Date, 31 January 1996. Time, around nine in the morning. It started as a usual day for us at work. Suddenly, we heard a parade of gunshots coming from the streets below. Next moment the whole building shook; smoke, blood, and screaming everywhere. A truck containing 450 pounds of high explosives crashed through the main gate of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, killing hundreds of people as the suicide bomber detonated the massive bomb which tore through the bank and damaged other buildings nearby.
For over 25 years, the war between the government and the terrorists caused significant hardships for the people, environment, and economy of the country, with an estimated 100,000 people killed during its course. We left to work each morning without knowing that we could make it home for dinner. You never know where is that suicide bomber or the sniper, or that deadly explosive trap. I still have those horrid images of climbing down the fire escape ladder from the ninth floor dogging dead bodies, and burnt arms and limbs, still flashing in my mind.
Today, terrorism has become a global pandemic. They employ a new kind of war, one different than the conventional war. What makes terrorists so dangerous and so deadly? Firstly, they operate secretly; they are unknown. They don’t wear uniforms. They just live among the general civilians. We don’t know who they are; we don’t know where they are; we don’t know what they’re going to do, or how they’re going to do it, or when they’re going to do it. We could only find out after their deadly attack. Secondly, they are devoted to their mission and willing to kill themselves. So, the only way to protect ourselves from terrorists is to identify who they are, expose them to the world, and unarm them before they strike.
Similar to this war in the world, there is another deadly war happening inside the church. There are enemies of the gospel who have infiltrated the church and brought with them another gospel. It is not surprising at all that many Christians are not aware of the spiritual war going on between God’s truth and Satan’s Al-Qaeda. The enemy is disguised as an angel of light clothes himself in sheep’s skin. We don’t know who they are, and they don’t mind blowing themselves in order to drag many souls to eternal hell with them.
The deadliest attacks against the truth don’t come from the outside; they come from the inside, from defectors who name the name of Christ, from counterfeit Christianity. The terrorists in the church are far more dangerous than the terrorists in the world. Because those terrorists only can kill your body, but the terrorists who are hidden in the church destroy the truth and lead many people to eternal destruction.
The Bible is never very nice when it identifies false teachers. Peter calls them unreasoning animals, wells without water, clouds without rain, dogs that lick their own vomit (2 Peter 2). Paul calls them liars, empty-talkers, evil beasts, lazy gluttons, detestable, rebellious, disobedient, and worthless people, and he told Timothy that they must be muzzled, their mouths must be shut (Titus 1:10-16). Paul says to watch out for those who cause divisions by smooth words and flattering speech because they do not serve the Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly (Romans 16:17-18).
When dealing with the terrorist in the church, scripture provides plenty of instructions to the true believers. It is not going to be an easy task to identify them. Because, they disguised themselves as angels of light and they are everywhere — some dressed as priests, cardinals, popes, TV evangelists, faith healers, Christian ministers, university professors, or bible scholars. These are agents of Satan in the church to corrupt and destroy the truth by introducing destructive heresies. Unfortunately, many will fall into their trap. If you cannot identify any voices you hear as false, it’s not because you aren’t being exposed, but because you’re falling for it in some way.
So, how do we identify the terrorists in the church? What are the marks of the enemy?
These filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
– Jude 1:8
Jude in his short letter to the believers, vividly describes the terrorists in the church in terms of their character and immoral activities. The purpose of his letter was twofold: to expose the false teachers in the Christian church, and to appeal Christians to stand firm in the faith and fight for the truth.
FOUR Characteristics of the enemy:
They are dreamers
The word used here “enypniazomai” (ἐνυπνιάζομαι) associated with visions and prophecies. False teachers’ source of knowledge comes from their secret communication with the divine. They have uncovered some secret knowledge that’s not available to others. They claim that God speaks to them in their dreams and visions. Pope gets divine instruction and define doctrine concerning faith or morals when he speaks ex-cathedra. Benny Hinn gets his anointing from ‘graveside visions’. These are spiritual terrorists controlled by Satan with perverted imaginations. They reject the Scriptural authority and base their lies on Edicts and Councils, and they become the authority for their own deceptions. There is no secret knowledge available to some people; There is no secret communication with the divine. All we have to know is revealed by God the father through His living Word. They are dreamers.
They are immoral
These false teachers are immoral at heart and in conduct. What false teachers throughout history have shared in common is not the specific nature of their doctrinal error, but the inevitability of moral compromise in one of these three general areas: greed, sensuality, and pride — or money, sex, and power. They are not just false in their teaching, but also in their living. Beneath their doctrinal error, however subtle and deceptive, we will find ethical compromises. They may not be publicly visible because they cover those up, and those don’t usually come out overnight; they take time. But they will come, and we are not shocked when scandals break out. They claim to be holy and righteous but burning with fleshly lust. They talk about the Holy Spirit but they don’t have the Holy Spirit’s power in them to restrain their flesh.
They reject Lord’s authority
They reject the established final divine authority, which is Scripture. They reject lordship. They reject any rule over them. They place themselves above Christ, they become the head of the church, not Christ. Their doctrines overrule Scripture. They deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (v4). they take the name that only applied to God, and calls them “Holy Father”. The Roman Catholic faith has shown a willingness to raise the pope above Jesus Christ and the Bible by giving him the right to nullify Scripture through papal decrees. Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 described the coming Antichrist “who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.”
They insult divine glories
These apostates blaspheme glories (doxa) of heavens, they blaspheme the manifestation of God, they slander holy angels. That’s what Sodom and Gomorrah did. Even angels who are greater in might and power than men do not blaspheme other angels (v9, cf. 2 Peter 2:10-11). Even though Michael was powerful enough to cast Satan out of heaven, (Rev 12:7,8,9) he left it in God’s hands to pronounce judgment on him, rather than do it himself (v9). There are groups, especially the Charismatic movement, that teach about “binding Satan”, “binding demons” (Deliverance Ministry). This is not a biblical concept. We don’t have the authority to do it; we don’t have the insight to do it. They don’t respond to us. They will battle Michael; who do you think you are? “Jesus I know, and Paul I know, but who are you?” (Acts 19:15). Some people run around telling Satan what to do; Michael the Archangel doesn’t even do that. They are overstepping the boundaries with arrogance and ignorance without truth.
Roman Catholicism on the other hand, blasphemes divine glories by adding Mary to the Trinity who sits at the right hand of Jesus (Pope Pius IX, 1854) and who replace the Holy Spirit’s role as an intercessor. They blaspheme Christ and His final work on the cross. In the Sacrifice of the Mass, “Priest reaches up into the heavens, brings Christ down from His throne, and places Him upon our altar to be offered up again as the Victim for the sins of man. It is a power greater than that of saints and angels, greater than that of Seraphim and Cherubim. The priest speaks and lo! Christ, the eternal and omnipotent God, bows his head in humble obedience to the priests command.” (The Faith of Millions, The Credentials of the Catholic Religion. By Rev. John O’Brien). This is gross irreverence to the divine glories.
Primary reason for our battle
We fight and we contend for the faith, not so much because we hate the opponents and enemies we face. That’s not the primary reason why we fight for the truth. The first and foremost reason we fight and contend for the faith is that we love what is sustaining us, we love what is supporting us. We love that which has saved us. It is because we love our Lord who saved us unlike those who crept in and denied Lord Jesus Christ. We fight and contend not to get applause from people or to debate and win arguments. We fight and contend out of love, for love for the glory of God.