More than 20 years ago, I received a book in the post with the title: “Predators in the Pulpit”. I was a little rocked as I read it, but soon it became clear that the author was one of those way out heretics with an agenda and the only way to spread his message was to post his book to pastors and churches.
My theme today is … “Predators in the Church”. I am focusing on the pulpit, but more, I am focusing on anyone in a church who uses their presence, abilities, charm, influence and appearance for their personal ends and not the Glory of God, not the blessing of the saints and not the expansion of the Gospel.
Tomorrow we start a new year of totally unknown territory because we have not been in 2022 before. The passage I want to show you to start with today speaks of false prophets and false teachers. These are not necessary those in the pulpit. They could easily be in the pews.
2Pe 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.
There is a great need to be spiritually vigilant; to be spiritually cautious and careful and awake. Failure could cost you dearly.
Yesterday I did the lawns. As always, I only wear “old clothing” in the garden. The shirt I had on has a tear almost on top of the right shoulder towards to arm. At the end of the day as I was washing my hands, without the shirt on, I noticed a red circle about 2 inches wide with a small white circle in the center, as I looked up into the bathroom mirror. It was not sore but I thought something must have bitten me, so I put on “insect bite” ointment.
Later last night, I look at the “bite” and compared it to the other shoulder. I had had shoulder rotator cuff operations on both shoulders and each one ended with a small white circular scar above the cut. Then I realized that this was not a spider bite but sunburn. Knowing it was so hot with the sun burning downwards, I ought to have taken evasive action and worn a shirt without tears in it. I was not diligent enough. When one does gardening one needs to be prepared for the day, have the right clothing on and the proper garden equipment.
Spiritually, this is true as well. It is possible to neglect the correct spiritual clothing and doctrine so that we are not prepared for when those who seem so well meaning and interested in us give us spiritual sunburn and by the time we realize it, it is far too late. Consider the following passages:
Mt 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
Ac 20:29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard!
Ro 16:17 I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
2Ti 3:6 They are the kind who worm their way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, 7 always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so also these men oppose the truth—men of depraved minds, who, as far as the faith is concerned, are rejected. 9 But they will not get very far because, as in the case of those men, their folly will be clear to everyone.
There are some people who sometimes infiltrate the Church and slowly, slowly, yet cunningly work towards a predetermined goal … which is to capture the attention and confidence of one or more unsuspecting people. Their target is to
(1) Get into your favor. They are kind and the complements are generous. Always eager to help and give advice. Their objective is to win your affection, appreciation and confidence in them.
(2) Get into your pocket. This is the first of their goals. It is slow and often unsuspecting. It is covered with such flowery words that you will not even notice they are using you. How might even think … “How can they be using me … they are so kind and helpful and loving?”
(3) Get into your pants. It is not whether you are male or female or they are male or female … their second goal is to get you into bed. If you fall for this … by this time you have been caught and can’t see their intention is to use and abuse. Although it is from male and female, let me use the “predator” as a male and the “prey” as a female. Often those targeted are the ones who are single, divorced or widowed. These are seen as easy targets. They are lonely, needing love and attention and would like a friend to fuss over them … and perhaps a deeper relationship. There is nothing wrong with this … though such could be vulnerable. The toxic person (predator) knows this and that is why such people are targeted. Be careful, be on your guard.
(a) Just because the chemistry is there does not mean it is right. Attraction, enjoyable conversations and pleasantries do not mean that person, whoever they are, might be a predator, is a good and safe person to be with.
(b) Just because there are feelings does not mean it is right. We are all sensual people and feelings about people come and go. Just because you “feel” right with this person, who might be toxic, does not mean that person is right for you.
(c) Just because the environment seems perfect does not mean that person who could be a predator is safe to be with. Every woman who has been raped, murdered, beaten up, seduced by the person they were with, coupled to the “perfect” environment, regrets what happened.
(d) Just because the need is there does not mean its right. Mostly, every human being has needs, but just because you have a need does not mean you need to succumb to someone who could be a predator. It is so unsuspecting … it happened for years under my nose as a pastor without me knowing. Only after the tyre has hit the road do people talk and the truth comes out. Jeffery Epstein, Ghislaine Maxwell and Prince Andrew’s stories have come out. Don’t be a statistic. Know the Word sufficiently to guard your soul, life and property.
Please protect us Jesus. Amen.