The key point of deception is that it has to, at the very least, confuse people. While some evils announce themselves with trumpets blaring from down the street, the more dangerous ones are adept at concealing themselves in a manner that many people will find convincing.
For a long time, I’ve found it very annoying that most pastors don’t ever stop to think, “You know, the Bible says that there will be people working to destroy my church from within. I wonder who they are?” I’ve only ever met one pastor who watches out for wolves hidden within his flock, and he only does this because he’s learned from experience.
Early in his first pastoral experience, a group of families that were heavily involved with the church began pushing hard for a restructuring that would make the pastor accountable to a board of deacons. When the pastor refused to go along with this, the families, who dominated the board of deacons, caused a schism within the church. About thirty percent of the church left, reducing it to around eighty members.
What was intriguing, though, was that two years later, the pastor learned that the same group of people had unsuccessfully tried to take over two other churches prior to his own, and had successfully managed to install a supreme board of deacons at a fourth church, the one they’d invaded after leaving his. It is interesting, I think, to note that the method of conquest was to promise the people of the church more power by giving them elections and oversight.
Mere human organizational politics or something more? The pastor told me that to him, there was a definite “hint of brimstone” about the whole affair. I don’t know what happened to that fourth church since then, but it would be interesting to find out.
Like the church, America is too powerful to be destroyed from without. But it can be destroyed from within and like that fourth church, there is some reason to believe that its enemies may already be in a position to do so at an opportune moment.
UPDATE – Spacebunny reminds me that I left out one significant fact. In the three years after the schism, the church that had seen attendance decline by a third due to the pastor’s stand on principle, was forced to move twice into bigger buildings in order to accomodate all of the new members who began coming.