All Christians are well-meaning, whether misguided by the doctrines of their denominations or not. They seek salvation and desire to be with their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Otherwise, there may not be any reason for anyone to call him/herself Christian, without good intentions.
I have always argued that the misinterpretation of scriptures, as long as sincere in what one does cannot be what disqualifies a person from the Kingdom. The beauty of Christianity is that the grace of God abounds. No-one can claim credit for meeting all the requirements in Christianity and be found without spot.
However, several scriptures show that there will be gnashing of teeth, when Christ comes. This will affect Christians who discover that they would not be part of what comprises God’s Kingdom. When Satan had failed to tempt Jesus, he left Him, only as he anticipated for another opportune time (Luke 4:13).
Satan will never surrender, when it comes to ensuring that God’s children fail to make it to the Kingdom. He uses your strong areas and at the same time he uses your weak areas. However, most of his tactics are expended on deception, which blinds, so that a Christian fails to see the truth from error. Here are five opportunities that Satan uses against God’s people:
When spiritually high.
Peter was spiritually on the high, when he managed to identify Jesus, where others had failed. However, Satan was right there to pounce on the opportunity to destroy the man. Jesus had declared that upon Peter God’s Church would be founded (Matthew 16:13-23).
In most cases, the little knowledge we have, ahead of others, can easily exude confidence in us, thereby supposing being superior to others. Pride comes into it and just as in Peter’s case, we occupy our minds with things of man, rather than things of God (verse 23).
It is important to know that most of the customs of this world are, actually, the opposite of how God sees things. The loyalty that Peter was showing, when Jesus castigated him, can be highly commendable in our world.
Peter’s friends had been safe, yet unable to reach the spiritual level of Peter, who managed to accurately identify Jesus as the Christ. Peter’s spiritual highness almost gave Satan the leverage against him; only to be saved by Christ (Luke 22:31). Satan had demanded to have Peter, similarly to how he had demanded Judas Iscariot.
Jesus had prayed for Peter, protecting him against the enemy who felt justified to have him on his side. Jesus realized how hardhearted Peter was, when He made another silly promise to be the last one to stand by Jesus side. After declaring such fallacious commitment, Peter denied Christ three times (Luke 22:33-34; 54-61). This shows how the grace of the Lord abounds
When spiritually low
When attempting to avoid Satan by refraining from spiritual highness, one assumes that taking a low profile helps. The person may avoid serving in church programs, even skipping church attendance, at times. Reducing Prayer and Bible study, until their necessity are invalidated. However, that would be fertile ground for the cunning devil.
Satan takes the opportunity to fill up the vacuum left, after reducing spiritual activities. Instead, the person gets occupied with things that have got nothing to do with God. Satan knows how to make those nonspiritual activities appear important in one’s life, even though not true.
Unable to pray or Bible study, the person gets occupied with other things, considered important, when the opposite is true. When in state of spiritual depression, the Christian is on his way out of faith.
He/she loses conviction. Behaving like everyone else in the environment becomes normal. Christianity becomes an activity to commit oneself, out of nothing else to do. Such lukewarmness causes God’s withdrawal of His Spirit (Revelation 3:16). The spiritual lowness, obviously, appears more dangerous than the spiritual highness.
State of poverty
There are those who conclude that it is sinful to be rich. But that is far from the truth. A Christian is also vulnerable to sin when poor. Satan can easily use a Christian to make sinful decisions. Cheating and stealing become justifiable, as means of survival. Satan influences the individual to rationalize on basis of need for survival. But here are the words of wisdom:
“Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘who is the Lord’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9) (ESV).
When out of balance on anything, Satan provides falsehood. Some physically poor Christians are judgmental, cursing the rich for being stingy. Whether justified or not, such Christians are peddling in areas, out of bounds to them. Christians are called to serve God, not to judge other people.
But, there is thin line between poverty, due to accurately following Christian principles and poverty due to stupidity in handling personal finances. The most important thing is to commit oneself to Godly principles at all times, under any circumstances. A truly converted person rarely feels the effects of poverty, even though viewed as poor by everyone.
The danger of poverty overwhelms the person who constantly thinks about his/her state of poverty more than God’s will. Satan uses people’s minds to deceive. Even though viewed as poor, you are out of poverty, as long as you keep your mind focused on God.
God’s people get spiritually besieged, when physically wealthy. Riches create favorable ground for the devil. It is very easy to despise the poor when one is wealthy. In the current Christian conditions, most churches are led by wealthy people. They may not take leadership roles, but highly influential in church decisions.
In his letter to Timothy, Paul shows that the early church had to contend with this danger, driven by false teachers. The purpose of falsehood is to dilute or invalidate what is true. Paul sought to sternly address this problem through Timothy (1 Timothy 6:3-10).
However, riches can be used effectively when supplying the needy, as long as one remains unidentified (James 1:27). While formerly a blessing to the Israelites, riches can be a snare, when committed to serving the Lord. How does it feel to drive a car that no-one else drives? And live in a suburb where fellow Christians cannot access?
If it feels good, the question that follows is: why does it feel good? Pride can be subtle and very difficult to address. This is why Solomon talked about it in Proverbs 30:8-9. In Philippians 4:11-12 Paul also gave good reason why it is necessary for a Christian to be just content with whatever is available. Nothing more.
Christian problems originate from what appears normal, in our day to day lives, yet being deceptively used by Satan to mislead. This is why it is important to always check against God’s word. The only way to resist the devil is by being familiar with scriptures, using them as weapon. This is how Jesus overcame Satan (Matthew 4:4-11).
Positions of authority
This is probably the most effective weapon that Satan wields, at the moment. Obviously, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for me to invalidate human leadership in churches when not holding any leadership position myself.
However, regardless of how ineffective my voice, there is a lot of misunderstanding, concerning leadership roles in Churches. I do not know how many times Jesus stressed that in His Church, the greatest should be the one who manually serves others. He even demonstrated the importance of this by washing His disciples’ feet (John 13:14-17).
My understanding is that there is no single member of the Church who is not a leader. But there is no single member of the church who is above others (1 Corinthians 12:12-31 and Romans 12:3-11). What Paul said is actually in alignment with what Jesus taught (Matthew 23:6-12).
Jesus also mentioned that Christians are, actually, greater than the greatest of all prophets, John the Baptist (Matthew 11:11). However, the activities of John the Baptist were directed by God’s Spirit. The question that has remained unanswered, ever since I posed it is: Why should a Christian, who is greater than John the Baptist, be in need of human supervision? [See here] and also [ here]
All leaders, whether Pastors, Bishops or anything, in Christian churches assume that they have to control people. They assume the role of Christ, using the term: ‘Church governance,’ without any authoritative scripture to back that up. They simply use human logic that humans need leadership all the time. However, all this flies in the face of what Jesus taught.
Is Satan in control of this world’s kingdoms?
This world is under Satan’s control. Call it dictatorship. Call it democracy. Call it anything you like. Satan is the one in charge. He actually even mentioned it to Jesus, who obviously knew it:
“Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me’” (Matthew 4:8-9) (ESV).
In 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, Paul also showed that Satan is actually the god of this world. While Satan cannot do far more than what God allows, he is in control of the kingdoms of this world. If you have people under your command, you are actually exercising the authority of a king. The question is: Who would be the king under which you would be operating. [See here]
If it is Jesus, please show where Jesus, as your Lord, provided you with authority to supervise others. If you cannot find it, listen to what the Lord Jesus Christ said:
“Why do you call me ‘Lord Lord,’ and not do what I tell you? Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. But the one who hears and does not do them is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the stream broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:46-49) (ESV).
Paul and the Church
No-one can dispute the fact that Paul was the most used apostle in the first century. Paul effectively laid down the foundation of grace, among the Gentiles. However, as a former Pharisee, Paul may have struggled in differentiating between law and grace. Most of what Paul said in his epistles was not doctrine. If not conforming with what the Lord said, we forgive Paul for being human as we are, instead of using him as authority.
When Jesus said all authority had been given to him (Matthew 28:18) He did not mean sharing that authority with His disciples, or Paul for that matter. Jesus provides the stable data in everything Christian. Like the Berean Jews (Acts 17:11), it is always advisable to check what is given, against the authority of Jesus.
However, all Christian denominations, use more of what Paul wrote than what Jesus taught. I could be wrong to say all denominations. But a careful check may reveal that Paul is obeyed more than Jesus is obeyed, in the Christian world. However, Jesus was very clear in that we do not have to access Him via somebody. This is why we pray to Him directly.
The Grace of our Lord covers all sins
The points covered here can easily reveal that salvation is not easily attainable. However, we do not attain salvation by our works. If missing points on various aspects; Jesus’ blood is there to cover it up. As long as we are humble, and willing to change whenever God reveals areas that need change.
But the pivotal passage of scripture in Christianity is the one found in Matthew 18:21-34. A Christian who is quick to forgive others has greater chance, regardless of how many sins weigh against him/her. As humans we will always be found wanting, one way or the other. However, our Father in heaven forgives us, as long as we forgive others.
This is as important as Jesus included it in the prayer model given to His disciples: “Forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us” (Matthew 6:12). It is on the principle of forgiving others that our salvation hinges.
This idea of condemning others for failing to understand or observe certain rules, according to one’s understanding, is not of Jesus. Satan is the only one with the responsibility to accuse brethren (Revelation 12:10). While doing our best to obey Jesus, we succeed, only when not overlooking the pivotal instruction to forgive others, regardless of sins committed against us.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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