Found on Pastor Matt Richard’s blog, PM Notes. Pastor Richard has been the Senior Pastor of Sidney Lutheran Brethren Church of Sidney, Montana since 2008.
So what would things look like if Satan really took control of Sidney? Immediately our mind drifts to negative things such as: mass chaos, anarchy, bloodshed, moral decay, outbreaks of painful infidelity and so forth. However, is this how Satan would unleash his rule if he could? Let’s reconsider our response a moment and reflect on how Paul describes Satan in his second letter to the Church in Corinth. He says that, “Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” It seems to me from my readings of scripture that Satan tends to work much more covertly. In reflecting on our question again, consider the following answer from a Presbyterian pastor named Donald Barnhouse. Some 50 years ago He offered up a scenario on his weekly radio sermon that was broadcast nationwide on CBS. He speculated that if Satan took over a city that, “all of the bars would be closed, pornography would be banished and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, ‘Yes, sir’ and ‘No, ma’am,’ and the churches would be full every Sunday…where Christ is not preached.”
My friends it is easy to miss Christ and measure how things are going based on our happiness and social surroundings. The Evil One is the great con-artist who entices us to look away from Christ to ourselves saying, “You can save yourself, just try harder! You only have five more steps to go! The potential lies within you!” Satan has Christians and the world fighting the wrong fight of trying to nurture good qualities and starving bad qualities with the purpose of meriting and gaining nonperishable eternal worth. He has everyone chasing a carrot on the end of a stick. The Evil One has led us to believe that the fight is over deeds when it is really a fight for the faith.
Simply put, Satan only needs to get the church to look away from Christ. Keep in mind that a lot of things that distract us from Christ are not only negative but can be very good things. In the words of Michael Horton, “In order to push us offpoint, all that Satan needs to do is throw several spiritual fads, moral and political crusades and other ‘relevance’ operations into our field of vision. Focusing the conversation on us—our desires, needs , feelings, experiences, activity, and aspirations—energizes us.”
So what would things look like if Satan took over Sidney? Simply put, “Christ not preached.” The key issue is Christ and Him Crucified for the forgiveness of our sins. Where Christ is clearly professed and presented as the Savior of sinners, we can be most assured that the forces of evil will be on-site trying to turn the eyes of the church away from Christ.
My brothers and sisters, Jesus is not only the founder but also the perfector of our faith. Before our very eyes He was clearly portrayed as crucified for our redemption. May we fight the good fight of the faith! Christ alone.
Note: Adaptation Of & Indebted To The Pithy Comments In The Opening Chapter Of Michael Horton’s Book, “Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church” (Baker Books, © 2008)