When the Lord led me to start the Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry at Saddleback Church almost twenty years ago, I left the business world to go into full-time ministry. It was a crushing blow when I realized that Christians do not all agree and get along peacefully, and many of the same divisive issues I encountered in the business world, also prevailed in the church.
I had much to learn and pray about as a ministry leader. The enemy tried his best to invade and destroy Woman to Woman Mentoring, but praise God it is still going strong in thousands of churches around the world today.
During this attack, I had to learn how to identify the divisive tactics of the enemy and how to fight against him. I went straight to the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18, where versus 10-12 instruct Christians to...
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Since the beginning of time in the Garden of Eden, Satan’s sole purpose has been to destroy God’s kingdom on earth and overtake the world with evil, and his tactical invasion is succeeding, not just in the world, but also in the church.
Satan has methodically and effectively:
- Changed God’s definition of marriage. Certain denominations embrace gay marriage and gay clergy, and it’s dividing their churches.
- Legalized the killing of unborn babies—many of whom might have been Christian leaders, presidents, pastors, evangelists, parents, and loud voices in the wilderness.
- Removed God, prayer, and Bibles from schools.
- Eliminated God from the public square.
Instead of the church influencing culture, the culture is influencing the church.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
Here are five tactics Satan uses to destroy churches with worldliness:
In a Washington Post article, Michelle Boorstein quoted Pastor Rick Scarborough, who has spent 20 years trying to politically mobilize evangelical voters: “Evangelicals are so divided… It’s because we are living in a growing age of secularism that is forcing itself on people who hold traditional values.”
No one, not even Satan, can “force” secularism or pragmatism on people who “hold traditional values.” It’s a choice.
Satan is hijacking high-profile liberal pastors and several mainline denominations who expound that: the Bible isn’t inerrant or relevant, God is a myth, Jesus is a legend, and the church needs to catch up with the culture. Culture never trumps Scripture. If you are a member of one of these denominations or churches that now succumbs to this unbiblical, satanic teaching—run—leave immediately, and take your family with you.*
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2
The center of all divisiveness is selfishness and pride. We want things our way, the way we think is right. The church often doesn’t agree on what Christ wants for His church.
Adults in churches usually divide into groups such as seniors, empty nesters, young adults, singles, and marrieds, which is fine for small groups or Bible studies; but when those groups think more about their own wants and needs than what’s best for the church and the future of the church, it’s selfish. The church laments that they’re losing the youth, but are they willing to make the selfless effort to save them?
The church is failing to reach out to the next generation with a message relevant to the world they live in today; but the secular world is ready and waiting for them. Today, even children from Bible-believing homes may not have the tools or fortitude to equip them to face a liberal world drifting away from the God of the Bible.*
Many churches don’t want to change the way they’ve always done things. Selfish pride is at the root of arguments, dissention, hurt feelings, gossip, complaining, refusal to change… and God hates pride, which means that Satan loves it.
“For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:16
How many in congregations today are living a sinful life without feeling any pangs of remorse because the church isn’t confronting them? How many pastors are afraid of retaliation if they call homosexuality, living together, adultery, abortion, lying, or cheating a sin? Satan is the father of sin and he has done well when the church cowers in fear of being called judgmental, haters, or prejudiced. Why did Jesus have to endure the painful cross for forgiveness of our sins, if the church now refuses to call sin, a sin?
Jesus loves all people, but he hates sin—that’s why he went to the cross. Not so we could keep on sinning, but because, “the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). If a church doesn't understand how to love the sinner without embracing the sin, it may either abandon the sinner, or avoid confronting the sin and thus condone it.
“Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!” Matthew 18:7
Many pastors, church leaders, and prominent Christians succumb to moral or financial failures. Churches don’t always have, or enforce, a system of accountability and mentoring at every level of leadership. Some church staff may think they’re safe and above needing such protective measures, and that’s right where Satan wants them with a target on their back.
When one of these Christian leaders or someone in their family falls, the media and many Christians and fellow pastors are quick to voice opinions and denounce them publicly. The church may not respond biblically, which is why nonbelievers characterize Christians as the only group that “eats its own.”
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
Many voices are screaming louder than the church, which in its attempt to be culturally relevant, may widen the road that Jesus said is narrow. Political correctness and ideological inclusiveness overshadows biblical truthfulness. The church should only seek the exclusive acceptance of, and answer to, the Head of the Church—Jesus Christ.
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:19
Cultural Christianity creates an entertainment church, emphasizing popular people more than Holy God. Churches try the latest trend rather than leading from the Holy Spirit. Parishioners often want a pastor who doesn’t challenge them. Concert-style worship can detract from the purpose of musical worship—inviting in the Holy Spirit and drawing close to God, an atmosphere Satan hates. But Satan loves it when earplugs accompany the bulletin, little children plug their ears, and only those on stage sing because the music is so loud parishioners can’t hear themselves or each other.
Many churches today are dark inside, pitch black with a few strobe lights. Bible verses project on a screen because it’s too dark to read a Bible, so many people don’t even take a Bible to church. Oh how Satan loves that because he knows they’ve put down their swords.
Repeatedly, the Bible tells us to come out of the dark and into the light. Underground churches have to meet in the dark, and maybe only have one Bible to share with everyone, but we own Bibles and we can throw open the windows, let the light in, and come back to the heart of worship.
“For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. So live as people of light! For this light within you produces only what is good and right and true.” Eph. 5:8-9 NLT
What should the church do to combat Satan’s divisive tactics?
Believers must agree to stand together united as the Christian church—led by Christ and based on biblical truths—and fight Satan using prayer and the Sword of the Spirit as our battle plan and strong fortress.
“But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” Jude 1:17-21
*Excerpts from author’s new release Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten.
Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 18 books including, Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten, Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?, Dear God They Say It’s Cancer, and Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter. She is also the founder of Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries.
Visit Janet at:
Publication date: March 29, 2016