Summary: Churches need to be careful who they put into leadership positions. Paul says to "Beware"

The Perfect Disguise

When God starts moving and working in all areas of our lives, don’t be fooled in thinking that the enemy doesn’t notice.

· Expect a counter attack for every blessing

· Expect a test on your spiritual life

· Expect something to happen that will cause you to exercise your faith in a stronger way

The same goes for our church. When God starts blessing our faithfulness and work, the enemy is going to be “prowling” around trying to see what he can mess up.

· Not everyone who walks through those doors have this church in their best interest

· Not everyone who wants to become a member of this church wants to see it flourish

· Not everyone who sits on a pew inside these walls cares about our future – they just soon see us fall.

First of all, you have to realize Ephesians 6:10-12

“Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. [11] Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. [12] For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

It’s not that these people come in with their own agendas against people in the church. They are being guided in a wrong direction by something stronger.

The battle is bigger than you or I.

The battle is bigger than Shipps Baptist Church.

The battle is far greater than what you can imagine.

Read Philippians 3:1-2

This scripture gives us a warning that we should watch out for those we let inside our congregation.

Paul, who was in prison at the time and noted as one of the most personal letters that he wrote, wrote this Philippian letter.

He gives us warning of the possible intrusion of people who do not have the same outlook as we do.

But notice first, the way he opened his letter in Chapter 3.

v.1 – “…rejoice in the Lord.”

No matter how difficult it may get…

No matter how close we have to watch people…

No matter how many times we might be let down…

Paul encourages us to “rejoice in the Lord.”

· It is He from whom all blessings flow…

· It is He who will help us with the following instructions…

· It is He who has sent the words through Paul for our learning…

Matthew Henry states:

The more we take of the comfort of our religion the more closely we shall cleave to it: the more we rejoice in Christ the more willing we shall be to do and suffer for him, and the less danger we shalt be in of being drawn away from him.

Nehemiah 8:10 – “The joy of the Lord is our strength”

But then he goes into a warning that is still relevant to us today.

You can never be too careful when you start experiencing growth in church. As new members and former members begin to be drawn to our fellowship, Paul says the following is a “safeguard” that bears repeating.

· He is referring to those who will enter our fellowship to do harm rather than to do well.

· He is talking about those who would rather cause confusion than conviction.

· Those who would rather fuss than fellowship

Paul describes them in three ways.

1. Beware of the dogs –

“The Perfect Disguise” – that of a puppy or dog.

They look innocent and loving!

When I thought about this illustration I couldn’t help to think of three things.

a. A dog can be loving one minute and turn on you the next.

You do something to scare that dog and he will begin showing his teeth like he is going to eat you alive.

That’s like some Christians. As long as you are petting them and scratching their bellies, they are fine. But start showing someone else a little attention and they become ferocious animals.

b. A dog is always happy in other people’s trash

You want to see a dog happy, you watch how they tear into the trash. Not only will they tear into it in search of good garbage but they also enjoy strewing it everywhere.

Some Christians are like that. When they feel threatened or left out, they seem to be happier while going through your trash (your past) and strewing it all over the place.

Dogs can’t help it; it’s just their nature. But it’s not the nature of people and it is something that must be stopped when you see them heading toward the garbage can.

The third thing that came to mind when thinking about these “dogs”:

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