“And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor.”
Growing up in a preacher’s home allowed me to see many people come to our church who seemed to be good people, only to watch them engrain themselves in the church to the point that they created their own following. I could go through a whole list of people who, when they first came, seemed like people who would be a great help to our church. Sadly, no church has ever existed without these feigned troublemakers.
Even Jesus had feigned troublemakers come trying to cause problems for His ministry. The verse above shows how the scribes and chief priests came and presented themselves as if they were truly a follower of Christ, but their purpose of asking Jesus questions was to “take hold of his words.” Jesus wisely answered their questions in such a manner that they had no way to hold anything against Him. However, these verses show the characteristics of these feigned troublemakers.
First, they appear as someone who is grounded in truth. The verse above says that they feigned themselves as “just men.” Every pastor has seen that family come to their church dressed like someone who has attended church for many years. Every pastor’s heart jumps with encouragement because having a family who is already mature is greatly beneficial to any church. Let me caution you here, every family that seems to be grounded in the truth isn’t a feigned troublemaker, but the Scriptures make it clear that the feigned troublemakers appear no different from you.
Second, feigned troublemakers appear knowledgeable of the Word of God. This is where they start to dig their tentacles into the simple believers. These feigned troublemakers said to Jesus, “Master, we know…” It is interesting that they even addressed Jesus as “Master” when in their heart they hated him. Certainly, God will give a church people who are grounded in the Word of God to help, but you must always be careful of the individual who portrays themselves as someone who is more knowledgeable than anyone else. Troublemakers always think they know more than the pastor or anyone else in the church, and they are not afraid to show how “knowledgeable” they are.
Third, feigned troublemakers appear to flatter the pastor publicly, but they talk differently about him in private. These feigned troublemakers talked about how great Jesus was, but in private they knew they were winning the hearts of the simple over so they could destroy Him. Let me caution you to beware of anyone who seems agreeable in public, but privately they criticize the pastor and present him as unknowledgeable of the Scriptures and church business. My experience with feigned troublemakers is they know what to say in public, and they will compliment the pastor publicly, but they can’t help but criticize in private.
Fourth, feigned troublemakers question craftily. These men questioned Jesus in such a manner that they thought He had no way to answer; their mistake was that they were talking to the Master. My friend, when people are constantly questioning the motives and sermons of the pastor, beware! The Devil uses questions that create doubt in the hearts of Christians so he can destroy them. Watch out for the feigned troublemakers who sow doubt in your heart so they can gain power to destroy your church.