Summary: How to spot Satan’s work in the church and strategy against Christians.
The angel of light: Satan’s strategy with the saints. 2 Cor 11:1-15 WBC 3/7/5pm
Well- having not preached on him for ages I find myself covering Satan twice within 2 months!
- last time was 15th May am. That was Satan’s strategy with unbelievers. How he tries to blind them about the gospel and Jesus
- but this is different. This is about his strategy with the saints. One aspect of how he attacks Christians.
o And it is not what you would expect
How the theme is introduced is really sad, actually.
Here’s Paul… the bloke who has fathered this lot in the Lord… given his life for them (almost literally!)… having to justify himself… verify his credentials (you know the story by now)
- "Please humour me for a minute. Put up with some foolishness from me"
There are many similar examples in history.
- People who have founded churches and then been kicked out of them (Jonathan Edwards 1740 great awakening. Voted out of the church he had been used to revive)
- People have started movements and then been opposed: William Seymour was the initial key man used in the Azusa street Pentecostal awakening of 1906. Tremendous racial harmony…. all over the world as the fire spread. Somehow, as whites took over and disharmony entered Seymour became a little spoken of man, rather than the human instigator of the biggest church shift ever.
- People have headed denominational movements and then been excluded: David du Plessis was a key man in the next phase of Pentecostalism, when it spread to established churches in the 50s. He encouraged the work of God (which was what the ’powers that be’ wanted) but when he encouraged it within established churches the denomination disciplined him and kicked him out.
Thankfully…. The work of God was unstoppable
It’s just what Paul was experiencing
But here’s the thing that is so shocking
- he says ’THIS is Satan’s attack’
Yes- within the church THIS is how Satan most often attacks the work of God
- by friendly fire
- by other Christians. Well meaning ones, even
And we need to be aware of it so
- we are not ignorant of his schemes
- we are not floored by it
- we are not part of it!
o cf prayer of Jabez 1 Chron 4;10
o 10And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!" So God granted him what he requested.
I believe very much in Satan (the adversary) and his schemes because
- Of the weight of Jesus’ teaching/activity. (do you think Jesus was deluded?)
- Theological necessity
- Practical experience
Now you might immediately say "but I don’t get any such attack, Ewen. It’s all made up!"
- that’s nothing to brag about! (nor is attack something to revel in)
- possibly you are simply no threat! He can’t stop you being saved but there’s no danger of you changing anyone else’s life… stepping on his toes- so he’s happy to just let you be!
- And you don’t understand his ways! Maybe he HAS attacked you! Very effectively, actually! So much so that you haven’t noticed it!
You see his strategy is stealth, subtlety…. or here literally ’cunning’
- that’s how he works with Christians. Friendly fire and subtlety. erosion (of belief). Conflict. Opposition
o anything more blatant and we’d know to stand against it!
So- the disunity in churches and between churches is a major ploy of the evil one
- Plass " denominations is an anagram of ’not made in Zion’"
- "let them be brought to complete unity that the world might believe you sent me"
o it’s gonna happen! But it’s gonna take some work!
- And the sheer putting out of fires is what takes the emotional energy of most leaders
o What others don’t realise is they can be a pawn of the evil one…. Stopping the real work of God
So, here… most of the attack is ’relational’- but the excuse for it is doctrinal…. And we need to understand this as it is a common ploy of the evil one
He targets three main areas of our beliefs- and then leaves us impotent and squabbling over them. (or over minor areas of belief)
The three main targets are: Jesus, the Spirit and the gospel (v5)
- basically, here, he sends someone else (a Christian?!) along with some new teaching to get these guys off the target/scent
- and the Christians like it because it’s flashy… and appears ’light’
And the result is they are distracted by it. Soiled by it.