Addressing the Calumnies of One’s Critics
The man of God must be warned that he operates amidst spiritual warfare (Eph 6:10–20). God employs this called out, Spirit-filled slave of Christ to help advance the kingdom of God in the darkness of the kingdom of this world. Resistance to the advance of light and truth is the reality in view here.
First, God is glorified by the wicked on the day of evil. After all, He made the reprobate unbeliever for this very purpose (Prv 16:4; Rom 9:22). The Creator of all things has ordained a formidable foe to oppose Him. In the rebellion of demons and men, Satan became the ruler of this world (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11), who operates as a god (2 Cor 4:4) with dominion (Acts 26:18).
The way that God is glorified is by manifesting all of His glorious attributes using the backdrop of darkness to highlight them. His is the kingdom of light set against darkness (Jn 8:12; 1 Pet 2:9). Against the father of lies (Jn 8:44), God is true (Rom 3:4). God is good all the time, causing the working all things for good for His chosen people (Rom 8:28), while Satan hates his enslaved subjects (Rom 6:6, 16–20), the sons of Adam who have become children of the devil in the fall of man (Gen 3; Rom 5:12–21; Eph 2:1–3; 1 Jn 3:10).
Second, it is the devil’s desire to destroy all the works of God by any and every means permitted by God for him to use. The adversary has been a liar and a murderer from the beginning (pre-cosmic fall), and his temptation of Adam and Eve was intended to destroy them, for they were made in the image of God and given dominion over the earth. Being a thief, the deceiver usurped the position of man only to be met by the second Adam, Jesus Christ (Rom 5:12–21).
The Son of God who came from heaven to be enfleshed as a man remained impeccable without sin (Jn 1:14; 2 Cor 5:21; Heb 4:15). His mission was to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21), to destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn 3:8), and to bring the kingdom of God to this world, in a way that would deliver God’s elect people to the very last soul before His return to judge the world, the angels, and the living and the dead in righteousness (Acts 10:42; 2 Tim 4:1; 1 Pet 4:5).
When Jesus successfully completed His mission of redemption, He bodily ascended to heaven and was enthroned with all authority in heaven and on earth (Mt 28:18; Eph 4:8–10). His victory over His enemies at the Cross means He is now leading His redeemed people from every nation, tribe, and tongue in His triumphal procession (2 Cor 2:14; Rev 5:9; 7:9). These elect, redeemed are each regenerated by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven to gather them from every place and across time (Jn 14:26; 15:26; Jn 3:1–8).
The defeated foe has been humiliated publicly and incarcerated (Eph 5:11; Col 2:15; Rev 20:1–2), but to further God’s glory, reprobate demons and people continue the rebellious resistance against God and His anointed King of kings and His representative kingdom on earth (Ps 2:1; 1 Tim 6:15), which is His church (Rom 14:17), the Israel of God (Gal 6:16), His holy nation of royal priests both Jew and Gentile (Gal 3:28; 1 Pet 2:9).
When one of God’s predestined sons is caused to be born again of His Holy Spirit (Eph 1:4–5; 1 Pet 1:3), then another adopted child of God is made manifest as an ambassador for Christ the King (2 Cor 5:20). As a beloved slave of Christ (Eph 6:6), the sinner having become a saint, he now serves the kingdom of God in full submission (Mt 22:37; 2 Cor 10:5). From the world’s perspective, the Christian is a wretched defector who is to be resisted, and in some cases even killed (Jn 16:2).
Cain resisted Abel (Gen 4). Noah’s entire generation resisted Him and his preaching the message of God’s pending judgment (Gen 6–9). When God set apart Abraham by oath and covenant, it meant trouble for the believer in and friend of God (Is 41:8; Jas 2:23). This was true for all the patriarchs of Israel and for those who would subsequently serve as types of Christ.
Joseph experienced treachery from his own brothers, which foreshadowed Jesus’ betrayal by his own people at Jerusalem. By the time Moses was opposed by Jannes and Jambres (2 Tim 3:8), undermined by Korah (Num 16), and having to manage the rogue Nadab and Abihu (Lev 10:1), the pattern was set. There would be trouble from the world and also inside the church (Jn 16:33). The New Testament book of Acts, the epistles and Revelation 2–3 demonstrate the kinds of trouble that would hinder the church in history. There is nothing new under the sun or in the church (Eccl 1:9).
Pastors who plant churches that later thrive have many obstacles to overcome, but they do not struggle with internal resistance quite like the man of God, called by God to minister in an already existing congregation. The internal politics of a local church can reveal a demonic stronghold in some cases.
The local church can be filled with any combination of sheep and goats. There may even be a wolf in sheep’s clothing lurking in the pews, with aspirations of a hostile takeover of the pastorate or some portion of the congregation in a schemed schism. Threats made to the man of God may be deadly in a physical sense, but more often, they are destructive calumnies.
A calumny is a slanderous or malicious utterance meant to vilify the character of the man of God. If words have the power to give life and also to kill, then the pastoral critic best be cautious. Did it end well for Tobiah when he labored to destroy Nehemiah? How about for Absalom when he attempted a coup d’etat against King David? If Judas Iscariot could return from the dead, would the character assassins cease their sophistry in fear of God and eternal punishment in fiery hell? Not at all, but the warning must be issued anyway.
Man of God, do not be naïve regarding what awaits you in a new charge. Speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15). Live above reproach by God’s grace. Be in prayer regarding those who oppose you, knowing the good hand of God is upon you regardless of the chicanery of the deviants. God will be glorified in working in the midst of the malicious malcontents. Be patient and wait on the Lord. He will fight for you.
A final word to those intent on maligning the man of God: repent, for you are positioning yourself against the Lord’s anointed, and God will be glorified in dealing with your affront against the Holy Spirit-appointed servant of the Lord. It would be far better for you to depart a congregation than to undermine church leaders, who possess an anointing to do a work in that place. Will you be found on the day of judgment as a troubler of Israel and persecutor of Christians and the church? If you have an inkling that you might be one of them, then while it is called “today” may I suggest you stand down. If not, remember your end.
Spokane Valley, Washington
September 14, 2022