An Abuser Showed Up at the First Church as Soon as It Opened: And He’s Still Doing it
Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Genesis 3:1-7)
Christians really have no excuse for being naive about the evil of abuse and other forms of wickedness creeping in among them in their churches. No excuse. Right at the get go of Scriptural revelation we have the fundamental model of the serpent’s method and tactics exposed for all to see. There was a perfect church with NO sin in it. None. Only had two members, but there it was. Filled with the Spirit and blessed with the regular presence of God. And it was a beautiful, wonderful place.
And what happened almost immediately? Evil showed up. The serpent, the devil — more crafty and diabolical and deceptive than any other creature. He came to church. He spoke up in the place of worship, and he was permitted to speak as a “guest preacher.”
Presenting himself as a thing of beauty, he began to do what he does best — lie and kill. He countered God’s truth, and the congregation listened to him. They didn’t expel him. They didn’t kill him as they should have. They gave him the pulpit and he got them.
Now let me ask this of every Christian, every pastor, every Christian teacher — just what makes us think that he hasn’t been about this very same business all down through church history and in the churches of our present day? In YOUR church? Don’t answer too quickly. I can hear many people saying “Oh yes, Amen to that brother!” But voicing agreement is easy. What I want to ask is, what are you doing about it? What have you done about it? Who are the enemy’s agents in YOUR church, speaking against God’s truth, spreading soul-killing lies and a false gospel, teaching as God’s Word the mere traditions of men?
I was recently told a true story that illustrates what is going on like a plague in our churches. A church, after many years of being subjected to the evil, deceiving, destroying tactics of a wicked man, woke up to what was happening, consulted God’s Word on the matter, and put that agent of the enemy out of Eden. Yes, Eden. That is what our local churches are supposed to be. Did you know that? We are supposed to emulate Eden and the New Creation as a witness to this world of Christ. The church I speak of did just that. They did what Adam failed to do. They put the evil out from their midst, and the Lord blessed them for it. This was no spur of the moment action. It came out of a genuine awakening to the nature of evil, much like an abuse victim experiences when she begins to come out of the deceptive fog of abuse.
But the story I heard goes on. Some professing Christians from another church heard about this and commented on the matter. What do you suppose they said? “Oh, I just don’t think that was right. We must all forgive one another and be patient with one another. Why, we have never ever done anything like that in our church.” And I imagine they never had put a wicked person out of their church.
I want to ask — is it not true that in reality many local churches today and the members who fill their pews, really ultimately would have disagreed with Adam and Eve if they had expelled and even killed the serpent? Why, even the devil believes God is one, right? He holds true theology, doesn’t he? He is one of God’s creations, correct? And yet right smack on the very opening pages of God’s Word, we have it. Evil comes to church. Evil preaches theology and claims it is God’s Word.
And evil will, if permitted, take people straight to hell.