Satan is the author of rebellion. Rebellion is the root of all sin. He rebelled and continues to rebel against God’s rule through people who rebel against spiritual authority. This is the primary way churches are divided and destroyed.
With all the societal unrest and isolation due to COVID, unresolved emotional issues are exacerbated. This has given the devil more opportunity to work through people against the Church.
The following are ten ways Satan deceives people into dividing or weakening local churches.
- Spiritual Equality Syndrome (Numbers 12:1-10)
Numbers 12:1-10 speaks of when Miriam and Aaron almost led a rebellion against Moses based on their assumption of hearing from God. They thought Moses should not be the leading visionary to give overall direction to the people.
Though the Spirit of God indeed speaks to all who are children of God, the guidance for a church is not promised to anyone except to the senior leader and, under his direction, the elders of a church (Romans 8:14-16).
- Uncovering the Leader’s Weakness Syndrome (Genesis 9:20-27)
In Genesis 9:20-29, Noah’s son, Ham, saw his father while his father was drunk and naked. Ham exposed his father by telling his brothers, Shem and Japheth. As a result, Ham and his descendants were cursed by God (even though the personal sin of his father was true). This illustrates that even key biblical leaders were not perfect, yet they were forgiven and commissioned. Noah’s sin was wrong, but the sin of his son was worse because it had the potential to foster rebellion against authority.
- The Co-Leadership “Multi-Headed” Syndrome (Numbers 12:1-8)
In Numbers 12:1-8, Aaron and Miriam were tempted to be equal and lead along with Moses. They were older than Moses and judged him according to the flesh and not by the call of God. (Age is not the bottom line in senior leadership.) Having more than one senior head quickly becomes a two-headed monster. I have never seen dual headship work for more than a few years. When “number two” men aspire to be “number one” men, it divides churches and gets ugly! Some “number two” men are not gifted enough in leadership to ever be considered “number one” men. It takes humility and obedience to the Lord to recognize the limits of one’s leadership and measure of authority (Romans 12:3-4, 2 Corinthians 10:10-14).
- The Super-Spiritual Syndrome
Some think they are more spiritual than the senior pastor. This is usually because all they want to do is jump into the river and soak. They want profound teachings, long passionate worship, and don’t care about evangelism, new people, or practical management issues. They selfishly care only about themselves and want to experience an exclusive believer’s service every Sunday. These people hide behind super-spiritual talk and always say they are inspired by the Holy Spirit when they speak and give direction to the Church. They subtly bring correction to the pastor and leaders in their conversations and pray accusatory prayers against the leadership. Still, their main agenda is to commandeer church government and give direction to the Church.
The simple gift of prophecy as described in 1 Corinthians 14:1-3 doesn’t include directing other believers or the Church, but only involves edification, exhortation, and comfort. Since God is a God of order, He will give overall direction primarily to those who are part of the leadership. Satan comes as an angel of light through those who hide behind “spirituality” to point the congregation towards themselves and their “superior spirituality” instead of submitting to the leading of the Lord through the senior pastor and elders serving with them.
- Financial Priority Syndrome (John 12:1-8)
In the same way Satan entered into Judas Iscariot and inspired him to complain that the apostles should have used their monies to aid the poor, people readily criticize how a local church handles its money even before understanding the whole financial situation. Again, this shows that Satan comes as an angel of light and uses religious reasons to accuse spiritual leadership of ignorant and unsuspecting people.