Whenever the subject of spiritual warfare is raised, there is a danger of falling into one of two extremes. On the one hand, it is easy to become paranoid, “seeing demons behind every tree” and giving Satan far more credit than he deserves. On the other hand, it is easy to become overly relaxed and essentially treat the spiritual realm as having no effect on our lives.
Yet if there is a realm in which we should be aware of spiritual warfare, surely it is in the realm of preaching. Surely the enemy would love to disrupt or damage the proclamation of God’s Word, the presentation of the Gospel, the encouragement of believers and the praise of God.
First of all, spiritual warfare and the preacher. What tactics does the enemy use against us as preachers? Here are a few; perhaps you have others to add.
One danger constantly facing us is that of pride, which leads to a lack of dependency on God. Then there is temptation to sin—how often do we face waves of temptation in areas of vulnerability while preparing to preach, or the day after we preach? Perhaps distraction is a tool of the enemy—things thrown in our path that keep us from the task at hand. Then there are lies, the discouragements meant to bring down our high goals with their high prayers.
I’d like to pursue this subject further, but let me ask you—what tactics does the enemy seem to employ in relation to your preaching ministry?
I’m sure I’m not alone in experiencing unusual technical difficulties before presenting, or out of the ordinary family tensions on a Sunday morning. Then there are the more overt attacks both before and after preaching. Not always, but sometimes. But if we are thinking about the work of the enemy, it is important to remember he can also target the listeners in a preaching event. Our ancient foe seeks to work woe on various fronts.
As 2 Corinthians 4:4 states, the enemy works to blind listeners to the gospel so they cannot see the truth. There is also the possibility of distraction before and during preaching, as well as discouragement whispered direct. I do not want to give any credit to an enemy who stands defeated, but it would be naive to ignore this dimension of preaching. We tremble not for him, but must be sure to stand firm in our role as God’s spokesmen.
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My friend Clayton King, who has never served as a senior pastor (and had not expected to), suddenly found himself leading one of the nation’s largest congregations as interim pastor of NewSpring Church in Anderson, South Carolina.