2Th 3:1-2 Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith.
Wicked and evil men. We need to be delivered from them. But who are they? What do they look like? Who did Paul have in mind here?
He was thinking of wicked and evil people who claim to be Christians.
I have been thinking recently of the many battles we have had over the years with wicked and evil men (and women) who crept in among the flock of Christ, wearing a disguise of wool. Their evil deeds opposed the ministry of Christ in many devious ways. That is what Paul speaks of here – pray that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, but we know that it is going to be opposed by wicked and evil men.
How do we know that these enemies Paul speaks of were professing Christians? Well, because of that little phrase at the end of verse 2 – “For not all have faith.” Think about it. It’s a no-brainer that unsaved people do not have faith. No one expects them to. If Paul’s phrase here was just him saying “by the way, not all human beings have faith, you know,” it would elicit a kind of “duh, no kidding” response from us. The Apostle surely did not mean that. What he does mean is, these wicked and evil men who oppose the progress of the gospel claim to be believers in Christ, but they are not. We must recognize, he is telling us, that not all Christians are. Not everyone in our churches is a Christian. Not everyone who looks like such an eminent saint of God really is.
And the frightening thing about this is that what seems to be the prevailing climate in most churches today is that it is an unpardonable sin to ever question someone’s claim of belonging to Christ. The order of the day appears to be – “if someone says they are a Christian then we are bound to assume they are and never question the reality of their profession.” Where does that thinking come from? Not from the Bible, that’s for sure.
Notice also what Paul asks the Thessalonians to pray for in his regard. Deliverance.
That Paul and his comrades would be delivered from these wicked, evil men who are parading as Christians, infiltrating the churches, duping people with their flattery and false doctrine. We all need deliverance from these kinds of people.
Do you think that there are no wicked, evil men parading as Christians in your church?
Think again. Pull out your Bible, go the the New Testament for starters, and start skimming along through it beginning at Matthew 1. Every time you come to a verse or section that is addressing wicked, evil people under the disguise of religion, opposing the gospel and creeping into churches to mislead and enslave, use a highlighter on those verses. When you are done, sit back and look at what you see. Virtually every page of the New Testament will have your highlighter yellow on it.
Which leaves us with a sobering and searching question: why are most professing Christians ignorant of such a prevalent warning in God’s Word? Why is it that wicked, evil people like abusers can hide so easily in and be enabled by local churches? This question always leaves me shaking my head in amazement. I can only think it is because
- Many local churches are filled with unregenerate people who do not have faith and thus lack the discernment of the Holy Spirit
- Many professing Christians don’t want to get into the battle with evil because it will cost them too much
- God’s Word has been so dumbed down in our pulpits that the people of Christ are dangerously naive about the enemy and his tactics.
You might be able to suggest more reasons.
Not all “Christians” have faith. Not all “Christians” are Christians, but are in fact wicked, evil people come in among us with the purpose of opposing the gospel of Christ and the freedom that Jesus has won for us. We need deliverance from them, and that deliverance begins with opening up our Bibles, BELIEVING what God says, and maturing in Christ so that we can discern good from evil. Let’s wise up to the abuser’s facade.