The Corinthians had trouble in Church City, and that Trouble had a capital T. Paul spent 18 months with them as he taught and preached the Gospel training them in the righteous ways of the Lord. But, as humans tend to do, it didn’t take long for these new, Gentile Christians to allow the old-man-ways to disrupt their unity in Christ. Satan was quick to use this disunity to draw them away from each other using their own earthly pride and prestige against their once unified front (1 Corinthians 3).
New believers in Christ are weak infants in need of milk as sustenance. But as a church body, we need each part to be strong and sturdy. This is why it is crucial to train up new believers in the ways of the Lord so that the whole body, the whole wall is strong and steadfast.
Corrie ten Boom said something like, “For a wall to stand firm, its bricks must not be loose.” The church body’s protective wall against Satan is our Holy Spirit sealed hearts and minds. And there’s the rub. Satan loves to wiggle into a church body to cause havoc and unrest. He is only able to loosen the mortar holding solidly together the bricks of our wall when there is immature mortar that he can dig into.
This is called spiritual warfare and is dangerous to the church and spoils the spread of the Gospel. Christians who are close to God both in grace and in Scripture knowledge will feel a soreness of soul when an outbreak of spiritual warfare is about to begin. The Holy Spirit is greatly disturbed, and this creates uneasiness in believer’s hearts.
If you have not experienced this soreness then you are still too young in Christ to feel it, or perhaps things may not be completely aligned in your life within God’s will. I don’t want to sound harsh, but it is a bald fact. As believers grow closer to God, we better recognize sin for what it is, and spiritual warfare for where it comes. It takes a closeness to God to identify spiritual warfare because Satan is the great deceiver. Satan wants to kill, steal and destroy all things godly. He is ever at work, and never tires. He especially hides behind those who are not deeply rooted in Scripture who are easily swayed by great sounding words that have been slightly twisted.
As we grow closer to God, we sin less (do not read that sinless), and we are better able to recognize sin for what it really is, and not be dazzled by how it is packaged. How do you minister alongside someone whom you know is sinning, or is in a sinful relationship? How can a broken leg hold you up or take you for a walk?
So, we live in a fallen world. Our feet get dirty as we walk through it, even the hems of our garments get soiled. The dust clouds of Satan get our church wall dirty so that we cannot see the chinks in the mortar. The remedy is regular washing of feet and washing of garments, and dusting and cleaning the hearts in the Word of God.
A healthy, praying church will slough off the grime of this fallen world and won’t let the deceiving dust of Satan settle where it doesn’t belong. But, when a church has no knee imprints in the carpet… when a church doesn’t bother with anything other than corporate prayer… when a church has a prayer list a mile long, but few praises… when a church has a history and reputation of ousting their pastors with little provocation… when a church has leadership that reigns instead of Jesus reigning, there is Trouble with a capital T in Church City.
Spiritual warfare wears many guises. Sometimes it appears as a tiny crack, sometimes it resembles the Christian Slicer/Dicer. Sometimes it is just Satan planting seeds of doubt, innuendo, half-truths, twisted facts, all delivered with a reasonable voice but absent the ring of truth and fairness… sometimes using the church prayer chain to masticate this doubt, half-truth, and twisted facts. Soon the mortar crumbles.
Sin in churches can get a great foothold through leadership that believes itself above biblical instruction and above the church. What would be the motivation for this kind of sin? Pride. Prestige. A love of drama lends very well to this… desiring to be the center of attention… desiring to appear as the church’s protector and savior. What does that sound like to you?
To me, it smacks of Satan’s imitations. I have witnessed this and it is horrific and tragic. When men decide to “do God’s will” but have no Biblical support, then Trouble with a capital T in Church City comes and stays awhile.
Trouble can also come from within the body. God never ignores sin. I also think that once a person has proven his weakness, God takes him through a series of lessons in the “hard knock” class. After some bruised shins, skinned elbows, and some bloody knees, we finally pass the test and God can then trust us again within His sheepfold. God uses each body part to help keep the whole body clean.
One must consider the reason mortar begins to crumble. You have one or two who stir up the doubt and the self-righteous indignation, then one or two more take up the banner, then another one jumps in with supposed allegations, or suppositions about an event without all the facts. And soon the rot has spread. The smoke stirred up mingles in the dust storm, and a church is ripped apart.
Where did it begin? Which heart were the seeds of discontent sown? Which mind watered those seeds and nurtured them until fully grown? We don’t see into the hearts of men, but God does.
God has taken all of this into consideration long before America was even born, before Adam’s first child squalled in his mommy’s arms. And He prepared for it. He alone knows what must be done to strengthen the body of Christ so it can be fully functional. He may have plans to bring the body to its knees, or take the drastic measure to remove the one or two cancerous organs so the body can once again be healthy. Trusting that God is ever in control is key. No one can do anything without Jesus is in it.
Make sure the whole Bible is preached from the pulpit. Make sure each new believer is trained in Scripture. Never lower your guard against Satan because he can seep into the most pristine places. Make sure your children are well-schooled in Scripture so the future of the church body will be healthy and bright reflecting the Glory of the Lord in this dark world.
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