The following is taken from a sermon-article written by John Bunyan way back in the 1600’s. Nothing has changed. Hypocrites, counterfeits – people like abusers and other evil ones – evidence a remarkable and shocking boldness in making a profession of Christ and creeping into His church with no fear of God at all.
This sermon of Bunyan’s was entitled “The Barren Fig Tree” and the following is taken from it. Read it carefully and thoughtfully – and be encouraged that the devil’s tactics are not new and have been discovered by Christ’s true people for centuries. Bunyan’s Scripture text was this:
Luk 13:6-9 And he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. (7) And he said to the vinedresser, ‘Look, for three years now I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down. Why should it use up the ground?’ (8) And he answered him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and put on manure. (9) Then if it should bear fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’”
In HIS vineyard. Hypocrites, with rotten hearts, are not afraid to come before God in Sion. These words therefore suggest unto us a prodigious [remarkably gross] kind of boldness and hardened fearlessness. For what presumption higher, and what attempt more desperate, than for a man that lacks [saving] grace, and the true knowledge of God, to crowd himself, in that condition, into the house or church of God; or to make profession of, and desire that the name of God should be called upon him?
For the man that makes a profession of the religion of Jesus Christ, that man has, as it were, put the name of God upon himself, and is called and reckoned now, however fruitless before God or men, the man that has to do with God, the man that God owns, and will stand for. This man, I say, by his profession, suggests this to all that know him to be such a professor[ie, one who professes to be a Christian].
Men who are merely natural [ie, the typical unsaved man], I mean men that have not got the devilish art of hypocrisy, are afraid to think of doing thus. ‘And of the rest durst no man join himself to them; but the people magnified them’ (Acts 5:13).
And, indeed, it displeases God. ‘Ye have brought,’ saith he, ‘men uncircumcised into my sanctuary’ (Eze 44:7). And again, ‘When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?’ saith God (Isa 1:12).
They [these counterfeits] have therefore learned this boldness of no one in the visible world, they only learned it of the devil, for he, and he only, with these his disciples, attempt to present themselves in the church before God. ‘The tares are the children of the wicked one.’ The tares, that is, the hypocrites, that are Satan’s brood, the generation of vipers, that cannot escape the damnation of hell.
Bunyan, Bunyan. The Works of John Bunyan, complete, including 58 books . B&R Samizdat Express. Kindle Edition.