In more than 40 years of ministry, my experience has been that most of the time a believer’s greatest persecution comes from other people who identify themselves as believers.
This truth is rooted in the fact that even the most faithful believers can be used by Satan if they are not careful.
Scriptures in this week’s Bible study, “Nine Characteristics of Tares — The Believer’s Enemy,” reveal that sometimes aggressive, attacking, anti-God or anti-Bible people are not true believers — even though they say they are. They are agents of Satan who have a goal of robbing you of your joy and sidetracking you in your calling. It is important for believers to recognize this; it is in fact what the Bible teaches!
In addition to Satan using misguided believers, some unbelievers are Satan’s outright partners who are determined to cause chaos and turmoil in the believer’s life. Jesus refers to them as tares.
In Jesus’ parable of the tares, as recorded only in the Gospel of Matthew (13:24-30; ref. Luke 3:17), the Savior teaches the multitudes that there will be tares sown in with the wheat, a tactic of the enemy that results in largely indivisible consequences until the Day of Judgment (13:26-30).
Interestingly, as revealed in this parable, Jesus has no intention of rooting out false believers from genuine ones during the age in which we now live. (Therefore, an appropriate subtitle to this Bible study could be “How to Cohabitate with Tares.”) This is an important observation, a sobering, standalone takeaway in and of itself from this passage.
A tare (zizanion) is a darnel weed prevalent in the Palestine biome. It is largely indistinguishable from wheat until it matures and bears fruit. In the end, tares are choking, bitter and inedible. Jesus’ use of the tare and the picture it presents was a powerful metaphor in an agrarian-based culture — as it is today!
When Jesus told his disciples that he must suffer many things, Peter got worked up, protested and denied that would happen. Jesus said to him, “Get behind me, Satan” (Matthew 16:21-24)! Jesus knew that Peter wasn’t Satan, but he made it clear that Peter was being influenced by Satan.
To derail Jesus may not have been Peter’s intent, but in effect he had become a stumbling block to the Savior. Peter’s words were meant to refute Jesus’ dire prophecies and discouraged him from fulfilling his divine mission.
Satan works the same way through people close to us or those who pose as “christian” (lower case intentional). Many are the tares in the church today, especially since liberal theology infiltrated mainline Christianity, threw out its foundational tenets, including Jesus as Savoir, but still called itself “Christian.” (See my Bible studies “Theological Liberalism in America” and “Liberal Theology’s Struggle with Modern Archaeology” at capmin.org.)
I have experienced tares myself on more than one occasion. A few years back, a person in “ministry” in a state capitol tried to prevent me from establishing a weekly Bible study to teach legislators in his state the Word of God. He said to me, “Capitol Ministries is not needed here; it is our experience that legislators don’t want to study the Bible, so we take a different approach.”
I thought in my heart that the appropriate response in the moment should be, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” But I refrained from saying so. And I persevered and established the Bible study, which is ongoing today. Consider the number of men and women who have benefitted from a steady diet of the Word of God because this man’s nefarious intention did not prevail. I recognized a tare.
Every true believer must be aware of the biblically evidenced truth of the existence of tares and be equipped to respond to them appropriately. Remember, Ephesians 6:12 states, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but … against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” So beware! Be ready!
Dealing with tares, however, is not an indeterminable dilemma. A copious number of New Testament passages speak about tares and instruct the believer on how to astutely identify his enemies.
Every believer needs to be alert and biblically discerning of the prevalence and presence of false believers amongst the truly redeemed of God.
Click here to read this week’s Bible study, “Nine Characteristics of Tares — The Believer’s Enemy,” as taught in our weekly House, Senate and former WH Cabinet member D.C. Bible studies, and take a deep dive into Scripture on this critical subject so you may identify the believer’s enemy and respond appropriately when they try to cause harm in your life.
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