The devil versus the church. It's an old story. Yet in Medieval England, the north side of a church was said to belong to the devil. Now today that seems old and obsolete and yet even in modern Britain today, the north face of the church is known as "the devil's side." That's supposedly where the devil and his demons lurk and pounce on unknowing church-goers.
It brings the questions to mind, is the devil only on the outside of the church? Prepare to be challenged on Beyond Today as we consider: "Is the Devil in Your Church?"
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[Steve] We often think of the devil as being out there somewhere. But is it possible that Satan is closer than you think? Historically, churches like the one we're visiting today have been places that you feel safe in. And yet, is it possible that the devil is in your church?
In England, on the north side of some churches, there's a special door that's known as "the devil's door." Now, why in the world would a church have a door that belongs to the devil?
Well, when there is a baptism or a christening, they open the door in order to let the devil out, or let the evil spirits out of the church.
That's an incredible thought! In order to let the devil out of the church, he had to already be in the church.
So as you think about that, is it possible that the devil is in your church? Is it possible that he's influenced your thinking, has he influenced your understanding of the Bible?
Could the devil really be in your church? What does the Bible say? When you look at Revelation 12:9 it tell us: "the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him."
How much of the world has Satan conned? How much has he deceived? Well if you believe your Bible, God says that Satan has fooled, not just a few, not just some - but the Word of God says he has fooled and deceived the whole world. That's the entire world!
That includes deception in education. That's deception in politics. That's deception in business and you know we cannot exclude the fact that Satan has deceived religion. Religion is deceived as well. The devil has hoodwinked religion today. So we can't help but ask, has the devil deceived your church? Has the devil deceived you? Because you're probably thinking, "No, not my church. Not my thinking. The devil certainly hasn't deceived me." And yet that's exactly what the Bible says.
Now here's an interesting example. Imagine this church. Imagine this aisle that used to be here where the pews have been removed. Imagine people walking down this aisle as they were married. How many do you suppose that might be? Now this church was build 130 years ago, so there's probably a lot of people that were wed in the building, walked down this aisle. And I'm sure there wasn't any question what marriage was all about, what a family was all about.
Now there was an interesting study that was done and in that particular study it compared Christians to the rest of the world. Do you know what they found? They found in this particular survey that Christians in America were almost identical to the national average when it came to being divorced. 33% of Christians surveyed were married and divorced! (Study by Barna Group; "New Marriage and Divorce Statistics Released "; March 31, 2008).
Now, you can argue with those facts. You can argue with those figures. You know maybe it's just truly committed Christians really aren't that high in number. But there's one thing you can't argue with, that there is divorce among Christians and there is no doubt what your Bible says about that. Your Bible says that God hates divorce! (Malachi 2:16).
Now you might say, I'm not divorced - well that's a good thing - but are you for marriage? You might be against divorce but are you really for marriage? If we claim to be Christian and we are truly for a godly marriage then shouldn't we be praying with our spouse? Shouldn't' we be teaching our children godly values? Shouldn't we be studying the Bible together as a family? Wouldn't that really be indicating that we are for marriage, not just against divorce - shouldn't we be teaching our family those true values that are found in the Word of God?
That's really showing that we truly are for marriage. Because God's Word, His Scripture should shape our view. It should shape the way we think about adultery. It should shape the way we think about sex before marriage. It should shape the way that we feel about living together, because you know society out there accepts all of those things. It even glorifies those things! And yet the Word of God says they are unacceptable. So the question becomes, has the devil influenced your thinking?
Yeah, you may think, "Well the devil may be in some churches, but he's not in my church. Out church, it's not old and stodgy. We're a church that's really enjoyable to attend and when you leave you feel good about yourself."
Perhaps your church takes a more theatrical approach to worship. Maybe you've got a rock band; maybe you've got big-screen projection. You might just even have a coffee shop at your church. But let me ask you a question: Has your worship become entertainment?
You see true worship is not entertainment. You know you might hear some personal stories, you might hear a message about self-esteem; maybe you're hearing messages about dealing with personal problems. But what about sin? What about the message of the Bible? What about consequences to sin?
Do you hear messages about that? Do you hear messages that challenge you to be a better person? To be a more godly person? To be more Christ-like? Isn't that more than just entertainment? What about following the words of the Bible?
Over in the book of Luke 6:46, here is what Christ said. He said, "... why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,' and [do not] the things which I say?" True, biblical worship means obedience to the Ten Commandments, following the Word of God. It's not just about feeling good. You see obedience to God's Word reminds us that keeping the Commandments is good for us!
Now here's a question. Have you heard this message at church? How about this passage? It's one that's found over in the book of Deuteronomy 10:12. It says "…listen to what the LORD your God demands of you: Worship the LORD and do all that he commands. Love him, serve him with all your heart, and obey all his laws. I am giving them to you today for your benefit" (GNT).
So you see, the Word of God says that true worship is so much more than just entertainment. That's what Christ talked about - John 4:23. He said "...the hour is coming, and now is, when [the] true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and [in] truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him."
Can you begin to see how true worship, how Christianity and perhaps even your own thinking has been influenced by the devil? I'd like to help you with this study aid to really understand the depth of the influence of Satan and what you can do to combat it in your life.
It's called: Is There Really a Devil? It will help you see through the confusion in religion and expose the real source behind so many of our world's problems and the underlying reason for so many of the difficulties that you face in your own life.
Call toll-free: 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv to download, read or order your free copy of Is There Really a Devil? Outside of North America, please go to our website or write us to order your free booklet.
Now is the time to realize who's determined to bend your thinking and how you can more effectively worship in spirit and in truth.
The truth can be a challenge to grasp, because there are so many versions of the truth out there. In fact, that's another way that the devil has gotten into the church.
Notice what your Bible says in 1 Timothy 4:1. It says, "…in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons."
Now could it really be that serious? Absolutely! In fact, some think very little about sin and its effect on us. They think, "It's really not that big a deal." Course then there's others that think they should come and confess their sins to a man, and then perhaps say a few Hail Marys, a few Our Fathers and that should take care of it.
But you see, that's penance. That's a teaching of demons! Now you might say, well why might that be? Well it implies that you can pay for your own sins. That's a demonic teaching and it goes against everything that the Bible teaches. You cannot make up for one of your sins. You can't compensate for that. You cannot sacrifice for that. There's only one sacrifice that covers sin.
It's just not biblical to think penance will take care of things; in fact that is an insult to God! 1 John 1:9, it says: "if we confess our sins to God, he will keep his promise and do what is right: he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrongdoing" (GNT).
Now you may say, "Well, I'm not one of those that beat myself up in penance." Well how seriously do you take sin? Because we've got to look around. We've got to look at the world around us and look at our own lives. Look at ourselves! We have human nature and that human nature is something we must overcome.
Galatians 5:19 says, "What human nature does is quite plain. It shows itself in immoral, filthy, and indecent actions; in worship of idols and witchcraft. People become enemies and they fight; they become jealous, angry, and ambitious. They separate into parties and groups; they are envious, get drunk, have orgies, and do other things like these. I warn you now as I have before: those who do these things will not possess the Kingdom of God" (GNT).
Now when you hear that passage about the works of the flesh, about human nature, you might say, "Well I'm not terribly immoral, or filthy or indecent." But what about fighting? What about jealousy? What about anger? Or even ambitiousness in the wrong sense?
You see that kind of human nature has to be overcome in our lives and it can only happen by repentance. In Acts 26:20, it tells us "all must [turn] from their sins and turn to God - and prove [that] they have changed by the good things [that] they do" (NLT).
You see obedience is proof of repentance - doing what's right. Obeying God shows that we truly have repented and that it's sincere. So if you find the devil in your church, if you find the devil in your thinking, if you found that Satan has infected the way that you look at life - you've got to repent and turn to God.
Galatians 5:16 says, "If you are guided by the Spirit, you won't obey your selfish desires" (CEV).
How can you be led by God's Spirit? Well that leads us to another way the devil has gotten into the church.
Even though we can't see Satan, he has a powerful influence. In Ephesians 2:2, we're told "You used to live just like the rest of the world, full of sin, obeying Satan, the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God" (NLT).
Now what does that mean? Well in a sense, Satan has his own spiritual Wi-Fi. He's got his own influence that has our minds tuned in to his signal. So if you imagine the air around us, it is saturated. Not only with Wi-Fi, it's saturated with cell phone signals, with satellite signals, with TV signals, with radio signals.
Satan's influence is much the same. He has his own spiritual Wi-Fi you might call it, and you know the worst thing about it? Our minds are tuned into it! We are receptive to his signal of bad attitudes, of wrong ways of thinking, of influential selfishness. Those moods he infects our thinking with because he is the prince of the power of the air.
So when we read what it says in Romans 8:7, we begin to see, it says, "the mind-set of the flesh is hostile to God because it does not submit itself to God's law, for it is unable do so" (HCSB).
So under the sway of Satan, you see we reject God. We reject His revelation. We reject His guidance and so we have built a society that doesn't recognize God. We've even built religion that doesn't recognize the true God. What can we do about it?
Well let's talk about baptism. Acts 2:38 says, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
Now this may be the area where baptisms took place in this church. Now some people sprinkle when they are baptized. They take water and sprinkle it on the person's head. Now others pour water on the individual being baptized. And still others dip water out and pour it over the person being baptized. But did you know that none of those methods are biblical? None of them are found in your Bible. Has Satan contaminated baptism?
The fact is he has because baptism is being fully immersed in water. That's what the word in the New Testament is all about. To baptize means to fully immerse, to become totally wet, to plunge into water. That's the biblical method of baptism so that we're buried in baptism. Our sins are washed away and then we stand up so that we can be a new creation in Christ.
Well how did you receive the Spirit? Well some people simply take Jesus in their heart. Others, a minister pronounces them to have the Spirit. And still others, by faith they have the Spirit of God. Now are those biblical ideas? Not if you're reading your Bible! The devil's got his foot in the door of even receiving God's Spirit because none of those ideas is what God says in His Word about receiving God's Holy Spirit.
Notice what it says in Acts 8:17: "Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit."
You see these were people who believed. These were people who repented. And what did they do in order to receive God's Spirit? In verse 18 it says, "through the laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Spirit was given..."
There is no other way that's biblical. No other way the Bible describes how you receive the Holy Spirit of God.
I don't know if you realized in Hebrews 6 it lists the laying on of hands as a foundational basic doctrine of the Church. And so Jesus Christ Himself challenges you to receive the Spirit.
Luke 11:28, He puts it this way, "how blessed are those who hear and obey God's word" (GW).
It can be a challenge then to put into practice the Word of God. It's a challenge. But there's help for that challenge.
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The last place you would expect to find the devil is in the church. But that's exactly one place where God says he could be found. How is that possible? Well God predicted it in Corinthians. Notice 2 Corinthians 11:3. It says, "I am afraid that your minds will be led away from your true and pure following of Christ just as Eve was tricked by the snake [and] his evil ways. You are very patient with anyone who comes to you and preaches a different Jesus from the one we preached. You are very willing to accept a spirit or gospel that is different from the Spirit and Good News you received from us" (NCV).
Can you recognize a false teacher? That's what God was warning us about. Are you willing to accept it and put up with it even if the devil is trying to influence your thinking? God says we have to be careful. In the very next verse, verse 13 it says "for such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness…" (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
You see the devil never lets up with his deceitfulness. He inspires false teachers. Do you recognize them? He says they're counterfeits. Their message is counterfeit. It's a mixture of truth and falsehoods. In Mark 13:5, Christ said, "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and will deceive many."
In other words, Jesus said watch out for deception. Take heed. Be careful because you could be deceived. People who do not understand or teach the Bible accurately - would you recognize them?
A true minister of God goes up to that gap, that crack in the wall of his people and he repairs it and he restores it. That's what a righteous minister does, a true minister of God, a true servant of God. That's what he does because he protects his people, he serves his people. He warns them about these spiritual issues, these spiritual sins in their life that have to be repaired!
Verse 5. It says, "They don't warn the people about coming trouble or tell them how dangerous it is to sin against me. Those prophets lie by claiming they speak for me, but I have not even chosen them to be my prophets. And they still think their words will come true" (Ezekiel 13:5-6, CEV).
So you see a true minister, they tell it like it is and you know sometimes, that's a difficult thing to do. It's not a feel-good kind of message. They have to point out the cracks, the gaps in people's lives and help them to overcome sin; to help them to repair the damage that sin can cause.
Notice verse 10, false ministers it says: "...lead my people the wrong way by saying, ‘Peace!' when there is no peace. When the people build a weak wall, the prophets cover it [over] with whitewash to make it look strong" (Ezekiel 13:10, NCV).
So you see the people think they have a strong wall. They're deceived to think everything is just fine. So instead of protecting them and helping them and caring for them, those false ministers give them lies!
So which kind of minister do you have? You can't afford to believe a false teacher.
Ephesians talks about it, chapter 6:12: "... we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."
You see this is a big battle! And the truth is: there's a great false religious system that masquerades itself as Christianity. Eternal life is at risk! That's how serious this issue truly is. That's how serious Satan's deception is!
So what can we do? If you're going to keep the devil out of our church, if we're going to keep the devil out of my thinking, if we're not going to allow him to deceive us, we've got to make sure that we don't focus on a leader's charisma.
We don't have to focus on their personality, but we must focus on their message! "To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light" - there is no truth - "in them" (Isaiah 8:20).
So if you've found that the devil in your church, now's the time you must do something about it! Now is the time to act! We must take action. Pray and ask God to open your mind to His truth.
It can be difficult to sort out truth and error so you'll want to get your free copy of our study aid, Is There Really a Devil? and your free subscription to The Good News . Call toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That's 1-888-886-8632. Or, you can read or order both The Good News and Is There Really a Devil? online at BeyondToday.tv . Or send us your request by mail to the address on your screen.
There is really a devil and he has an enormous effect on religion. So don't allow him to infect your thinking. Don't allow him to compromise your beliefs. There's only one standard we can base our life on and that's the standard of the Word of God.
In Revelation it describes God's people as it says that they are those "who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Revelation 12:17).
So always seek God's guidance though much prayer as you seek the church who obeys the Scriptures.
I'll be right back after this:
[Narrator] Two men ran through the streets of the city each trying to be the first to discover if it was so. They turned the last corner and arrived at the tomb. They both stopped. One leaned over and looked into the space and noticed a neatly folded pile of linen cloths. He was astounded and backed away not believing what he saw.
Jesus was not there. He had risen from the dead. All things had changed.
Christ came to earth with a central message of the Kingdom of God. What is the Kingdom of God? Most have never heard or understood what Jesus actually taught on this subject. The United Church of God is hosting free seminars held simultaneously around the world.
[Steve] That Kingdom is coming to earth - that was the message of Jesus Christ. It's not a Kingdom that's off up there in heaven but it's a Kingdom that Christ is going to establish right here on this earth.
[Narrator] Go to KOGSeminars.org for details to find one near you. Kingdom of God Bible Seminars - giving the message of hope for tomorrow, beginning today.
[Steve] Until next time, keep praying "Thy Kingdom come" as we look beyond today. I'm Steve Myers. Thanks for watching.
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