First, a caveat. While we face a real enemy in Satan and his forces, we are our own worst enemy.
In no way can we blame Satan for our sinful choices. On the other hand, he is a schemer who strategizes to take down God's people.
Few of these following ways are unique to these crazy days, but here are some ways I'm seeing Satan use his attempts to take us down as we continue to respond to COVID-19.
1. Maximizing divisiveness among believers. Whether our debates are about politics, masks, vaccinations or any number of things, the enemy is an instrument of division.
2. Fostering discouragement among pastors and church leaders. These are hard days of ministry. Few pastors haven't had at least moments of frustration.
3. Increasing pre-COVID-19 fringe commitments to the church. Those who were barely hanging on prior to COVID-19 now find themselves armed with reasons not to return to church.
4. Magnifying marital and family disagreements in a time of stress. Even for the most spiritually healthy, these days have added a layer of stress. The enemy is pleased when we take out that stress on those we love.
5. Equating political positions and preferences with the gospel. I am not arguing that believers have no place in politics, but I am arguing that we sometimes elevate our positions over Christian unity. Again, the enemy seeks to divide us.
6. Encouraging hidden sin among leaders. In this time of sheltering and quarantine, we've lived more behind doors than we typically do. Hidden lives often result in hidden sin.
7. Influencing leaders to solve problems first and pray second. In some ways, the early days of COVID-19 forced us to seek God for wisdom and guidance. The enemy, though, seeks to turn us back to our self-dependence as things settle down—a direction many of us might well be headed.
8. Turning churches even more inwardly. Most churches were inwardly focused prior to COVID-19. The early days of the coronavirus may have turned us outwardly, but I have no sense that focus has lasted. Most of the decisions we must make today relate more to us and when/how we gather than to others who need the gospel.
What strategies of the enemy have you seen?
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.
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