Stay Away

By Edwin Christiaan

“And now I make one more appeal, my dear brothers and sisters. Watch out for people who cause divisions and upset people’s faith by teaching things that are contrary to what you have been taught. Stay away from them. Such people are not serving Christ our Lord; they are serving their own personal interests. By smooth talk and glowing words they deceive innocent people.” Romans 16:17-18 NLT      

Not too long ago I was involved with somebody who supposedly was an active Christian in the seventies’ Jesus-movement. My wife used to know this person and his then family and ministry years ago. She clearly warned me that this person has a bad reputation and would be of a negative influence on us. I kind of brushed this warning away and gave this seemingly – at first hand – nice, funny person a pass into our lives, even though I saw that he was a very condescending person, always making sarcastic remarks about people to put them down and elevate himself and bragging about how he has got it all right, to the point that he started believing that he was a prophet because of his ability to discern people’s character’s. He was an extremely self-absorbed, unloving, unhealed individual, relishing in his ability to ridicule people in a comical way.

One day when we were ministering in a public place, he joined us. While I was sharing the gospel with somebody who was openly cursing and using foul words, instead of ministering the love of Christ to this man, in a bizarre attempt to be funny and connect with this man, he started saying: “There’s nothing wrong with saying F..k You!” and he continued shouting “F..k You” several times laughing wildly, until a young man standing nearby rebuked him for using these words in front of kids and the playground less than three feet away. Instead of composing himself, the rebuke seemed to fuel him even further and he began ridiculing the concerned man right there on the spot.

Embarrassed and extremely saddened about the wrong testimony and example this man was to the people around, we sought a way to repair the situation, but ultimately he was responsible for his own actions.

“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29 NLT

“But now is the time to get rid of anger, rage, malicious behavior, slander, and dirty language.” Colossians 3:8 NLT

Another red flag came when he told us that he allowed a famous, fallen, seventies revivalist to come to his club and minister while being drunk and using foul language reaching out to teenagers, both Christians and non-Christians. He found it to be no problem what so ever that this defamed minister shouted from the stage: “Jesus wants to f..king save you!”

After many years out of the ministry, he had recently started making new plans for a new ministry. He eagerly shared his plans with me and my wife and called one day to ask us separately if we would like to be on his board. My wife’s alarm bells went off and she warned me that this appeal to a sense of importance and cleverly inviting her as an individual, independently of me was a sneaky scheme to break our unity. She believed he was sowing a seed of discord between us out of jealousy, trying to tempt her to step out of her God-given place as my wife making our decisions together as one unit under God. Wisely, she declined to answer immediately and told him she would pray about it.

One early morning I heard an audible voice telling me to break away from this relationship with this abusive man. I wrote him a letter confronting him with his behavior as he had been sharing his discouraging and condescending personal views and predictions of my ministry and my life, barging uninvited into my life, without any trace of humility in his approach. I had put up with his unloving ways of dealing with people up to this point and always treated him with respect in return for his insults. But on this particular morning, God said: “It’s enough! Get away from this man for good.”

After writing the letter all hell broke loose, starting a ravine of attack coming from this man. It’s always obvious with people like this, that they will never admit any wrong doing and always shift the blame back on you, rejecting God’s power that would be able to correct their sinful lives. They are not capable of genuinely saying things like: “If I have hurt you in any way, please forgive me, I didn’t mean it in that way.” Instead, they will spread all sorts of lies about you and retaliate by discrediting you and your marriage by trying to drive a wedge between you and your spouse and bring division. They question the validity of your ministry and calling from God, for instance saying you are a false prophet or teacher, and let everybody know how sinful and basically worthless you are.

“They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.” 2. Timothy 3:2-5 NLT

I had to admit to God, that I had sinned against Him and my wife by not heeding His warnings for staying away from this man. The consequences of such actions can be devastating and painful and open the doors to all sorts of curses in your life. It is clear that these relationships do not lead you to the heart of Jesus Christ and its blessings, but to the contrary, away from God into confusion, stealing your peace with God, ultimately corrupting your good behavior.

“Bad company corrupts good character.” 1. Corinthians 15:33 NLT

It is because of the danger of being corrupted or cursed by bad associations, even when these people claim to be Christians and yet living in an unrepentant sinful lifestyle, God is warning us not to involve ourselves with them.

“What I meant was that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a Christian yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Don’t even eat with such people.” 1. Corinthians 5:11 NLT

Finally, stay away, also means that we need to forgive these people for hurting us and not hold a grudge against them and understand that this is a battle between the spirit of evil manifesting itself through the person, and the Spirit of God.

“But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” Mark 11:25 NLT

“For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against the evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against those mighty powers of darkness who rule this world, and against wicked spirits in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12 NLT

There is a saying and at the same time a serious warning to us in God’s Word when it comes to people who are led by evil spirits.

“People with hate in their hearts may sound pleasant enough, but don’t believe them. Though they pretend to be kind, their hearts are full of all kinds of evil. While their hatred may be concealed by trickery, it will finally come to light for all to see.” Proverbs 26:24-26

Copyright©2010 Edwin & Sophia Christiaan