Summary: Evil strategy against the church
1. Jim Bakker’s sin collapsed PTL, the second most viewed TV channel.
2. Ignorance: A pastor is killed in his airplane in a snow storm (biggest soul winning church in Canada declined in numbers).
3. Argument: Pastor’s children disagree, fight and eventually the church is lost to creditors.
4. People vote out their pastor because he was counseled by a psychiatrist and a soul winning church of 700 shrinks to under 100.
5. A snake kills a missionary on his way to reach an unevangelized tribe.
B. EVIL STRATEGY AGAINST THE CHURCH
1. The devil hates the church and Christians. “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8, NLT).
2. The devil’s strategy.
a. He will deceive the unsaved. “The god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not” (2 Cor. 4:3).
b. He will defeat believers (Acts 5:3, 1 Thess. 2:18, 1 Cor. 5:1-5, Matt. 13:38-39).
c. He will describe himself as a gospel preacher (2 Cor. 11:13-14).
d. He will deceive the people groups of the nations (Rev. 20:3).
3. See notes on demons.
4. The old sinful nature of believers is not eradicated at salvation and their sin hurts God’s work. “If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth” (1 Jn. 1:8, NLT).
5. Believers with good intentions fail in inner character which results in their outer failure of service that hurts the work of God.
6. Christians are ignorant of what God is doing. “You’re out of your mind!” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel” (Acts 12:15).
7. Christians do stupid things to hurt God’s work.
8. Wrong interpretation of Scripture or God’s will.
9. The world will tempt believers, criticize or oppose a church. “For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 Jn. 2:16).
10. Martyrdom “Who are these? . . . the ones who died in the great tribulation” (Rev. 7:13-14, NLT).
11. Jesus promised persecution and martyrdom. “I am sending you out as sheep among wolves . . . You will be handed over to the courts . . . and cause them to be killed, and all nations will hate you” (Matt. 10:16, 17, 21, 22).
C. HOW GOD WORKS HIS PLAN IN THE FACE OF EVIL
1. Life is a test. God does not tempt or test us, but He allows believers to be tempted by evil and tested by circumstances. “When your faith is tested . . . a chance to grow . . . you will be perfect and complete” (James 1:2-3, NLT). “God is never tempted to do wrong, and He never tempts anyone else” (James 1:13, NLT).
2. Believers are promised victory. “I will build my church and the gates of Hell shall not stand against it” (Matt. 16:18).
a. Power for service. “I can do all things through Christ” (Phil. 4:13).
b. His Presence in danger. “If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home” (Ps. 91:9-10, NLT).
c. His triumph “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14, NKJV).
3. God works through fallen people.
a. Believers are limited in knowing God, following Christ, and little faith, “O you of little faith” (Matt. 14:31, NKJV).
b. Some are evil, i.e., Joseph’s brothers “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” (Gen. 50:20).
c. Some do dumb things.
4. God permits evil to validate His purposes. Satan asks God to take away Job’s wealth and health. “Alright you may test him . . . but don’t harm him physically” (Job 1:12, NLT).
5. God’s power works best through weakness. Each 7 victorious judges had obvious weaknesses. “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Cor. 12:9, NKJV).
6. God works through His providence. Paul’s nephew saved his life (Acts 23: 16, 17).
a. Miracle: God alters the laws of nature for divine purposes.
b. Providence: God used the laws of nature for divine purpose.
c. Law: an extension of the person of God into the world and is the force by which He controls everything (Rom. 8:28).
7. God uses government for good, or through it to permit evil.
a. God controls leaders. “The king’s heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; he guides it wherever he pleases” (Prov. 21:1, NLT).