Several years ago, a seemingly nice young man joined our fellowship. From all appearances he had everything … a well-paid job, a girlfriend, a nice car, plus our supportive fellowship. He attached himself to my family and we befriended him as a son. On the outside he appeared generous and helpful and appreciative, but there came a point where he didn’t like my judgment over a particular issue and a different spirit was revealed.
Over the years we had seen an old nature side to this young man that I often had to challenge. He often displayed envy towards my son. He regarded anyone who didn’t agree with his thinking as an idiot, and he was often casual and flippant with my instructions and ended up doing it his own way in his own time. On top of this, he had deduced that when I preached about bearing your cross, to him it meant having to tolerate the people God had put around him. These were the deductions of his youth and unfortunately, when they were exposed to him as sin, instead of repenting, he simply re-packaged them, and referred to them whenever he selected to. He had simply learnt the art of smoothness and coupled it together with the art of Christianity, and convinced himself that his generosity and helps proved he was a Christian.
In the course of time, his envy of my son, and his pompous intolerance of people, resulted in his heart lusting after the relationship I had with my son and family. From his position he didn’t think it was fair that I should love my son more than him. Eventually, he deduced that if he couldn’t have what my son had then he would copy my love and impose his control through his generosity onto another well-like family in our fellowship. Ultimately, God removed him and separated him from our fellowship.
As a pastor, I’ve seen this pattern of behaviour in so-called Christians far too often. I’m reminded of Ezekiel 33:31,32 … they come unto you as the people come and they sit before you as my people and they hear your words, but they will not do them; for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goes after their covetousness. And lo, you are unto them a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice and can play well on an instrument, for they hear your words but they do them not.
As I often warn my fellowship, the envy that’s inherent in the heart of man must be killed by your unconditional surrender to the will of God. Otherwise, this envy in your heart will fester and then everything you build your thinking on, everything you think is good and right, will really be false and sinking sand. Envy turns your thinking against the righteous, and like Simon the sorcerer, it ends up trying to buy or copy what’s in the heart of a righteous man. On the foundation of envy, sorry is never repentance, but just a quick way to escape embarrassment.
Unrighteous tolerance towards people is bearing people’s nonsense with spite and belittlement in your heart. It’s evidence that your heart is evil. Unrighteous tolerance is really a pompous snub towards God’s human creation and the selfish opposite of willing to serve God wherever and with whoever. The Holy Spirit doesn’t tolerate people with spite in His heart; He serves the will of God. When you allow yourself the privilege of feeling untolerated by someone, you’re simply living in the lie of your own imagination built on the foundation of your spiteful intolerance towards everyone else, but cleverly camouflaged by your coolness or niceness which is really the symptom of your own intolerance.
The evil vineyard keeper
In Matthew 21:33, we read the story of the evil vineyard keeper. Instead of the vineyard keeper being ever grateful for the opportunity to serve the Lord of the vineyard, he resented the fact that the Lord owned the vineyard and he had to work it. It wasn’t fair. When the son came to oversee the operation of the vineyard, instead of showing respect, they killed him with the stupid expectation of taking possession of the vineyard. But God isn’t gentle, meek and mild when it comes to justice and righteous vengeance. He kills the evil.
Of course, this is a parable of Satan’s grievance with God for not recognising him equal to or above Jesus His son. But it’s more than that. Anyone who wants what the Son has, is born of Satan, not God. Anyone who wants what the Son can give him is of the spirit of anti-christ. Anyone who wants what anyone else has, is an anti-christ. John warns us about such spirits. Jude seriously warns us about such spirits. James warns us about such spirits. Peter warns us about such spirits, and Paul warns us about such spirits. In fact, most of the bible, both old and new testaments are actually warnings about falling into league with Satan’s spies in the church. The warnings are real and even more pertinent for the remnant today.
Too many so-called Christians are working the Lord’s vineyard with resentment in their spirits and for the purpose of being recognised and acknowledged and valued. They’re instruments of Satan, not Christ. Too many Christians are practicing the art of Christianity without the heart of Christ. They’re not converted and they’re not saved. They’re enemies of Christ and their purpose is to divide, conquer and ultimately destroy and take over what you have. It’s tricky because they’re in sheep’s clothing.
Do you honestly think that Satan wouldn’t strike the heart of God’s people just as effectively within the church as outside it? Guerrilla warfare is far more effective than a direct frontal assault.
The two characters of a demonic spirit
One side of a demonic spirit can be generous, helpful and cooperative. That’s just a smoke screen. The true side of a spirit is seen when it eventually gets puffed up, expects to be valued, then unexpectantly gets corrected or put in its place for its inappropriate attitude. Like Samuel vs King Saul, you’ll know when you’re up against a spirit when it resists your correction, starts telling you how you are supposed to behave towards it, and wants to retain its position in the eyes of the people. Eventually, if you hold a righteous position in Christ, the scam is exposed and the true spirit gets revealed.
Ephesians 6 teaches us that we are not fighting flesh and blood but demonic principalities and evil powers. The church teaches that these forces are external, but that’s the secondary battleground. The primary battleground is within us. It’s the battle between the forces of righteousness and the forces of unrighteousness. Once we concede to the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, the lusts of the eyes, the lusts of the flesh or the pride of life, then the force of righteousness is choked (Mark 4:19) and is only restored through sincere repentance.
The fight has intensified. Not a day goes by without hearing of some disaster or an increase in moral decay, suggesting that the end is nearer than we imagine, Matthew 24:7.
Hold firm your position in Christ and don’t worry about the world, nor lean on the world.
May God strengthen His remnant for His plan and purposes.
Pastor Norm Wakefield