Have you ever spent time with someone who turned out to be a very different person than you first thought?
They look safe. They have their Bible, and perhaps they’ve memorized some Scriptures, and they appear to be really holy. But it’s a show—a play—and you’re the one being played.
I’m talking about “posers” within the Church. In a world of online dating and social media profiles, where you can have thousands of “friends” and no one who truly knows you, it seems a lot more people are able to pretend to be something they’re not. And that certainly includes people within the Church, especially in a place like Dallas or a large body like Watermark.
But posers within the Church aren’t really a new thing. Though they didn’t use the term back then, they were present even in the early days, when the New Testament was still being written. Paul talks at length about these pretenders, who were taking advantage of women, in 2 Timothy 3.
What is a Christian Poser?
To be clear, I’m not talking about someone who says they are an unbeliever, or is openly curious about the faith—we’re happy to have you here.
Rather, I’m talking about someone who claims to be following Christ but actually is not. Someone who is intentionally trying to deceive others. People who look like Christians and strategically act like Christians so they can betray you and take advantage of you—purposefully.
These are players who are not really interested in God unless knowledge of Him gives them a chance with you.
To keep from getting played, you need to be able to identify them.
Characteristics of a Poser
As discussed last week, 2 Timothy 3 includes a list of characteristics you can use to identify posers in the Church. These predators are marked by being:
Lovers of themselves. They are selfish and narcissistic.
Lovers of money. Money is an idol. It’s a primary goal of their life.
Boastful and proud. They walk around telling you things that they excel at. Worldly success is an idol.
Abusive. They hurt people physically or with their words.
Disobedient to their parents. This basically shows they struggle with authority. If you call Jesus “Lord,” He is your authority.
Ungrateful. Believers understand that they have received amazing grace that they don’t deserve. Posers feel that they are entitled.
Unholy. They are not set apart from the world. They want to be loved by Dallas more than Jesus.
Without love. See 1 John 4:8.
Unforgiving. They harbor bitterness. They don’t forgive because they don’t understand how they’ve been forgiven.
Slanderous. They speak evil of others, almost for sport. They love to tear others apart. The word here literally translates “devil,” because the devil is the accuser. That’s what he does. The devil accuses; Jesus forgives.
Without self-control. They just want to do what feels good, regardless of its effects on themselves or others.
Brutal. As in, untamed or uncivilized. They aren’t yielded to the Spirit of God.
Not lovers of good. They don’t seek to do good.
Treacherous. They don’t keep their word. They always keep their options open in case something (or someone) better comes along.
Rash. They’re not considerate of others.
Conceited. They are confident in their worldly abilities or possessions rather than confident in God.
Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. These are people who view God as their sugar daddy. They don’t want God; they just want His stuff.
Having a form of godliness but denying its power. They strategically appear to look like a Christian, but they are not saved and therefore do not have the Holy Spirit in them.
Most all believers will identify with some of the things on this list. But I’m not talking about if you used to be a lover of pleasure, or abusive, or slanderous. Or, if you are momentarily conceited, or momentarily rash. All of us make mistakes at times. Paul is talking specifically about people in the church who have given themselves over to these things, and whose lives are marked or defined by them.
Anyone can be any of these things momentarily. However, anyone can also hide these things momentarily, which means you cannot spot these people right off the bat.
So, be smart when choosing who to date. Get to know the person. Get to know other people who know that person well—particularly those who are in community with them—because it will be much harder for them to fool multiple people over a longer period of time. If they are not in community and there is nobody trustworthy willing to vouch for them, that is an extremely bad sign.
Remember, the only reason these people would even be in a church is because they are looking for prey. Don’t be their prey.