Wising Up to the Abuser’s “Christian” Facade

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

  1. Many local churches are filled with unregenerate people who do not have faith and thus lack the discernment of the Holy Spirit
  2. Many professing Christians don’t want to get into the battle with evil because it will cost them too much
  3. 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.

How many Sins Are Required to Demonstrate that a “Christian” is not a Christian?

How can you know if a person who claims to be a Christian, isn’t? Does it take years of watching and testing and waiting? Nope. Not at all. Here you go:

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1John 2:9-11)

One of the greatest sins of the church today is refusing to apply what the Apostle John and many other Scriptures say on this subject. “Oh, well, none of us are perfect you know. We must be patient. The fellow professes Christ and we must think the best of him.” Bleah. Let me paint a picture:

Here is Fred. Fred is a “fine upstanding” member of his local church. Why, Fred even grew up in that church. He “went forward” at the altar call and “got saved” when he was just a boy, got baptized — hallelujah! Fred is on his certain and sure way to heaven.

But…pick one of the following. Just one —

  • Fred is cruel to his family’s animals and has no trouble at all sleeping after stomping a new puppy to death for chewing up a shoe.
  • Or, Fred humiliates his wife in front of others, putting down her abilities and even mocking her “frigidity,’
  • Or, Fred demands his wife tell him wherever she is at all times,
  • Or, Fred makes his wife pay all the bills out of her salary (if he lets her work at all) while he blows his on himself as fun money,
  • Or, Fred throws tantrums of rage when….well, whenever something isn’t to his liking.

How many of these characteristics are required to demonstrate that Fred is NOT a Christian? Any single one of them. Just one. “But hey, we aren’t any of us perfect! How can you say such a thing!! Only God knows the heart.”  How can I know? Because any single one of those wicked patterns of behavior clearly demonstrates that such a person does NOT love others, does NOT love the Lord, does NOT love his wife. It really is quite simple. Oh, and here is the clincher — FRED CAN DO ANY ONE OF THESE THINGS AND THEN GO TO SLEEP THAT NIGHT WITH NO QUALM OF CONVICTION WHATSOEVER. HE WILL NEVER APOLOGIZE FROM HIS HEART. Never. That seals the diagnosis you see. Fred is a phoney baloney “Christian,” a wolf in wool.

Do you understand? Some sins are soooo evidently characteristic of an unconverted heart that it really does not take a genius to diagnose that heart. Doctors, you know, can very quickly diagnose certain diseases or ailments. It isn’t always a big confusing puzzle that has to be sorted out by a panel of specialists. “Yep, there it is. This is what you have.” Boom. So it is with many of the wicked. “Pastor, my husband does such and so to me and….” — No more info needed. Got the diagnosis right here. He is unsaved, he is an abuser, that is what you are facing.

Yet how many people just like Fred are pillars in their local church, Sunday School class teachers, youth workers, pastors, etc, etc, etc ? Answer: LOTS. LOTS. LOTS. More than most Christians even want to know.

Really. For all the talk about “winning souls for Jesus” and “evangelism to the world,” many, many visible local churches have these wicked ones right in their midst and refuse to look, refuse to see, refuse to do anything about it which is a flat refusal to obey the King of kings!!  And the King knows it. And the King’s wrath is easily and quickly kindled against it.

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1Peter 4:17-18)

This is What Enables Evil to Hide in Our Churches

This post is difficult for me to write because I have lived it so many, many times. The subject gets my blood pressure, dander, ire and anger “up” big time. I hate this stuff. It is soooo prevalent in our churches and there is no excuse for it. This time, as is so common, it comes from a pastor.

Now, I do not know Pastor Brian G. Najapfour, pastor of Dutton United Reformed Church in Michigan. I did however read his recent article in The Outlook magazine entitled “Reflections from My 16 Years of Experience as a Pastor.” I am not trying to do him harm here, but I am attempting to keep his words from doing harm to others.

First of all, let me say that 16 years is not very long. I have been a pastor now for 38 years and it seems like it has only been in the last six or so that I really started to grasp real wisdom, especially wisdom about wickedness parading in the church in a Christian disguise. Perhaps in another 20 years Pastor Najapfour will see the nature and tactics of evil more clearly. I hope so.

But listen now to what he wrote in this part of his article:

In the ministry you will encounter someone who will dislike you for no good reason. And that person can be one of your church leaders. I remember talking to a fellow pastor of another congregation. He told me that one of his elders just doesn’t like him and he did not know why. This elder treats him unfairly and negatively. When dealing with people like this elder, seek by God’s grace to always take the high road. Don’t pay these people back with evil for the evil they do to you (1 Pet 3:9). Instead, pray for them and show more the love of Christ to them.

Why does this kind of thing get me so riled? Because for years and years as a pastor I was told this stuff by people who were supposedly eminent holy wise ones in Christendom. I read it in their books. I heard them say it in sermons. Some of them told me these things in person. And all the while it kept me in bondage to evil.

There is no excuse for a minister of the gospel to teach such things. Why? Because God’s Word is so very, very clear and what Pastor Najapfour says is absolutely contrary to Scripture. What he is doing is teaching as Scripture what is really the tradition of man. Let me bullet-point what he is saying:

  • A Christian can dislike another Christian for no good reason
  • Such a Christian can even be a church elder
  • A Christian can treat another Christian unfairly and negatively
  • A Christian can do evil to another Christian
  • And a Christian can do these things habitually, in an ongoing pattern, with no repentance
  • The Lord’s command to us is to pray for such a person and show them the love of Christ

Now, what does God’s Word really have to say on this? Here you go:

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:9-11)

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:9-10)

See it? There is nothing unclear about God’s Word and there is everything unclear about man’s traditions parading as Scripture. What this pastor is saying is exactly opposite of what the Apostle John writes here. The result? An evil man parading as a Christian is allowed to remain in church leadership, continuing in his abusive ways for his own glory as he lusts for power and control. How should he be dealt with according to Scripture? The Apostle John has the answer to that question to, in the second paragraph of this passage:

Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. (3 John 1:5-11 NIV) 

Now, what do these words of Pastor Najapfour accomplish in regard to an abuse victim and her abuser in a local church? Most all of you know the answer because you have lived it. The abuser is going to be most certainly enabled, allowed to go right on parading as a Christian, his salvation never, ever challenged and in fact he is not even going to be confronted. His victim? Well, Pastor Najapfour gives the same common and terrible counsel to her ‘ “suck it up, be a better Christian yourself, love him more and pray for him.”

Do you see why what he has written makes me so angry? I lived it. For decades I lived it as a pastor in three local churches. I was in bondage to this very same false teaching until ultimately, after over 25 years in that condition, the Lord turned the lights on for me. I saw these kinds of people Najapfour tells us we must love, pray for, and be sooooo patient with, for what they truly are. Wolves in wool. Children of the devil parading as sons of righteousness. And we are to deal with them as such, not as Christian brethren who sometimes sin.

That is Christ’s truth. And it really does set us free.