Advantages and perils in Christian Cyber World

Long ago, I did a short term course on Cyber Laws and Cyber Crimes through the Indian Law Institute, Delhi and learnt something about this menace. I want to share my experiences with my sisters and brethren in Christ to whom I am ministering through the Cyber world.

Computer crime or cybercrime is a form of crime where the Internet or computers are used as a medium to commit crime. Issues surrounding this type of crime have become high-profile, particularly those surrounding hacking, copyright infringement, child pornography, and child grooming. There are also problems of privacy when confidential information is lost or intercepted, lawfully or otherwise.

Cyber stalking is the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual, a group of individuals, or an organization. It may include false accusations, monitoring, making threats, identity theft, and damage to data or equipment, the solicitation of minors for sex, or gathering information in order to harass. The definition of "harassment" must meet the criterion that a reasonable person, in possession of the same information, would regard it as sufficient to cause another reasonable person distress.

A number of key factors have been identified:

False accusations. Many cyber stalkers try to damage the reputation of their victim and turn other people against them. They post false information about them on websites. They may set up their own websites, blogs or user pages for this purpose. They post allegations about the victim to newsgroups, chat rooms or other sites that allow public contributions, such as Wikipedia or

Attempts to gather information about the victim
. Cyber stalkers may approach their victim's friends, family and work colleagues to obtain personal information. They may advertise for information on the Internet, or hire a private detective. They often will monitor the victim's online activities and attempt to trace their IP address in an effort to gather more information about their victims.

Encouraging others to harass the victim. Many cyber stalkers try to involve third parties in the harassment. They may claim the victim has harmed the stalker or his/her family in some way, or may post the victim's name and telephone number in order to encourage others to join the pursuit.

False victimization. The cyber stalker will claim that the victim is harassing him/her. This phenomenon has been noted in a number of well-known cases.

Attacks on data and equipment. They may try to damage the victim's computer by sending viruses.

Ordering goods and services. They order items or subscribe to magazines in the victim's name. These often involve subscriptions to pornography or ordering sex toys then having them delivered to the victim's workplace.

Arranging to meet. Young people face a particularly high risk of having cyber stalkers try to set up meetings between them.

Behaviors of Cyber stalkers

Cyber stalkers meet or target their victims by using search engines, online forums, bulletin and discussion boards, chat rooms, and more recently, through online communities such as My Space, Face book, Bebo, Friendster and Indy media, a media outlet known for self-publishing. They may engage in live chat harassment or flaming or they may send electronic viruses and unsolicited e-mails. Victims of cyber stalking may not even know that they are being stalked. Cyber stalkers may research individuals to feed their obsessions and curiosity. Conversely, the acts of cyber stalkers may become more intense, such as repeatedly instant messaging their targets. More commonly they will post defamatory or derogatory statements about their stalking target on web pages, message boards and in guest books designed to get a reaction or response from their victim, thereby initiating contact. [7] In some cases, they have been known to create fake blogs in the name of the victim containing defamatory or pornographic content.

When prosecuted, many stalkers have unsuccessfully attempted to justify their behavior based on their use of public forums, as opposed to direct contact. Once they get a reaction from the victim, they will typically attempt to track or follow the victim's internet activity. Classic cyber stalking behavior includes the tracing of the victim's IP address in an attempt to verify their home or place of employment.

Some cyber stalking situations do evolve into physical stalking, and a victim may experience abusive and excessive phone calls, vandalism, threatening or obscene mail, trespassing, and physical assault. Moreover, many physical stalkers will use cyber stalking as another method of harassing their victims.

Creation of the Cyber world

When in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth, He created all things including the Cyber world which also consisted of matter, space and time (Gen.1:1). Cyber world is an extension of the real world in terms of matter, space and time. But it is different from the real world in terms of matter, space and time. The matter we find in the real world is vast and is not available to a single person whereas the matter posted on the internet is available to a single person on the click of the mouse. The space in the Cyber world is unlimited and vast whereas the space in the world is limited. It is unlimited in the sense as far as an individual browsing the net is concerned. In space, you are very near to some one with whom you are chatting. As such, the space is unlimited. In the real world, even if you talk to someone on the phone, the space is limited. It is limited in the sense that if you have to establish a physical contact with the person at the other end, you have to travel all the way to his/her place. But in the cyber world, in space, you are very near to that person. In time also, the cyber world is different from the real world. You are in the real world all the time but enter the Cyber world only through the computer. The time is limited in the Cyber world whereas in the real world, it is unlimited so long as you live. You have to choose the time to enter the Cyber world.

Persons in the Cyber world

When you enter the Cyber world, you should know that you will be contacting the other beings in the Cyber world. If you are a Christian filled with the Holy Spirit, you can enter this world boldly. Who are other persons in the cyber world? Animals and birds are not there. The devil and his fallen angels are there also because it is an extension of the real world. For non-Christians, they can find Jesus there through the cyber evangelists. For Christians who are born-again, they can find cyber prophetic and teaching ministers for fellowship. Jesus and His angels are there. The devil and his fallen angels are there. The dead saints are not there even if you have opened some profile pages in their names. In the Cyber world, the devil can also transform himself as an angel of light to deceive you. You cannot find your church pastor or the elder who has mentored you to protect you from the deception emanating from the representatives of the devil i.e. Antichrist and the False Prophet. But God’s soldiers are there to guide and protect you.

I am now classifying the cyber world into two parts. One is the non-Christian cyber world and the other is the Christian cyber-world. In the Christian cyber-world, you will find the spirit of the Antichrist very active to deceive the Christians whereas in the non-Christian cyber world, the devil is reigning as the king. There are many chat rooms dedicated to propagating the messages of Devil, Satanic worship, black magic, astrology, etc. Out of curiosity, no child of God should enter this particular zone of the non-Christian cyber world where the devil and his emissaries are ensnaring and entangling the lost souls. Through search engine, you can enter this cyber world also.

You can find Cyber stalkers in the Christian cyber world. They are the false teachers or the false prophets who come to you in the Name of Jesus Christ. They will first of all make you as their friends on the Face book, WhatsApp, etc. They will try to teach you by inviting you to chat with them on Face book, 
WhatsApp, etc. They will then stalk you try to convince you that they are the real servants of God. After interacting with them through some forum or through the chat room, ultimately you will find yourself filled with anger, frustration, fear, temptation to sin. They will also try to make you depend on them for prayers and for “prophetic words”.

False Prophets and False Teachers in the Christian Cyber World

In the real world, you can easily identify the false prophets and the false teachers because you can know them by their fruits. But in the Cyber World, you can identify their characters only when you interact with them in the chat room or in the message forum. In the real world, if your pastor is a true servant of God known for his humility and love, he can easily discern the false prophets or the false teachers and can deny his church to the false teacher or the false prophet concerned. But in the Cyber World, your pastor or your elder cannot deny entry of a false prophet or a false teacher into your spiritual life because anyone can become your friend and can play havoc with your spiritual life by harming you emotionally and spiritually.

The advantages in the Cyber World are that in the Cyber World, you come across many true servants of God hidden by God in the real world to teach and to mentor you through fellowship. Many of them know you in the spirit and not in the flesh. They are known by their humility and unfeigned love. They love you because you are members of the Body of Christ. But in the real world, the people of God whom you know in the flesh and who speak your own language and who belong to your own nation love you because of your ethnic or linguistic affinity to them.

The characters of false prophets are described by Jesus in Matt.7:15 to 23. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They do the ministry in Jesus’ Name but do not do the will of the Father. Peter also describes the characters of a false prophet in 2 Pet.2: 10-22. They walk after their flesh in the lust of uncleanness, despise government (elders in the ministry) and speak evil of dignitaries (God-ordained ministers). Their eyes are full of adultery and their hearts are filled with covetous practices. These people had escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ but they are again entangled therein and overcome. They are backsliders in the sense that they were misled after being saved through the blood of Jesus Christ.

The characters of a false teacher are generally described as grace perverters (Gal.1: 6 – 8). They turn from the gospel of grace to another gospel which brings them into bondage of a legalistic gospel of the Old Covenant. Paul rebuked the saints in Galatia for turning to another gospel.

Attack by the false prophets or the false teachers in the Cyber World

The false prophets or the false teachers are known as the Cyber Stalkers in the Christian Cyber World. They attack you in the Cyber World because you have chosen or invited them for your fellowship. They attack you emotionally so that you become desperate with fear in your heart and your heart may be filled with hatred so as to take vengeance upon them who have harmed you. They will attack you when you do not agree with them. They will ridicule you or pass sarcastic remarks against you while attacking you. They will gather people with itching ears to agree with their doctrines.

In the real world, the people of God around you must be knowing your background and they will not attack you until and unless you provoke them because they know your reputation and integrity. But in the Cyber World, the false prophets or the false teachers will attack you any time without any fear because they do not know your reputation and integrity. No body can come to your rescue when they attack you. When you cannot repay them in their own coins, you will feel frustrated and will be filled with a spirit of revenge against them. At best, you can block them or mark their emails as spam.

Purposes of your entering the cyber world

You may enter the cyber world for study purpose or for net working or socializing with your known friends or relatives. Apart from this, you may enter the Christian cyber-world for fellowship. If the Lord has not equipped you for the ministry in the cyber world, please do not take upon yourself the job of teaching others.

Precautions for fellowship with the saints

If you want to have true fellowship with the saints all over the world, you should take the following precautions:

(1) Prayer for discernment:

You should ask the Lord in prayer before adding some one as your friend. If you do not have peace in your mind after your prayer and some fear comes up in our mind, then take it as a sign from the Lord not to add him/her as a friend. If you are an unmarried girl or a young married woman, you have to be very careful. There are many Christian online ministers who come to you in Jesus’ Name and may even prophesy that he or she is the life-partner for you or that you have to divorce your spouse and re-marry him/her. Do not enter into the chat room with him or her because through the flattering words, he or she may seduce you or win your heart.

(2) Verification of the background:

You should know the background of the servants of God by visiting their websites because most of the servants of God do have their own websites. If you want to know more about some servant of God, you can go in for Google search or search through a search engine. You can come across all his doctrines and also about the adverse comments on his ministry from other saints. To know more about Benny Hinn, just type his name in the search box and you will come across all the websites about him. In case any particular servant of God has no website, you can send a personal mail to him asking him a few questions about his salvation experience. Whenever you receive a request to add you as a friend, just go to the profile page of the person who has invited you and study his/her profile to know something about his/her doctrine, faith. His or her profile may appeal to you in your flesh because he or she may speak your own language or may hail from your own town or nation. If that person has not given full information about him or herself, do not add him or her as your friend because he or she is not honest enough to furnish all the information about him or her. Some people may not be furnishing all the information in the cyber world because the Cyber criminals may misuse their information. You can send a personal mail to the person concerned to solicit more information about his/her salvation experience in a few lines.

(3) Fruits of humility and love

You should know whether the person has been filled with the Holy Spirit. If he is filled with the Holy Spirit, he must be definitely humble and loving. If you do not find humility in him, you can disassociate from him. How can you find whether he has the spirit of humility and of love? Just visit the blogs or the debate forums wherein he has interacted with the other saints. If he has in an unrighteous manner judged any saint or used foul or vulgar language against other saints, you can easily identify him as a false teacher. You cannot simply know his true identify by the messages posted by him but by his fruits. Some years ago, I came across a Cyber evangelist and he was publishing many articles which impressed me that he was a true servant of God. He even interpreted many visions and giving prophetic messages to the churches. But when on some occasion I had to interact with him face to face through emails, my eyes were opened by the Holy Spirit that a great giant of pride was hiding behind him. I lost my peace of mind and was filled with frustration after my meeting him. If the person concerned always tries to impress through his message that he knows many things in the Bible, then you can identify him as a false teacher because the spirit of pride is ruling his heart. You can simply remove him or her from your profile page so that you may not be further influenced by his fellowship.

(4) Appeal for funds to strangers:

If the person concerned tells you through the chat room that he has an orphanage or some widows to support, or some ministry to preach the gospel, then you can easily identify him as a false teacher because no true servant of God will approach a stranger like you for money without knowing your background or your spiritual life.

(5) Partial knowledge of the truth:

The person concerned might have accepted Jesus Christ as his savior. But he has not yet become His disciple through a crucified life. He may come to you with the Bible in his hand to preach you. But his life may not be better than a non-Christian brother or sister whom you meet in your office or neighborhood. Just avoid him and do not allow him to teach you because he is a false teacher, having known the truth in part but not becoming a cross-bearing disciple of the Lord. Such a person is more dangerous than a cult leader because the former comes to you with the Bible in his hand to deceive you or to put you into some bondage. He preaches the Word of God from one angle only in the same manner the Devil preached to Jesus Christ from the Word of God.

Ministry in the Cyber World

The Cyber world is an extension of our real world. With this understanding in mind, let us imagine as to how people are proliferating the Cyber world. I believe we (Christians) should and must stay relevant with these changes around us and to capitalize on the Internet as a powerful tool to reach, impact and influence.

What if the Church is able to engage people effectively in the way these politicians do?

Wouldn’t that be awesome?

We need to take the pulpit out of the four walls of the church and into the world.

Shining In the (Cyber) World

Just as Jesus taught us to be the Salt and Light of the world, similarly we must also be the Salt and Light in the Cyber world. The consequences of us not entering and engaging in the Cyber world would lead to the imminence control by “evil and darkness” that will distract, deceive and destroy people from knowing the Truth with lies and deceitfulness.

Furthermore, just as we (His Church) strive to be consistent in living out Scripture in our real world, we must and should also do likewise in the Cyber world especially in this Digital Age where it is very much intertwined with the real world.

Nonetheless, the dangers of temptations are just as real in the Cyber world as it is in the real world. Therefore, be on guard and alert that we might not fall trapped into sin in the Cyber world.

As a born again child of God filled with His Holy Spirit, you can enter the non-Christian cyber world for preaching the gospel. You should become members of many religious forums and preach the gospel with the God-given wisdom. If you enter the forums where the devil is directly preaching his messages and doing his work of destruction, you have to enter the forums prayerfully because Jesus Christ will also enter the forums along with you. You have to win the territories held by the devil in the internet space.

If you have non-Christian friends on your mailing list, you can just send them a small message about the love of Christ Jesus, particularly from the devotionals like the Streams in the Desert, etc. You can send them some simple stories or parables to convey the message of the Cross to them.

For fellowship with the saints in the Christian Cyber World, you can join some group after examining their doctrines. You should identify the true servants of God in the Christian Cyber World for personal fellowship. However, you can find many popular evangelists in the Cyber World but you cannot have fellowship with them individually because their email ids or their e-groups are operated and moderated by their staff.

The true servants of God will pray for you on line or in the chat room and will teach you in the message forums. You can know them by their fruits of humility and love.

- Job Anbalagan