The Consequences of Evil… and Social Media — SBC Voices

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I’m no expert on war history, but I’ve read articles that said Hitler had every chance of winning WWII if not for his own bizarre choices. Most criminals who get caught do so because of pride, madness, and self-destructive choices. Self-immolation is inherent in the nature of sin. The arrogance of turning against the will and ways of Almighty God brings with it a natural result. Sin is spiritual suicide and will always bring both active judgment from God and natural consequences. “Be sure that your sin will find you out.”

This principle also applies to the interactions of Christians on social networks. I’ve been involved with Baptist blogging for nearly 15 years, almost since the phenomenon began. At that time I saw a host of men and a few women rising up as avengers of God’s justice, warriors of “discernment” dispensing divine anathema to anyone who disagreed with them. I have had extremely unpleasant encounters with a few of them. An old adage that I first saw on the menu of a “Po Folks” restaurant is apt. “Never bother with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.“Too often have I gotten dirty by yelling at people who liked to get in the mud and throw it, who managed to reclassify this bashing as true biblical love.

These people have often made slanderous and false accusations against the people of God, people whom I love and respect. The tendency in the heat of battle is to believe that justice demands that we fight fire with fire. If they get into the mud, we have to crawl through their mud and throw the mud with them. We have dishonored the name of Christ and damaged the cause of his kingdom here on earth by engaging in retribution with these people. I wish I could say I stayed above it all.

Certainly the church needs discernment and must oppose false teaching, but any reasonable Christian can see that the “call” has gotten out of control. Biblical discernment requires us to discern that “discernment ministries” operate contrary to Christ, the Scriptures, and the fruit of the Spirit. The question is how we should react. What are pious people to do in the face of this fleshly, divisive movement that claims to protect the faith “once for all delivered to the saints” but is in fact tearing down the church?

1. We must remember the Commandment of God.

Deuteronomy 32:35 says so.

“The Lord said, ‘Do I not store these things,
seal them in my treasury?
I will take revenge; I will pay them back.
In due time their feet will slip.
Their day of catastrophe will come,
and their destiny will catch up with them.

Romans 12:19 paraphrases this verse and says:

Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous wrath of God. For the scriptures say,

I will take revenge; I will pay them backsays the Lord.

I am not the avenger of God’s name. It is a divine right and I blaspheme when I take it upon myself to avenge myself, to defend his honor. I don’t have to fight every false report, every lie told about me, every wrong thing done in the name of Christ. He is active in avenging his name and the evils done against his people.

It’s easy to think we’re standing up for truth and righteousness when we’re just getting revenge on someone who has irritated or insulted us. Right?

2. Evil is self-destructive.

I could list names here, but most of you already know these names and it would just turn into a food fight over the history of these people. Yet we can remember how prominent bloggers and people on social media made a name for themselves by attacking others or saying outrageous things. Some pointed their guns at the SBC, some at specific people, and some fought against Calvinism or liberalism or whatever the bogeyman of the time was. Then they crashed hard.

I’ve pondered this idea for a long time, but last night I read an article about the spectacular self-destruction of one of the most infamous names on the blog. I have been the target of several of his attacks over the years. I first tried, about ten years ago, to make peace with him and reconcile, but it was impossible. I’ve written an article or two (maybe more?) about it and usually get most of it out of it. Nothing I said or did ever affected him. He fell down.

This has been the case with most “bad guys” on social media. They destroy themselves ethically or morally. They become so bitter that their faith weakens and they fall apart. They do something stupid and lose their credibility. They jump the shark.

This morning some of my friends were talking about a wolf among the sheep of the SBC, someone who has a growing platform but uses it to do evil. What should we do? My initial instinct is to start tweeting how terrible a person he is, to try to get him out of whatever entity he’s housed in, to “fight the fight”.

What I have to do is remember that evil is self-destructive and people who walk in the flesh under the banner of Christ will eventually suffer the consequences. Be sure that your sin will find you out.

3. There is a time to get up.

There is a time to stand up and confront sinners within the church, as Paul did from time to time. It wasn’t his whole ministry, but periodically he faced a wolf among the sheep, sometimes by name. One must practice BIBLICAL discernment and “call out” wickedness.

I believe there are biblical guidelines that I have come to believe in my experiences, including my failures.

  • I shouldn’t generally defend myself, but leave that to God. Defending myself tends to come from a place of pride, not the glory of God.
  • If I stand up, it should be for the good of the church, to protect the sheep from the wolves. (Not to protect me, my “platform” or my name.)
  • I should confront with a view towards doing good, towards reconciliation, towards construction. 1 Corinthians 13 does not disappear when you confront each other.
  • Generally, we should confront those who use their power to hurt the weak, those who abuse God’s sheep. In other words, ‘challenging’ is not about shielding power from criticism but about confronting the powerful who abuse their power.
  • We should avoid name-calling, ridicule, and belittlement in our confrontations. Focus on sin or failure or error. I realize that Jesus called his adversaries whitewashed tombs and poisonous serpents, but he had the advantage of having perfect knowledge of their souls. We are the best at avoiding name-calling and insults.
  • It is usually unnecessary to participate in continuous public exchanges on social networks that become confrontational. They fall under the cliché “more heat than light”. Little good comes from these. State your case calmly and truthfully, then move on.

4. Invoke Titus 3:10 if needed.

Titus 3:10-11 says so.

If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and a second warning. After that, have nothing to do with them. For such people have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them.

If you meet one of these people, confront them personally (in private is fine). Seek to reconcile. Once. Twice. Three or four times. The Spirit of God is always on the side of reconciliation. However, there is a time when we just need to cut it off and apply Titus 3:10 (and 11) and deliver that person to God’s judgment.

Luckily, most social media outlets have a block or mute feature specifically designed for these purposes.

5. Protect your soul.

I have friends who can interact with Twitter trolls much better than me. I get angry and find myself lashing out, so I have to protect my soul and I’m much more likely to back down.

We must walk in the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc. If you are not engaging in the fruit of the Spirit but find yourself demonstrating the works of the flesh (anger, envy, rage, contention, etc.) you should take steps to protect your soul.

There are so many issues here, maybe enough for a follow-up post at some point. We need to stop tricking ourselves into believing that what we’re doing when we’re gutting each other on social media is actually love. We must read the Fruit of the Spirit and the works of the Flesh and judge our actions accordingly. We must remember that “vengeance is the spirit, I will repay” and God be God!

It’s hard to broach a subject like this with so many layers. My key point is simple:

Evil is eaten. Remember that God judges sinners and sin destroys itself. We don’t have to tire ourselves out tracking down every evil tweet or sinful message. Do good, obey God, seek His glory, and let God be God.

Now it’s your turn.

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