By His own sovereign initiative, the Lord seems to be preparing His people all over the world for a closer approximation of the the fullness of Christ. The cross-denominational involvement in prayer and praise, the heightened interest in revival, the cooperative commitment to extend the gospel to unreached peoples-- all are signs that God is now infusing us with His presence.
We each hold an important responsibility in this new work. We must be willing to lay aside denominationalism, pride, and self-sufficiency. We need to learn to love and honor one another as brothers and sisters seeking to follow Jesus. Some believe the Lord intends to restore his people to purity and unity before He comes. Some hold great hope that this restoration will be widespread. Others who are less optimistic look for a righteous remnant to rise in the midst of the apathy and apostasy of the organized church.
Whatever God may be doing ultimately, we must take seriously the ugliness of sin and worldliness that have rendered the body of Christ sick with the cancer of compromise. The Apostle Paul's list of sins in (Ephesians 4:31, KJV) are all sins of Christians against Christians! Such sins seriously grieve God and cause Him to withdraw His favor and blessing. They also give Satan and his demonic hordes opportunities to gain “footholds” with the church (Ephesians 4:27, KJV).
Just as the adversary seeks to gain a foothold of influence in the life of the individual believer, he also tries to gain influence in a church, ministry organization, or missionary endeavor. Typically, openings to enemy infiltration trace to unexposed or unresolved “sin in the camp,” among either laity or leadership. This results in a departure of the Lord's favor and a cloud of oppression. As accuser and adversary, the devil takes every advantage of the body's disobedience to God's moral law and works to aggravate unresolved sin. The body of Jesus Christ must seek to maintain both moral purity and unity of the Spirit in order to fully appropriate the Lord's protection from the evil one's accusations.
Let's be reasonable and realistic. Such sins as deceit, malicious anger, bitterness, slander, and the spreading of strife are destructive enough merely on the human level. In church life or in Christian service, all of us have at one time or another been the object of someone's unjustified criticism. On top of the hurt and anger which can consume our time and energy, we always face the temptation to pour out the pain, to share a bitter word about the offender.
We don't need to blame the devil for our flirtation with sensuality or outright involvement in immorality. Sufficient roots of sin remain below the surface of our lives to cause corruption. The sin of unbelief—a refusal to take God's Word by faith—is cause enough for deadness and confusion in our corporate life.
Over the years I've seen numerous pastors and leaders of para-church endeavors who suspect satanic oppression at work in their particular group. While this may be well so, I have concluded that we give the devil all he needs with which to work. We provide the entry points when we dilly-dally in dealing with sin issues. We shouldn't be surprised to find ourselves subject to his insidious influence. Yet we often seem blissfully unaware of Satan's schemes to infiltrate the corporate life of our churches.
Demonic entities of strife, sensuality, bitterness, and discouragement actively seek to take advantage of unresolved carnality. James hit that nail squarely on the head: “But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. (James 3: 14-16, KJV).
In short, it is too easy to simply pin our corporate problems on the devil. Let's be wise in our assessment of what really ails us. Often a church or organization simply needs a bold change of leadership or a clearer definition of direction. Or, even more importantly, individual members of the church may need to repent of their apathy and compromise with culture and return to seeking the Lord as their first love.
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