Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Standing Firm Against Satan's Lies

Satan's lies against the church are often subtle. But they can also be direct, as can his actions. He can use people to influence members' lives. Let me tell you about Pastor Sam. As his suburban church thrived and honored God, he felt his ministry could hardly get any better. Hundreds of people found Christ through the ministry of this New York church. Pastor Sam found church growth to be one of the most exhilarating things he had ever experienced. A seminary even gave Sam an honorary Doctor of divinity degree in recognition of his excellent work. Preaching to hundreds of people weekly fulfilled his life dream. Sam did not take into account that the enemy might want to undermine this great work. He didn't reckon with the fact that great victory invites great danger. Perhaps spiritual pride had set in. While a believer is occupied with the blessings of God, the devil schemes to steal it all away. Satan's scheme in Sam's church was to appear as an "angel of light." A well-groomed lady with position, power, and money joined the church. This "sister," whom we'll call Angeline, quickly won the hearts of the church leaders through her charm, physical presence, and downright "spiritual" ability. In a short time Angeline was given a major position of leadership. She befriended and visited every family in the church. She spent thousands of dollars of her own money on new equipment for the ministry. Over the next two years, she became deeply enmeshed into church life. A willing worker, a "humble" friend, she seemed to be sent from heaven. This all changed abruptly. Early one Monday morning, Pastor Sam went by the church to retrieve something he left the evening before. When he walked into the building, he received the shock of his life. This woman had stayed in the building Sunday night. During the night she had erected an alter behind the pulpit. On the altar lay the pictures of most of the families in the church. Candles were burning and Sam soon realized some sort of ceremony was taking place. In time, he was to find out this was actually a satanic ritual meant to claim every soul in the church. Shortly after Pastor Sam walked in on her a male voice spoke through Angeline. The voice told the pastor there was a church of several thousand members in the area, and the voice said it knew the exact date the pastor would resign. It promised him the pulpit as the next senior pastor if he would cooperate with the voice. Sam ignored the voice. He turned, went to his office, and called the police. They removed the woman, and the items on the altar were burned. Sam thought this was the end, but mass confusion gripped his people. Sam invited me to help stabilize the situation. This woman, who had appeared to be so spiritual and committed, was actually an emissary of Satan. Sam told me Angeline was later identified as part of a satanic cult operating in the area. I knew it would be difficult, but Sam believed God was in the situation (as He always is), and for three weeks I counseled individual families ten hours a day and preached each evening. The revelation of candles burning before member's pictures sent fear through the congregation. During this time I met with every family in the church, discovering problems and sins that had "spun out of control" during the time of this woman's tenure. We prayed for the Lord's wisdom and searched the Scriptures for His answers. For instance, one family I'll call the Dakins had turned to alcohol during this very difficult time in the church. It started with Angeline bringing the family a bottle of wine when she came to visit. She would quote the Scriptures where Paul told Timothy to take a little wine for his infirmities. However, it seemed as if Angeline had some sort of unique insight into this family situation, for before the husband and wife became Christians they both had been alcoholics. During this time of mass confusion they went back to comforting themselves with alcohol rather than the Word and people of God. By the time I was able to spend an afternoon with the Dakins, they were addicted to alcohol again and it was on the verge of spinning out of control. I believe this woman purposely set up the Dakins to bring destruction in their lives. Thankfully, God was able to work through that, and as I talked with the husband and wife, they both repented of the sin with many tears and asked God to redeem the situational. Later that day Mr. And Mrs. Dakin asked their children's forgiveness for the example they had set and how they had sinned before them. Still later yet they expressed repentance to the entire church. What was the enemy's lie here? Yes, you were once addicted, but now that you are Christians you are stronger. This may even be scriptural." Over that time, the Lord graciously gave light and understanding and soon restored the church. At the same time. Pastor Sam's eyes opened to the reality of warfare: Satan walks around roaring like a lion seeking whom he may devour. The church lost several families. Some could not believe Angeline could do such thngs, and felt the church has misunderstood her and overreacted. One family chose to believe Angeline's accusation against the church leaders, despite her Sunday night burning in the church. Three other families said, in essence, "If the leadership has no more discernment than this, we don't feel protected here." And thus they went elsewhere. Angeline had sown her wicked seeds. But the church recovered; indeed it is a growing church, one where the Lord is being honored. But the question remain: How did this woman gain such power in the church? The truth is, there are many people like this. Few worship Satan, but they are under his influence and open to suggestions. They may not even realize they are simply pawns of the devil. But they invade and then infect the church with the kind of turmoil that can split it, lead people into sin, or provoke doctrinal shifts that render the church unusable by God. No church is immune from the implant of a satanic infiltrator. Again, they May not be a part of an organized cult or satanic group. Disgruntled "Christians" coming from another church may serve the enemy just as skillfully; so can long-term members who disagree with one another and began to choose sides. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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