Today I had interchange with someone on the internet (actually a good friend who shall remain anonymous) on the subject of how we are to deal with the fake christian people in our lives. I have provided the interchange here in hopes the discussion might be helpful to others:
First of all I wrote: "True faith endures!! The true child of God MUST endure to the end, and WILL endure to the end, because it is God who started and will finish the work in him. Those who abandon faith in Christ were never really His. "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for IF THEY HAD BEEN OF US, THEY WOULD HAVE CONTINUED WITH US. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us." - 1 Jn 2:19
Someone responded to this saying: "Amen!! There are a lot of flakes among us, but there are also a lot of FAKES, pretending to be one of us. Sometimes they are workers of the enemy, and their mission is to destroy us and our ministry. Something to think about."
My response: "Very true.. the way to avoid flakiness in our lives is to be grounded always in the practical application of Scripture and not moved about by experience that has no backing in the Word.. and may God deliver us from the fakes. Deceived people deceive people. "
The person responded by saying: "I thought we were supposed to avoid fakes."
I then said: "Did I say otherwise? Just some general overview remarks - we often DO NOT KNOW who they fakes are. All the non-elect are fakes in that they are not genuiniely born again - but they can often look the part and that is John's point in 1 John 2:19 - the way we know they are fakes is that they did not continue with us. That's all. And his conclusion was that they were never truly OF US.
The elect dont have the letter "E" stamped on their forehead and nor do we see the non-elect stamped with a "N.E" on theirs. One of the points of Jesus' parables was that both look alike often times and we should not try to work out who the elect are or non elect are and differentiate them before the time but leave that to the TIME when the Son of Man appears. Matt 13:24 "He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
But the second component is discernment and when someone is a proven false teacher of heresy, or someone consistently sows division, they should be marked and avoided.
2 John: 9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.
Romans 16:17 I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; AVOID them. 18 For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.
Its tricky because there are some people who are genuinely born again but are not fully following the Lord and some go even further and need church discipline.. they are not always fakes as such - but could be. Peter might have looked like a fake when he denied the Lord, but he was a true sheep and God restored him. The point is that God is certain of who are truly His, and we often are not. We should treat people with grace, love and kindness until (1) it can be determined that the person teaches blatant damnable heresy and will not repent of it; or (2) sows discord amongst brethren.
Judas was always a false disciple and was "a devil from the beginning" according to Jesus - a fake if ever there was one - but the other disciples were fooled by him even when Jesus was not. God did not reveal that to the other disciples and even the fakes serve God's purposes in the end. Our job is to make sure we are not fake ourselves, love one another and avoid those who teach heresy (the wolves in sheep's clothing) and those who cause divisions."
Just to cover the "fruit" and "nut" components, there is someone I know (not in my church) going about telling others that the Lord has revealed that there will be some nuclear disaster here in Arizona this year. In hearing this, I have promised my children that should I see this person, I will ask them to sign a prepared paper I have already written to say that "I __________ state that the Lord has told me of a coming disaster of nuclear proportions coming to the state of Arizona this year (2010) and wanting to be held accountable, agree that if this does not happen, that on January 1, 2011, I will repent of this false prophecy (publicly if needed) and seek Pastoral counseling."
That's how I handle the fruits and nuts! :-)