10 Ways Satan Might Be At Work Today In Your Church

Church Relevance - satan's temptation

Temptation is one of Satan’s greatest weapons to win the war for human souls. Satan and the fallen angels are creations of God. They are actively at war with Him and the battleground is earth. We are also God’s creation, but we’re uniquely different than angels. We are made in His image. In Satan’s economy, that makes us the target, and since his Eden success, the agenda is straightforward: get as many of us image bearers out from under our Creator’s pull into redemption. Do we acknowledge this temptation? Do we let it get to us and to our churches? Below are 10 ways Satan might be at work today in your church. They are taken from 10 occasions where we see Satan in Scripture, so the list is anchored in more than simply sage advice. Satan and his legions are not omnipresent so to evoke Satan’s particular work in one church over another is difficult to say. However, we do know their work is active and relentless and strategic with an end in mind. May our work, knowing the keeper of this place, be even more active, relentless, and eternally focused so we can overcome temptation.

10 Ways of Temptation That Satan Might Be Utilizing In Your Church Today

1. Guard Against Pride
Satan first shows up by name in I Chronicles 21, when, “Satan rose up against Israel and incited David.” What for? David wants to discover just how many men make up his kingdom. It seems harmless enough. But David’s true objective is to fully realize the power he possesses. The temptation is rooted in pride. Recall Gideon’s instruction about going to the mountain and then the river. In the end Gideon’s 32,000 soldiers became 10,000 then 300. Why? The Lord says it: “You have too many men…. In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her, [do these things]” (Judges 7:2). David doesn’t heed this kind of advice. It’s only after the census when he realizes his sin, a misstep that does not go unpunished. God is serious about his glory and our actions and devotion to bring him glory. And you can bet Satan will work to puff us up every step of the way because he knows that pride takes over the glory due God.

2. Knowledge Can Catch Us
Much of our imagination about Satan in the Garden of Eden is embellished by John Donne’s Paradise Lost. Donne works out more of the story about Satan falling and finding a serpent to trick Adam and Eve. With the boundary set by God, Satan knows once they cross over it, they will fall just like him. The stage is set under the shade of the tree of the knowledge of good of evil. Why call it that? Perhaps it’s because Adam and Eve will fully know how to misshape good into evil if they eat of the fruit. We know all these years later that this knowledge peppers in good thoughts and deeds into a crooked, wayward heart that can feel accomplishment and self-worth, but never self-denial until it returns to the mercy of God. Why Satan and the third of the angels with him never receive a Savior is another question. Do we use our knowledge of good and evil to trick ourselves into righteousness, to shelter sins, to mistreat people, to apply our own redemptive strategies? It’s a temptation that Satan uses and is much akin to pride.

3. Don’t Look For A Quid-Pro-Quo
The lesson of Job is a lesson for us. We all wrestle with wanting victory and suffering to directly correlate with a devoted life or, in contrast, a wreck of a life of bad choices. We want the two to match up; we want quid-pro-quo, or as it’s popular to say now, karma. God allows Satan to take nearly everything from Job. Job continues to call God faithful even though he has no clue of the deal made in the heavenly realms. Satan will always tempt us into judging our circumstances or the circumstances of those in our congregation around merit or punishment, even when we know better. Let us safeguard our outlook on temporal trials and rewards with the knowledge that God is breaking us to make all things new, including our stone-filled hearts.

4. Beware Of The Mask
Lucifer means morning star. Jesus says that he saw Satan fall like lightning (Lk 10:18) echoing what Isaiah also says: “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn!” (Is. 14:12). Place these alongside with 2 Cor 11:14, which says, “…Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” What are we to make of this in terms of our congregation and our leadership? At every turn, we’ll be tempted to be good but not be holy, to be sincere but not prayerful, to speak well but never preach. Just like Satan places the mask of life on the face of death, he invites us to the same deception (I Jn 3:8). And temptation is born because it’s so much easier and so much more centered around us.

5. We Want To Smooth The Rough Corners
In Matthew 16, Jesus begins to explain that he will be handed over to the chief priests, suffer and die, only to rise three days later. What does Peter say? “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” (vs. 22). Jesus doesn’t calm him down with any soothing words about his misunderstanding. Jesus says, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (vs. 23). If we’re not intentional, we will embrace human concerns over the Gospel. It’s the goal of Satan – the temptation to undo our true calling with immediate comforts. We’ll begin to soften and smooth out Jesus’ radical message of dying to ourselves and having mustard seed faith to actually believe him and be his disciple. Return to Luke 9:23 and take up the cross again.

6. He’s On The Prowl
I Peter 5:8 says that the Devil is prowling around like a lion. He wants to devour us. Mark 4:15 also notes the danger, as we minister and see a reception to the Gospel. Jesus says that Satan swoops in and steals back the person’s allegiance. We must never forget Satan is prowling around, hunting people. He wants no one to believe the redemption story. If we disregard this in our post-modern adaptions of the Gospel, we are already devoured. Every soul of every person who God brings into our churches is under siege if we’re preaching the Gospel and inviting the Holy Spirit to come and do his work. Let us relish in the promise that Jesus is building his church, “and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:18).

7. Real Temptations Are Coming
When Jesus heads into the wilderness after his baptism, he doesn’t find a peaceful beginning point to his ministry years. Instead, he is approached by Satan three times – about food, power and glory. Have you wondered why he allows this temptation to hit him during a vulnerable 40 day fast in the desert? Perhaps, this face-off gave proof to Satan that this man was God Incarnate, and, as Jesus quotes Deuteronomy at every turn, it provides Jesus an opportunity to strike Satan with the two-edged sword that is God’s holy Word. There are many other possibilities. More specifically, Jesus wasn’t going to change his mission into social justice alone or create a spectacle with the objective to test God’s loyalty or bargain with Satan over earthly powers that only God allows. We see real temptation (the lust of flesh, of the eyes and of the pride of life as I Jn. 2:16 says) in a moment of seeming susceptibility for the Son of God. Jesus was ready with Scripture and a will bent toward his Father’s work. How about us? How about the people we serve? Are we studied enough to know the promises and disciplines in Scripture, and are we wise enough to keep, close and sacred, the truth that we’ve been bought with the price of Jesus’ blood so we should honor God with our bodies (I Cor. 6:20)?

8. Warning About Invitations
We know the story of Judas. How sad it is to see all his schemes and distrust come to the grave point of Luke 22. The fateful verse is verse 3: “Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.” We read it in bewilderment and a bit confusion even knowing the disciples have cast out demons from people so Satan might also possess someone like Judas. Theologically, we may wrestle with why and how and what about today questions differently. However, what we can likely agree on is Judas’s acceptance–his invitation–to allow himself to be used as a weapon against the Son of God. What if he were to quote Deuteronomy like Jesus? God would still work out his Son’s sacrifice and a path for our redemption. But in Judas, Satan found a willing partner. How important it is that we instruct our congregation in ways of discipline and integrity, as well as the dangers that C.S. Lewis so effectively fictionalized in The Screwtape Letters. When we invite sin into our lives, when we remove ourselves from accountability, when we reduce or reshape Scripture into something useful and not the penetrating Word of God, we are sending out Judas’s invitation.

9. What Are We Wrestling?
Identifying your enemy is helpful for any battle. You can then know better their history, weakness and motivation. Ephesians 6:10-18 is clear that our enemy is not flesh and blood, but we fight, “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (vs. 12). Satan and the other fallen angels are creatures made by God with a history we know. They rebelled and fell from God’s goodness because, as Isaiah says, they wanted to “ascend to the heavens,” and raise a throne higher than God’s (14:12). We know his weakness is pride, but unlike humans, Satan and his angels do not have any hope of redemption. In these facts alone there’s enough to see his true motivation: to extinguish as many souls from the hope of glory. That’s why we need to be very prudent about who we wrestle against and for what end. We’re battling against Satan and for eternal stakes. If we’re over on the sideline picking fights about something or someone else, our distraction might be Satan’s strategy. Let’s lean into the truth of God’s word instead and wage war with the full armor of God.

10. The Battle is Won (Already)
I am so grateful, despite its confusing imagery, that we have the book of Revelation. It’s especially rewarding to read Revelation 20:10: “And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” THE END. Humanity’s fall that began in Eden finally sees its Deceiver undone. There is no trial, no hint of any further rebellion, no stage for mercy. It’s over. What we knew and believed, we will know fully then: that God is sovereign and reigns supreme. When we’re ready to not quite, “endure to the end,” as Scripture instructs us, read the last chapters of Revelation. That time (the moments to end all time) will be here soon. Let’s keep at the forefront the conclusion of the story to encourage and instruct ourselves and those we serve in the way of faith.

I wonder sometimes if we believe Satan is really out there at all. We hesitate sometimes to take the threat seriously because it sounds a little awkward to know Satan and a third of God’s angels are out to get us. You might be familiar with Keith Green’s 1977 song, “No One Believes in Me Anymore“. It’s a reminder that Satan’s new weapon of disbelief, especially among Christians, might be his sharpest.

Oh, my job keeps getting easier
As time keeps slipping away

I can imitate your brightest light
And make your night look just like day
I put some truth in every lie
To tickle itching ears
You know I’m drawing people just like flies
‘Cause they like what they hear

I’m gaining power by the hour
They’re falling by the score
You know, it’s getting very simple now
‘Cause no one believes in me anymore

Oh, heaven’s just a state of mind
My books read on your shelf
And have you heard that God is dead?
I made that one up myself
They dabble in magic spells
They get their fortunes read
You know they heard the truth
But turned away and followed me instead

I used to have to sneak around
But now they just open their doors
You know, no ones watching for my tricks
Because no one believes in me anymore

Everyone likes a winner
With my help, you’re guaranteed to win
And hey, man, you ain’t no sinner
You’ve got the truth within
And as your life slips by
You believe the lie that you did it on your own
But don’t worry
I’ll be there to help you share our dark eternal home

Oh, my job keeps getting easier
As day slips into day
The magazines, the newspapers
Print every word I say
This world is just my spinning top
It’s all like childs-play
You know, I dream that it will never stop
But I know it’s not that way

Still my work goes on and on
Always stronger than before
I’m gonna make it dark before the dawn
Since no one believes in me anymore
Well, now I used to have to sneak around
But now they just open their doors
You know, no one watches for my tricks
Since no one believes in me anymore

Well I’m gaining power by the hour
They’re falling by the score
You know, it’s getting very easy now
Since no one believes in me anymore

Zach Kincaid - Church Leadership headshot imageZach Kincaid is a part of the Sharefaith Editorial Team. He manages workoutyourfaith.com and has written on C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, and general Christian thought for more than 15 years. He is a husband, father, and collaborator on a variety of Christian outreach projects including films and educational resources.

The post 10 Ways Satan Might Be At Work Today In Your Church appeared first on churchrelevance.com.


Author: Fred Parr

Fred is a minister and officiant for local wedding companies in Arizona

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