Summary: I believe I can safely assert that the devil spends more time in church than many Christians. It makes sense for him to do so. If he can hang around Christians & create confusion, division, or discouragement.... (PowerPoint available-#255)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoint slides used in this sermon are available at no charge. Just e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request - #255.)
NOTE: I borrowed the title and gleaned much of the content of this sermon from an excellent book, “The Devil Goes To Church” (Covenant Publishers, Webb City, MO), by David L. Butts, founder and President of Harvest Prayer Ministries, Terre Haute, IN. I recommend the book highly! (The book is available at www.davenkim.spreadtheword.com or at your local religious book store.)
A. I have chosen to use as the theme of my message this morning an idea presented in a small but powerful book by David Butts. In it he suggests that “THE DEVIL GOES TO CHURCH!”
Does that idea surprise you? Do you have a hard time accepting such a thought? Then perhaps you ought to consider the following:
Have you ever experienced the Sunday Morning Wars? It happens to Christian families all over the world as they prepare to worship in their local congregations. Just why is it that Sunday morning is the one time that everything seems to go wrong?
Kids cry, cars don’t work, & parents are unusually on edge with one another. And it doesn’t always end when we reach the friendly confines of the church building. In some ways, it can even intensify.
As a preacher I’ve sometimes wondered if the devil pinches babies at just the critical time in the service when everyone’s attention is focused on the Lord.
Or consider the use of modern technology in our services. It can be wonderful – or it can be another opportunity for the devil to distract us as we experience sound-system malfunctions, video projection breakdowns, or …. well, you can fill in the blanks. You know what I mean.
In fact, I believe that I can safely assert that the devil spends more time in church than many Christians. It makes sense for him to do so. If he can hang around Christians & create confusion, division, or discouragement, then he has effectively gotten us off-track & has won a great victory.
Remember, the Bible clearly warns us, “Be on your guard & stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack.”
(1 Peter 5:8) CEV
B. There is a very real reason the devil goes to church. The Bible presents a picture of a great cosmic battle going on between the forces of God & the forces of Satan.
That is what the apostle Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh & blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world & against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Those of us who have become Christians are people who have changed sides & are now on God’s side in the battle. Have you ever thought about it in that way? Paul writes about this switching of sides when he says in Ephesians 2:1-2,
“In the past you … sinned and fought against God. You followed the ways of this world and obeyed the devil. He rules the world, and his spirit has power over everyone who doesn’t obey God. …” (Ephesians 2:1-2)
“But God was merciful! We were dead because of our sins, but God loved us so much that he made us alive with Christ, and God’s wonderful kindness is what saves you.” (Ephesians 2:1-2, 4-5) CEV.
As a result, the enemy of our God has become our enemy. When Christians gather as the church, we become a real threat to Satan. We are there to worship as we pray, as we teach, & as we encourage one another to live a life worthy of the kingdom of God. And Satan will do all he can to prevent that from happening.
ILL. C.S. Lewis tries to help us understand that in his book, The Screwtape Letters.
In it, Satan is instructing Wormwood, an apprentice demon. Satan says,
“One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time & space & rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners.
“That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately, (that church) is quite invisible to these humans.”
C. Is that true? Are we so wrapped up in our own little world that we never see the beauty & glory of the church for which Jesus died?
As a result, are we completely unaware of our enemy’s schemes? We seem to act as if difficulties in church are just natural things. When churches divide over whether or not to use hymns or contemporary choruses, it is not natural.