Over the years, we’ve had our fair share of “spies” come into the church with wrong motives. I’ll always remember a particularly laughable situation where a woman came into our church and claimed I cussed her out in front of the entire congregation. She gave the date and time. But I was in another city preaching at another church on that day and time. It was all a lie, and the enemy was quickly shame-faced.
More recently, a woman came into our church and left a nasty public review claiming there was no worship of God in our church, and that I was stealing jokes from false pastors, and that people were deceived by my “false tongues.” Upon investigation, she was tied to someone in another nation who was slandering me because they got caught stealing money from our ministry. (Yes, really!)
Of course, spies and the resultant slander are nothing new to the church era, both Jesus and Paul the apostle met with the same issues. Spies creeping into your church are a backhanded compliment from the enemy.
Secret Agents Try to Trap Jesus
Luke 20:20 (TLB) offers this insight into how spies sought to trap Jesus with His words, “Watching their opportunity, they sent secret agents pretending to be honest men. They said to Jesus, ‘Sir, we know what an honest teacher you are. You always tell the truth and don’t budge an inch in the face of what others think, but teach the ways of God. Now tell us—is it right to pay taxes to the Roman government or not?’
“He saw through their trickery and said, ‘Show me a coin. Whose portrait is this on it? And whose name?’ They replied, ‘Caesar’s—the Roman emperor’s.’ He said, ‘Then give the emperor all that is his—and give to God all that is his!’ Thus their attempt to outwit him before the people failed; and marveling at his answer, they were silent.”
Jesus was savvy to the ill motives of the spies and used divine wisdom to shut them down. When we discern spies in our midst, we need to ask the Holy Spirit for His wisdom on how to deal with them. It won’t always look like a conversation with the spy. It may look like prayer or a more direct confrontation. He knows what to do.
False Christians Spy on Paul
Not everyone who comes in your church is a Christian—or has any interest in hearing the Word of God. Some of them are spies looking for a way to cause trouble. Some are witches looking to plant an item in your church as a point of contact to curse you. We see this happen in Paul’s ministry. Look at Galatians 4:4-5 (TLB).
“Even that question wouldn’t have come up except for some so-called ‘Christians’ there—false ones, really—who came to spy on us and see what freedom we enjoyed in Christ Jesus, as to whether we obeyed the Jewish laws or not. They tried to get us all tied up in their rules, like slaves in chains. But we did not listen to them for a single moment, for we did not want to confuse you into thinking that salvation can be earned by being circumcised and by obeying Jewish laws.”
Again, these false Christians wanted to trap Paul. So now we see a pattern in the motive of spies. They tried to trap Jesus in His words. They tried to trap Paul to accuse him of not following Jewish customs that were unnecessary for believers to abide by. Notice Paul’s strategy: He did not debate with the spies. But he did let the church in Galatia know about this wicked strategy to put believers back into bondage to laws that even the Jews were not able to keep.
Daniel Spies Trap Him
With the prophet Daniel, spies did trap him. Presidents and governors were jealous of him because he was more capable than them and started plotting against him. They couldn’t find anything to criticize so they tried to use his prayer life against him. These evil-doers tricked the King into signing a decree stating if anyone worshipped any god but Darius they would be thrown into the lion’s den. Look at Daniel 6:10-12, TLB:
“But though Daniel knew about it, he went home and knelt down as usual in his upstairs bedroom, with its windows open toward Jerusalem, and prayed three times a day, just as he always had, giving thanks to his God. Then the men thronged to Daniel’s house and found him praying there, asking favors of his God. They rushed back to the king and reminded him about his law. ‘Haven’t you signed a decree,’ they demanded, ‘that permits no petitions to any God or man—except you—for thirty days? And anyone disobeying will be thrown to the lions?’”
In Daniel’s story, you see one of the motives for these spies: jealousy. The spies in our examples were jealous of Jesus, of Paul and of Daniel and sought to trap them. Of course, God sent angels to close the mouths of the lions who would have devoured Daniel, gave Jesus the wisdom to silence the spies and gave Paul the savvy not to debate with false Christians. And God will deliver you from the spies too!
Pray for the spies. They are in bondage to their own insecurity, jealousy, and ineptness. Instead of doing the work with the Lord to walk in their own high calling, they are demon-inspired to hinder your high calling. It may seem to be prospering for a moment, but ultimately the spies will be foiled. Keep doing what you are doing. Don’t let the spies get under your skin.