This is the preface to a new book we plan to publish soon. Its title is Wise as Serpents: Wising up to the Evil Among Us. It is based on the sermon series of that title that I delivered at Christ Reformation Church a few years back. It will relate directly to domestic abuse hiding in the church, but here I am trying to deal more broadly with evildoers in wool of all kinds. Really, they are very much the same.
It looks like the book will be about 300 pages or so. A friend whose family has survived intense abuse has already painted a great picture for the cover and I have invited another survivor to write the foreward. I hope this is going to be another very helpful tool to expose evil and to help victims of evil get free.
And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? (1 Corinthians 14:8)
Our Lord’s words to us as His people are encouraging, convicting, chastening, and certain. And yet they are more. They are living, powerful, absolute truth that is the Word of God. And as such, they are not spoken to us as some kind of optional suggestion for us to take or leave. They are always commandments which are to be believed and obeyed.
Therefore, when the Lord Jesus Christ said this:
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men…(Matthew 10:16-17a)
…He was not offering advice that would be good to heed. His Word is our command. Our Lord was telling us, and continues to tell us, that we are to be wise as serpents and innocent as doves because He has sent us out in the midst of wolves who serve that old malignant enemy of our souls.
And yet we see in our day so many who profess to be soldiers of the cross (most find that title objectionable nowadays) asleep and negligent as the battle rages. The result? The enemy is among us. Not just “out there” in the world, but among us within the walls of our local churches and even sadly often in the pulpits of those churches. These kind of troops are willfully disobeying our Lord General’s commands. They have not trained. They do not know the enemy. They are ignorant of his devices all the while claiming that they are not. Their armor is not the armor of God but some imitation made of styrofoam which cannot stop a toothpick.
This book is a call to arms. It is intended to be a bugle sounded with distinct, clear notes that cannot be misunderstood. In it I reject the foggy, equivocating, meaningless notes that are a plague to the church, which call no one to battle, and which fail at every turn to expose the enemy and his schemes.
If I succeed in this clarity, we will hear the voice of Korah shouting “you have gone too far!” (See Numbers 16). But it is my intent to “go too far,” at least too far in the opinion of so many who preach and confess with such unclear tones that the church remains asleep when the enemy is attacking.
You will find as you read that I quote Scripture often and at length. I want you all to see for yourself that God’s Word teaches us about evil on almost every page and that my exhortations to you to become wise as serpents about evil are not of my own manufacture.
Being wise as serpents about evil does not mean becoming a serpent. After all, Jesus added, “innocent as doves.” No, this wisdom entails being as wise as the devil ABOUT evil and its schemes. It means being able to recognize evil as it comes to us in its darling disguises of light. It means knowing that the servants of Satan are liars and murderers just like their diabolical father.
It is my prayer and hope that, as Paul prayed, the eyes of your hearts will be enlightened as you read, that you will repent where you need to repent and that you will be emboldened to get in the battle, defeat the enemy, and set captives free.