Let me start this post with a clear caveat: Satan will not ultimately win as he attacks God's church.
In the meantime, though, the devil strategically attacks us. Consider these ways he seeks to get the "upper hand."
- He wants us to mess up in sin. The results of our sin are numerous. Our witness loses credibility. Our prayers are hindered. Our joy wanes. Relationships often suffer. The world looks at us and sees no difference—and the enemy temporarily wins.
- He wants us to cover up our sin. He did it in the Garden of Eden, and he still does it today: If we sin, he wants us to hide like Adam and Eve did. Likewise, the enemy wants the local church to ignore the sin among its members.
- He wants us to get hung up on difficulties and discouragement. "You've served God faithfully," he says to us, "but what good has it done? You're still struggling and lonely." He delights when we cower in the cave like Elijah (1 Kings 19), forgetting God's previous blessings and focusing on only the trouble at hand.
- He wants us to clam up in evangelism. God has only one plan to get the gospel to our neighbors and the nations: Believers tell the story to others (Rom. 10:9-16). It's the enemy who points out reasons for us not to share the gospel.
- He wants us to bow up over position and power. The enemy who himself sought the throne of God is pleased when we guard our turf and protect our positions in the local church.
- He wants us to break up. This strategy, too, started in the garden, where Adam turned on Eve and blamed her for his wrong. From the beginning, the enemy has sought to sever marriages, families, friendships and congregations.
- He wants us to build up our own kingdoms. He does not mind when we talk about the kingdom of God as long as our real focus is our own kingdom. "Serve God," he says, "but make sure others know just how much you're serving Him. In a 'humble' way, be sure to get the word out about the size and influence of your ministry."
- He wants us to cloud up the message. Without question, the enemy rejoices when the gospel message is decidedly and clearly forsaken. At the same time, though, he is pleased when the message is subtly changed so the gospel disappears while still sounding like a biblical message.
- He wants us to give up on prayer. He points out unanswered prayer, reminding us that God has at times not heard us in the past. Why would we then seek God's presence and power today?
- He wants us to get puffed up with ego. In fact, this strategy is the root of the rest of these strategies. When we reside on the throne of our lives, the enemy is at least temporarily winning.
What other ways have you seen the enemy get the "upper hand" in a church?
Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is team leader for theological education strategists for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
For the original article, visit chucklawless.com.
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