I have quite a varied church experience.
I grew up Baptist, ended up brethren, moved again to a charismatic church, now I’m not sure what to call myseIf.
I’ve spoken in close to a thousand churches.
Believe me when I say – I really have seen it all.
In my experience some churches seem to obsess with the spiritual realm. Angels, demons, devils and all sorts. Others completely ignore the spiritual realm.
I’m not sure either is very healthy.
But today I want to talk about satan in a way very few in the church are willing to.
Satan the accuser
You see the word translated “satan” in the scriptures has a particular meaning.
It means to accuse or oppose.
Satan himself when he does show up in person can be found in this role.
Think in Job when his role is to present his accusations to God.
Pictured in the garden he is accusing God of lying.
In the wilderness He opposes Jesus in his true role of Messiah by tempting him with a worldly Messiah position.
But what about when people become satan?
When Peter rebukes Jesus in Matt 16 Jesus calls him satan.
Does this mean Jesus thinks Peter is the person Satan?
Of course not. He’s calling him an accuser. A minister of Satan – the accuser.
It’s something to ponder isn’t it.
Paul outlines, as a Church, we are given a ministry of reconciliation and forgiveness. Called not to count the world’s sins against them but to proclaim the acceptance of God. He goes as far to say we cannot look at anyone according to their physical acts but simply see them in Christ.
When John and James tell Jesus that the Samaritans were denying Him they ask if they can call down fire on their town (now theres a couple of guys with rejection issues!).
Interestingly – this is a very clear reference to Elijah who called down fire on the same group of people, in the same area, for the same reason, in the same way. (Their venerated leader Moses also called fire down on people.)
What did Jesus say about this act? (this is one to ponder for a while)
“You do not know what spirit you are of!”
What’s Jesus saying – to call down fire on people who we judge to be wrong (rightly or wrongly) is the spirit of satan, the accuser, the opposer.
God’s spirit, the holy spirit, is not one that divides or that judges in that manner. The Spirit of God is not reigning down fire from Heaven in judgement but instead it reconciles, it heals, it forgives, it restores.
It makes me think about what church is known for in today’s society.
How do people see us as a Church body today?
Are we known for the fruit of the holy spirit?
Or are we known for the spirit of satan?
That’s a hard question isn’t it.
I’m not saying there aren’t many amazing people in the body. I know thousands of believers and churches bear that beautiful fruit of the Spirit, in beautiful ways, every day.
But we can’t deny we have a problem.
Jesus said that it was our love by which the world would know us.
But in my experience with non-Christians one of the most common words I hear to describe us as a faith is “judgemental.” In fact, the word “love” rarely comes up.
In my part of the world, overall it seems, Christianity has stopped representing Jesus and started representing Satan.
We do not know what spirit we are of.