Summary: Satan attacks the church throught relational conflict.
Exposing the Hurting Spirit
2 Corinthians 2:5-11 - I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt your entire church more than he hurt me. 6 He was punished enough when most of you were united in your judgment against him. 7 Now it is time to forgive him and comfort him. Otherwise he may become so discouraged that he won’t be able to recover. 8 Now show him that you still love him.
9 I wrote to you as I did to find out how far you would go in obeying me. 10 When you forgive this man, I forgive him, too. And when I forgive him (for whatever is to be forgiven), I do so with Christ’s authority for your benefit, 11 so that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are very familiar with his evil schemes.
2 Corinthians 10:3-5 - For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
The word arguments in this text has its root in the ancient Greek schools of philosophy where, after a person would pose their proposition, others would try to argue against it by breaking it down point by point. It’s related to the idea of something being erased, to wear down a proposition until it no longer exists. This constant friction would be like erasing pencil marks on paper over and over again until you finally tore through the paper.
Satan uses unconfessed sin, deep woundedness, hidden resentments, bitterness, etc. which has not been faced by the sufferer, not dealt with or acknowledged. Instead of facing the pain and the terrifying emotions behind their woundedness, these sufferers will project or transfer emotions or feelings onto others, usually leaders, who then become the problem instead of the sufferer.
The person in transference, like a lawyer or detective, becomes preoccupied with building a case against the object; eventually this leads to a confrontation characterized by manipulation, anger, and resistance to reason. In the case of churches it can draw in whole congregations. – Leanne Payne (Author & professor at Wheaton College)
John Redd Testimony
Hebrews 12:15 - See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
On a spiritual level, Satan comes in and aggravates and exaggerates the issue and if left unchecked, he builds a stronghold.
Ephesians 4:26, 27 - In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.
One of satan’s greatest weapons is to turn us against each other. He knows that a church unified is a powerful church. About five years ago I was attending a Vineyard pastor’s conference where this subject was discussed. One of the speakers gave a checklist of symptoms that might indicate if someone is struggling in this area.
Romans 16:17-18 - I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. 18 For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people.
A Checklist of Symptoms
• Exaggerations of things wrong in the church
• Accusations against others
• Distorted thinking
• Prone to making judgments about the leadership of the church
• Grumbling, complaining about leadership without confronting them
• A vague dislike of the church; a sense that you can’t make friends here
• Back and forth thinking about leaving or staying
• Sudden unexplainable strife in your house
• A vague sense of disconnectedness with people
• Grudges against those perceived to have hurt or rejected you
• Inconsistent church attendance; shopping and coming back
• Refusal to be part of a small group
• Criticism, malice, viciousness, anger, paradoxical love of the church and of ministry
• Thinking one has the answers to the church’s problems
• Spreading one’s doubts and criticisms through gossip, grumbling and complaining
• Irrational confrontations over exaggerated incidents
Some Scriptural examples
Absalom against David – 2 Samuel 15:1-6
Miriam and Aaron against Moses – Numbers 12:1-16
Paul’s instruction to Timothy – 2 Timothy 2:14-26
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 - Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.