Identifying Evil Creeping In
‘How do you know,’ was the question a student asked last week to explain how evil can creep into church and personal beliefs. How do you know when evil is creeping in? This is, perhaps, the most important question for fulfilling Proverbs 4.23. The following Scripture references will help you to identify when evil is creeping in.
It is never too late to eradicate evil!
- God’s call to Jeremiah 1.9-10 is the same for you. Notice your position in God’s eyes.
- In Jesus’ letter to the church at Ephesus (1st in the circuit that John would have taken to visit all seven churches), in Revelation 2.2-5, He commends their testing and identifying false apostles of Christ. But, there was a subtlety they needed to overcome: having ‘left your first love’. His remedy was to ‘remember, therefore, from where you have fallen.’ Go back to the beginning.
- (This reminds me of God’s advice in Jeremiah 6.16.)
- In Jesus’ letter to the church at Smyrna (2), in
- Revelation 2.9-10, He warns believers about the ‘blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not’; they don’t believe in God at all. Their evil will test your faithfulness. His remedy is to ‘be faithful’ to what you have believed about Him, even in their extreme efforts to break your faith. They were not commended because they believed the lies of the supposed Jews.
- In Jesus’ letter to the church at Pergamum (3), in
- Revelation 2.13-14, He commends them for holding ‘fast to My name’ and not denying ‘My faith’ in the days of persecution. But, there was tolerance for sexual immorality and other satanic deceptions among the congregation that He will ‘fight against’, when He comes. Therefore, ‘hold fast to My name’! Why is tolerance not a Christian virtue?
- In Jesus’ letter to the church at Thyatira (4), in
- Revelation 2.19-25, He commends their increasing service and faith and says they must ‘hold fast what you have’. Their problem was a tolerance for a teacher of the ‘depths of satan’, who encouraged sexual immorality and eating foods offered to idols. How many flirting glances or tastes of sin over how long does it take to loosen a firm hold of faith?
- In Jesus’ letter to the church at Sardis (5), in
- Revelation 3.2-4, He warns the congregation that their light of His truth had almost been consumed by satan’s darkness of deception, that only ‘a few names’ had not been blotted out ‘from the Book of Life’.
In Matthew 6.22-23, Jesus said to make sure that your ‘truth’ is, indeed, truth and not deception. Jesus shows how in John 8.31-32. Don’t be dead people walking, to paraphrase a line from a movie about death-row inmates.
Consider Matthew 23.27-28.
- In Jesus’ letter to the church at Philadelphia (6), in Revelation 3.8-9, He commends believers for ‘[having] kept My word and [having] not denied My name’. But He recognizes their ‘little strength’ because of the continuous lies of ‘those of the synagogue of satan, who say they are Jews and are not….’ His encouragement? Persevere in ‘My word’ and ‘My name’ (implied)! 2 Peter 1.5-10 gives some good exercises for building up your faith. Note, especially, the benefits at the end of verse 10.
Sounds like Joshua 1.8!
- In Jesus’ letter to the church at Laodicea (7), in
- Revelation 3.15-20, He warns them about their lack of commitment to Him. Their stuff from this world has blinded them to the true riches of Christ.
- (Matthew 16.26; 1 John 2.15-17) So, ‘I stand at the door and knock’, He says, hoping they will open to Him and begin to show their preference for the things of God. What do your preferences say about your commitment to Christ?
To summarize, evil may be overt or covert.
- Evil may be overt, as in Ephesus (false apostles). satan’s agents claimed to be believers but were satan’s agents. Jesus said to inspect their fruit; see Matthew 7.15-20; is this judgmental?
- Also, evil may be covert. Covert evil may slip in while you are so busy defeating the obvious that you forget the fundamental contrasts of subtleties against His name, word, and faith; as at Ephesus (forgot first love). Some church members wanted to justify their evil by spreading it to others; Smyrna and Philadelphia (philosophies of supposed Jews), Pergamum and Thyatira (tolerance for sexual immorality and eating foods sacrificed to idols). Some flaunted their stuff, creating envy among the ‘want-to-bes’; Laodicea (trinkets and trash from the world). The lights of commitment dim when the oil runs out; Sardis (light almost complete extinguished). See Jesus’ encouragement in
Matthew 25.1-13. You, emperor, may not realize the degree of your ‘undress’ until it is too late.
- Today, you probably would beat to death the snake in
- Genesis 3.1; overt evil. But, what would you do, if you were Adam and had heard God say Genesis 2.16-17 and you, later, heard the snake challenge God’s instructions with rationale and a tempting display of forbidden fruit (Genesis 3.1-7)?
What had changed for Adam?
How might he have allowed these circumstances to reduce his attention to the fundamentals?
What about you?
- What overt evil do you see in your life? How do these verses, Job 31.1-4 and
Isaiah 33.14-16, challenge your choice of movies and television?
- What overt evil do you see in your church?
How do Galatians 5.1-4 challenge any teachings about the place of works in salvation? What is Jesus’ understanding?
See John 6.47.
- What covert evil do you see in your life?
Is Paul’s admonition in 1 Timothy 6.10 a problem for you?
What about Colossians 2.8-10? How much time to you spend in Bible study (more than just reading) and prayer?
- What covert evil do you see in your church? Is ‘Sophia’ present (Greek for the female part of God and source of wisdom and power)? Does your church teach that the God of Christianity is also the god of Islam (Isaiah 14.12-15)?
Are your children ‘saved’ because you believe in Jesus?
Evil is trying to creep in. Will you let it?