Summary: This sermon is meant to help us evaluate how we worship and to warn us to avoid Satan’s influence even at church.
Every time Jesus met someone demon-possessed He kicked the demons out! This case is unusual because of where it took place - in the very house of God!
Why in the world would a man possessed by demons even be interested in going to the house of God?
Why would the devil want to go to church?
1. Because the devil has always been religious.
Satan and his demons are even rather orthodox in some of their beliefs. A. W. Tozer said, "The devil is a better theologian than any of us and is a devil still."
Of course it’s not just what you believe that matters.
James 2:18,19 - But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds." Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do. You believe there is one God. Good! EVEN THE DEMONS BELIEVE THAT - and shudder.
The devil is monotheistic. He knows there’s only one God. Problem is, he doesn’t worship God. When he shows up at church it isn’t for true worship but rather for false worship.
Satan’s religion is false religion but it is religion nonetheless. He doesn’t even mind if we show up for worship - just as long as its false worship.
He loves to see folks go to church to talk about other worshippers. He loves to see us go to uplift our own goodness. He loves it when we are preoccupied with other things - like who hurt our feelings recently, and what so and so thinks about us. He loves to hear our critical comments about the worship leaders and the pastor’s preaching.
The devil loves it when we don’t put our hearts into praising God. He likes seeing us just going through the motions. He can stand anything but worship of God in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
The devil is opposed to Christianity but he isn’t opposed to churchianity.
The demons know who Jesus is. The one in the synagogue did. He believed in the Incarnation of Christ - that he was both God and man at the same time.
The demon clearly identified Christ’s humanity by calling Him "Jesus of Nazareth". But he also identified Christ’s deity by calling Him "the Holy One of God". (verse 24)
The church must surely be on guard against false doctrine. But the danger we are sometimes less aware of is false worship. We must always guard against dead religion.
We cannot afford to become complacent and nonchalant about our worship of God! We should consistently re-evaluate why we worship and how we worship.
The Word says concerning dead worship by dead churches and believers: "having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them." (2 Timothy 3:5)
2. The devil goes to church because he’s looking for prey.
Notice how the plural pronouns indicate just how closely the demon was identified with the man through whom he was speaking.
"What do you want with US Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy US?" (verse 24)
This may not have been a case of multiple demon possession. It may have been an instance of one demon making his host a puppet. The "us" was the demon and his host.
Satan’s ultimate goal is to have control. He can possess those who don’t have the Holy Spirit within.
He can’t possess true Christ followers, but he does want to manipulate us and hinder our work for God and the growth of our faith.
Remember what Jesus said to Simon Peter? "Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat." (Luke 22:31)
Simon thought he would be able to go through all the trials with Jesus without cracking. Though his faith didn’t fail completely, he miserably flunked a major test. He disavowed all knowledge of Jesus when Jesus was being falsely accused and beaten.
Peter was given another chance and he learned from his mistake, but we need to learn from it also. Satan is out to sift us.
That’s why Peter would later write in one of his letters to the churches this admonition: "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour." (1 Peter 5:8)
If you think the devil doesn’t do some of his prowling in church you haven’t been around long. Satan even has control of the pulpits in some churches.
Listen to what the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15:
"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what they deserve."
3. The devil goes to church because he’s seeking worship.