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 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.

 

Evil Has no Shame – An Identifying Mark of the Evildoer

Jer 6:15 Were they ashamed when they committed abomination? No, they were not at all ashamed; they did not know how to blush. Therefore they shall fall among those who fall; at the time that I punish them, they shall be overthrown,” says the LORD.

Rom 1:32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

The wicked have much to be ashamed of. The domestic abuser, for example – particularly the one who has claimed all along to be a Christian yet has carried out years and years of constant abuse upon his victim. How, we ask, can such a person even show his face at church? And yet he does. He even seems to thrive at doing so.

It is because he has no shame. If you have been the target of such an evildoer, you know this very well. Shamelessness. Just like the wicked ones Jeremiah rebuked, such people do not know how to blush. God promises that in the Day of the Lord you can be sure that these creeps will finally experience true shame. Oh, not for repentance, but they will be shamed by the Lord for all creation to see.

Over the years, I have seen this shamelessness in domestic abusers and other wicked hypocrites. Once they are called out – perhaps by a victim whose eyes are cleared of the fog abuse produces – they often grow even more bold. They have no shame to keep them from demanding court appearances where they stand up in front of the judge and lie and deny and accuse. They have no shame to prevent them from persevering in contacting their victim – even after the divorce. They have no shame to dissuade them from marching into the local church on Sunday, standing and weeping and praying and using the Lord’s name in efforts to deceive and garner pity for themselves.

These evildoers will insist on contacting their victim. Proper shame would cause a person to hang their head and be too ashamed to push themselves upon the person they had wronged. But not so with these shameless ones. They email. They telephone. They send cards. They insist on seeing the children. Understanding this, I myself always mark “return to sender” on any such shameless communiques I might receive without ever reading them.

On one occasion long ago a person who had acted very, very wickedly – to the point of being put out of the church due to unrepentance – telephoned me and began to question me, carrying on in conversation as if nothing had happened at all. I finally interrupted and said, “you have no shame.” Click. End of conversation.

This shamelessness is a common and regular mark of evil. Think of the pastor or elder who is an abuser for instance. How in the world could anyone, you ask, stand in a pulpit and preach every Sunday when all the while he is cruelly abusing his wife behind the scenes? Answer – no shame. No conscience. In fact, not only is he unashamed of his evil deeds, he is proud of them. As Paul told the Romans as quoted above, he even encourages others to jump right into the pool of evil with him.

Where there is no shame you can be sure evil is lurking and practicing its wickedness. When you see someone who has done great evil, who it turns out has been walking habitually in that evil for years without repentance yet all the while masquerading as a Christian, you can be sure that shamelessness will evidence itself. This is still a further confirmation of the kind of person you are dealing with.

 

The Bible Emphasizes “Being” – We Must not be Satisfied with “Doing”

Eph 4:20-24 But that is not the way you learned Christ!– (21) assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, (22) to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, (23) and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, (24) and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Consistently the New Testament reminds the Christian that he/she is a new creation and therefore is to live consistently as that new creation. Be who you are. That is the Bible’s instruction to us. Realize who you now are and don’t live like the person you used to be. Being, you see. Not just external doing.

The false Pharisaical religion of course was all about doing. Do this. Don’t do that. The heart remains hard and unchanged, desiring evil but man-made religion says “I know that is what you really want down in your heart, but don’t do it. Do this instead, even though you would rather not.”

It is this second false religion that is characterizes most professing Christians today, and that is a main reason they turn out to be dens of evil.  And most churches are satisfied with it. Let me give you an example.

Let’s say a local church decides steps should be taken to prevent pedophiles from molesting the children. That’s a good thing to do. Yes it is. Background checks are required for volunteers in various ministries. Windows are installed in classroom doors. More than one adult is required to be present in a class. Staff is trained in these procedures. All well and good.

The problem is, everyone is satisfied. “There, we have placed constraints in our programs so that molesters cannot harm our children.”

Or, another example. To help ensure that adulteries and fornications don’t flame up among church members, certain rules are put in place. Some formal and written. Some unwritten and informal. A man is never to be along with a woman not his wife. A woman is never to be alone with a man who is not her husband. Husbands and wives are to have full access to one another’s email accounts. Computer software is to be installed that will prevent going online at a porn site. Women are to dress in a certain way. The “six-inch” rule of no touching is taught and enforced among the youth.

And again, the problem is, everyone is satisfied. “There, that should do it.”

But it won’t. In fact, if the power of sin is the law (as Paul told the Corinthians) then these kinds of rules often simply dump gasoline on the fire.

So what is the biblical way of handling such things? Be who you are. This is who the Bible says you now are, Christian. Be that person. Be led by the Spirit. Put to death the deeds of the flesh, by the Spirit. Any other means of “mortifying” the flesh simply feeds the flesh.

This requires, therefore, a congregation of Spirit indwelt people. In other words, a church where the people are actually Christians!! Pretty radical, huh? But that is NOT the case in most local churches. No. Someone is a Christian if they say a prayer and get baptized, either as an infant or adult. No matter really how they are living the days of their lives (none of us are perfect, after all) or whether they show any spiritual growth or not. They are pronounced Christians. But you’ve just got to keep these “christians” in tow – and thus the rules like the ones I mentioned above. John may be an adulterer at heart (well, in his “flesh” as they say) but as long as we make John follow the rules, he won’t adulterize. If he does slip, well, we are a forgiving bunch here, you know.

And the child molester? The rules. Make everyone follow the rules and all will be well – they say. But, let me ask – “just how well is that working for you all?”  Answer: It isn’t. Why? Because your “church” is full of people who aren’t saved at all – they don’t know Christ and He does not know them. They are still slaves to sin and Satan.

And this is why I am always highly suspicious of local churches that seem to grow in numbers so easily. What this most always means is that the unsaved are being pronounced saved, welcomed into the church, and held to a very low standard of holiness in the name of “love and grace and forgiveness.”

The proper course? The biblical one? People who claim to be Christians must evidence they are Christians if they are going to be in the local church. Well, there is one other category that is welcome – those who openly confess they do not know Christ but are seeking Him. NO third category of person is to be in the church!! Have your rules for children’s ministry and so on, but if anyone thinks that the key to Christ-honoring local churches is “be sure everyone follows the rules,” you are grievously mistaken.

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.”

“But,” you say, “that will mean that local churches will be quite small in number.”

Yep. They will be. They should be. That, in fact, is what you consistently see in Scripture. A body of believers that is called, “the remnant.”

 

My Experience as a Pastor With Evil in its Favorite Nesting Place – The Visible Church

Gal 1:14 And I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my own age among my people, so extremely zealous was I for the traditions of my fathers.

Php 3:4 though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more:

2Co 11:16 I repeat, let no one think me foolish. But even if you do, accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little.

In the first part of this article, it is going to sound like I am boasting. I assure you that I am not, and so I ask you as did Paul, to bear with me a bit while I talk about myself. It is necessary in order to make my main point, as you will see.

Not far from where we now live is the small town of Monmouth, Oregon where you will find Western Oregon State University. That is the universtiy (college at the time I attended) which my wife and I receive our Bachelor’s degrees from way back in 1973.  I was thinking about those days recently and the realization struck me that in my pre-pastorate life, things went quite well for me. I was a Christian then, but not very strong in the faith yet. Here are some of my experiences from that era:

  • I won the freshman outstanding chemistry student award
  • I was regularly recognized by my science, math, and history professors as their “best student.” regularly posting the highest exam scores of the class
  • Both my wife and I graduated with honors
  • My senior year I was chosen out of a large group of applicants for a deputy sheriff’s position in Benton County, Oregon
  • I attended the Oregon Police Academy (Camp Withycombe as it was known back then) and placed second in the class academically, and I won the shooting trophy for scoring the best target with my .38 revolver
  • Two years later I once again was hired out of a large number of applicants as a deputy sheriff in Multnomah County (Portland), Oregon. I would have the same experience some 8 years later when I was hired as a police officer in Gresham, Oregon, having competed for the position with over 200 applicants.
  • In seminary I won the biblical languages award and was also given the honor of preaching at the graduate class/faculty chapel.

And then, in 1983, I was a police officer on a Friday, and a pastor of my first church on Monday.

Alright then, that’s is the end of the boasting. It was also the end of my advancement in the eyes of man.

What has been my experience these 35 years as a pastor in the local, visible church? Oh sure, there were some tough times as a police officer. I was hated by criminals I arrested, but almost always we enjoyed real comradery with fellow officers. But in the vast majority of my experience in the church, I have found that the enemy sits in the pews. Police officer and comrade on Friday. Hated and targeted by false christians on Monday. The change was that real, and that fast.

We now enjoy a very small church of genuine believers here in Tillamook, but this came only after years and years of attacks from counterfeits who had, as Jude puts it, crept in among us. They professed Christ but they hated His truth and anyone to spoke it to them. And as a result, as a whole over these three plus decades of pastoral ministry, I have been hated. There have been no accolades. No awards. Just hatred from those who claim they serve the same Lord I do.

The Lord has been very faithful to us. He raised up the A Cry for Justice ministry in which He used us to expose evil hiding in the church in the form of domestic abusers. He has continued to circulate the books he impelled me to write and we regularly receive the thanks of abuse victims who have been greatly helped by them. But, I say again, as a whole, the mass of what claims to be the Christian Church has hated me.

When I was a police officer, I apprehended wicked people so they could receive what was coming to them. I loved it. In fact the reason I was hired over all the other applicants at the Gresham Police department was that in my application interview one older, experienced Lieutenant asked me, “Jeff, why do you want to be a police officer?” My answer was, “because I love to throw bad guys in jail.” He stood up and said “THAT is the answer I was looking for!”

I still love to throw bad guys in jail by exposing them whenever I can, and that means exposing hypocrites in local churches parading as Christians among the flock.

But my point is, I received a slap on the back for doing this as a police officer. “Good job nailing that armed robber, Crippen! That was great police work!” We were a team. We backed each other up.

That all ended when I became a pastor. Why? Because local churches are filled with people who are fake christians. Or with people who might be Christians but who have been so brainwashed by false teaching that they have been told that it is unloving to throw bad guys in jail! The former class is far more common however.

What is my point in all this? My point is that this is the very same experience the Apostle Paul had. When he was called by Christ, he left all behind. And what was he greeted with in the church? Well, he met some genuine believers. He had the faithful Timothy and Epaphroditus. There were a handful of other faithful brothers and sisters standing with him. But largely, his experience in the visible church is that wicked people would creep in and before long they would have the whole place turned against him. Peter found it to be the same, as did Jude, and of course as did the Lord Jesus Himself.

And so sometimes I find myself reminiscing about those “good ol’ days” when Jeff was advancing, when people would say “you have a great career ahead of you,” when outstanding performance was recognized and rewarded. Those were the days. And then I have to talk to myself and remind myself that following Christ looks exactly what my experience as a pastor has been. That my reward, my “atta boys” need to come from Christ, not from man. Because if all the world slaps you on the back, flatters you, praises you….well, you had better take a hard look at yourself and see if you know Jesus at all.

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)

The Reprobate Wicked Always Cast Blame, Never Acknowledge Their Guilt

The following verses from Malachi perfectly illustrate the mentality of the wicked who have crept into the visible church. They are never to blame. Someone else is always guilty, not them. In this case, they are blaming God Himself. Read the verses and then we will think further about how this denial of culpability is prevalent in professing Christian churches today:

“I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” “Is not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the LORD. “Yet I have loved Jacob but Esau I have hated. I have laid waste his hill country and left his heritage to jackals of the desert.” (Malachi 1:2-3)

“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?’ 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. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. And now entreat the favor of God, that he may be gracious to us. With such a gift from your hand, will he show favor to any of you? says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 1:6-9)

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. 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. (Malachi 2:13-14)

“Look at the mess we are in. Crops are failing. Rains aren’t coming. Enemies rising against us. Why? Where is God? He is supposed to be blessing us. This is all His fault.”

And they have the audacity to even say this to God’s face. Directly accusing Him.

Weep. Groan. Pity party.

The truth of the matter was that God was being absolutely true to His covenant Word. These people whom He had set His love upon now despised Him. So much so that these “offerings” they boasted about were second and third rate. Defective stock that no one else wanted. “Let’s donate it to the church then.” “Ok, Lord, now you have to bless us.”

If that were not enough, they regularly and even typically broke their marriage covenant. Adulterers. Revilers against the wife of their youth. Oh, not in “church” of course, but in everyday life. In secret. But God saw it all.

In spite of their obvious guilt, they refused to admit it. They blamed God. The problem was with God. God was the one. Point finger. Accuse. That is what revilers do, you know. They vilify others. They even make God the villain ultimately. Poor them.

I have met many such people hiding in the ranks of the visible church. Many. Nothing is ever their fault. Oh, they might own up to some small thing just to make it look like they are repentant, but keep pressing them and you will see that they remain blame-casters. Make no mistake now. We are not talking about people who are the typical sinner, the unsaved who in their sin put off confessing their lost condition and their need of Christ. No. We are speaking here of people like these “covenant” people of God in Malachi’s day who openly boast about being “the chosen.” People who claim to be Christians and who even put themselves off as eminently holy saints. All the while however, they walk in the paths of evil. Abusers, revilers, swindlers, liars. All dressed in deceptive garments of wool.

It is long, long past time for us in the church to cease being deceived by these deceivers. When victims of their evil come forward and seek our aid, we must not be taken in by the often smooth excuses of the wicked. And we must expect something else when we stand against them, calling them out for their lying perversions of the truth. We must expect them to start blaming us. You will find yourself suddenly painted as the guilty one. It’s all your fault now. No matter how much factual evidence you put before him. No matter. It’s not his fault.

Remove that wicked one from among you. Stop trying to “redeem” him. Cease thinking that you can help “fix” him. That is not how the Lord instructs us to deal with such a person and to set out on some course of “counseling and therapy” with such a one is to flagrantly refuse to obey the Lord:

And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. (1 Corinthians 5:2)

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Blind Guides End up in the Pit Too

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
(1 Corinthians 6:9-10)

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then we have the testimony of Hebrews:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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