As we continue to look at battlefield trainings on spiritual warfare we have been looking at the “good guys” in our spiritual battles. We’ve just finished talking about how angels are part of spiritual battles.
Now we turn to looking at some of our final allies in spiritual warfare. What are some ways the enemy wants to interfere with the Church? We’re going to look at some of the enemies of the Church that tried to thwart God’s agency on earth. Let’s dive in!
- Disunity and discord
One of the top enemies of the Church is disunity. Paul addresses the divisions in the Corinthian church and tells them to stop (1 Corinthians 3:1-23). Some of the people in the church were claiming they were disciples of Paul or Apollos or Jesus.
They were dividing themselves based on the superiority of their teacher. But that’s not the point of gathering together. We gather together to seek the unity of the Holy Spirit. We want to grow together into Christ.
When Paul speaks to the Ephesian church he describes the unity of the Spirit (Ephesians 4:12-16). The Church is the body of Christ. And as a body we work together, not apart. Unity is the powerful tool of the Spirit.
Through our unity the Holy Spirit can build us up, teach us about Jesus, bring maturity to us, avoid the crafty schemes of Satan and others, and bind us to one another. Through unity we can work together to achieve the goals of God’s Kingdom.
Satan wants to divide and conquer the Church. He wants to destroy all of the things that make us work seamlessly together and grow with one another. We can’t experience life together and help one another if we’re constantly being divided.
Unity helps us to mature in Christ and be built up and encouraged. On the spiritual warfare front an army that is divided cannot win the battle. We can’t even take the field. But if we are unified together, we fight as one person, everyone equal to the task and prepared.
We can’t help one another fight spiritual battles if we are not unified. In our American military, if one soldier thought the soldier behind him didn’t have his back he would be vulnerable to the attack from the enemy. They must remain together and fight together to experience victory.
- Following a person instead of Jesus
Part of the problem Paul addressed in Corinth (1 Corinthians 3:1-23) was that people were following a person instead of following Jesus. Their disunity came from one person thinking he was better than the others. They were all trying to follow different people instead of focusing on Jesus.
When the church is divided between strong personalities and people trying to take control we forget that the church is Jesus’ idea and He is the Founder of the Church. It is not your church or my church. The Church belongs to Jesus.
The Bible says that Jesus is in charge of the church (Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18; 2:19). Strong personalities have no place in the church. As a pastor I have many times had to deal with strong personalities. Instead of trying to navigate between these strong personalities we must remind them of this truth about Jesus and His Church.
It’s not about you and it’s not about me. The Church is about Jesus being glorified through our united efforts to glorify Him. Jesus sets the agenda and mission of the Church and we follow His lead. The only Person we follow in the Church is Jesus.
So many churches are controlled by a dominant person perhaps on the board or in the congregation. Others look to TV evangelists and parachurch ministries. They don’t like the way their church operates. Or maybe they think their church is too small.
Jesus will not allow His Church to fail. Every church no matter what size can advance the Kingdom of God. It’s up to you to follow Jesus into spiritual battle and take back this world for Christ. If you don’t like some aspect of your church, change starts with you.
- Consumer Christians
One of the biggest enemies of the church today is consumerism. We Americans like the fact that we can pick and choose the products we buy and the businesses we work with. There’s nothing wrong with that in the business world.
But people are doing this with church as well. Don’t like your church? Just leave and try another one in your city. Try different churches until you find the one you like, the one that makes you happy. If the apostles saw how we switch from church to church today they would be appalled.
I’m not saying there aren’t problem churches that are hurting their congregations more than helping them. I’m not saying that every pastor is feeding the flock well. I’m talking about people deciding where they go to church based on aesthetics alone.
No Christian should be a consumer alone. We are fed first, but to be a true disciple of Jesus you are not only taking in but giving out. Every disciple of Jesus needs to not only consume but produce. We don’t look for churches where we can consume. We look for churches who need producers.
The mentality of the consumer is to get the best bang for their buck. But a producer looks to and hence the church through his or her ministry. You don’t go to a church to be a pew sitter. You go to a church to get involved and advance Jesus’ Kingdom.
We need to get out of the consumer business. Church isn’t a business in the first place. It’s a place to grow, and part of growing is both consuming and producing. How would the local church look today if Christians were looking for churches to be producers instead of consumers?
This brings up the even harder question. Why don’t we have more Christians who are maturing in their faith enough to be producers? I know that one hurts to hear. But each of us needs to ask ourselves if we are more of a consumer than a producer and why.
If you want to blame your local church for not teaching you or helping you become a producer we live in a world with so many resources for Christians. It’s not completely the fault of the local church if it is weak on producing disciples who are growing not only through consumption but through production.
- Lacking discipline
Along with the idea of consumer Christians getting to choose their church comes the problem of church discipline. When a Christian needs to be disciplined or comes under discipline in one church it’s so easy to flee to another one.
This may be one of the reasons we have Christians who are not maturing in their faith properly. Never receiving discipline when you need it produces Christians stuck in entangling sins and producing more problems for every church they attend.
Nobody likes to be disciplined but God through discipline shows His love for us (Hebrews 12:7-11). Jesus put in place a system of discipline for those who need it (Matthew 18:15-20). He required that those who have a grievance against another brother first go one-on-one, then come with a mediator, and finally allow the church to address it.
One problem we have today is that Christians do not follow this process. They would rather gossip about their issues with another brother or sister in Christ with someone else. Or they want to skip the one on one step and immediately go to leadership.
There will be disagreements in the Church and I will deal with those in the next battlefield training. But when the individual members of the body do not do what they should, the way Scripture directs us to act, how can the body be healthy?
We must follow the proper disciplinary measures when we have problems in the church between brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus put these systems in place by His wisdom and grace. Discipline gives us an avenue of growth even though it hurts for a time. When we don’t follow these paths we don’t grow as Christians.
- Following the world
Another enemy facing the church is thinking and living like the world. I can’t tell you is a pastor how many times I hear a strategy for numerical church growth that is straight out of the business world. The Church needs to look toward the Scriptures to discover how to grow.
Management principles from the world often creep into the Church. I’m not saying these principles can’t be useful but they often do not take into account a biblical worldview or how Jesus led.
Many times they place the onus on the congregation instead of the pastor. Sometimes the pastor is the problem. Sometime somebody in the congregation is the problem. In my denomination the leadership and people in the church are developing ways to diagnose what is keeping the local church from growing.
Why do we look to the world to help us figure out problems in the Church? Their solutions may make things worse in the Church. They focus on the bottom line and corralling problems rather than solving them for good.
As I said, some of the management and company principles may work in the Church setting. But they must be evaluated to make sure they are biblical first. The ends do not justify the means. We must act like Jesus and the apostles. We must solve problems biblically rather than in a worldly fashion.
Observe and evaluate the management and leadership principles your church adopts. God’s army must win spiritual battles by His principles. If we are using the principles of the world while we fight the world we will not win in ways that please Jesus.
- Sin in the Church
Please do not be shocked by me suggesting that sin is in the Church. I know you’ve seen it. You may be the culprit. I may be the culprit. But we must have the humility and desire to confess and be reconciled to God and fellow Christians.
Just as much as sin may be an issue in the Church pride follows shortly after. We are good at pointing the finger at someone else. We need to have the attitude of Christ to look at ourselves first. We must evaluate our lives before we point the finger at others.
Even if there is not sin in the camp personalities, disagreements among us, and other factors make it hard for us to be unified against the enemy instead of one another. The Church cannot succeed if its members are accusing one another or sinning themselves. Remember, Satan is the accuser of the brethren,, not you (Revelation 12:10).
Jesus doesn’t browbeat you if you come to him with sin in your life. When you confess your sin Jesus is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from it (1 John 1:9). There should be no shame amongst us for those who come clean with sin. We should rejoice that they are being obedient to Scripture.
Besides, none of us has any room to condemn others. Each one of us has been given Jesus’ grace through His forgiveness of our sins. None of us is better than the other. We are all walking the path with Jesus toward holiness and wholeness.
But when sin remains in the Church the Church is ineffective against the devil and the gates of Hell. If we want to see Jesus’ victory in our lives we must make sure we are not tendering that victory through sin or any of the other enemies of the Church we have talked about.
Regularly evaluate yourself to make sure you are not part of the problem in your church. Help others who confess their sins or realize they are a problem and want to fix it. Compassion ministry is not just about helping unbelievers. It is about how we treat one another.
These six enemies of the Church can easily creep in to any local church. Each one of us cannot be effective Soldiers for Christ if we are part of these problems or not helping others to see themselves as problems. We do not want to be numbered among the enemies of the Church.
Let the solutions to stop hindering the Church begin with us. May we regularly evaluate our own lives before we point the fingers at others. What other enemies of the Church do you see?
We have discussed the enemies of the Church as we look at our allies in our world. Now we will look at disagreements among Christians and how we can address the battles between fellow Soldiers in Christ to avoid friendly fire.