I am currently attending classes on expository preaching, and in one of the lectures Mike Fabrez challenged us to prepare and preach with expectations and to remember that Satan is a foe who has an agenda for the church, the family, and individual believers. This reality should fuel prayer in preaching. This tremendously challenged my perspective, and I thought I should share the truths I learned in my next three blogs. So, what is Satan’s agenda for the church?
1. To persecute the church
Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death. Revelation 2:10
2. To keep the church apart
But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. 1 Thessalonians 2: 17-18
3. To promote conflict in the church
Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:23-26
4. To oppose the church’s evangelism
But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles—to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me. Acts 26:6-18
5. To get people to leave the church
Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer. 1 Timothy 4:1-3
In view of Satan’s agenda for the church, preachers must heed Paul’s solemn charge to the young preacher Timothy—to preach the word and not relent from doing so at any time. The congregation must be devoted to praying for the preacher and the preaching of God’s Word. Furthermore, congregations must demand that the preacher preach the Word so that they can be equipped to submit to God and resist the devil.
It is instructive that Paul says to the Ephesians believers that when members are equipped, they do the work of ministry and the church is built up and is able to withstand the fiery darts of the devil (Ephesians 6:12-16).