An agent of the Evil One...

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It has been said here in the comment section of this blog that when I said a certain woman contradicting Scripture in her comments was serving as "an agent of the Evil One," I was calling her an unbeliever.

This is not true. Serving as an "agent of the Evil One" and being an unbeliever are not one and the same. Christians have in the past, and still do, serve as agents of the Evil One. The most obvious example is this rebuke the Apostle Peter received from our Lord:

But (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, "Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but man's." (Matthew 16:23)

And note that, whereas I used the phrase "an agent of the Evil One," Jesus referred to Peter directly as "Satan." Yet this was the same Peter who a few verses earlier in chapter 16 confessed, "You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." Peter believed, and yet immediately afterwards Peter discouraged our Lord from going to the Cross. Thus Jesus rebuked him calling him "Satan."

Even when our board of elders has excommunicated a soul from our church fellowship--something far beyond the statement I made about this woman's rejection of the teaching of Scripture concerning sexuality--we make no claim that the soul in question is an unbeliever. Rather, we have come to the determination that his words and actions require us to treat him as an unbeliever. The distinction is important.

Man's judgments are susceptible to error. Only God is the final Judge. The reformers repeated again and again, "church councils err." Still, it is the nature of church office that judgments must be made in order to guard God's sheep and flock. God has delegated to pastors, elders, and deacons the task of using the keys here on earth, telling us that "whatever we bind on earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever we loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven." Loving our sheep, we use the keys while always keeping in mind that the Judge of all the earth sits on His throne. Man proposes but God disposes.