When Satan Goes to Church
Do you believe in the existence of a real-life Satan? Surveys indicate more people believe in Heaven than in Hell. Surveys also reveal that one-third of all ministers deny the existence of Satan. Paul believed in the Devil—in the 13 chapters of 2 Corinthians, Satan is mentioned in four of them. During World War II, a group of soldiers crowded around the Chaplain as they crossed the ocean toward the War. They asked him if he believed in Hell. He replied that he did not. They asked him to resign—because “If there is no Hell, we don’t need you; and if there is a Hell, we do not wish to be led astray.”
Description of Satan. 2 Cor. 4:4. The reason people remain lost is because of the activity of Satan—they are blinded by him. He is called the “god of this age.” Who can deny the existence of a “master-mind” of evil? One of my favorite rooms in the Gideons International Building is the “War Room.” The Gideons will place a map on the walls of a large city and mark all the schools, hospitals, motels, and hotels for Bible distribution. I can visualize Satan having a “War Room” where he breaks down the continents into countries, the countries into states, the states into cities, the cities into families, the families into individuals. Plans are made to wage war on every individual.
Look at the evidences of war by this evil mastermind: (1) Downward trend of society throwing off every restraint; (2) Break-up of the Family—heartbreaking rate of divorce; (3) 15-20 million alcoholics (that we know about) and growing at rate of 1500/day; (4) Unbelievable power of drug culture; (5) 1 million run-away children each year; (6) 1 million teen-age girls will become pregnant out of wed-lock—Satan will convince 400,000 to kill their babies through abortion; (7) Crime—violence—lawlessness—around the world—50-75,000 public school teachers assaulted; (8) Wars all over the world—rise of ISIS—killing of Christians—powder keg of the Middle East; (9) Weak Condition of the Church—hardly 40% present each week—weak view of right and wrong—love world more than God—95% of church members have never led anyone to Christ. I submit to you that these awful crimes are being perpetrated by an evil master-mind called Satan.
Only the Bible dares to expose Satan. The Bible calls Satan: (1) Adversary—1 Peter 5:8; (2) Roaring Lion—1 Peter 5:8; (3) Murderer and Liar—John 8:44; (4) Prince and Power of the Air—Eph.2:2; (5) Accuser of the Brethren—Rev. 12:10. Satan is not an impersonal force or power—a person! He depends on being anonymous—only the Bible dares to expose him!
Satan’s Deception. 2 Cor. 11:14. If Satan is a murderer, liar, and accuser—how does he persuade people to follow him? The answer is that he is a great deceiver. Just as the false prophets deceived the people, so Satan is able to transform himself into an “angel of light.” “Transform” means to masquerade, to disguise, to hide behind a mask. Satan never appears in his natural form—he is always in disguise. Like a fisherman hiding a hook under a worm or artificial lure, Satan takes our natural desires and gets us to fulfill them in a sinful way. In the end, Satan convinces us that his offer is better than God’s.
Satan induces people to sell their souls. Here is a man having financial troubles but envisions a new house or vacation—so he embezzles. Here is another man who is having problems at home, but Satan provides attractive bait in the form of a woman at work—so adultery is the result. In both cases, Satan convinced the men that the sin would be better than being obedient to God. In both cases, the men never considered the far-reaching consequences to themselves, their families, or the cause of Christ. Satan is a deceiver! Do you think Satan would show you the true results of drinking alcohol---cirrhosis of the liver, loss of jobs, broken homes, traffic fatalities, the man in the gutter. No! Satan uses a Hollywood celebrity or sports hero to advertize alcohol—this makes people think that if these stars can have such achievements, then drinking must be all right! What a dirty deceiver Satan is!
Devices of Satan. 2 Cor. 2:11. “Devices” refers to schemes, plots, strategies, or evil plans. Satan plots and plans strategies for opposing God and the Gospel. Paul might be thinking about the situation right now in Corinth where a man committed fornication with his father’s wife. Even though Paul gave wise counsel, Satan still instigated a spirit of unforgiveness in the church and a spirit of discouragement in the individual offender. If Satan had achieved his goal, he would accomplished the following: (1) Turned a man away from God; (2) Split a church; (3) Discredited the Apostle Paul; and (4) Spread an evil report to the pagan world about the failure of the Gospel and the Church. What a “device” of Satan! Satan’s devices can be categorized into Three General Areas:
DOUBT. This is how he induced sin in our first parents: “Has God indeed said?” All of us have heard Satan’s whisper about the truth of God’s Word. Here’s what Satan will say: “Does God really mean what He says?” “That Bible is so outdated and old-fashioned—it doesn’t apply to today!” “God doesn’t want you to have any fun.” “Times have changed—that’s not wrong today.” Doubt turns into disrespect which turns into disregard which turns into disobedience which turns into death. You had better trust that the Word of God is true!
DIVISION. Satan loves division! See Matthew 12:25. Satan loves to divide churches: in Corinth he caused trouble with the abuse of spiritual gifts, cliques, abuse of Lord’s Supper, place of women, and unforgiveness. Paul cried, “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” (14:33). Satan loves to divide families—every marriage unrest, separation, or divorce can be traced to Satan’s division. He hates a happy home because a godly, happy home is a picture of Heaven. He aims his most powerful darts at homes—almost 50% end in divorce; over 40% of children under five live with a single parent. Satan is a great divider—he wants to separate you from God!
DELAY. The number One reason people will end up in Hell with Satan is delay. Most people know there is a God, a Supreme Being. These same people know that this life is not the end. And I believe all of these people feel down in their heart that there will be a Reckoning one day. Many called, few chosen—because people put off, postpone, and procrastinate in their decision for Christ. God does all things necessary to prepare us to decide for Him: hunger/thirst for righteousness, conviction of sin, and even provides the faith. But at the moment when we must trust, must receive, must pray—Satan gives us some excuse to postpone, put off the all-important decision.
Years ago, Aaron Burr was given bad counsel to put off becoming a Christian during a revival at Princeton. He never considered Christ again and went on to become a traitor and even kill Alexander Hamilton in a duel. Satan will try to get us to Doubt, be Divided, and then Delay coming to Christ.