Anton Bosch has said recently that, in spite of Paul writing ‘we are not ignorant of his devices’, when referring to Satan in 2 Cor 2:11, there are many Christians who are ignorant of the subtle methods the evil one uses in his attempts to direct us down the wrong track.
Since Satan has no hold on those who are truly in Christ, he often uses schemes and wiles that serve his purposes just as well. One of those is to try and divert us from our main objective.
Anton says, and I agree with him, that our ultimate goal should be to know, glorify, and be conformed to the Lord Jesus Christ. See Phil 3:8-11.
Satan will therefore use even good things such as spiritual and biblical issues to divert us from God’s purposes for our life.
Many Christians have been seduced by the music and teachings of the Word of Faith and Prosperity Doctrine, headed up in Australia by Hillsong-type Churches.
The blatant money-making motives of groups like this make a mockery of our Lord’s voluntary poverty, suffering and death for our salvation.
As someone said: ‘Too much celebration and not enough consecration.’
The Search for the Deeper Life
Some Christians I know who had been brought up in what could be called solid, biblical Churches in the 1960’s, with their emphasis on prayer, Bible study and doctrinal teaching, got caught up in the Pentecostal movement that was gaining momentum in Geelong at the time.
My father was invited to one of those Churches by his boss, who tried to encourage him to ‘come along and get the Lord.’
Dad had been a Bible study leader and lay preacher for many years and had spent a long time looking at the tongues movement, concluding it was mainly a faked, attempted reconstruction of the original Pentecostal experience.
He answered his boss to the effect that the Lord was already in him and he was in the Lord. But his boss, who had been only a fringe, nominal member of a seemingly dead Church, was swept along by the euphoria affecting many of his friends.
Then, more recently, as the culture changed to music-driven worship forms, many of these older Pentecostal Churches re-invented themselves once again.
They targeted a group of lukewarm and mainly young Christians with their strong music emphasis. And guess what? The teaching got dumbed down and spiced up with Word of Faith, Name It and Claim It – anything that did not emphasise self-discipline, obedience to Christ or serious Bible study and repentance.
Distractions like Music and Experiences
I believe that the way to a closer walk with the Lord is through fellowship, Bible study and prayer.
As a musician I say that modern Christian music can often be a diversion and a distraction in a worship service rather than a help.
At a fairly young age I remember realising that the Christian life was not just rolling along from one YFC Rally to another in the never-ending chase for exciting experiences, although some of my friends felt that way. A number of them now, 50 years later, are old, tired and fruitless in their love of the Lord.
You might think an older person finds it easy to be a Christian. Not at all! Some use any excuse not to pray, worship or attend a service. Is this at least partly because their attitude to God was formed in their entertainment-based youth?
Certainly older people need shepherding just as young Christians do. Fortunate is the Church which has a pastor and youth leaders who do not dilute the Gospel message with trendy and exciting experiences being substituted for ‘taking up your cross daily.’
The Infiltration is Subtle
I guess an important issue to understand in our discussion of Satan’s wiles, in influencing practising Christians to turn away from their Lord, is the fact that all of the above is not just happening in the Pentecostal, charismatic, emerging or ‘missional’ Churches.
These trends are becoming common in the traditional evangelical Protestant Churches that used to uphold all the core doctrines of the faith, teaching discernment, prayer, Biblical inerrancy and the apostles’ doctrine.
Most major denominations are affected in some way by the influx of Prosperity teachings and Kingdom Now – the emphasis on the present world and what God can do for you in it. Not ‘making sure we are in the faith’ as Paul tells us, but how to celebrate our God.
My personal opinion is that the Churches are celebrating too much – music, dancing, signs and wonders, anniversaries, etc. Celebration is an over-used word and should only be used in the context of our salvation, God’s goodness and His majesty.
I don’t think the Syrian, Egyptian, Pakistani or Nigerian Christians at the moment would be celebrating very much, do you?
Satan has been very clever in getting us to accept concepts which have never been part of the Christian faith.
As an example, a local Presbyterian Church was advertising they were ‘Celebrating Communion.’
It seems to me that Communion is to be commemorated rather than celebrated.
Yes, we are blown away, thankful and overwhelmed by God’s provision of His Son for us, but the common understanding of ‘celebration’, suggests a party rather than a solemn recognition of the great cosmic event that took place nearly 2000 years ago. But owing to our carelessness Satan has been able to present the commemoration of Christ’s death as a party!