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The Apostle Paul warned of malicious antagonists: "He is conceited ...he has an unhealthy interest in controversies and arguments that result in envy, quarrelling, malicious talk, evil suspicions..." 1 Timothy 6:4
Envy and Pride Breed Quarrels
The Bible warns us that "envy rots the bones" Proverbs 14:30.
"Pride only breeds quarrels" Proverbs 13:10.
To Deprive the Innocent of Justice
The Word of God warns us of "the ruthless ...mockers ...with an eye for evil. Those who with a word make a man out to be guilty, who ensnare the defender in court and with false testimony deprive the innocent of justice." Isaiah 29:20-21
Charming Speech can Conceal Malice in the Heart
As much as we would prefer to believe the best about everyone and as hard as it may be for us to believe that such people exist, even within our own circles, the Bible continually warns us: "A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbours deceit. Though his speech is charming, do not believe him for seven abominations fill his heart..." Proverbs 26:24
Men Will Arise and Distort the Truth
The Apostle Paul, in his farewell address to the Church in Ephesus warned: "I know that after I leave savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I have never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears." Acts 20:29-31
The Bible tells us of Esau who held a grudge against his brother Jacob (Genesis 27:41), and of Joseph's brothers who hated him to such an extent that they betrayed him and sold him into slavery to Egypt. "They hated him and could not speak a kind word to him." Genesis 37:4
The Bible tells us of king Ahab who hated the prophet Micah: "There is still one man through whom we can enquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me..." 1 Kings 22:8
Herodias, the wife of king Herod, "nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him." Mark 6:19
In the book of Esther we read that "when Haman saw that Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honour, he was enraged ...he scorned only killing Mordecai. Instead Haman looked for a way to destroy all Mordecai's people, throughout the whole kingdom..." Esther 3:5-6
When the Lord Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law "were furious and began to discuss with one another what they might do to Jesus." Luke 6:7-11
Comfort the Afflicted and Afflict the Comfortable
Those who are called to oppose evil, or who are faithful in proclaiming God's Word and applying the Lordship of Christ to all areas of life, must expect to offend many. If you testify against evil expect opposition. A missionary’s job description is to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable. If you are not being criticised, you're not doing your job!
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated Me first." John 15:18
"Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness." 1 John 2:9
"Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him." 1 John 3:15
The Rebellion of Korah
The Bible also tells us of Korah, a Levite, who "became insolent and rose up against Moses" (Numbers 16:1). Korah rebelled against the Lord (Numbers 26:9). Korah and his co-conspirators, Dathan and Abiram, mobilised a large number of the congregation of Israel against Moses. The Bible records that the Lord said to Moses: "Say to the assembly, 'Move away from the tents of Korah, Dathan and Abiram'." Then "the earth opened up its mouth and swallowed them with their households and all Korah's men and all their possessions. They went down alive into the grave, with everything they owned; the earth closed over them and they perished and were gone from the community" Numbers 16:23-33. "Woe to them ...they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion" Jude 11.
The Conspiracy of Absalom
Another traitor written about in the Bible is Absalom. King David's subversive son, Absalom, betrayed his father by stealing the hearts of the men of Israel and leading them to revolt against their king. Renowned for his beauty, Absalom feigned concern for the people's problems, sitting outside the city gates declaring his father's neglect of the people and presenting himself as the only righteous judge in Israel. He received the people of Israel with great affection, kissing their hands and promising them justice.
When he had succeeded in manoeuvring himself into a place of favour with the people, Absalom deceitfully asked his father's permission to let him go to Hebron "to make a sacrifice". In fact, he intended to proclaim himself king while in Hebron. Although Absalom had earlier murdered his half-brother, Amnon, King David, after enforcing an exile on his son for several years, received him back with great affection. But while King David was sincere in his reconciliation, Absalom was not.
Absalom positioned himself by the palace gates to greet the men of Israel, subtly maligning his father to them. For a long period of time he carefully undermined his father's authority. His conspiracy was so well thought out and his deception so complete that neither King David nor the 200 men who travelled with Absalom to Hebron perceived his disloyalty. "They had been invited as guests and went quite innocently, knowing nothing about the matter." 2 Samuel 15:11
David's great love for his son, Absalom, led him to overlook the many failings and weaknesses of Absalom, dealing graciously with him, even after his great crime of murdering his half brother; while Absalom's hatred for his father stirred up such dissension that it resulted in intense conflict. Hatred stirs up dissension! "Hatred stirs up dissension, but love covers over all wrongs." Proverbs 10:12
The results of Absalom's treachery were catastrophic. Israel descended into civil war and many thousands died in the ensuing conflict (2 Samuel 18:7-8).
The Treachery of Judas
Not even our Lord Jesus, while He was on earth, was spared the trauma of being betrayed by one close to Him. "Then Jesus replied: 'Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!' (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray Him)" John 6:70-71.
Although it has been common for Hollywood productions to deal very sympathetically with Judas, the Bible is quite clear that Judas was greedy (Matthew 26:14-15); treacherous (Luke 22:47-48); dishonest and hypocritical (John 12:5-6). The Bible is very clear that Judas Iscariot betrayed Christ (Matthew 10:4). Judas asked the Chief Priests: "What are you willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?" Matthew 26:14. The Bible records that the chief priests were "delighted" at Judas's treachery (Mark 14:10).
Although Judas was the of the Twelve, and feigned concern for the poor, the Bible reveals that, in fact, Judas was a thief, stealing from the funds of the Lord Himself (John 12:4-6). The treasurer became a Traitor. The apostle became an Apostate.
Far from Judas being a well-meaning victim of circumstances, the Bible is quite clear that he was a malicious traitor. John's Gospel plainly says "then Satan entered into Judas" John 13:27.
After the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, the book of Acts records the Apostle Peter applying the prophecy of Psalm 109 to the treachery of Judas. "May another take his place of leadership" (Acts 1:20). This is a prophecy from Psalm 109:8. The same prophecy includes these insights as to the motivations of traitors like Judas: "For wicked and deceitful men have opened their mouths against me; they have spoken against me with lying thoughts. With words of hatred they surround me; they attack me without cause. In return for my friendship they accuse me, but I am a man of prayer. They repay me evil for good, and hatred for my friendship." Psalm 109:2-5
The Curse of Cowardice
Almost as hurtful as the treachery of the Korahs, Absaloms and Judas is the sense of betrayal which many leaders feel when those they thought were friends remain silent and inactive. Like the priest and the Levite who walked by on the other side of the road, while the traveller lay bleeding on the ground; many church members, colleagues and associates choose to keep their distance while their pastor, or missionary, are being savaged by character assassins (Luke 10:27-37). Sometimes silence is golden. Other times it is just plain yellow!
Standing up to Bullies
This is the very opposite of loving your neighbour as yourself and doing to others as you would have them do to you (Luke 6:31). There are always bullies and I have had my fair share of taunts, teasing, being kicked, tripped, poked with injection needles while at school assembly and being beaten black and blue by gangs at school. When my children faced bullies, I tried to help then handle these challenges. What has always amazed me is the unwillingness of many parents and teachers to recognise, or deal with, their children, or students, who are vicious bullies. All too many children who are bullies grow up to be character assassins as adults.
Gossips, Graffiti Vandals and Terrorists
Gossips are much like the graffiti vandals who deface other people's property with their spray cans, while deluding themselves that they are artists. The pathological antagonists, however, are more like the terrorists who plant landmines, car bombs and hijack aircraft to cause maximum damage to the targets of their hate.
Heartless Neutrality and Cowardly Passivity Enables Abuse
What enables bullies, graffiti artists and terrorists to continue to damage lives and property is the heartless neutrality and cowardly passivity of most bystanders. To justify their inexcusable inactivity many resort to a blame the victim approach, or they presume to find fault on both sides! "But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Revelation 21:8
Stand-up and Speak Out in Support of those being Defamed
Similarly, when we see those frustrated failures who take out their rage on the authority figure who symbolises what they are not - successful and blessed by God - we should stand up and speak out for those whose good name and ministry are being defamed.
They All Deserted Him
It was all too easy to cheer Christ with the crowds shouting Hosanna! on Palm Sunday. However, very few spoke up for Christ when the same crowds were screaming Crucify Him! on Good Friday. "Then all the disciples deserted Him and fled" (Matthew 26:56).
How Far Will You Go?
Of Jesus disciples, only John, and the women disciples, went all the way to the Cross and stood with Christ at His darkest hour when He was condemned and dying a disgraceful criminal's death. "For they loved praise from men more than praise from God" John 12:43.
The Fear of Man is a Snare
"Fear of man will prove to be a snare..." Proverbs 29:25. The Bible reveals that many people failed to stand for, or confess, their faith in Christ, because of their fear of what other people would say (John 7:13; 12:42; Gal. 2:12). But God's Word is clear:
Fear God Alone
"Do not be afraid of any man..." Deuteronomy 1:17. Fear God not man. Build your life on the rock of God's Word.
"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7
Dr. Peter Hammond