The Case of the Inerasable Tool Bar

by Barbara Ann Oliver

“I have this tool bar that I can’t get rid of.”

“Go to View, Toolbars, and unclick it.”

“It won’t unclick.”

“Go to this site and download their software. It will find it and remove it for you.”

“I am running it now. WOW, where did all this stuff come from? I didn’t know it was on my computer! So, is this spy software free?”

“Not usually. They make you buy it before they delete all the junk.”

“Ouch! Thirty bucks!”

Mike had been very careful. He only used his computer for research for sermons. But he discovered that behind the scenes, someone had been downloading software onto his computer from the Internet without his consent. It happens to us all. We innocently visit a web site, turn off our computer, go to bed, and BAM! The next morning we discover that we have extra toolbars, pop-ups, weird sounds, strange cursors, and other unwanted stuff.

How did it get there? How do you get rid of it? Like Mike, you usually have to pull your credit card out of your pocket and lay down thirty bucks!

In the church we are going along just fine, not many problems, pretty good growth, and then BAM! We discover that someone has been downloading spyware into the congregation.

Jesus warns that it will happen. The enemy plants tares in the field with the good seed, and before you know it, you have weeds in with the wheat (Matthew 13:24-30). Peter warns against false teachers “secretly” introducing destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1). The Galatians experienced it. They were bewitched by the teachings of some of the Jewish brethren (Galatians 3:1), exchanging the freedom and the blessings they enjoyed in Christ for slavery under the old law.

Weeding out the spyware always demands a price. Some things we may have to tolerate awhile, “lest while you are gathering up the tares, you may root up the wheat with them” (Matthew 13:30). For example, new Christians often bring strange ideas with them. These will often disappear with teaching, time, and patience.

Some things we have to get rid of, regardless of the cost, because “a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough” (Galatians 5:9). Some religious people deny the things written in the Bible. They deny the virgin birth, the miracles, the creation, and some even deny the sonship of Christ!

There is an old saying, “Forewarned is forearmed.” Peter says it better: “You, therefore, beloved, be on your guard lest, being carried away by the error of unprincipled men, you fall from your own steadfastness” (2 Peter 3:17).

We will always have to deal with spyware on the Internet. We must be careful where we go and what we allow to be downloaded. In our spiritual lives and family, we must also be careful not to let false teachers slip through our defenses. And though we cannot always prevent these problems, we must “be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless” (2 Peter 3:14).

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Barbara A Oliver

Barbara Ann Oliver has worked with the church in Costa Rica for many years and serves as the associate editor for Forthright Magazine.

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