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.
4. The prevalence of the teaching and spreading of ‘do not judge others’ taken completely out of context.
I see and hear this spiritual stupidity of foolishness bandied about in “Christian” circles all the time, and used to bludgeon any discernment and wisdom right out of people.
It is a terrible evil, perpetrated most especially against those of tender faith, often leaving them to tread waters of confusion for years, as a result.
Most professing Christians don’t want to do the hard work of studying and asking the Holy Spirit to teach them about how to become more like Christ. They want the easy believeism that attending a service and listening to the preacher preach whatever flavor of the gospel that tickles their ears and feels good to their emotions.
If they would crack open their Bible more than every once in a great while – like for Christmas morning so they can read about the birth of Jesus – and sought to test the word preached against what scripture actually says in its proper context, they would be confronted with the hard truth that the great evil they think is only in the world is actually in their midst. It’s in the pew next to them. It’s in the pulpit preaching. It’s leading “worship” with the band and choir. It’s serving in a whole host of ministry activities that on the outside appear godly, but more closely resemble the whitewashed tombs Jesus warned us about.
My family does this. They faithfully attend church, but are not wise about evil and do not seek to become wise. They believe every word that comes out of the preachers mouth as if it is divinely inspired, not realizing it most likely is demonically inspired. While I wish that God would open their hearts and reveal himself to them so they may be saved, I have a lifetime of evidence pointing to the contrary. They are not willing to admit to the true nature of evil and it’s propensity to sit in the pew next to them, let alone forsake the assembly with wicked people. Their unwillingness to walk away from overtly evil family members and the illusion of being right with God keeps them entranced on the broad road heading towards destruction. They cling to their blindness ferociously because they can’t bear the pain of the truth.
Keeping Christ preeminent will cost you something. It may cost you family, friends, jobs, houses and much more. Most will not make that sacrifice. They will cling to their idols of family, marriage, money, or so many other things, not realizing that in doing so, they are rejecting the master they claim to follow. It is a hard, narrow road, but it is the only one worth walking.
What’s 50, 70, 120 years in light of eternity? Not even a drop in the bucket. As much we try and grasp eternity we can’t on this side of it. So when we are in the midst of great trials, cling to Christ and know that once your in eternity with him, this life will be but a fleeting memory. Like a morning mist that fades away when the sun hits it.
Pastor Crippen you, again, hit the nail on the head, and the abuser’s facade is widely accepted in what is the brick and mortar church congregations. You have listed out the truths of what we see with so many professing Christ followers, and the list of sociopathic traits is the definitely the baseline, it too hit the nail on the head and is clearly satan’s traits in the flesh.
I wonder what I would have thought if I read your message 10 years ago, and also those responses above, versus today. A decade ago I read the Bible with a different “church-goer” lense, like it was a workbook of information we really needed to live by, versus our complete reference resource that would never leave us.
I cringe when I realize the difference now is after being so tortured by the abuser, and his so called Christian allies/troops – I literally saw satan in the flesh for what he really is and does. Prior to that, I just could not fathom a seemingly charming and charismatic believer who would do such heinous things behind the scenes. Almost like you heard about it but it wasn’t real when it was on the news etc.- until it was 100% “wormed” into my very home. This seemed to be immediately upon marriage it was now not a place of rest to enjoy it was instead completely infested with satan’s covert tactics that were so willingly delivered by the primary abuser (who I was married to) and then all the allies he had rounded up and deceived so they too could try to invalidate every aspect of value as an individual being as well.
Why do I mention this? I’m hoping someone else who is on the fence of trying to fathom what is going on will see this and know that you must be so very careful…. and most vitally know that you will not see the Lord and his word tell you to stay in these abusive relationships. No matter if it’s your mate, your church, your work, your family, your friends, never never never would the Lord tell you that their deception and abuse is ok because they called themselves his followers.
Throughout the New Testament you see reference to stand firm – and that is absolute when encountering satan in the flesh. He will try all tactics to shake you off the literal rock of our Lord and his word, twisting scripture beyond recognition of its intent. You may feel at times that rock, our Lord, his word, is an island in a vast body of deceived/deceivers….. the upside is, to cling to is that rock, at times feeling like an island, will not be taken over.
No matter who they are, we do not need to be party to their abuser facade – ever.
I grew up being taught “not to judge” “only God knows what’s in the heart” and that when we judge we are “pointing the finger with three fingers pointing back at you.”
I now realize there is a difference between being “judgmental” and “overly critical” and simply being “wise and discerning” and calling a spade a spade.
When I look at the signs of a sociopath (the image in this posting), I see some common traits between the domestic abuser and the spiritually-abusive person in the church.
As for “lying and cheating,” the spiritually-abusive person I know was careful not to get caught “technically” being in the wrong, and went by the book (like the pharisees). But he had a way of distorting the truth.
Personal ties and misguided loyalties in ministry circles often get in the way of objectivity, that the concept of being delivered from the spiritually-abusive person is foreign to many.
I do not know if links are allowed here or not, but in case they are this was the first Christian site that helped me to see clearly: https://dannimoss.wordpress.com/
The homepage that this links to has a list of characteristics and behaviors under the front page article “Is Your Spouse or Pastor a Serial Bully?” I find it invaluable when I need clarity on someone’s actions or words or treatment of me or my daughter.
Thank you Pastor Crippen for being another voice in the darkness of abuse.