(Editor’s note: If you visited this site looking for a way to get rid of burrowing pests in your garden or yard, I’m afraid that I can’t offer much help. However, you’re still welcome to keep reading.)
In order to try and keep my brain at least a little sharp these days (and to get daily doses of dopamine when I succeed), I like to do some simple crossword puzzles using an app that is installed on my tablet. I haven’t gotten so smart that I solved any new math conjectures or physics problems recently, but these mental tasks are a little more intellectually demanding than a lot of other apps that I could be using, instead.
I ran into a crossword puzzle clue the other day that was something like, “spy on the inside”. The answer was “mole”, which we hear about in spy thrillers and conspiracy theories. Indeed, the most dangerous opponent is often the one that has gotten into our organization, or – in some cases – has made their way into groups of believers, sneaking into the family of God.
Consider the following passage from Paul’s letter to the church in Galatia:
This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
Galatians 2:4-5 NIV
Note that wrong messages (from those who had gotten inside) didn’t merely dilute or take away from the beauty of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This distortion of God’s word could make people slaves, rather than experiencing freedom (see Galatians 5:1).
Slavery has taken a lot of forms throughout history. I think that we can agree on a key point: freedom is better, and to voluntarily and unnecessarily go back into slavery for no good reason – especially after receiving one’s freedom – is a bad idea.
The secular world tries to pull people into slavery, whether to promote a product, an app, or an idea. Billions of dollars are spent on trying to get individuals hooked on something that will continue to pull them in (usually creating a stream of revenue for the party that got them addicted in the first place). I’m not saying that every advertisement is quite this insidious, but there are many companies whose business model relies on ensnaring and trapping its customers, keeping them coming back for more. (And yes, to some extent, this probably includes my crossword app!)
What is even worse, though, is when the teachers who talk followers of Jesus into doing the same thing (i.e., becoming slaves to beliefs and practices that will harm them) aren’t just those from outside the church. Some false teachers have infiltrated communities of believers, and persuade others to believe (wrongly) that they are speaking the word of God.
To me, this is why teaching the truth and having fellow Christians validate the accuracy of what is taught is so important. James 3:1 identifies a higher standard for those who teach, and I believe that students who actively participate in the process (rather than just believing whatever they are told) are valuable aides to the teacher who seeks to remain in the truth.
And, even if it is difficult, there are Biblical ways to correct false teachers, or remove them from the church appropriately, so that these “moles” (regardless of how they got into the church in the first place) do not continue to harm those who follow Jesus Christ with their divisive and divergent messages.
- Titus 3:9-11 tells us to warn a divisive person up to twice, and then separate ourselves from them.
- 2 Peter 2 describes how false teachers will exist, and what fate awaits them.
- Ephesians 5:8-20 provides healthy alternatives to sinful behavior, and encourages the recipients to expose “the fruitless deeds of darkness”.
- 1 Timothy 1:3-6 gives an example of Paul identifying how Timothy should command certain false teachers in Ephesus to stop.
- 2 Timothy 3:1-9 shares how Timothy should “Have nothing to do with” certain kinds of people.
- 2 Timothy 2:14-26 identifies behavior that should be avoided.
So, keep an eye out for moles, but don’t fight them with the tools of the world (hate, slander, unrighteous anger, or other sinful behavior). Instead, see if you can guide them to the truth, and if not, separate them from the body of Jesus Christ so that they can learn and repent (or at least not continue to harm others).
From Sunday School lesson prepared for August 1, 2021
- The Lookout, August 1, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- The College Press Commentary, Galatians & Ephesians, by Kenneth L. Boles. College Press Publishing Company, © 1993, p.32-60.