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A Winnable War We Must Not Ignore.

by Larry Cory


(Who are in the church but are not the church?)

The identity of the mysterious invading army:

     As a young Christian in 1968, I went to a Campus Crusade for Christ winter conference.  The speaker there was Richard Wurmbrand.  He told us of his thirteen years in communist Romanian prison camps because of his faith.  I remember him telling us about how the Romanian church members were shocked when the communists took over their country.  Why?  They saw their former pastors wearing the uniforms of Russian army officers.  Their trusted pastors had not been Christians; rather, they were Russian communist soldiers who had wormed their way into the churches of Romania and had become their pastors.
     Does this type of thing only happen in far away countries?  As a young Christian finishing college, my first Christian roommate told me about what had happened at the church his family had attended when he was a child.  They had gotten a new pastor who had started changing things.  The songs were different and other changes were made.  Many people chose to leave the church, including his parents.  At the time he told me about this, his former church had offices for the Black Panthers and the Students for a Democratic Society organizations in their basement.  For those who are not familiar with these two groups, they were not Christian groups, but groups with a communist affiliation.  This pastor had been a communist portraying himself as a Christian.  He infiltrated himself into this church for the purpose of using it to further his communistic goals at San Jose State College.  The church was only a few blocks from the San Jose State College campus.
     Not everyone that we think are born-again believers are born-again.  Years ago, I was part of a leadership team in a large college group in a church.  The campus pastor was gifted in evangelism.  He was seeking to organize a time of evangelistic outreach for this college group.  But the student president of this Sunday School class was not interested in having the college group be part of it.  He was a fine young man and the son of a pastor.  Nevertheless, he clearly saw no reason for the college class that he was president of to be involved in evangelism.  The next year we had a spring retreat where a very effective revivalist was our speaker.  At the retreat, that Sunday School class president gave his heart to Jesus for the first time.  He had not been interested in evangelism because he had not yet himself become a believer.  I do not mean to say that if someone is not enthusiastic about evangelism, he or she is not a Christian.  But that was the case with this young man. 
     More recently, two friends from 1980s whom I thought at that time were born-again believers, informed me that they had just become Christians.  They were always friendly and never were antagonistic to my leadership in any way.  But because they were not indwelt by God's Spirit in the years that I was associated with them, they could not understand the things of God's Spirit. 
     The Bible tells us that those who are not born of God's Spirit are unable to understand the things of the Spirit.  "The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned."
(I Corinthians 2:14)
     Could it be that when we meet opposition in God's work from those who say they are members of God's family, they are in opposition to us because they are not actually members of God's family?  It could also be that they are Christians, but are not controlled by God's Spirit for many reasons.  The Bible tells us that there will be those who appear to be Christians who are not Christians.  There undoubtedly are those who treat the church like a service club, but have little interest in what the Bible has to say because they are not born-again.  And those who are not born-again, understandably, have no interest in spiritual things; nor are they interested in what God wants to take place in His church.  They look like Christians, but they are unable to understand what only God's Spirit can enable them to understand.  We will not usually realize what we are up against; for they may be quite good at camouflaging the fact that they are not really Christians.  They may not even know themselves that they are not whom they claim to be.  But because non-Christians and Christians have very different goals for the church, there often will be a silent war between those who are born-again and those whom we think are born-again, but are not.
     The Bible warns us that the church will be infiltrated by those who are not Christians, but masquerade as Christians:

     Jesus revealed to us through a parable, that there will be both genuine followers of God and counterfeit followers of God in the church.  And, because this is true, there will always be a silent war in the church between God's people and those who are counterfeit church members.  In the Parable of the Weeds (or Tares), Jesus predicted the following about the church:  "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. The owner’s servants came to him and said, 'Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?' 'An enemy did this,' he replied. the servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' 'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'" (Matthew 13:24-30)
     Then, Jesus explained the meaning of the parable.  "Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, 'Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.' He answered, 'The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels." (Matthew 13:36-39)
     Jesus predicts that Satan will plant his people who look just like God's people right next to those who are truly God's people.  As the weeds planted by an enemy inside the wheat fields looked just like the wheat, so do Satan's people look just like God's people.  If we oust them from the church, we will also remove some that are God's people.  Why will that be true?  First of all, we are not able to distinguish the true people of God from the counterfeit people of God.  So, if we seek to remove someone from the church that we think is not a Christian, we may be removing a true Christian from the church.  Also, if we remove those that we believe to be counterfeits, some who are truly God's people may be so intertwined with them that they also will be rooted out in the process.
     One example of a counterfeit disciple of Jesus that was planted among true followers of Christ was Judas.  Judas was the opposite of a follower of Christ, but the other disciples did not recognize what was truly in his heart.  Judas was a wolf in sheep's clothing, but Jesus' close disciples only saw the sheep's clothing and did not at first see the wolf's heart.  Judas was an expert at showing people what they wanted to see.
     Are there weeds among the wheat today—non-Christians who look like they are Christians?  Are there Judases who regularly attend our churches?  We can be confident that Satan is still planting weeds among the wheat.  Is there, then, an on-going silent war between God's people and Satan's people within the church at large and within local churches?  The answer is, "Yes."  What was true at the beginning of the church is still true today.  It may not be obvious, but Satan is still very subtly seeking to do damage in his enemy's church.
     Another possibility is that those who act like non-Christians are immature Christians.  There were those in the church at Corinth that were dividing the church because they were immature and fleshly Christians.  "Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere men? For when one says, 'I follow Paul,' and another, 'I follow Apollos,’ are you not mere men?"  (I Corinthians 3:1-4)
     What should our response be to this reality?  Paul gave the following warning to the elders of the church at Ephesus:  "I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears." (Acts 20:29-31)  Paul knew that there would be Satan-implanted false teachers that would eventually rise up, seeking to draw people after them and their false teaching.  The elders of the church at Ephesus needed to be ready for this inevitable reality, and they were not to allow these false teachers from their "own number" to take over the church that was under their leadership.  They needed, with God's strength, to win this war.
     This does not mean, however, that every person who seeks to take over a church is someone whom Satan planted in the church.  But, we may be surprised at the resurrection by who is and who is not a true believer.  Jesus will say to the following words to some who are presently in our churches: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:21-23)
     The apostle John also warned those in the church of his time that some who were in the church were not genuine members of Christ's church.  "Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." (1 John 2:18-19)  Notice, John said that there were those who had been part of the church who were not Christians but anti-Christians or antichrists.  If that was true nearly 2,000 years ago; certainly, that is true today.  There will also be those today who will seek to take Jesus' church away from its foundational Biblical truths.  Has that not happened many times through the years?  This is how the cults and liberal churches began and how they have grown. 
     What should we who are God's people do?  The next verses in I John gives us what John told his readers to do, and it certainly also applies to us today.  "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth." (I John 2:20-21) 
     We need to stick to the truth given to us by God's Spirit.  Listen to some of Paul's last words to Timothy:  "Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry." (II Timothy 4:2-5)
     The Bible is also clear that though some who are not God's people will not be easily recognized as not being God's people; others will eventually reveal to us that they are not truly Christians.  Judas revealed what was in his heart when he betrayed Jesus.  Simon the sorcerer revealed what was in his heart when he tried to buy from Peter the ability to give the Holy Spirit. (see Acts 8:9-23)  John tells us that those who were in the church but left "showed that none of them belonged to us." (I Jn. 2:19)
     Since there will always be those who are not genuine followers of Christ who attend our churches and even attain to positions of authority in our churches, we who are truly followers of Christ need even more to be united in seeking after God's goals for His church.  If we seek after our own personal agendas rather than purely seeking after God's goals, it will add to the confusion and help Satan to accomplish what he wants to happen in the church.  There will, then, be fleshly Christian factions who are of Paul, of Peter, and of Jesus; as well as those who are non-Christians, all working toward their various agendas in the church.  Instead of it being a one-minded church growing toward spiritual maturity and Christ-like love, it will instead be unloving and divided like many worldly and self-driven organizations.  It will show the world that we are just like them and have nothing much to offer them that they do not already have.
     So, there will always be a silent war in the church caused by Satan's counterfeits.  For there will be those attending our churches and even leading our churches who are not born-again.  But, we who are born again need to be on God's side of that war—we need to be growing in love, growing in the knowledge of God, and growing in the fullness of God in our lives.  We are to do all that we can do, in Christ's strength, to be peacemakers in the church.  "Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."  (Romans 12:17-18) 
     And we should expect to be persecuted.  "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil men and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of . . . ." (II Timothy 3:12-14)
     Once again, we see that there are spiritual forces outside of the church and inside of the church battling against God's goals for His church.  Therefore, we should not be shocked when we meet opposition.  There will always be war in the church, for there will always be spiritual imposters.  We who are genuine Christians should not, though, be at war with each other.  We need, in God's strength, to persevere in the good fight; for Jesus died that His church might be filled with His Spirit and grow in His Spirit, so that the world might see Him through us.

The Silent War In The Church

Table of Contents and Brief Intro Table of Contents
Introduction Introduction
The Silent War Inside our Churches - Part 1 Part 1a
The Silent War Inside our Churches - Part 2 Part 1b
The Silent War between Churches Part 2
The Silent War with Satan and his Demons Part 3
The Silent War can be Won by God's Love in us Part 4
The Silent War can be like the Wars in the World Part 5
The Silent War between a False and Coerced Unity and a True Unity Part 6
An Essential Requirement Needed for Ending the Silent War Between Christians Part 7
The Silent War Caused by Turning the Church into the Kingdom of Man and not the Kingdom of God Part 8
The Silent War inside of Each Christian Part 9
The Silent War in the Church with the World Part 10
The Silent War Over Divisive Issues Part 11
The Silent War caused by a Mysterious Invading Army Part 12
The Silent War Caused by Seeking Worldly Success Part 13
The Silent War Always Results in Persecution Part 14
The Silent War Caused when Godly People Divide Part 15
The Silent War Caused when Godly People Cause Divisions Part 16
The Silent War Caused by the Church or a Church Dividing over an Important Issue Part 17
When the Church is Winning - Part 1 Part 18a
When the Church is Winning - Part 2 Part 18a
The Bible's Description of Victorious Soldiers in the Silent War Part 19
How Victory in the Silent War can Lead to Revival in the Church Part 20
Conclusion Conclusion
Addendum: The Silent War caused by "the onlys" "The Onlys"
Addendum: A Pastor's Authority by Ray Stedman A Pastor's Authority
Addendum: Galatians 6:1-3 (my commentary on these verses) Galatians 6:1-3
Addendum: John Wesley's sermon at George Whitefield's funeral George Whitefield