by Tim Hall
Some are not really who they appear to be.
The arrests earlier this week of 11 individuals on charges of spying for Russia has garnered much attention. These seemed to be ordinary citizens, pursuing the American dream like the rest of us. If the charges are proven true — and there already appears to be substantial evidence coming to light — we will learn again that people can be deceptive.
According to a report released on July 1, 2010, one of those charged has confessed to his actions. Though he seemed to be an ordinary citizen, working as a photographer and a karate instructor, he has confessed that he worked secretly for “the Service”. He was born in Uruguay as he previously claimed; the house in which he and his wife lived had been purchased by Russian intelligence officials.
Neighbors and associates of those arrested are shocked at the thought that their lives intermingled with people who were living lies. The most unnerving prospect is that these people were working to undermine the ideals their neighbors held dear.
Will this cause us to look with renewed skepticism at those around us? Can we know the true identity of our next-door neighbor?
Paul wrote about some who were spies: “And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage)” (Galatians 2:4, NKJV). A key phrase in that verse is “false brethren”; *pseudadelphos*, brothers who were not genuine.
These of whom Paul wrote were of the Judaizing group of Christians, teaching that Gentiles must become Jews as well as Christians. The letter to the Galatians was meant to squash such thinking and to preserve the liberty they had in Christ (Galatians 5:1,13). These, however, were more set on their agenda than on serving the Lord. In some ways they resembled Christians, but they actually served another master.
This was not Paul’s only experience with false brethren. In 2 Corinthians 11:26 he wrote of some of the trials he had endured. Among them were “perils among false brethren”. They wore the name of Christ, but they didn’t follow his will.
How frightening would it be to be busted by God, exposing the fact that we were not really the people we claimed to be? Instead of being devoted to Jesus, we were instead devoted to our own comfort and happiness. The consequences of being a pseudo-disciple are serious!
This is an opportunity to examine our allegiance. Do we really subscribe to the truth of Philippians 3:20: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”? Before we’re exposed in judgment, let’s come clean and be genuine.
by Tim Hall