Why The Devil Is Interested In Your Church (Part 1)
By Dave Butts
Several years ago I had the opportunity to write a book entitled The Devil Goes To Church. It’s been interesting to watch the responses of people who see the title for the first time. Most of them say, "The devil sure does go to church… especially mine." Why this overwhelming awareness that Satan is somehow interested in what happens in churches? Maybe it’s because we’re seeing his hand at work in the church. The first excerpt below from that book helps us understand why Satan is interested in your church. The second one looks at the first of four ways that he attacks local congregations.
There is a very real reason why the devil goes to church. The Biblical worldview is of a great cosmic battle between the forces of God and the forces of Satan. Christians are those who have changed sides in the battle. Paul writes about this changing of sides in the second chapter of Ephesians: "…in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved" (vv. 2-5).
The enemy of our God has become our enemy. We are not in a neutral position. When Christians gather as the church, we become a real threat to Satan. We are there to worship, to pray, to teach and to encourage one another to live and proclaim the Kingdom of God and as such, proclaim the enemy’s defeat. It is apparent that he will do all he can to prevent that from happening….
The real danger for us is being unaware of the enemy’s schemes. We approach every difficulty in church as though it is just a natural thing. When churches divide over whether or not to use hymns or contemporary choruses, it is not natural. When the flock turns on the shepherd, it is not natural. When the saints, called to live in love, spend their time criticizing and accusing one another, it is not natural. The devil has come to church!
...There is one obvious thing about Satan’s attacks – he is consistent. He does basically the same thing over and over again in church after church, down through the ages. We might categorize them in these memorable ways: Doubt, Deceit, Discouragement, Division.
Sowing doubt has been one of the enemy’s weapons from the very beginning. In Eden, the serpent stirred up doubt in Eve, causing her to sin. He caused her (and Adam) to doubt God’s word, asking the insidious question, "Has God said…?" You can almost hear the oily voice continuing, "You don’t really believe that do you?" The same voice, the very same voice, is asking the same question today, causing Christians to begin to doubt God and His Word.
Doubt was the weapon Satan used against Jesus in the wilderness. Every temptation was preceded by the word, "if." "IF You are the Son of God," the enemy whispers, attempting to instill doubt into Jesus. He still uses the same attack.
Doubt can come in many forms. Sometimes it is the frontal attack on the veracity of the Bible. There are many in church who simply do not believe that all of the Bible is truly God’s inspired Word. But sometimes the most vicious attack comes on those who do believe in the Bible, but are then led into doubt as to the power of God’s Word. "Will that really work?" people ask. Whole segments of Scripture are robbed of their power as Christians relegate them to some other day or time, and fail to appropriate them for themselves. Be careful when trying to explain away a clear meaning of Scripture. It may be that the enemy is raising doubts.
Doubt is also raised as to the nature of God. When tragedies come in life (and they do), even Christians find themselves doubting the love or mercy of God. "How could a loving God cause (or allow) such a thing to happen?" The whispering enemy is again at work to cause God’s people to doubt the goodness or power of their God. We’re sometimes told that to doubt is natural. Not for those who have tasted of the goodness, mercy and power of God! Faith is the natural response to God. Look at Job and the almost inconceivable tragedy that changed his life. Though facing great loss and with tremendous grief, still he words one of the great faith responses in Scripture, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised" (Job 1:21).
Doubt also comes to the individual believer regarding his/her position in Christ. The enemy continually works at trying to separate us from Christ. He doesn’t have the power to actually do that, but he tries to instill doubt in us as to who we are in Christ. The best way to counter that is with the truth of God’s Word. Christian author, Neil Anderson has written much on this topic and has prepared a wonderful list of scriptures that affirm who we are in Christ:
• John 1:12 – I am God’s child.
• John 15:15 – I am Christ’s friend.
• Rom. 5:1 – I have been justified.
• 1 Cor. 6:17 – I am united with the Lord and one with Him in spirit.
• 1 Cor. 6:20 – I have been bought with a price; I belong to God.
• 1 Cor. 12:27 – I am a member of Christ’s Body.
• Eph. 1:1 – I am a saint.
• Eph. 1:5 – I have been adopted as God’s child.
• Eph. 2:18 – I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit.
• Col. 1:14 – I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins.
• Col. 2:10 – I am complete in Christ.
– Taken from The Devil Goes To Church by David Butts. Used by permission.
In next month’s issue, I plan to continue this article by examining three other ways that our enemy attacks the church.