The large majority of the readers of this blog do not need to be told that a false gospel, gutted of a call to genuine faith and repentance, is the wolf’s great ally. This “gospel,” which the Apostle Paul says is no gospel at all (Galatians 1), only produces nominal Christians, meaning that they are Christian in name only. Survivor after survivor of domestic, sexual, or spiritual abuse will tell their stories of how their abuser hid in the pews, playing the role of “Christian” and enjoying the affirmation of his fellow church members. Where a false gospel is preached, false Christians are produced, and an environment that is ripe for the practice of evil is cultivated. Sadly, we must admit that such a false gospel is widely preached in our churches today, as it has been for decades now.
Gal 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, (20) idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, , dissensions, divisions, (21) envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
I received a letter once from a person who I had past dealings with. They were not positive experiences. The person was divisive, accusatory and hyper-critical. But this time the letter I received claimed to be a help to me. In it, the person said that they had observed certain ongoing behaviors of another person I dealt with and warned me that those behaviors evidenced a plot to do me harm. Not physical harm, but harm to my ministry. The person warned me that I was being targeted by a narcissist.
Now, what complicated this situation and what caused me to disregard the warning is that the person giving the warning had a track record of being pretty evil themselves. So I didn’t believe the warning. But guess what? The warning was right on target as I had to learn later the hard way.
As I have thought about that dynamic and wondered what in the world was going on there, this thought occurred to me. Could it be that evil recognizes evil? If you look at the Scripture quoted above, notice how many of them (in bold) describe trouble caused by jealousy and envy. I think that the person who sent me this warning was motivated not by any concern for me, but by their own jealousy. They saw one of their own kind working for position and self-glory and recognized what was going on. How? Because I believe that evil is able to see itself. To recognize itself operating in another evil person.
Many of the dissensions and fights in local churches are just this. Not the righteous vs the unrighteous, but the wicked vs the wicked. Each party vying for power and jealous of the other because they see their own power lust in the other.
A kind of confirmation of this theory that evil recognizes evil comes from my experience as a pastor. More than once we have had a party of wicked people banded together in an effort to “take over” the church. They walk into a church meeting all in a group, sit in a group, waiting for a moment to announce their pre-decided slate of demands. But what happens to this party of evil once the battle is over? Let’s say they failed in their hostile takeover attempt. What happens to them?
Well, sometimes they go off and start another “church.” But even then those efforts most frequently end with the same outcome. They all go their separate ways. Why? Because they hate each other. They serve themselves. Their dark alliance was only temporary. They will never work together over the long haul because they are envious of one another. They see the power lust in those of their own ilk and the jealousy rages. Dissensions. Divisions. Devourings.
Herein is a sober warning to those who would be wise. Hitler, Mussolini, and Stalin would never have worked together in harmony after the War even if the first two had survived it. They go their own way. And so it is with these counterfeits in churches. They spread out like a black plague. This one goes to that church, that one goes to still another, and the most industrious of them starts his own house “church.”
Do you begin to see why we all MUST proceed with caution when that nice, saintly, most holy appearing fellow and his family show up at our church one Sunday? Oh, your church is the best they have ever been in. And the sermon? Absolutely fantastic and biblical. Not at all like the church they have come from where they were treated so badly you know.
Yeah, right. We’ve heard that before. The truth is that evil saw evil, was intensely jealous of its practitioners, and struck out on its own to sow more seed of the enemy somewhere else.
1Corinthians 3:9-15 For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. (10) According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. (11) For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw– (13) each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. (14) If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. (15) If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
What does it mean to build upon the foundation of Jesus Christ? Most often we think that it simply means to preach the gospel, telling people that if they believe in Christ their sins will be forgiven and they will be saved. This certainly is true, but…