When Satan Goes to Church, Pt. 1

Date: 11/12/2022 
God wants us to feed and to grow and to blossom as Christians but the devil keeps planting his teachings and his problems in the church to try to sap our strength and our attention. How can we know what his tricks are so that we don't fall into his traps?

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Doug Batchelor: It's remarkable to look back and to see how the Lord has led through time, and it's through progression in providence His will is made clear. Throughout scripture, step by step, the Lord has led His people from generation to generation. Even here at "Amazing Facts," I clearly see God's guiding all the way from that very first 15-minute broadcast in 1966. From radio, to television, to publishing, to global evangelism, it's evident that God has a divine plan in motion. Friends, the Lord has a plan for you as well. Jeremiah 29:11 says, "'I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" That great hope is Christ, and through Him, "Amazing Facts" is moving forward. But you might wonder, what is God's specific purpose for your life? As you trust God with your life and walk with Him day by day, He will wonderfully unfold His good plan for you. We pray that today's program will be a stepping stone to strengthen your walk with Jesus, giving you clarity and fulfillment in the days ahead. And remember, stay tuned for the very important free offer following this presentation.

Doug: Our message, today, may have a little bit of an intimidating title, talking about "When Satan Goes to Church." You know, I remember reading in history about Oliver Cromwell, when he became the lord protector of England. And this is following the execution of King Charles, not too many kings were executed, but he was a scoundrel. And Cromwell came into power. And it was customary back then, that, when they had a new leader, they didn't have photographs, they had painters, and they would get just the most skilled painters that would then paint the leaders. And Cromwell gave some very interesting instructions to the painter.

You see, the custom was, back then, if you painted some royal figure or some dignitary, that the artist would do the old-fashioned version of Photoshop, he would kind of remove the blemishes, and make their eyes a little bigger and a little brighter, and the skin a little smoother, and just make them look the best they could possibly look and still look like them. But Cromwell said, "I desire that you would use all of your skill to paint your picture truly like me, all of this roughness, pimples, warts, and everything as you see me; otherwise I will never pay a farthing for it." This is where we get the expression, "We want to have it, warts and all." And so the portrait of Cromwell ended up having some blemishes on it, because he said, "I don't want you to smooth it over. If it's going to be me, I want it to be me."

Well, we're going to be preaching about the church, today, warts and all, so to speak, what the Bible has to say about some of the devil's strategy that he is using in the last days to deceive. Now, part of the reason we're doing this, you read in 2 Corinthians 2, verse 11, "Lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices." Now, it's so much better for us to talk about the devil's strategy before an attack, as opposed to in the middle of an attack.

You know, I'll be very honest with you, I'm a little frightened of success, because "A haughty spirit goes before a fall." And the Lord has greatly blessed this church, it has grown, we are doing wonderful, compared to many other churches, in baptisms, in growth, in tithe, lovely people, great experience. And that's when you need to brace for impact. And if I was the devil and I saw that there was a church that was prospering in its local ministry, in its international ministry, I would not sit back and cheer them on, I'd want to do everything I could to stop it. If you go to Revelation 12:12, it tells us there, "Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them!" Because the devil had been cast out, they finally had peace in heaven. "Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath," very angry, furious, "Because he knows his time is short."

Now, that's one thing that we could learn from the devil, he at least knows his time is short, I hope you know our time is short. Let's read on, go to verse 13. "Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman." Who is, "The woman that brought forth the man Child"? This is the bride of Christ, the church, that presents the Messiah to the world. You know, the Bible tells us there are seven examples in the Bible of women who were barren, but then, through a miracle, they had a baby, these were miracle baby boys, and they were all types of Christ. And so, this woman is the consummate example of the church who introduces the Messiah, brings forth the Messiah, she's got 12 stars above her head, representing the tribes in the Old Testament, the apostles in the New Testament, this is the bride of Christ. How does the devil feel about her? "The dragon saw that he'd been cast to earth, he persecuted the woman." He can't persecute the man Child, it says He was caught up to God's throne.

So, since the devil can't reach Jesus, he goes after the object of Christ's supreme regard. What institution, what body of people on the earth, does Jesus have a special love for? That would be more than the church, this is His redeemed, this is His bride, and the devil hates her. "The dragon saw he had been cast to the earth; he persecuted the woman. But the woman was given two wings of an eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time, a times, and half the time." After God saved Israel out of Egypt, they went into the wilderness, and God fed her there. So, it's harkening back to that. During the time of Elijah, when there was a famine three and a half years, Elijah fled into the wilderness, he was fed miraculously there by God. God will feed His church, amen?

"So, he spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood." Now he wants to drown her. If it's not fire, it's flood. "But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth." You notice, everything he tries, he tries to destroy her, but she's given wings of an eagle, he tries to drown her, but the earth opens its mouth. Now go to verse 17. "And the dragon was enraged," if he was wroth before, he's really mad now, "Enraged with," what? "The woman," "The dragon was enraged with the woman."

Just as the church is the object on earth upon which Jesus bestows His greatest love and regard, the church is the object on earth that infuriates the devil the most, because it is the vehicle by which Jesus redeems the lost. And the devil doesn't want them to be saved, he wants everyone to go down with him, he knows his time is short.

Now, we're going to be looking at seven things, time permitting. If we run out of time, I'll just stop. We're going to be looking at seven things, seven of the stratagems that the devil uses to overcome God's people, and I've sort of divided them up, to make it easy to remember, as desire, disgrace, defamation, discord, distractions, dialogue, and disguise. Very proud of myself that I was able to make those all begin with one letter.

Number one, the desire of the devil. Turn in your Bibles, please, to the book of Job chapter 1, verse 6. "When the Devil Goes to Church," you know it happened long ago. "Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD." Oh, I would like to be there, right? Be in this heavenly meeting where the sons of God, probably these representatives and leaders of unfallen worlds, they come to present themselves before the Lord in this celestial gathering. And I don't know that it was in heaven itself, because Satan was cast out of heaven. But it says here, "Satan came also among them." Well, it sounded like such a pretty picture until it says that the devil showed up at this meeting in the presence of God. You know, he's very audacious in that he will invade sacred places.

You know, when I was reading this, and I thought about the audacity and boldness of the devil, that here there's this heavenly meeting, and all that he's done to the world, and he shows up. Now, if he would show up in the courts of God's presence, wherever this was, then should we be shocked he might show up in church? The devil's not scared of a church building, he is not scared of professed believers. And we're going to find out, as we go through this series, he often shows up, even in church. Matthew chapter 4, verse 5, kind of shocking, do you know the devil will take you to church? That's right. When Jesus was tempted of the devil in the wilderness, it says, "Then the devil took Him up into the holy city." What, the devil will take you to a holy place? "And set Him on the pinnacle of the temple." The temple, what's that? The church. Here the devil takes Jesus to church, talk about a turn of events. Why is he doing it? Because he wants to disgrace the Lord in front of the church so that he can gain possession and get more mileage out of it. "He says to Him, 'If you're the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written, "He will give His angels charge over you," and "In their hands they will bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone."

He wanted to see Jesus fall right in front of the church, and there's nothing the devil likes more than to disgrace professed believers by having them fall visibly in front of the church, where everyone can laugh and mock. You know where the devil was the most successful is when David sinned with Bathsheba? Look at all the shame and disgrace that brought on God's people. When Peter, who would be the great spokesman, when he denied even knowing the Lord with swearing and cursing.

The devil wants you to fall and he wants you to fall right in front of the church, he loves to disgrace God's people. Why did the devil take Him to the temple? Couldn't he have taken Him to a cliff in the wilderness and said, "If You're the Son of God, why didn't You jump off the cliff?" "No, no, no, not here, I want Him to fall in the courtyard of the temple, probably on a Sabbath, when everyone's watching, and so the people in the world will look and say, 'Ha-ha, they say they're Christians.'"

How many times have you heard people out in the world that say, "I don't want to be a Christian," and then they start to point at the hypocrites or the hypocrisy in the church? And it is true, there are a lot of Christian leaders that have fallen, there's a lot of hypocrisy you can see. I mean, all you've got to do is flip the channel a little bit. I went like this, but you don't have those on your TV anymore, and now it's like this. All you got to do is change channel on the television and you can see a lot of examples of these snakes that are out there bilking people out of their money, promising them prosperity and blessings and all these things, if they'll just send their money. And then you find out from their personal lives that they're totally out of the Lord's will in the way they live. So he wants to disgrace the church.

Another one of his tactics is the defamation of the devil, slander. He is called, "The accuser of the brethren." You go back to the book of Job, Job 1, verse 9, "Satan says to the Lord, 'Does Job serve God for nothing? The only reason he serves You is because You've made a hedge about him, You've just blessed him on the right and on the left, and in every way. And of course everyone will serve You if You do that. He doesn't love You. You take away his blessings, he will curse You to your face.'"

There, Job, I'm sorry, the devil is in heaven, slandering Job, he's defaming Job in front of the Lord, and this is one of the devil's favorite things to do, is he's called, "The accuser of the brethren." Look at Zechariah 3, verse 1 and 2, I know I'm jumping around a little. Says, "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand," to accuse him, "To oppose him," to defame him, to slander him.

Why? You read on, it says that Joshua the high priest is wearing clothes that are dirty, and the devil's pointing and saying, "Ah, look at his dirty clothes, You can't save him. These are Your people?" See, the high priest represented the people, he would bear their sins. And so when it talks about the high priest having dirty clothes, it's basically saying, "The church, they're full of hypocrites, they're full of sin, you can't save them."

How does the Lord respond to the devil's accusations and slander? "The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?" I have saved them. And then it says He told the angel, "Take away his filthy garments, and give him clean garments." What happened to the high priest in this vision is what the Lord wants to do for us. Do not be discouraged about being a Christian because you see hypocrisy in the church or if you see it in your own life, because the devil is going to stand around and point the finger and look at your failings and try to discourage you, and think, "There's no hope for me." Remember, he did it for God's people.

In fact, if you look there in Revelation chapter 12, verse 10, "I heard a loud voice in heaven." We're back in chapter 12 again. "I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, 'Now salvation, and strength, in the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God, day and night, has been cast down.'" See, the devil wants to oppose the work of God in your life so that he could also oppose the work of God through your life. He's trying to stop what God wants to do in you, by cleansing you and by transforming you, so that God can't do anything through you. And so that's why the devil comes to church, and he attacks the church.

Then you've got the discord of the devil, he wants to cause division in the ranks. Now, I hope that's not a surprise for anybody. Proverbs 6:16, I like this verse, Solomon said, "These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination unto Him," it's interesting he starts with six and then he ends the seventh, kind of like the week: "A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift to running to evil, A false witness that speaks lies," and here's what he saved for the seventh, "One who sows discord among brethren."

You know, one of the most successful ways that the devil causes problems in the church is by spreading discord. How many of you remember reading in the Bible the story where Mary Magdalene, or Mary of Bethany, I believe, Saint Mary is anointing the feet of Jesus in Simon's house at that dinner, and the smell of the perfume fills the house? And then Judas, who is rebuked by the generosity of Mary when he was a thief. Then Judas says, "Wow, what a waste. This ointment, if it had been sold, it could have gotten 300 pence, and look at how much we could have done for the poor, and she just poured it all out. What a waste." Here he is, he's supposed to be an apostle, but he's really the accuser of the brethren, isn't he? And he's also sowing discord. And the other apostles go, "Yeah, it is a waste." And Jesus rebukes Judas, He doesn't call him out by name, but He said, "Let her alone. What she has done will not be forgotten wherever the gospel is preached, because she's anointed Me before My burial." We usually give people flowers after they're dead and they can't smell them, right? He said, "She's done this for Me while I'm alive." But there he was, he was trying to sow discord.

Then one of the things the devil does when he comes to church is he tries to cause distractions. You know, there's a story in Mark 1:21, Mark chapter 1, verse 21, that helps bear this out. Does the devil go to church? Unfortunately, he does. Praise the Lord God comes to church too. "Then," this is Mark 1:21, "Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue." On the Sabbath, He went to church, that's what that means. "And they were astonished at His teaching," on the Sabbath day, in the church, He's teaching the Word. "And He taught them as one having authority, and not the scribes." And people are being moved and inspired by the Word.

Well, the devil couldn't have that. It says, "Now there was a man in the synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out." And you wonder how often he had been to that church, and nobody knew he had an unclean spirit, but when Jesus was making headway, the devil couldn't take it anymore. It says, "He cried out, saying, 'Let us alone!'" What does "us" mean? More than one. "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!"

Right there in the church service, how could He continue preaching with that going on? Wouldn't that be distracting? Please, don't anyone do that right now. I'm not sure I've got the gift of exorcism, so let's not find out. Right there in the middle, the devil, why did the devil go to church that day? It's not the first time it happened. "But Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Be quiet, and come out of him!' And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him," he didn't just come out, there was this big convulsion, "He carried on with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, 'What is this? What new doctrine is this? For with authority, He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.'"

So what do we do about distractions? As often as possible, when the devil distracts you, bring your attention back, whether it's in church or in your private devotions. People say, "Pastor Doug, I'm praying and my mind wanders, what do I do?" As soon as you recognize it, bring it back. And what I do is I pray, "Holy Spirit, help me stay focused, and when my mind wanders, help me recognize it and bring it back." And it's amazing how far and how often your mind can wander when you're trying to pray, the devil is always trying to distract us. And the more I'm being distracted when I'm praying, I'm thinking to myself, "The devil really doesn't want me to pray today for some reason." That's the time you really need to pray. So, don't let him distract you.

You know, you've probably noticed here, and I don't want to be unkind, but when I see there's a major distraction in the worship service, I stop, because I thought, "I'm wasting my time right now," until we can resolve it. Whether it's if the mic isn't working, I'll say, "Is something wrong, we're getting feedback? Let's fix it." If parents are trying to settle down their children, you can just pause and give them a chance to take care of that. But if people are being distracted, you need to address it. Did Jesus address it? Yeah, we need to focus, we want to hear His voice when we come to church.

Now, I've got more I want to share with you, but I'm going to close with this. I'm not going to give you all of the answers today, but how do we deal with the devil and his devices to try to bring us down? I want to direct you to Psalm 91, go to Psalm 91 with me. "He who dwells in the secret," this is verse 1, Psalm 91. By the way, this is a good Psalm to memorize. "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, 'He is my refuge and my fortress.'" What is He? He is our fortress, a fortress protects you, God protects us against the enemy. "'My God, in Him I will trust.' Surely He will deliver you from the snare of the fowler." In the Bible, the devil is called the fowler, someone who traps birds. "And from the perilous pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, And under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth," what is it that saves us? "His truth will be your shield and your buckler. You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Nor the arrow that flies by day, Nor the pestilence that walks in darkness, Nor the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; But it will not come near you. Only with your eyes will you see, And look at the reward of the wicked."

Why? "Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place." It's talking about abiding, if we abide in Him, we will be protected from the devil's devices. Because you've made the Lord your refuge, "No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your dwelling; For He will give His angels charge over you," and the devil actually misquoted this to Jesus, "He will give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all of your ways." You will have angelic protection. "In their hands they will bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion."

What is the devil compared to in the Bible? "Goes around as a roaring lion." "You will tread upon the lion and the cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot." What's the serpent? So, talking about the devil, these are symbols for the devil. "Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name. He will call Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble." Doesn't say you won't have trouble, but He'll be with you in trouble, amen? "I will deliver him and honor him. With long life," namely eternal life, "I will satisfy him, And show him My salvation." "He that dwells in the secret place of the Most High."

If we are abiding in Christ, we don't need to be afraid that there are devils in the world, God will protect us, amen?

Doug: Do you sometimes feel like your faith is a little lukewarm, do you struggle with motivation when it's time to go to church, does it seem, lately, like you're being more easily overcome by temptation? Well, friend, don't despair, you're not alone, millions of Christians struggle with the same challenges, they want to keep their experience vibrant and strong. If you're longing to renew your passion for Jesus, there are some very real, practical steps you can take to experience a spiritual revival. So, to help you reignite that spark of faith in your life, "Amazing Facts" would like to send you a special free gift called "12 Steps to Revival." In this short but faith-transforming book, you'll learn the 12 must-have keys to reignite your spiritual life and to help you have genuine, lasting revival in your church. I promise that your faith will come alive when you rediscover a vital connection with God. So don't wait, friend. To get your free copy, call the number on the screen and ask for offer number 780 or visit the web address. And after you read this incredible resource, make sure and share it with a friend.

Doug: Thank you for tuning in to "Amazing Facts." Have you ever wanted to study the teachings of the Bible in an easy-to-understand, step-by-step way? The "Amazing Facts" Bible school offers free, simple-to-follow lessons that will guide you through all of the vital teachings of scripture. Visit AmazingBibleStudies.com to sign up for your free lessons, they're available by mail or online. Studies are also offered in multiple languages.

Doug: Is there anywhere you can turn these days to find hope for a brighter future? Yes; please join me, Doug Batchelor, on September 20 for the start of Amazing Facts' "Prophecy Odyssey," a Bible study extravaganza. These dynamic multimedia presentations will transform what we know about the world and your purpose in it. Bible prophecy is fast fulfilling, are you ready?

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