God had dealt her and keep on a happy face. This is how that prescription turned out.

You cannot defend against your enemy if you do not know that enemy. His nature. His tactics. His weapons. Christ calls us to be wise in regard to evil while remaining innocent of it. For the most part, this command of our Lord has been ignored. It seems that ignorance of evil has been turned into an asset. A mark of “true godliness.” It isn’t. The blind only lead the blind into a pit.

 

It is a Great Error to Assume that Even the Devil is Open to Negotiation

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. (Joh 8:44)

We who genuinely know and love Christ desire good. In the end, every Christian longs for peace, for right relationships, and for reconciliation.

The wicked are not so. And when we think that our enemy and his servants desire the things we desire, we err greatly and we err dangerously. Christian, Satan does not long for the things you long for. He does not desire the good that you desire. He longs ONLY for death, for destruction, and for the utter annihilation of the Lord Himself. Always. Only. He longs for these things. And so it is with his servants.

Listen to William Manchester (I am still reading the biography of Winston Churchill, The Last Lion by Manchester) describe this kind of insane and horribly destructive thinking. In 1936 as Hitler continued to militarize Germany in open defiance of the treaty of Versaille, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin….

Called for his fiddlers three – Samuel Hoare (now first Lord of the Admiralty), Lord Halifax (lord privy seal), and Neville Chamberlain (Exchequer) – and moved toward what they thought was firmer ground.

It was quicksand. Their new mantra was diplomacy — negotiation as a sensible alternative to war. Britain’s honor, they told the public, would be preserved; the negotiating table, not the battlefield, was where differences between England and Germany would be resolved. They were convinced that Hitler had his price. Some of them believed this even after all their assumptions, and much of London, lay in ruins. Devoted to peace, they could not understand that the ruler of Nazi Germany disdained negotiations, enjoyed bloodshed — including the shedding of German blood — and therefore preferred military conquest. [The Last Lion, Volume 1, pp 205-06]

This is precisely where much busyness (no, I didn’t misspell it) we do in the church goes so wrong. Consider “Biblical Counseling” for instance. The mass of those propelling this movement insist that there is “redemption” for everyone. That through counseling, through reasoning, and thus through “negotiation” with even the most vile and wicked person, redemption will draw nigh. Like Baldwin and his fiddlers three, they are viewed by the wicked as fools – and indeed, fools they are.

Like Hitler, there are many, many people around us today who are not at all interested in “negotiation” or listening to “reason.” They have no conscience. They only desire to kill and destroy and oppress. Secular psychology knows this full well. Such people are called sociopaths or psychopaths. We meet them in the church as they parade behind a facade of “saintliness” while in reality they are domestic abusers or sexual predators or simply people who would be like “The Most High.”

Largely, local churches and pastors and “biblical counselors” are handling such evil ones in the same manner Baldwin and his puppets tried to deal with Hitler. Rather than standing up and using the overwhelming military might they and the allies still possessed at that early date, they plunged the world into a virtual apocalypse that slaughtered 60 million people all over the globe.

Appease the evil one? Reason and negotiate with him? How is that going for you? Look around the visible, professing church today and you will have your answer. Do you hear the victims crying out?

 

 

Co-Dependency as Bondage to (and participation in) Evil

The proverbs of Solomon. A wise son makes a glad father, but a foolish son is a sorrow to his mother. (Pro 10:1)

The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. (Pro 29:15)

“But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger!
(Luk 15:17)

There is a pattern of sin that I have personally experienced or dealt with over the years that is quite common. It is a trap and snare which all of us must be on guard for. And in particular, my experience indicates that it is a snare which commonly catches mothers, sometimes in regard to their daughters but more often in respect to their sons.

Motherly love is a wonderful thing. It is very powerful. It protects, nourishes, grieves for, rejoices with, takes pride in, instructs, and sacrifices for. A mother’s love is a great blessing given by the Lord.

But when that powerful love goes wrong….it ceases to be love and can turn into a prodigal child’s greatest hindrance to repentance. A mother can, if she is drawn into this snare, become her son’s or daughter’s biggest enemy.

Real love seeks the genuine welfare and good of the object loved. Real love therefore includes discipline when required:

For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” (Heb 12:6)

But when this sinful dynamic (often called “co-dependency”) engages, a destructive “I cannot be happy if you are not happy and therefore I must always make you happy” mechanism comes into play. It is a malignant kind of symbiosis with each person feeding off the other one. It is really not about love, but about getting. It is selfish. Let me illustrate:

Mary is 52 years old, married to Jack, and they have a 30 year old son, David. David is a grief to his parents. He is selfish and lazy. David is, you might say, a parasite. A black hole who sucks from everyone who comes near him.

And David is a master at playing his mother for all he can get. Though Mary often loses her temper with David, is disgusted by his sin, Mary just cannot and will not say “no.” Mary sends him money when he calls (which is frequently). David says he lost his latest job, but it wasn’t his fault. If he had a decent car he would have made it to work on time. Besides, everyone at work was against him. David is thinking about suing for wrongful termination. Mary lies awake at night fretting over his situation. Mary, in fact, is more worried about David than David is worried about David!

Jack wishes Mary would stop it. He has told her so, but he knows that if he presses the matter Mary is going to blow up. She will accuse him of not caring. Of not loving. Of not forgiving as a real Christian should.

And David is on drugs and alcohol. It isn’t really his fault, says Mary. Because he was so traumatized when he was younger. The other kids picked on him, she didn’t spend enough time with him, and he eventually just fell in with the wrong crowd. Mary feels very guilty about it all, blaming herself, and spends hours every day trying to make David happier – so she can be happier.

Fundamentally, Mary thinks that the father of the Prodigal Son in Luke’s Gospel should have chased after his son, found him in the pig pen, rescued him and brought him home. Or at least wired him some more money when he called. Of course the father in that parable represents God the Father, and the Prodigal represents the sinner who flees from the Lord and goes after the world in sin. Therefore, though she doesn’t really see it, Mary thinks that her method of dealing with David is superior to that of God’s. She just could never let her son wallow in the mire with those pigs.

And yet, it is in that very muck that the Prodigal came to his senses and repented.

My own mother, my maternal grandmother, numbers of people I have known over the years – all of them professing Christians – have been snared by this trap. And I can tell you – no good came from it in any of these cases. I can tell you something else – only one of these cases ever showed any kind of repentance. Marriages were damaged or destroyed. The prodigals never came to their senses. And the “Mary’s” persisted in believing they had done a good thing. To the day they died.

Surely this is a favorite trap of Satan to take souls to hell and to blaspheme the name of Christ.

Sometimes (even often) genuine love walks away, let’s the prodigal go his own way, prays often and intensely, and leaves the outcome to the Lord.

And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Mar 10:21-22)

 

“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.

 

 

Why was Billy Graham Popular with Presidents, Popes, and Other World Leaders?

As most all of you know by now, Billy Graham died this week. You can find any number of news reports detailing his evangelism crusade achievements throughout the world for these many, many years. I remember attending one of the crusades in Portland, Oregon with my grandmother in about 1969.

This post is not written with the intention of criticizing Graham, though there certainly were methods he used that I strongly disagreed with. I concur with Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones who refused to participate in Graham’s London crusades because Graham had Roman Catholic bishops or cardinals seated up on the platform with him, thus endorsing them as Christians.

But I simply write this post to encourage all of us to think about how the Bible portrays the relationship of God’s spokesmen (prophets, apostles, and God’s Son Himself) to kings and rulers. Is there a typical pattern? In other words, how do we see the Old Testament prophets, the New Testament apostles, and the Son of God speaking and relating to the civil, pagan rulers of their time?

I address this issue because Billy Graham was known as “the” preacher, the “go-to” Christian leader who met with (generally at their request) just about every United States President during Graham’s ministering lifetime. I saw a picture of him sitting with Bill Clinton when he was President, and there was Hillary right beside him. Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, the Bushes – Billy mixed it up with them all. Politicians of course are always after votes, and Billy Graham was seen by them no doubt as a man with a considerable voting following.

Now, I don’t know what Billy Graham told these Presidents in these meetings. But I do know what God’s prophets and apostles and Son told the kings of their day. Here are some examples:

1Ki 18:17-18 When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” (18) And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals.

1Ki 22:8-9 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.” (9) Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah.”

Mat 14:2-4 and he said to his servants, “This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” (3) For Herod had seized John and bound him and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, (4) because John had been saying to him, “It is not lawful for you to have her.”

Luk 13:31-32 At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to him, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.” (32) And he said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I finish my course.

Need I go on? I certainly could. But you see the point. In Scripture and down through the history of the church (think of Martin Luther, John Bunyan, Wycliffe, William Tyndale, and on and on) the norm has been for God’s preachers to be hated and imprisoned and even killed by the kings of this world. Why? Because they confronted these rulers with their evil, and the kings hated them for it. This is the norm. This is what God’s preachers are called to do. Such confrontation of evil in high places is part of preaching the gospel, you understand? You cannot call someone to faith in Christ unless you first show them their sin and call them to repentance.

And so I wonder. I just wonder, and I think it is quite a fair question for me to ask. How is it that Billy Graham was “the Presidents’ preacher”? How is it that he enjoyed audiences with bishops and cardinals and even with the Pope who are leaders of a counterfeit church that has murdered countless true Christians? Why wasn’t Billy hated by them? Did he actually call out their sin and tell them God commands them to repent?

This blog is about evil. Evil hiding in churches disguised as a saint. Wolves in wool. And I can assure you that whenever Christ’s people are popular with the world, something has gone quite wrong. In such an environment, evil wrapped in wool thrives in the pews and in the pulpit.

1Co 2:6-8 Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. (7) But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. (8) None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.