246. IMPOSTERS AMONG US
(The Information & Edification Series – Batch 6)
In Matthew 13:24-30, Jesus gave a Parable (which was an earthly story with a spiritual meaning) to his disciples, telling them:
- “The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.”
The good seed which was sown is the Word of God (Luke 8:11; Mark 4:14). The man which sowed it in his field is the Lord Jesus Christ himself. To my mind, the field represents the planting of the Church, which Jesus owns and founded.
In Matthew 16:18, Jesus told Peter, “…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” The fact that the Lord mentioned that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church, tells us that there would certainly be attempts to attack, infiltrate and overcome it, by all that are opposed to the Church being built and thriving.
In particular, in the parable given above, the Lord stated that, after the sower had sown good seed (the Word of God) in his field (the Church), that, while men slept, the sower’s enemy came and planted tares among the wheat and then went his way.
James 1:18 states of God, “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” The wheat which was the product of the seed (the Word) being planted is therefore the Church, meaning all who belong to the body of Christ as genuine believers (Christians).
Tares are weeds and are destructive to the proper growth and nourishment of the wheat. They therefore refer to imposters, meaning people who are not genuine believers and therefore do not belong to the body of Christ.
Based on the parable, while there was a state of slumber and non-alertness in the field (the Church), the enemy, which is the devil, seized the opportunity to plant these tares or imposters among the genuine believers in the Church. He left them there to do what tares do best, which is to be destructive and to hinder the growth and impact of the wheat (genuine believers).
In an Article on weed (tare) management published by the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, it was stated that:
- “Weeds compete with winter wheat for soil water, light, space, and nutrients. Weed competition reduces wheat yields and profitability, slows harvest, and increases combine repair costs… Weeds also may serve as hosts for insects or diseases that can injure winter wheat plants and reduce yields.“
Interestingly, despite the destructive nature of the tares (weeds), the sower did not give instruction for them to be pulled up and removed from the wheat. In his wisdom, he instructed that they be left where they were among the wheat until the harvest (the point of maturation), at which point, he would have the tares separated from the wheat to be burned, while the wheat would be gathered into his barn.
The Lord was therefore indicating that, in his Church, although there were genuine believers, there were also imposters (people pretending to be Christians or deluded into thinking they were) who had been planted by satan. However, although the Lord knew exactly who belonged to him and those who belonged to the devil, he had no intention of separating the false from the genuine, until the time of harvest, meaning the time of the end when he returned to judge the world. At that point but not before, he would have the tares separated and burned, meaning the imposters (the ungodly) would be sent to hell and the wheat gathered into his ban, meaning that genuine believers will be brought into the kingdom prepared by the Lord for them.
Of this time, Jesus, referring to himself as ‘the Son of man’, to genuine believers as ‘sheep’ and all the ungodly, including imposters, as ‘goats’, stated in Matthew 25:31-37; 41-43, 46:
- “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
- Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me…
- Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not…And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”
In 2 Timothy 2:15-20, Paul, in urging Timothy to study the Word of God, made reference to the fact that it was to be expected that there would be false persons planted in the Church. Two persons in particular, Hymenaeus and Philetus, had revealed their true colours, as they were seeking seemingly, to undermine the truth of God’s Word and in so doing, to lead people astray.
Paul told Timothy:
- “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour.“
Paul was therefore indicating to Timothy that he ought not to be surprised. In every great house (and the Church was a great house), there will be some genuine and some fake and the Church that the Lord had sown was no exception. There were tares planted by the enemy the devil, among the wheat. There were goats dwelling among the sheep. In God’s house, meaning the physical Church gathering (not the household of faith), there were not only honourable vessels of gold and silver (precious believers) but also dishonourable vessels of wood and of earth (imposters sent by satan, on a mission to wreak mischief and havoc).
That the false is co-existing with the genuine and that it will continue to be so until Christ returns is also evident in the parable that Jesus gave of the ten (10) virgins in Matthew 25:1-13.
- “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
- And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
- Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.”
The Word of God states that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10). That the five (5) virgins who did not take oil in their lamps were regarded as foolish and not as wise, indicates that they never had the fear of the Lord in their hearts. They were imposters.
They seemed to genuinely believe that the bridegroom (symbolic of Jesus Christ) would one day come though and all five (5) of them had an expectation, like the wise five (5), of being accepted by him when he came. Sadly, this suggests that among the imposters that the devil has planted in Churches are those who are sincerely deluded, thinking themselves to be saved when in fact, they are not.
From this parable, it is also clear that there are those attending Church who will look the part, to some extent, live morally upright lives and be positioned around other Christians but still not be Christians. The five (5) foolish virgins looked like the other five (5) and there was nothing on the surface that made them stand out as being different. In fact, like the other five (5), they too were virgins. Nobody is disputing the fact that they were virgins. They lived a morally upright life (at least sexually) which was indeed commendable but it was not enough to grant them access to the marriage where the bridegroom was. In short, moral uprightness is not enough to save.
Like the imposters who regularly attend Church services and involve themselves in ‘Ministry’ activities, these five (5) women also had lamps and were positioned where the other virgins were. However, when the bridegoom arrived, it was only then that it became apparent to all, that they had no oil in their lamps. This did not appear to be known or broadcasted before. The five (5) wise virgins may have therefore been genuinely surprised. For, all along, their counterparts had lamps which everyone may have seen but they were just empty structures. There was no substance within.
Notably, the five (5) foolish virgins not taking oil with them, along with their lamps, did not mean that they had it once and it finished but that they NEVER took oil. While the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps, which makes it clear that there was a responsibility for all ten (10) to do so, the five (5) foolish virgins never did. They apparently just took it for granted that they would be okay and that they would not need to take oil in their vessels.
When it was noised that the bridegroom was coming, the scripture states, “And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.” However, the wise virgins refused, telling them to go buy for themselves. Of course, it was too late then. By the time that they had bought, it was useless, as the door had already been shut.
This reminds us that there is no such thing as Christianity by association. There are some people who think that they are okay and will be accepted by the Lord or that they must be Christian and spiritual because they associate with Christian people or a particular Christian person that is very spiritual. They somehow think that what these people have, will somehow brush off on them. However, it does not work that way. You can hang out with one hundred deeply spiritual Christians, if you are not blood-washed and don’t know Jesus personally, for yourself, nothing that they have and are can help you. You cannot rely on the oil of others to be accepted. You must have oil in in your own vessel, for yourself.
To my mind and as is consistent with other scriptures in the Bible, the oil signifies the Holy Spirit and the Word of God is clear: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”
These women therefore, although they looked the part, kept themselves physically and were therefore morally upright in that sphere and although they hung around the other women who had oil in their vessels (genuine Christians), they were still unregenerates, meaning that they were never saved. They had never been quickened by the Spirit of Christ and were therefore outside of the Lord’s righteous covering.
Notably, it was only when the bridegroom came, that it became clear who was wise and who was foolish. This reminds us, somewhat soberly, that, while we have a responsibility to use discernment and to separate from whatever is ungodly, the Lord does not intend to move to separate all the genuine from the false where there are false pastors, teachers, prophets, preachers, Church-goers and lip professers planted in the Churches but to leave the tares (the false which are there for a destructive and not edifying purpose) among the wheat (the genuine Christians), until the end.
WHY THE DEVIL PLANTS IMPOSTERS IN THE CHURCH
The enemy is all about undermining, derailing, frustrating and misleading. This being his general agenda, there are at least five (5) specific reasons why imposters, as sent by satan, join the Church. These are as follows:
REASON 1 – To create as much confusion, drama, conflict and divisiveness as possible, so as to derail the Church, create disunity, undermine its purpose and that of individual Christians. Sometimes, these people are sent to especially target and fight against a particular Christian, to keep him or her from fulfilling what God would have him or her to fulfill and to keep him or her from advancing and reaching where God will have him or her to reach.
REASON 2 – To introduce false doctrines and evil, ungodly practices, activities and music, so as to try to lead God’s people astray and to keep some people of the Kingdom of God by causing them to believe and embrace a lie. On this point, I will say, that it is impossible to be fighting against and seeking to undermine the truth of God’s Word (which is Christ) and to be of Christ.
REASON 3 – To make the name of Christ ashamed and do damage to the Church, by doing scandalously wicked things for which they are not repentant, causing people in the world to give Christianity and Churches a bad name.
The aim is therefore to align themselves with the Church, pretend to be one of it and then do evil, either brazenly or surreptitiously, so that when it is found out, people will blame all Christians and all of the Church will look bad.
For example, some brazenly commit adultery, divorce and then remarry (sometimes more than once), although their spouse is still alive or try to sexually interfere with vulnerable people in the Church or those who attend for counselling. Some make a grand pronouncement that they have left the world and now identify with Christ and then some time later, after they have been accepted into the folds by unsuspecting or perhaps non-alert Church members, make another announcement that they have left the Church, have renounced Christianity, that this religion has failed them and that they want nothing to do with it.
Such people went in to the Church with that evil intention from the get-go or where they may have been deceived into thinking that they truly believed the truth and were saved, the truth of the matter was that they were sent by their father the devil (even if they did not realize it at the time) with the very purpose in mind.
They may have claimed to have believed and may even have temporarily done so, like the unsaved people in Luke 8:13 but it was from the head, not the heart and so this did not last. They were never truly rooted to Christ as they never believed from the heart his testimony and so, they go back into the world because of a truth, they never really left it.
REASON 4 – To get to use Christianity as a cloak for the perpetuation of evil. For example, people, such as those who love fraud, stealing and other underhanded deals and are involved in criminal activity, sometimes deliberately join a Church and accept positions of so-called prestige, giving themselves titles, so as to have a platform to facilitate their crimes. Such people engage for example, in money laundering, the selling of drugs and other wicked crimes and use the banner of Christianity to hide it. Given that the authorities have traditionally accepted religious denominations as serving a noble cause, without any in depth investigation into their monetary practices, these people use Christianity as a cover, so as to not alert the authorities to their unscrupulous practices and crimes. This is changing however with the advent of NPO legislation in different countries, governments realizing that some of the greatest financial and other types of criminals, have planted themselves (although falsely) in NPOs, including Churches.
REASON 5 – To serve (not Christ and the people of God but) themselves. This could be:
(a) Sexually, by making plays on weak or vulnerable women within the Church gathering AND/OR
(b) Financially, exploiting the assembly and even those outside the Church through false offers of breakthrough, promotion, deliverance and miracles, so as to make themselves rich or occupying a position of leadership as a so-called Pastor or claiming to be a missionary in order to collect a monthly salary from the Church and other financial favours AND/OR
(c) Beneficially, believing a lie, that once they join the Church membership and make a profession with their lips or get baptized or do some other religious things (like putting money in as an investment to get back), that they will get all that their hearts have been longing for, like a husband, children, a home, a car, a promotion, healing, riches, advancement in life, no more problems or some other selfish thing AND/OR
(d) Socially, whether this be to project a certain image of piousness and godliness in the community so that they will be respected and highly regarded or to have great influence or power over people, to be highly esteemed by those within the Church who they desire to lord over and control and also outside the Church, them gaining favours for self because people mistakenly think that they are of the Lord and genuine AND/OR
(e) Relationally, by getting one of God’s children to be in a relationship with them and to marry them. That is, some have their minds set on God’s daughters (and sons, as there are also false women in the Church) but because they are told or know that the Word of God says that a Christian is not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever, they come to the Church, make a false profession so that they will be accepted as one of the fold and then enter into a relationship with God’s child, even going so far sometimes, as to marry that person. Some even enter the Church to get them ‘a good Christian’ and play the game well and consistently, even for years, until they get a catch.
They only expose their true colours and the fact that they are still unregenerate, after they have trapped God’s child (who refused to hear his voice of warning), in a marriage.
This move, while done to serve self is also done to contribute to the destruction and misery of God’s children, thereby undermining their purpose and call. For, as history can attest and sadly, will continue to demonstrate, some of the most miserable, unhappy and sorrowful Christians that exist are those who made the mistake of marrying an ungodly person, whether they did this deliberately or were deceived because they were blinded by what they thought was love and therefore blocked out the warning voice of God.
(e) Culturally, by joining so as to fit in because religion is considered the in-thing or the popular thing and they want to claim what those around them are claiming. For example, a son in a Christian family may not be saved but since everybody in the family goes to Church and claims Christ as their Saviour, to the point where it is considered cultural for members of that family to be considered to be Christians, he goes with the flow and calls himself a Christian as well. He doesn’t really love the Lord and wants nothing to do with Christ really, yet he plays the part by making a profession, getting baptized, attending the services and even volunteering to serve in the Church activities. He was never saved and therefore, does not love truth or the things that pertain to godliness, yet he is there because that is where his family is and where they expect him to be. He knows a lot about the Bible in his head because he has been attending Church for years but it has no place in his heart. He has no intention of giving up control over his life and surrendering it to the Lordship of Jesus Christ but like Judas, he continues to falsely identify with him.
To sum it all up, these people have not come to build up the body of Christ or to promote the gospel and God’s agenda but to do the opposite. They have come to break down. They have come to wreak havoc. They have come, though by disguise, to make war with the saints of Christ and with his testimony. In short, they have come to fulfill the will of their father the devil, which is, to kill, steal and destroy.
In light of this reality and the warning sounded way back in the New Testament in both 2 Peter 2 and in the book of Jude, knowing that they are already among us, we are to remain guarded, to stick to the Word of God which exposes lies and all that is false and to exercise ourselves in discernment (Hebrews 5:14). We cannot afford to be asleep. Now is not the time to slumber. The enemy has already planted himself among us and to think that he has not is to be naive.
He is busy commissioning his children to do his work and they are busy doing it. As people of God, we must be busy doing our Father’s business, growing in his knowledge and in his grace, being watchful and prayerful, for the enemy that goeth about seeking whom he may devour has planted his agents within.
These people often look like angels of light, hence the reason we must remain prayerful and spend time meditating on the Word of God. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, it states:
- “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”
The Word of God is the light that exposes the darkness. It is the Word of God that enables the believer to utilize discernment, so as to expose the devil’s minions, wherever they exist. If God’s Word says something clearly for example and a particular person within the Church assembly insists on fighting against it, not submitting to it and trying to get the other members to do the same, the Word of God exposes this agenda for what it is and that the person, if not repentant, does not have his Spirit of truth within and is therefore none of his.
There is no middle ground and no in-between place to be. As a Preacher once said (and it is quite true), if you turn your back to God, you turn your face to the devil.
A person either belongs to Christ or to the devil. If he or she is not seeking to pursue and advance the Lord’s agenda but to undermine it, then most definitely, he or she is seeking to fulfil the assignment of the devil.
In 2 Peter 2:1-3 and 13 Peter sought to warn the Church of the impending infiltration of false teachers among them, reminding them that even in Old Testament days, there were false prophets among the real. He wrote:
- “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there SHALL BE false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not…Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you“.
By the time that Jude was writing what he had to write, these imposters had already come in. He therefore wrote:
- “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there ARE certain men CREPT IN unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ…These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.” (3,4,12)
From since the time that the book of Jude was written therefore, the planting of the tares among the wheat by the enemy had begun and continues till this day!
The reality that there are imposters among us, (while alarming) does not mean that we are to walk around paranoid, being suspicious of everybody and investigating everybody but we are supposed to be alert and watchful. As the hymn goes: ‘Christian seek not yet repose, hear thy guardian angel say, thou art in the midst of foes, watch and pray!’
(Written on 14th May, 2022)
Dear Reader, if you found the above Article to be interesting, informative, beneficial or edifying, you may also be interested in reading the following:
- Note 12 – ‘Twelve (12) Indicators Of A Healthy Church
- Note 18 – ‘Riches, Abundance, Breakthrough And Promotion – Lies From The Pit Of Hell’
- Note 27 – ‘You Cannot Command Your Morning Or Your Day’
- Note 42 – ‘Ten (10) Red Flags That That Speaker Or Teacher Is A Wolf Disguised In Sheep’s Clothing Or Operating Under The Devil’s Deception’
- Note 112 – ‘The Unbelief Of Judas Iscariot’
- Note 157 – ‘Cliques – An Enemy Of Unity In The Church’
- Note 203 – ‘How Important Is Truth To Christianity?’
- Note 219 – ‘Languishing Leadership’