Storeroom Sermons of David Chadwell

The War and the Congregation

(Part 3)

If you were determined to defeat an enemy, what would you do?

If, beyond doubt, your enemy did something guaranteeing your certain defeat, but in your hatred for your enemy you refused to surrender, what would you do?

If you preferred destruction to surrender, what would you do?

In those three questions, we describe Satan's predicament. Satan was determined to defeat God's work. Satan failed, but he did not quit. When Jesus died and was resurrected in submission to God's will, Satan was irreversibly defeated. He knew it! Yet, he hated [and still does] God so much, that he refused to surrender and acknowledge his defeat.

So what did Satan continue doing? He continued resisting God [and still does] rather than surrender to God. Can Satan hurt God personally? No! Then what can Satan do to cause God pain? Satan can hurt those God loves.

Satan's activity since Jesus' death and resurrection has been limited to causing misery to those on earth who are dedicated to God and His will. He can do that in the lives of those who surrender to God and in congregations of Christians committed to surrendering to God's will.

How long will Satan continue this pointless yet certain resistance? Until God destroys him by casting Satan into hell. Satan's resistance against God and His purposes on earth will continue until God destroys Satan as a being!

1 Corinthians 15:25-28, "For He [Christ] must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all."

Revelation 20:14, "Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire."

Revelation 20:10, "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."

Satan will resist God and His people until God destroys Satan! Satan will never surrender to God! Only by forcible removal resulting in destruction will Satan cease his resistance against God. At times he will focus his resistance against God in the life of a person, and at times he will focus his resistance in the activities of a congregation. This lesson focus on Satan's resistance in a congregation.

  1. As Christians, we should not be surprised when Satan is actively at work in a congregation.
    1. If he could deceive Eve, he can deceive us!
      1. Paul warned Christians to be aware of deception.
        1. Galatians 6:3,4 "For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another."
        2. Galatians 6:7-10, "Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith."
        3. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, "Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God."
        4. 1 Corinthians 3:18, "Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.
      2. For Satan, congregations of Christians always will be his first and foremost battlefront in his war against God.
        1. If he was bold enough to come into God's presence to accuse Job (Job 1:6-9: 2:1-5), he is bold enough to come in our midst no matter how much faith we have.
        2. If a congregation is active for God in bringing people to Christ, there always will be people in every stage of spiritual development in the congregation.
          1. If Satan can cause the spiritually immature [regardless of chronological age] to create confusion of any sort in the congregation, he can shift the focus of that congregation from bringing people to Christ to self-preservation issues.
          2. When that happens, Satan wins temporarily!
          3. He so consumes the congregation with self-interest that he distracts them from God's concerns.
          4. Satan is a master at doing this, and we are masters at justifying our destructive behaviors!
      3. The ability of Satan to convince us we should fight us is astounding!
        1. Consider Paul's warning to the Ephesian elders.
          Acts 20:28-31, "Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears."
          1. The battle was not won!
          2. The victory was not theirs!
          3. In fact, some of the problems would be created by some of these elders!
        2. Consider John's words against Diotrephes in III John 9, 10:
          "I wrote something to the church; but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, does not accept what we say. For this reason, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words; and not satisfied with this, he himself does not receive the brethren, either, and he forbids those who desire to do so and puts them out of the church."
          1. His spiritual priorities were not God's priorities!
          2. He was more concerned with what people thought of him than what people thought of God!
          3. He sought to advance himself at the expense of God's people.
        3. Or consider Paul's anguish about Christians in 1 Corinthians 1:10-17 and Galatians 1:6-10.
          1. This division is not caused by external forces that do not belong to God nor is it produced by a denominational approach.
          2. It centers on congregational division promoted by those who are supposed to belong to Christ.
          3. Paul anguished because of the self-inflicted wounds these Christians inflicted on Christians and sustained in congregations.
        4. Do not think for a minute that such behavior began and ended in the first century!
          1. Christians have been wounding themselves in all ages.
          2. That does not happen by accident--it is the determined work of Satan every time it occurs!
          3. The only way Satan can cause God pain is to cause His children to hurt others who are His children!
          4. Congregational division causes only Satan to rejoice!
          5. We never purify through division--we only destroy ourselves!

  2. "Can God bring this messy war to an end?"
    1. Of course He can!
      1. He could bring the judgment right now and end it all!
      2. However, if He did, we and not He would be the losers.
    2. I do not think we as Christians have ever realized how much God loves the lost.
      1. Matthew 20:25-28, But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
      2. Romans 5:8,10 "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. . .For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."
      3. Galatians 2:20, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."
      4. Ephesians 5:1,2 "Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma."
      5. Incredibly, God invested the life of His own son in the lost!
      6. With such a personal, large investment, God is not going to abandon the lost easily!
      7. Thank God for His commitment to the lost, for we certainly are among them--the only way we can stand before God is through forgiveness, not through perfection!
    3. If God calls all humans in judgment now, those who do not trust in Jesus Christ are abandoned without hope.
      1. Then why does God not "cut His losses" and destroy Satan?
      2. I think Peter's response in 2 Peter 3:8, 9 addresses the issue.
        2 Peter 3:8,9 "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."
        1. Literally, God patiently waits so more will be saved.
        2. Rejoice in God's patience, and let us unite in God's purpose.

When Satan is at work in your midst, never encourage him! Do not let Him deceive you, and do not let him use you to assist his purposes!

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