Pastoral Letter 06 Feb 2022
My dear readers,
Who is a Violent Man?
Proverbs 16:29-30: “A violent man enticeth his neighbour, and leadeth him into the way that is not good. He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.”
A violent man is vicious, loud, cantankerous, and possibly very hands-on and will hurt others. This is physical violence. He belongs to the class of people who commit crimes, rob and steal. They bully the weak. They take advantage of the poor. They believe that might is right! They use the law and their money to attack and destroy the weak and take their belongings and business. They have little or no morals. As long as they get what they want they do not care one bit how they get it. If it means destroying someone’s family to enhance their wealth, they would do it with no second thought. They are merciless. They lie. They cheat. They abuse everyone and everything that stands in their way of success. The more they have the more they want. There is no stopping them, except by death! The world we live in, and thrust our children into, is a dog-eat-dog world. What a violent world we live in.
The spiritual world is not much better. In these last days, it might be considered as worse! The church is supposed to be a home away from our heavenly home for all of God's children. It is supposed to be a place of peace and safety where the evils of the world cannot penetrate or infiltrate, like our homes on earth that we have managed by the grace of God to make into a haven of rest and security for our children so that they can grow up knowing that home is safe. The distinction between the world out there that is violent and the home is peace, where Christ is Head. This ought to be true of the church. Yet tragically, the evil one has sown his tares in the church. Violence is found in the church, i.e. in the lives of God's people as Proverbs 16:29-30 warns. The environment of peace in every church is in jeopardy.
What exactly is this violence in the church?
The Hebrew word for violence is “hamas.” The man is described as “violent.” It is spiritual violence instead of physical. He hurts the believer’s walk with his Heavenly Father and God’s people, his brothers and sisters-in-Christ. Unlike the violent man of the world whose fierce visage might expose him, the visage of the “violent man” in the church might be like an angel of light. He smiles. He is friendly. He is very approachable. He is helpful. He is well mannered. He is definitely soft spoken. With his charming disposition, he succeeds in disarming God's children as they see in him an outward semblance of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Hearts are touched. Guards are lowered. Homes are opened to him.
He enters into the homes and hearts and he also teaches and preaches the Word of God as if he believes and lives in it. It is in the spiritual realm that he will do his violent acts. One of the most successful methods is to sow seeds of discord and pull believers out of the church that has been their spiritual home for years. Their earthly spiritual bond with their brothers and sisters-in-Christ will be severed. Some of them will wander in the worldly wilderness for years and even the rest of their lives. Their salvation (if they are born again) is intact but their holy witness for Christ is in tatters. The “violent man” can even bring in false teachings undermining the faith of those who are weak. His purpose is to destroy the peace and unity of the church.
His method is by enticement, i.e. by persuasive words. These persuasive words include flatteries. The word “to entice” comes from a root that means “to make room” or “to enlarge something.” The flatteries enlarge the pride of man. The victim feels good about himself. He thinks the “violent man” is his friend. He welcomes him into his heart and shares his thoughts and life with him. The “violent man” says only nice things. He will not point out your wrongs and correct you. He smiles and encourages you even though he sees you in sin like the kisses of an enemy of Proverbs 27:6: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Do you know of such violent men? Beware.
The target of the “violent man” is “his neighbour,” i.e. his friend! How does he entice? He entices him by leading him into the way that is “not good.” But the poor gullible “neighbour” thinks that it is good. That is all that matters to the “violent man” who has been enticing him all this while. His goal to destroy his neighbour’s witness is about to come to fruition. It will not be good salvation-wise because he will not find salvation in the pernicious way that is filled with lies and half-truths. It will not be good because the way is a devilish way of pseudo-spirituality that will ruin his holy witness for Christ. It will not be good for his walk with the LORD because it is a way of idolatry where God will always be second place in his life. It will not be good for his friends because they will be stumbled by his way of carnality. It will not be good for anything that is eternal!
It does not mean that it will not be “good” for all things temporal for this is what enticement is all about! It makes the victims feel good about themselves and think that they are right in what they are doing. They are so blinded by the violent man’s enticement, who they regard as their friend, that they cannot see the “good” that he is doing is actually sinful and against Christ and God's Word.
If the “violent man” runs out of new ways to entice others, he will ponder and invent new ways. “He shutteth his eyes to devise froward things: moving his lips he bringeth evil to pass.” He can be quite creative in the diabolical sense. He will mull and strategize carefully his next move till he checkmates his neighbour’s soul. He will destroy his neighbour’s witness by separating him from his walk with God and fellowship with God’s family. He will persuade for months if not years, sowing strife into the mind and heart of his friend. He will soon reap what he has sown. What he reaps will be the ruined life of a child of God and his family.
Watch out for the “violent man” in your life! May God grant us the discernment to remain steadfast, unmoveable always abounding in the work of the LORD for as much as we know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord (cf. 1 Cor 15:58). Amen.
Yours faithfully in the Saviour’s Service,
Rev Dr Quek Suan Yew