Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 22, 1961

Cowards, Traitors, And Enemy Spies

Kenneth Embry, Leitchfield, Ky.

"But know this, that in the last days grievous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, traitors, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God! holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof: from these also turn away." (2 Tim. 3:1-5) This was once a prophecy, an event to come in the future, but now this condition exists and it is no longer a prophecy; it is now current events in the church.

But we still have the Great Commission to fulfill. We must go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever Christ has commanded us.

Can we succeed in our task by sending out an army that is full of cowards, traitors, and enemy spies? We can best answer this question if we are clear to the definition of cowards, traitors, and enemy spies. So now I will try to define each for you in the light of the scriptures.

A coward, in the spiritual sense, is a person who is afraid to be different from the world but who wants to be called a Christian. Paul described cowards in his prophecy, especially when he said there would be lovers of pleasures rattier than lovers of God. You hear most about these people from persons outside of the body of Christ. When you mention the sins in an individual's life that he ought to make right, he will point out to you one of the cowards and say, "Well look at so-and-so, he does those things and he is a member of the church you are trying to get me into." Yes, cowards make it difficult to convert sinners to Christ. Cowards do harm in yet another way, they lower the morale within God's army. Being cowards, they are afraid to stand up for Christ and against the devil. We all know that a little leaven will leaven the whole lump. Let us also know that a little yellow will color the whole church. The only place for cowards in the church is out of it.

Now a traitor is not afraid to fight but he always wants to be on the winning side. That is to say that they want to be popular and in the majority more than they want to be right. Most traitors will not show themselves until some conflict arises in the church. Although they are rarely found in the middle, they are commonly seen first on one side then on the other. A traitor will tell you something and tell someone else just the opposite, in other words, they are inconsistent. Paul mentions them and even goes on to describe them. Among other things, he says that they hold a form of godliness, but have denied the power thereof. This is what they look like but what do they do? Well, let us say that you are numbering the army and let us assume that you make no distinction as to the fitness of your soldiers. When you have completed your counting and begin to battle with the devil you may find yourself on the front line fighting in the heat of the war. When you look back with expectation of replacements, you will be very disappointed to find that there is no one behind backing you up. When you turn your head back around to continue fighting, you may be very frightened to see the devil's army doubled. You may be even more discouraged when you see many of your friends fighting with the devil. This is the greatest danger of traitors, they give you a false impression of your fighting forces and potentialities. To keep aware of the true fighting power of the church you must exclude all traitors when you take the count.

The enemy spies are the hardest to recognize, they are the ones who make a special effort to conceal their deeds and hide their real faces in dark corners. Paul refers to them in Acts as grievous wolves because they slip in false doctrines in order to cause inner-destruction of the church. They do their damage like termites, only a little at a time, unseen and unheard in public, working under the floor so to speak. They will soon have the whole floor eaten out before they are noticed, then it is too late. No amount of termite poison will then do any good. But we must remember that spies are not cowards or traitors but that they are brave and loyal. The only difference is that they are employed by the wrong government and are soldiers of the devil sent to destroy the church from within. The only thing that can be expected from the presence of spies is destruction!

"From these also turn away." We know to turn away from fellowship of the world but we are hesitant to turn away from these because they are thought to be members of the church. But, as we have seen, if we do not turn away from these also, the whole church is going to come to a fall.

Let us go back through church history to the turn of the present century. Remember the split among the Disciples of Christ? If I recall correctly, instrumental music and missionary societies seemed to be the great falling away of that particular era. If this was the only difference then which caused the church of Christ and the "Christian Church" to be distinct, we must conclude that that is still the only difference. But is it? If it isn't, there must have been more to the separation than meets the eye. Today the only distinction between the "Christian Church" and the denominational world is the name. Likewise the only similarity between The Church and the "Christian Church" is the word "Christ" in the name.

Coming back to today, we again see division in the church. Again we have two supposed issues, orphan homes and the function of the universal church, but again there is more to it than meets the eye. Christians are just now realizing that in order to maintain a strong and useful church we must do what Paul has commanded us; to turn away from these also, to eliminate cowards, traitors, and enemy spies from within our midst. And before God, brethren, let us never cease to strive toward the perfection of ourselves and of the church.