Sunday, January 21, 2018

Tha case of Devious Saints.

The local church was meant to be a place of worship, fellowship, discipleship and stewardship of God given gifts. Unfortunately, as in the case of the Corinthian and Galatian churches, it becomes a battleground. The problem isn’t the Devil, although he will encourage the conflict. The turmoil is fought out when God’s redeemed people allow their Ego, prejudices and views seek to dominate, not serve.

Almost every letter in the New Testament points to or hints at how some of the saints behave in a very unsaintly manner. Read Galatians and be warned. Acts 15 was the 1st and most important church council. There it was agreed that Gentiles didn’t have to be circumcised and live under Jewish culture and the Mosaic Law. This didn’t prevent well-meaning but legalistic saints from infiltrating the churches.

These people were sowers of discord and division by smooth talking and insidious undermining of the congregation’s faith and doctrine. They expected believers from other cultures to adopt their Jewish culture to become fully Christian. This was contrary to the Church Council’s decree. Because their tactics were devious they acted similar to the sneaky, creepy approach of the false prophets. Paul unmasked them and called them for what they were, carnal men causing dissension and division. If they had stood on the street corner and heralded their views that would have been acceptable. Open debate allows for good discussion. Ulterior motives are brewed and promoted in the dark corners of the soul.

The Corinthian church had its individuals endeavouring to manipulate and coerce their ways onto the congregation. When Christ isn’t the focus of a person’s affection, devotion and worship some other factor dominates. This can lead, as it did in Corinth, to chaos and loss of integrity and testimony. Were they trying to siphon off some from the church so as to form their own? That still happens. Romans 16:17-18 says mark such people and avoid them.

In one of the churches with whom I ministered a similar tension and conflict was developing. Some of the church members, who were also my friends, had been attracted to a particular view of worship and doctrine. They were intent upon getting others to accept it in an underhand and insidious manner. I talked with them about their approach. I said they could stand outside on the street and raise the ‘flag’ of their doctrine but don’t use the Devil’s methods to do what you consider are God’s words and ways. They accepted that. We remained friends. My sadness was that for those involved some marriages fell apart and loss of faith developed.

The warning of 1 Corinthians 3:17 is still operational. ‘If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy (Greek word means ‘defile’)…’ Such sneaky, creepy saints may seem to prosper and capture an audience but they are frowned upon by the Lord. By the power of their soul their work will be impressive, but it will not be blessed. Such divisive persons may be saved but they will be losers of Christ’s blessing around His judgement.

2 Corinthians 4:2 is a short and simple principle for leadership and worship in the local congregation.’[We] have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God’.

Jesus impresses me with His openness and honesty. Deceit was not in mouth. Deception and infiltration were not his strategies. His words to inquirers included the cost of walking with Him. The local church is most at risk when God’s people try and do the Lord’s work in a sneaky, creepy way. The Saviour calls us to walk as He walked – in the Light. He was transparent in His dealings. So should be His people.

Next week. What are Christian ‘dead’ to?




  1. Hi Ray,

    Your church newsletter is referring people to your blog and your blog is quite confusing with a lot of innuendos but not a lot of concrete evidence supporting your statements. It almost implies that your own church is having problems with sneaky creepy infiltrators and you are encouraging your congregation to shun them. What exact doctrines have been sneakily propagated that all need to be concerned about?

  2. Thanks for your comments. Means someone is reading the blogs. I would imagine that you are aware of Church history, human nature and Biblical examples which support my blog. As I look at the church scenes from around the world via various media I see these sneaky critters at work.
    My intent was to simply alert readers to the reality of having their witness and fellowship unwittingly (or deliberately) undermined. After 50 years as a pastor I have experienced both the Devil's infiltration and the naivety of the saints. I wanted readers to be biblically alert.
    As I'm no longer in a pastoral role in the fellowship with whom I worship there is no fear on my part about the existence of such people. However, because the Fellowship is active in outreach and is attracting new people this will make the Devil mad. It may also arouse some carnal ambitions. The main purpose of the blogs was to help God's people be spiritually alert and doctrinally sound. Gracious they must be but also steadfast in protecting the integrity of the congregation.
    As you would have read in the example I gave of my friends well intentioned but wrong approach to sharing their views. No one can cause friction, dissension and ultimately division and not see 1 Corinthians 3:17 descend.
    actually I thought I had given sufficient references citing the Corinthian and Galatians letters. Give them a read.

  3. My apologies Ray .. I'm not actually referring to theology. I'm referring to innuendo .. like the one you just wrote "It may also arouse some carnal ambitions" in the context of your current church. Though biblically 1 Tim 3:1 says "Here is a trustworthy saying: Whoever aspires to be an overseer (NKJV says "Bishop") desires a noble task". Our concern is by your leaderships invitation we have been recently attending your current church in an up front role and with all that has recently been going on I hope you are not referring to us?

  4. Have to admit I wasn't sure who was 'the Greens' No. Not referring to you. I've been around a long time and after a while I become aware of 'sneaky critters.' Haven't felt that in our Fellowship for ages (though it has in the yesteryears). I would encourage you to be actively involved and walk with Craig, Lyle and others (I'm evaporating from any leadership role). From your experiences you must have surely had to come to terms with those whom I've blogged about. It would be good to have some time together and we can clear up any misunderstanding stirred by the blog. I have had some facebook messages endorsing my comments, not about our fellowship, but about the wider church scene.
    Hope that clarifies things. Let's get together for a 'cuppa' and chat. Craig will be looking to you for your support, experience, wisdom from Feb. on.

  5. Oh that's great ... look forward to the cuppa and chat. Much blessings

  6. When next we are in the same room we will book the date.