Summary: There’s a bullseye atop our churches which the prince of the power of the air sees as he roams, seeking whom he may devour. His method of harming the church is "infiltration." Link included to Formatted Text and Powerpoint Template.
The Devil in the Church
Eph. 6:11, 12
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“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”--Eph. 6:11,12.
…upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
But churches don’t always qualify under the category of “my church.” The devil has his churches as well, and some of them used to be God’s!
Satan is wise. He knows that to openly attack the church would only serve to unify and strengthen it; so, the only other method is to infiltrate the church and work from within to destroy it. He uses people, and problems, yes, but these are not the real enemy…He is the real enemy…and not flesh and blood alone.
We have a good thing going and Satan knows it, and I believe there’s a big bullseye atop our building as the prince of the power of the air flies by. We have his attention, and he wants to put it all to a stop!
Somebody has given us a parody of the second verse of "Onward, Christian Soldiers":
Like a mighty turtle moves the church of God.
Brothers, we are treading where we’ve always trod.
We are much divided, many bodies we,
Strong in faith and doctrine, weak in charity.
The Devil has been using this “infiltration method” for thousands of years. Satan has gotten into our churches, and he is succeeding in draining the strength and power. Revival seems to be gone in America, and we are losing ground. More people are being born than being saved by far. The Devil is stealing our influence, and even our churches are being used against the cause of Christ.
The devil infiltrates churches which are:
I. FORMAL IN TRADITION
Formalism always has been an enemy of true spirituality. The less power with God a church has, the more ceremony will be involved. This is done to try to make up for the loss of spiritual power. This is a day of bowing, chanting and reciting meaningless prayers. Men are following procedures, lighting candles and burning incense. There is a trend toward going back to the ceremony of the old Jewish law. Modern churches are complying more every week with the ceremony of the Tabernacle and Temple worship.
We are told, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall flesh be justified in his sight . . .” (Rom. 3:20). In Galatians 3:13 we read, “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law . . . .” Paul tells us in Galatians 5:1: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”
New Testament Christianity is not in keeping ordinances and following regulations laid down by an ecclesiastical headquarters. It is in being led by the Spirit of God. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God” (Rom. 8:14).
We must be careful in our church not to get stuck in ruts, and to strive to be spirit filled and spirit led, not so bound to any schedule.
Formalism will expose itself by the following characteristics:
First, it is outward and not inward. Everything will be done to please people, and every decision is made in light of what others will say or do.
Second, it is based on law and not love. Under law men serve God because it is compulsory, but love serves God voluntarily.
Third, it is for men and not for God. God’s will and plan are not regarded. The plain teaching of the Bible is ignored.
Fourth, it is a religion of flesh and not Spirit. Galatians 6:8 tells us, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” In other words, they that smoke cigarettes shall, more than likely, get lung cancer.
Finally, notice that formalism is all action and no unction.
Lots of programs but little power…churches are busy with clubs, sales, bakes, projects and all the rest—but where is the power of God? The words of Jesus need to be heard as found in Matthew 15:3: “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?”
When a poor needy sinner, with an upset heart, goes to one of these formal churches for help, they quickly recommend that he see a psychiatrist or go to the local mission.