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The Devil in the Church
Eph. 6:11, 12
“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
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.
Even a sinner, who is blind to God’s plan, can see that the Devil is in the church.
The devil infiltrates churches which are:
II. FLESHLY IN TRANSGRESSION
Some think that sin can be sanctified by bringing it into the church. The members of many churches are living sinful, lascivious lives under the cloak of church membership and even leadership. To them the church is just another club that will help them feel good about themselves or advance their business or give them more contacts. It seems to be profitable to join the church. A little religion is very convenient at times.
In Galatians 5:16,17 the Word of God declares, “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh . . . .” Again we read, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption . . .” (Gal. 6:8). Peter tells us, “ . . .abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (I Pet. 2:11).
What to do with your flesh:
Put it off Eph. 4:22
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
Crucify it Galatians 5:24
And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.
Reckon/pronounce it dead Romans 6:11
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Don’t resurrect it/Make no provision for it Romans 13:14
But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
The church at Corinth was filled with carnal Christians with problems, strife, divisions, contentions and envies. On the other hand, notice that the church in the book of Acts was in one accord and unified. When they prayed, great power came and miracles took place. This contrast points out the vast difference between a church led by the Spirit of God and one that the Devil is in, walking after the lusts of the flesh.
The church of today is filled with whimpering, jealous, defeated Christians. They are worldly, selfish and cold because they are in bondage…under the power of the Devil’s emphasis on their flesh, and their church won’t preach against it.
Instead of the call of the church, people hear and give in to the call of the crowd. Instead of love for the Father, it is the lust of the flesh. Instead of fishing for men, they are fishing for materialism. They want cocktails more than Christ. Instead of prayer meeting, they want a party.
O, that men would only remember that “. . .greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (I John 4:4).
The devil infiltrates churches which are:
III. FALSE IN TEACHING
Cults and isms have flourished to the extent that thousands have followed the teachings of men. The Devil has cashed in on this. People do not like to be restrained, so they have started religions to suit themselves. Jane Russell was not accepted in the Hollywood Christian group because of a sex picture she made, so she started her own group. Mary Baker Eddy, Joseph Smith, and many others did not like the restraint of the Bible, so they organized their own churches.
And they prey upon people like you! They don’t reach the unchurched as much as they try to recruit the churched to a “better way.”
The Bible says, “Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines . . .” (Heb. 13:9). Again we read, “Beware, lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit . . .” (Col. 2:8). In Matthew 16:6 we are told, “ . . .beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.”
Many a soul will spend eternity in Hell because of a smooth-talking religious racketeer who loves power and money. The Devil has added influence and power to this campaign against the work of Christ, and thousands of gullible folks have fallen hook, line and sinker for the bait. The Scripture says, “In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ…should shine unto them” (II Cor. 4:4).
But Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6).
The devil infiltrates churches which are:
IV. FAILING IN TEMPTATIONS
It is certainly not a sin to be tempted by the Devil, but it is a sin to yield. The songwriter has said:
Yield not to temptation,
For yielding is sin.
Each vict’ry will help you
Some other to win;
Fight manfully onward,
Dark passions subdue,
Look ever to Jesus,
He will carry you through.
In the Bible we have the account of many who failed when they were tempted. Eve let God down and disgraced her family...Adam said, oh well, and took the plunge too! The whole human race has suffered ever since. Lot backslid in Sodom. The temptation to be a big shot got the best of him. His pride and self-esteem caused him to fall into a snare. Achan was tempted, and it caused him to steal, bringing judgment on the whole army of Israel. Many died and Achan was exposed and killed. His failure was yielding to temptation.
Solomon gave in to his weakness for women and disobeyed the plain leading of the Lord. David was tempted by flesh, and his lust led to the sin of adultery with Bathsheba, which led to the murder of Uriah. In James 1:14,15, the Word of God states: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”
But we do not have to fail. The Bible also is filled with examples of men who did not yield in time of trial. Abraham was known as a great man of faith, and he was true to God. Joseph was enticed by Potiphar’s wife, but he would not yield. Even though he suffered much, he would not disgrace himself. Elijah and Elisha were men who would not give and bow to Baal. Job was subjected to the most horrible fate of all, but held steady. Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den because he would not give in to the modernists.
Finally, see that Christ was tempted in the wilderness. There He was led by the Spirit to be tempted by the Devil. He did not submit to the Devil for a moment, but came out victorious over sin. The Bible says, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (I Cor. 10:13).
We are told in James 1:12, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation; for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.” Peter says, “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations . . .” (II Pet. 2:9). Solomon warns, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (Prov. 1:10).
Let me remind you, dear friend that the Devil is also after you. He would like to ruin your influence and testimony, and harm your church. We’re only as strong as our weakest member.
In the last 40 years he’s had some success in infiltrating this church thru people AND some pastors…he uses tongues, disloyalty, pride, false teaching, and our own flesh to his benefit if we’ll allow it. He has blessed it greatly at times, but then Satan would have his way. Sometimes it was about control and who gets the credit…but I tell you, there’s no limit to what God can and will do around here if it doesn’t matter who gets the credit!
In the last 3 years he’s had some success in infiltrating this church thru people, AND the pastor! That’s right…we’ve had success, and then responded wrong, myself included. We’ve learned from it and gotten back up, and now God is blessing again…how will we respond? Will we be wise to Satan’s plans for this church, or will we let him in? God help us not to get in the way and mess up a great church!
All Sermons and Slideshow Presentations Copyright Jerry Shirley and Grace Notes Ministries unless otherwise credited.