Evil In Our Midst
“The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:22)
2 Peter chapter 2 is a disturbing chapter. Peter describes people who are in our midst. They appear to be Christians, but the accumulation of words that Peter uses to describe them and their actions, reveals who they really are. Even in leadership, we have evil in our midst.
These people are: purveyors of false doctrine, sensual, greedy, indulge in lust, despise authority, don’t tremble to blaspheme God and His children, irrational animals, blots, blemishes, happy to glory in deception, eyes full of adultery, insatiable in sin…. Ultimately, they are, “waterless springs and mists driven by a storm.”
The saddest fact is that many will follow them! Because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
Our righteousness is allowed to be tested by God using these deceptive people. Just look at Lot, “he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard.”
Just as with Lot, God knows how to protect His loved ones from the temptation that these kinds of people seed into the environment of the church.
The brazenness of these false leaders is that they “feast with you.” They are people who sit next to you at the church potluck.
God wants to warn us, as difficult as the message is to contemplate: evil is indeed in our midst. And, it may not be as obvious as we might think. If it were, there would be little need for warning. So, a few suggestions:
Even while we are people of mercy and grace, a healthy dose of reality is also in order. We live in an evil world. It is in the church, and surrounds us in the people who don’t obey Jesus. While we seek to treat all equally, be careful who you trust. Especially with your children
We do indeed need protection. There is much we can do to protect ourselves. Two things stand out to me. First, spending enough time in Scripture to allow the Spirit of God to build His truth in our minds. Second, measuring people’s action against what Scripture actually says. God will be the judge against all of these “deceivers.” But we can do more to cooperate in protecting ourselves.
If we are in leadership of a local church, we need to do more to privately question people who live lives against the more obvious teachings of Scripture. Never for mere accusation, but for clarification, restoration, and protection of the broader body.
As I stated in my blog on formation (Growing People In The Life Of Faith, https://www.dwightpaulsmith.com/post/growing-people-in-the-life-of-faith), the normal structure of our churches does not really allow for this kind of “protective” function by leadership. The larger the church, the more difficult it can be. Churches in todays world of the proliferation of lying as a norm, and corruption as an operating system, need to do anything and everything to address this promised reality from Peter.