When the Devil Goes to Church

Scripture: Acts 20:29-30, Matthew 24:11, James 2:19
Date: 01/13/2018 
The devil isn't afraid of church, he just wants to be the object of your worship.
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>>Some people think that if you've got a Bible, the devil's going to run. That's not true. Or that the devil, when he sees a church, he goes in the other direction. No, the devil's not afraid of church, he's not afraid of worship, he just wants to be the object of worship. He wants God's position.

>>About a week ago - maybe a little more than a week ago - I was surfing through the religious channels. We get about, oh, a dozen different channels, and I stopped to listen to a preacher - if I said the name many here would recognize the name. He's been in the press, he's got an international ministry - he's kind of in the ballpark of what you would call a prosperity preacher. And he was talking about how where there is no law there is no sin and, somehow, he twisted that around and I heard him say, ‘It's the devil that wants you to keep the Ten Commandments.' (shocked murmuring) What? And he said it two or three different times 'If someone's coming around telling you you've got to keep the Ten Commandments - where there's a law there's sin - and so he's teaching you to sin.' I’m going, 'What?' and I pressed the record button and I thought, 'Maybe I didn't get this right,' and so I played it back and then I later played it for Karen a couple days ago. I said, 'Listen to this.' because he almost made it sound like it was the devil up there on Mount Sinai giving the Ten Commandments. And what really bothered me is that he had an audience with thousands of people and they were saying, 'Amen.' and I thought, 'Wow, the devil's got people in church - they're going through - they've got a Bible and they're in a church building and they're going through all of the fanfare and pomp of a church service, but they're teaching doctrines of devils.

Well, from that point, it began to expand on in my mind, and that's why I decided to talk about this subject: when the devil goes to church. Now, not only do I occasionally watch religious programming, I like nature programming. And there was this one program I saw - I actually watched this one episode several times - about the cuckoo bird. Now, we're not talking about the ones that go inside the clocks that come out and tell you when it's the hour, I’m talking about the real cuckoo bird. And they've got them in all different parts of the world, but the thing that the cuckoo bird does that is a little bit mischievous, is it lays its egg in another bird's nest and then it makes the other bird raise its baby. A reed warbler comes back, it doesn't know - the eggs look the same - and so it's sitting on the cuckoo egg. And, all of a sudden, the cuckoo egg hatches first and then, when it goes out to get food to feed the little cuckoo chick - it thinks it's his chick - the cuckoo chick pushes the other eggs out of the nest. So they plant an imposter in there. They take over.

That's happened in a lot of churches. That's why you've seen some cuckoo worship services - (laughter) - going on out there, it's because the devil does go to church. When I was young I used to think, you know, if you want to keep the vampires away, you need garlic and you need a cross. And you've probably heard these stories before. And some people think that if you've got a Bible, the devil's going to run. That's not true. Or that the devil, when he sees a church, he goes in the other direction. No, the devil goes to church. The Bible's pretty clear - Paul warned us there would be false teachers. Acts chapter 20, verse 29, "For I know this" - Paul said - "that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves." In Matthew 24, Jesus told us, especially in the last days, one thing you really need to watch for - he said, 'There will be many false prophets. There'll be many false Christs.' he said, 'many will come in my name saying I am Christ.'

Now that doesn't mean that they're saying they're Christ, they're saying they come in the name of Jesus saying 'Jesus is Christ' and then they deceive. Many in the churches - that's why you're going to have many come to Christ, they'll say, 'Lord, Lord' and he'll say, 'I don't know you. You were sitting under the teaching of wolves and you've been deceived.' Matthew 7:15, Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves." 2 Corinthians 11, verse 13, Paul said, "For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ." They try to look like they're apostles of Christ but they teach doctrines of devils and they often do it to get their own following because they're interested in self-worship. "Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works."

So there are people out there who pretend to be ministers of righteousness so that they can recruit followers or introduce false teachings. So, how do you know? It's hard to tell when they're wearing sheep's clothes. Satan can be transformed into an angel of light - they look like angels of light. How do you know? Everything - well, Jesus said you'll know them by their fruits, for one thing. And He said you'll know them by their teachings. If it doesn't match up with the word of God - and, of course, there'll be similarities; there'll be some things that sound like they're biblical. You know, it goes way back, even back in the time of the apostles they had problems with wolves among the sheep. Paul talked about some who had turned on him in 3 John - this is the third letter of John, verse 9 and 10 - John, the apostle, he says, "I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words..."

Here was a church leader back in the days of the apostle John who's turning the people away from an apostle. That's got to be pretty bad. John was a nice guy. He was the apostle of love. But they had wolves getting into the church even back then. Paul talked about Demetrius, the silversmith, 'Who did me much evil.' He started out looking like a believer. So, you look in the gospels and you'll find out that one of the first miracles that Jesus did was casting out a devil, but look at where it happens. Go to Luke chapter 4 - and you'll also find a parallel passage in Mark chapter 1 - "Then he went down to Capernaum, a city of Galilee, and was teaching them on the Sabbaths. And they were astonished at his teaching, for his word was with authority." He taught with power. He taught with authority. "Now in the synagogue" - just in case you don't know, the word 'synagogue' is the same word as 'church'; it just means 'the gathering place' - "now in the synagogue" - in the church - "there was a man who had a spirit of an unclean demon..." He may have been on the books for years and nobody knew that he had a spirit of an unclean demon - it doesn't say - "and he cried out" - Jesus is teaching and he suddenly cries out and he goes into a fit - "let us alone! What have we to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth? Did you come to destroy us? I know who you are - the Holy One of God!"

Now, was he right? Keep in mind, these fallen angels, did they know Jesus even before the creation? They may have known Jesus from millions of years. We don't know how long the angels existed before the rebellion. They knew who Jesus was. You know, just because the devil occasionally shares some good theology doesn't mean he's not a devil. I think it was A.W. Tozier who said, 'The devil is a better theologian than all of us, but he's a devil still.' In James chapter 2, he said, "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe - and tremble!"

Did you know the devils believe in one God? The devils are not polytheistic, they're monotheistic - they're correct, there's one God. Matthew - I’m sorry, Mark 4:15, it says, "And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts." The devil hates for people to hear the word. I’ll say more about this later, but sometimes the devil sneaks into church and he uses you and me.

Are you all aware the devil does not haunt houses? I am never worried about haunted two by fours or haunted cinder blocks or haunted concrete. The devil haunts people and he can sometimes even get into you and me and when the word is being preached the devil will try to snatch away the word. You know the parable - some words - some seed fell on the wayside and the ravens came and snatched it away - by the way, they were cuckoo birds they came and they took away the seed right away.

And, I’ll tell you, one of the ways the devil sneaks into church is when the preacher is preaching the word of God - and he might be preaching with authority - all of a sudden the devil will pinch a baby and the baby will let out a wolf call, or people will start talking next to you and you're trying to eavesdrop on their conversation. We need to be reverent during church because you don't want to be the wolf that's distracting the person next to you from hearing the Word of God. And if we're all fussing and - or the devil gets into our thinking sometimes and - so when the word is spoken that might transform you, you don't hear it because you're preoccupied thinking about something else. So we've got to pray that God'll help us to focus on the Word.

Now, it shouldn't surprise you that the devil sometimes goes to church; he started in church. Look in Ezekiel 28, verses 12 and 15 - yep, the devil started in church. It says, "Thus says the Lord God, 'You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering: the sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper,'" - by the way, those are things that the high priest wore on his breastplate. It's almost like he was a minister in God's sanctuary, which he was - "The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created." He probably led the heavenly choir. He sang praises to God. The devil has been a priest, he has been a choir director - "You were the anointed cherub who covers;" - you know what that means?

What's a covering cherub? There, by the throne of God, you've got these two angels. Have you read Isaiah 6? They cry 'Holy, holy, holy' - it calls them seraphim there - cherubim - and they've got the six wings. And there by the throne of God the highest, most exalted position next to God himself is the position held by these covering angels - like they sat on the ark - two covering cherubs. That was the position of Lucifer. Lucifer went to church. He was in the inner sanctum of the church. He's not scared of church. Isaiah 14 - he wants to be worshiped. You read verses 14 - verses 12 to 14 in Isaiah 14, it says you have declared, "...I will ascend into heaven,...I will ascend [above the heights of the clouds], I will be like the most high." you see, the devil wants to be worshiped. You're not surprised by that, you knew - what did he say to Jesus in the wilderness? 'If you'll just fall down and worship me.' The devil's not afraid of church. He's not afraid of worship. He just wants to be the object of worship is what he's after. And he wants your worship.

>> Don't go anywhere, friends, we'll be back in just a moment for the rest of today's presentation. You probably already know that the United States is one of the most powerful economic and military nations in history. But have you ever wondered if the Bible has anything to say about the U.S. in Bible prophecy? What if I told you that it does? Would that surprise you? Well, it's true. Using vivid symbolic imagery, the book of Revelation details the rise of America and the prominent role that it will play in the last days of human history. If you'd like to know more about this important subject "Amazing Facts" wants to send you a special gift called, "The USA in Bible Prophecy". This short but insightful study guide will astound you. As you see for yourself how the book of Revelation pinpoints the United States as a major player in these end time events and what you can do to get ready for it.

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>>So what is his end game? What is it that the devil is ultimately shooting for? This is where I think it gets very interesting: 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, verse 3, "Let no one deceive you by any means; for that day" - talking about the day of the Lord and talking about the end of time - "...that day will not come unless the falling away comes first." I want to park right there. 'A falling away' - does he mean a falling away in the world? No, the world fell way back in Adam's time. The world's fallen. It's talking about a falling away where?

>>In the church.

>>In the church. That day - the day of the lord - the final events, they're not going to - it's not going to happen unless there's a falling away first. "And the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped," - he opposes all of God's worship, why? - "so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God."

Does the devil have a problem going to church? No, he wants to go to church and he wants to be worshiped. This is his end game. Daniel 8:13, "Then I heard a holy one speaking, and another holy one said to that certain one who was speaking, 'How long will the vision be, concerning the daily sacrifices and the transgression of desolation, the giving of both the sanctuary and the host to be trampled underfoot?'" This is the abomination of desolation - the devil wants to trample down God's people and his place. Look in Daniel 11, verse 45, "And he shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas and the glorious holy mountain;" - his desire in the last days is to plant himself - to be enthroned in that holy place.

You can also read in Matthew 24:15, Jesus warned us - and this, by the way, is Christ's words talking about the last days: "Therefore when you see the 'abomination of desolation,' spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in" - what's the rest? "the holy place." Where does this abomination of desolation want to stand? In the holy place. What is that holy place? It's the place where the being resides, who we worship. The devil wants your worship. Why would you doubt that?

What's the whole final test about? Everybody's going to have to make a decision: do you worship the beast or do you have the seal of God? The devil wants to be at the center of the worship of the world. He wants God's position. That's why he told Jesus, ‘Just fall down and worship me and I’ll give it to you.' go to Matthew 16. Go to verse 13. Now this is when Jesus asks that big question to the apostles: he says, "...'Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?' So they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'...'But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven." so Peter's feeling pretty good. Jesus is saying, 'Peter, you have just spoken with inspiration. The Holy Spirit gave that to you. This comes from the Father. You have been used by the Father to speak what you spoke.' And Peter is looking at the other guys saying, 'God just spoke through me, guys. Did you catch that? That's what Jesus said. I spoke up and God spoke through me.' And so Peter's feeling pretty good.

Now go down to verse 22 - same chapter, same day, within 20 minutes. Jesus then goes on, He tells the apostles, 'I've got to go to Jerusalem. I’m going to be betrayed. I’ll be crucified, I’ll rise the third day.' Peter takes Jesus aside, he says, 'Look, I’m on a roll here. I’m inspired. I better straighten out Jesus.' he takes Jesus, he says, 'Look, Jesus, this is not a good idea.' He said, 'This is not meant for you. Far be it from you.' Jesus turns to Peter and He said, "Get behind me, Satan! You are an offense to me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men."

Alright, and this is a very important point, how many of you would want to go to church where Peter was the pastor? You're not so sure because he, you know, Peter, he could - one minute he says, 'Though all men forsake You, I will not forsake You.' then he says, 'I don't know him. Never seen Him before.' Peter was - he did vacillate a little bit, but my point, I hope, is taken that sometimes we can all be a little bit like Peter, where one minute the Holy Spirit is speaking through us and the next moment we're growling like a wolf at our wife. One moment we're spirit-filled - we love the Lord, we're singing His praise - the next moment we've got a little bit of wolf in us and the devil sneaks into church through us - through me.

I want to make sure I’m not pointing the finger. It's all of us. And I’ll be talking about a solution for that in a little bit. The Bible says - alright, you've got it clear, the devil wants to inhabit the holy place. Is that right?


>>So are there any holy places in the world today? Ah, your body. Don't you know your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit? Isn't that right? The devil is not interested in just resisting as much as infiltration. He's not interested so much in haunting houses as haunting people. The Bible tells us Jesus shared a parable, "Two men went up to the temple to pray," - they're both going to the same church - "one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and he prayed thus with himself," - I always thought that was funny the way that's worded - "God, I thank you that I’m not like other men - extortioners, unjust, adulterers or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess." And he begins to extol all of his good deeds for God.

What spirit did he have? It's pride. But the Publican, who you normally - if you saw these two guys walking to church and you say, 'Which one do you want to make an elder?' I’d say, 'Look at the Pharisee. He's very religious - very conscientious - he keeps the law, pays tithe, he doesn't cheat on his wife.' Sure, we'd want to put him in charge of the church. That's why the disciples voted that Judas was the most likely to succeed. If you look in the apostles yearbook, right next to Judas' picture they said, 'Most likely to succeed'. They went to Jesus and said, 'Look. We need a good accountant. This guy is great. He's smart, he's bright, he's shrewd - we need him on our team.' Sometimes man looks on the outward appearance, God looks on the heart.

Pharisee says, 'Lord, I thank thee I’m not like other people.' What was his problem? Pride. What disqualifies you to be used of God? You're never more like the devil than when you're proud. Jesus said we need to be humble. The publican, who you would say, 'Oh, public tax collector, we don't want him.' He bows his head, he smites on his breast, he says, 'Lord have mercy on me a sinner.' And then Jesus concludes by saying the publican is the one that goes home with God, forgiven. The Pharisee, he was so full of himself, on the throne of the Pharisee's heart is the Pharisee, not God. He was worshiping himself. We all have a little of both inside.

So how does the devil come to church? Well, sometimes he comes in us. So, when we come to church, do we go to uplift our own goodness? The devil loves when we do that. Do we become preoccupied with how others have slighted us or they have offended us or they don't appreciate us? We get engaged in gossip. When we're singing the songs, are our hearts involved in singing? Are we worshiping? Are we mumbling through the words from memory while we're really thinking about something else? Sometimes the devil can come and he just distracts us from what God might want to say. Now, I told you that we are temples, but the Bible also tells us that Jesus was a temple. Jesus said that. Have you read in John 2, verse 19, "Jesus answered and said to them, 'Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.'" But He was speaking of the temple of His body, it says in verse 21.

More than anything - more than coming into our churches or getting into our heads, what the devil wanted to get into was into Christ. All through his life, the devil did everything he could to make Christ lose His cool, lose His sanctification, get upset - to sin - and the temple of Christ the devil couldn't get in. And because he couldn't get in, he did everything he could in anger to destroy it. It's like bank robbers that go to a bank and they try to get in the vault and they can't break into the vault and they're so mad, on their way out, they start shooting the place up because they're infuriated that they can't get to that which they wanted. Look at what the devil did to Jesus' body. He tried to get Jesus to lose His temper; Christ was whipped, He was spat on, He was punched, He was pierced, He was cursed. The devil threw everything he could at Him to try to get inside and he couldn't. Christ said - if you doubt Me - John 14:30 - He said, 'I can't talk with you now for the ruler of this world is coming' - and catch this - 'he has nothing in Me.' 'He has no foothold in me. He can't get inside me.' The soul of Christ was an impregnable fortress. Now, what Jesus had He offers you. Wouldn't you like to know that your soul could be protected?


>>Don't you want to have a church where we're all led of the spirit? The reason Paul warned us, he said, ‘In the last days wolves will rise up, not sparing the flock.' I think we're living in those days, not only with all the various doctrines of devils and winds of heresy that are blowing around, not just in the world with goofy pastors that say the devil wants you to keep the Ten Commandments. There's all kinds of bizarre theology out there but, even within our own church the wolf nibbles on the edges and tries to get in. I hope all of us are in the word, because it's the word of God that is going to be our fortress. Jesus is the Word, amen?


>>How do you get rid of darkness? You introduce the light. It's not enough to say, 'Well, we go to church.' The people who crucified Jesus went to church. Matter of fact, they wanted His body taken off the cross so they could hurry home and keep the Sabbath. So it's good that you're a Sabbath keeper, but that by itself doesn't save us. We need to have - our hearts and minds and souls need to be the abiding place of Christ. You know what keeps the wolf away? A good shepherd. And, if Jesus, as the Bible says, if He is the shepherd of your souls, then you have nothing to fear.

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>> What if you could know the future? What would you do? What would you change? To see the future you must understand the past. Alexander the Great becomes king when he's only 18 but he's a military prodigy. A hundred and fifty years in advance Cyrus had been named. Nebuchadnezzar built the city as a showcase to the entire world. Rome was violent, they were ruthless, they were determined.

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