Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. – Matthew 7:15 (NASB)
On September 11, 2002, I raised my right hand and swore an oath to defend my country against all enemies foreign and domestic. In the days, months and years that followed I learned a great deal about the tactics, techniques and procedures of enemy combatants and how to analyze their movement patterns in order to better predict future activity. Although most of my time in the military was focused on offensive operations, I also became quite knowledgeable concerning defensive operations and the lethal consequences of not remaining vigilant of enemy affairs in our battlespace. One such critical learning experience occurred in early 2009 during my final combat deployment to Afghanistan.
It was February 12, 2009 and I was deployed in Paktika province located in Regional Command East. I was an Infantry Captain living and working with a small team of American Soldiers in a quiet corner of the provincial Governor’s compound. It was a rather uneventful morning until the explosion occurred and shook the whole building in which we were living. Another soldier and I immediately grabbed our rifles and moved toward the rising billows of smoke that marked the blast site. By the time we arrived at the entry control point, the wounded had mostly been taken away and more reinforcements had arrived to secure the area. I was told by some of the Afghan policemen that approximately three men had been killed and eight more suffered life threatening injuries. Although the exact number of fatalities and casualties was not yet clear, one thing was abundantly clear, no one was ready for what hit them that day.
The vicious attacker that morning turned out to be a beleaguered old man enlisted by the enemy to do their dirty work for them. The old vagrant was small in stature and had a long white beard, a familiar sight at the local mosque and police checkpoints, a commoner often seen at any place he might receive free handouts and other scraps of food. With the assurance of an eternal paradise consisting of 72 beautiful virgin maidens and a significant amount of financial compensation being given to the poor man’s family after his death, it was not hard for the enemy to convince him to become their pawn.
As the story was later told to me, the old man had approached along a quiet side street coming from the bazaar to the west of the compound. The guards stationed nearby recognized the man but assumed that he was only there to ask for food. With no danger anticipated, the guards said nothing and simply motioned the man onward, beyond the first check point constructed of piles of sandbags and sharp concertina wire. As the old man approached the next guard post the second group of sentries stopped him and asked him what he wanted. When the man stuck out his shaky hand to ask for food, the guards again motioned him onward, this time to a place where a larger group of unsuspecting Afghan Policemen were sitting together and sharing a meal.
As the inconspicuous old man drew near to the unsuspecting guards, the policemen were suddenly blindsided by a dreadful evil they never saw coming, and for those who lived, their lives and bodies would never be the same. The reclining guards expected the old man had come to ask for food, but on this occasion the old man had not come to ask for anything, he had come to take the lives of everyone around him.
Unarmed, undefended and unsuspecting, the afghan policemen were an easy target. As the old man approached the group it was not clear if he detonated the explosive vest himself or if someone else had done it remotely from a concealed position nearby. Nevertheless, the explosives strapped to the old man’s body were forceful enough to tear him to pieces and bring death and destruction on everyone within 15 meters of where he was standing. Despite the number of casualties and fatalities reported, I do not know exactly how many men actually lost their lives… what I do know is that one life lost was one life too many.
Comparable to the deadly intruder who entered the Governors compound in eastern Afghanistan that day, the church at present has been hit hard by wolves in sheep’s clothing, entering in and causing immense destruction. Unarmed, unprotected, and generally unconcerned, many Christians laze around enjoying the fruits of their labor, oblivious to the wolves lurking in their midst. In some instances, large parts of the church body have even decided to make peace with the world, allowing the influence of the worldly to infiltrate the safe havens of the Godly, and pervert the Gospel of truth.
In pre-combat training, American soldiers were regularly taught to stay vigilant and to always remain alert, because staying alert meant staying alive. When facing such a cunning and deceptive enemy as those faced in Afghanistan, one could never let their guard down. The same is true where we live today. Although our struggle is not against flesh and blood, our hearts, souls and minds are constantly in the enemy’s crosshairs, and the pending danger to the body of Christ is comparable to the carnage left in the streets of eastern Afghanistan that day. Therefore my caution to you is this, keep watch over your heart with all diligence, beware of the false prophets, and safeguard the truth of God’s word.