We begin a series on a disturbing subject. In our last series, I touched briefly on Jesus' Parable of the Tares; we will now look at another matter brought up in the parable. The story can be found in Matthew 13: 24-30 & 36-43. "Tares" are a kind of weed that resembles wheat, but produces no usable grain. In the illustration, a farmer sows good wheat seed in his field, but his enemy puts in the tare seeds.
Jesus explains: "The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil..." Folks, not everyone in the church is what he or she appears to be! There are counterfeit Christians: they look like us, walk like us, talk like us, sing like us: but they ain't us!
Don't think there are none in your congregation- Jesus said, "Have I not chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" Jude warns, "...there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men..." John: "They went out from us, but they were not of us..." Paul: "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ..."
You don't know who's sitting next to you in the pews! Dennis Rader, known to police as BTK because he would bind, torture, and kill his victims, was in the same church 25 years, and no one suspected a thing! His own pastor didn't know there was a devil among them! An example in Scripture is seen in Acts 16. A slave girl possessed by a spirit of divination "...followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the Most High God, which show unto us the way of salvation." Like she was part of the ministry! Phony!
The problem is, these counterfeits can be found in church leadership as well; a little leaven leavens the whole lump, and a few well-placed phonies can bring down a whole church. They can be Elders, Deacons, Teachers, musicians, pastors! They may be big-name ministers or denominational presidents!
What does this mean for the rest of us? How can we tell, or can we? How can we get them out?!
We'll have more to say next time.