Musings 71

The Church (in name) is in deep, deep trouble. Liberalism has taken the vitals out of most of the professing Church a long time ago. Rationalism and irrationalism has always troubled the professing Church under the guise of scholarship and learning or simply being oriented and led by the feelings. Pelagianism has not gone away and instead is rampant in the modern professing Church. R.C. Sproul said several years ago that if Luther were alive today he would write a book entitled “The Pelagian Captivity of the Church.” While the Reformers were willing to die in their stand against Pelagianism and Arminianism, today those things are not thought of as serious errors.

What has happened? There have been various explanations for the ills of the modern, professing Church in our day. It has been said that the problem is that we have gotten away from the sacraments, have gotten away from confessionalism, or that we have lost our connection with people with not having the right music, the right methods, the right dress, and the right message. Some argue that we don’t have enough expository preaching, enough discipleship, or perhaps we are just not committed enough in our day. While those things may be true to a degree and at certain points, something else may be the real problem.

A book arrived in the mail today from International Outreach. It was (and is) entitled The Existence and Attributes of Satan, written by Thaddeus McRae. As I read the Introduction (written by William Nichols) the problem (at least a major part of it) of the modern, professing Church became clear. The modern, professing Church does not really believe in the devil even though they may confess that they do. Following the Introduction as it quotes the author, “There is a personal devil. He is known by several names:

1. The god of this world, 2 Corinthians 4:4
2. Beelzebub the chief of the devils, Luke 11:15
3. The devil and his angels, Matthew 25:41
4. The angel of the bottomless pit, Revelation 19:11
5. The accuser of the brethren, Revelation 12:10
6. The great dragon
7. That old serpent the devil
8. Satan the deceiver

“He is also likewise represented as possessing character.” He is described in Scripture in these ways:

1. He is a deceiver
2. He is a murderer
3. He is the wicked one
4. He is a liar
5. He is the tempter

The sin which caused Satan to fall was that of pride. It was his exalting himself and wanting to be like God that was his fall, which then became how he tempted Eve in the Garden. Quoting from the Introduction which quoted McGray, “My hearers, consider the devilish nature of pride…Its very essence is antagonism to God. He who over-estimates himself will readily go farther. Being ‘lifted up’ with his own sufficiency, he will soon learn to encroach upon the rights of others. He is all-important, and all things must therefore subserve his interest; and as he ascends in his own esteem, he may ere long aspire to divine honors, and become a rival of his Maker.”

As can clearly be seen the problem in the modern, professing Church has two heads. One, it dismisses the activity of Satan unless it is in a confession where it must be confessed. But on a practical level, the practice of church goes on like he does not really exist. Two, Satan has breathed forth his poison, the poison of pride, into the modern, professing Church. He has done this in numerous ways, but he has done it. The modern, professing Church is shot through with proud ministers. They are proud of the external success, proud of their education, proud of their suits, or perhaps proud of what they know. The churches are full of proud deacons, proud elders, and proud committee members. The churches are also full of proud members because proud leaders have been deceived and now the churches are full of proud unbelievers. When the churches are deceived by the deceiver, souls murdered by false gospels, full of wickedness from the wicked one, full of lies from the liar, and being tempted by the master tempter, the churches are more like synagogues of Satan than the Bride of Christ. The only answer is to seek the Lord Himself and seek Him for humbled and broken hearts. There is no answer for pride but humility. There is no answer to the tempter but from Christ Himself who defeated the tempter.

The modern, professing Church has been lied to, deceived, and assaulted with false doctrine and the abuse of Scripture. When the evil one tempted Eve he twisted the words of God. When the evil one tempted the Lord Jesus he twisted the application of the Scriptures. As one who appears as an angel of light, he is always trying to deceive people about what good and evil are. This is how he turns professing churches away from the true Gospel and gets them to proclaim a false gospel. This is how he turns ministers away from preaching the truth and instead preaching easy and popular messages. He nurtures pride in the guise of humility, twists niceness to be thought of as love, and makes it appear that believing truth and knowing God is to be proud. He turns true unity into people seeking to be ecumenical. He turns sovereign grace into something that men can apply to themselves by an act of the will. In short, the evil one has hijacked the modern, professing Church to a great degree. We must seek the Lord for humility and light. We must seek the Lord to teach us rather than trust in our own proud hearts or the proud hearts of others.

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