A. The devices/schemes/tricks/wiles of the devil are many. Satan not only tried to stop Jesus from building the church, he also uses all of the forces he can muster to prevail against it after it was built (Matt. 16:13-18). To face these foes, we must be on our toes. That is, we must “watch” and not be ignorant of Satan’s devices (Acts 20:31; 2 Cor. 2:11). In this article we will only take time to notice five of the devices or foes he uses against believers:

1. Deception.

One foe that we should know is deception. Jesus warned of false teachers (Matt. 7:15). John said that many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). The church has always had to fight deceivers and deception. Paul feared that the church in Corinth might be “corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). The church in Thyatira was plagued by a deceiver named Jezebel (Rev. 2:18-24). Paul marveled at how the Galatians had been influenced by those who perverted the gospel of Christ into legalism (Gal. 1:6-9). (See also Rom. 16:17-18; Jude 4; 2 Peter 2:1). The church in this and every age must watch and remember that we have been warned about the wolves (Matt. 7:15; Acts 20:29-31). We must remember our obligation to uphold and support the truth (1 Tim. 3:14-15) which is “in Jesus” (Eph. 4:21). We must earnestly contend for the faith of the gospel that was once for all delivered to the saints (Phil. 1:27; Jude 1:3). Let’s not be deceived by what we believe. Let’s seek (Isa. 34:16). Let’s search (John 5:39). Let’s study (2 Tim. 2:15). Let’s find out if the things we are being told are the truth and nothing but the truth (Prov. 23:23; John 8:32; I Peter 1:22-23). Any doctrine that does not teach that Jesus Himself is the “way, truth, and life” must be avoided at all cost (Jn. 14:6). The gates of hell shall not prevail if we will study our Bibles well.

2. Division.

Another foe we need to know is division. Division among God’s people is both serious and sinful, and those who cause must be avoided. Paul said, “mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17). For one to uphold division is an unhealthy decision. Many times it is deception that causes division. It is those who teach “contrary to the doctrine of Christ” and “by good words and fair speeches deceive” who are responsible for most of the division that exists in the religious world today (Rom. 16:17-18). Deception leads to division. However, we know that God both desires and demands unity among His disciples. In the Bible He praised unity (Psalm 133:1); prayed for unity (John 17:20-21); pleaded for unity (1 Cor. 1:10); and provided for unity (Eph. 4:4-16). Plus, He encouraged the saints in Ephesus, to “keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). Unity among believers causes others to believe (John 17:21). What is really sad is when the church is divided over positions, personalities, or other petty problems. We need to realize that keeping unity is something that we must be “endeavoring to do” (Eph. 4:3), and not something that we just “ease into.” We need to remember that we are one body (1 Cor. 12:12-27) and that we are all on the same team if we follow Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). We do not have to be united in our all of our perceptions of exactly how to follow Jesus in order to be united in our purpose of following Jesus. Every local Church needs to keep this in mind.

3. Diversion.

A third foe that we need to know is diversion. “Diversion” is a turning aside from our main goal. The primary mission of the church is the saving of souls through the preaching of the gospel (Luke 19:10; I Tim. 3:14-15). We must never lose sight of this fact. Our main work is not social or political, but spiritual. We must never allow ourselves to be diverted from this work (Matt. 6:33; Phil. 1:21; 3:13; Matt. 4:4). Many times it is division that leads to diversion. In fact, sometimes deception leads to division which then leads to diversion. Because of divisions among ourselves we are distracted from our main goal of preaching the gospel of Jesus. We start fighting among ourselves and are thus diverted from our main mission. We then have to spend too much of our time arguing over matters that should never, in many cases, have been a problem in the first place. Jesus said that if we’ll go, teach, baptize, and preach, He will be with us even to the end of the world (Matt. 28:19-20). Let’s make sure that we do our part, so that we can have Jesus in our heart (Eph. 3:17).

4. Discouragement.

A fourth foe we need to know is discouragement. This is an enemy that has probably affected every local church, as well as every Christian, at one time or another. Many times it is deception, division, and diversion that lead to discouragement. The Hebrew writer said, “Wherefore lift up the hands that hang down…” (Heb. 12:12) which indicates they were having a problem with discouragement. When writing to Galatia, Paul said, “and let us not be weary in well doing…” (Gal. 6:9). Discouragement has been, and many times still is, a major problem for the church. Lack of attendance, lack of appreciation, apathy, and a host of other things can also be cited as causes for discouragement. Every Christian has the responsibility of helping others to fight this foe. We need to “exhort one another daily…” as we have the opportunity (Heb. 3:13; 10:24-25).

5. Disbelief.

The final foe before we go is disbelief. Many times deception, division, diversion, and discouragement lead to the sin of unbelief (John 17:20-21). It seems that this is the sin that “does so easily beset us” (Heb. 12:1). That’s why it is so important for Christians to “take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Heb. 3:12). There’s no relief in unbelief, only grief (Heb. 3:19; Mark 16:14). This has stopped many churches cold. Therefore we need to “draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith …” (Heb. 10:22). We must not give up, let up, shut up, or back up until the church of our Lord is either built up or taken up. We need to strive more, study more, serve more, and sacrifice more. The gates of hell shall not prevail because we have the Lord and He cannot fail.

Thank God for Jesus! (2 Cor. 9:15).


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