With contributions from Tendai Zaranyika and Dr. Winzrose E Chaurika
The ministry of leading and taking care of the flock of God is one of the most noble yet dangerous spiritual ministry and in most cases; the young minister will be tempted to relax and treat his ministerial office with less enthusiasm and seriousness. After all, he has the calling and fire of God in his life and so feels content that God has placed him in ministry. The devil attacks the church daily and is busy forging his spiritual darts and arrows that he can shoot to anyone in positions of spiritual leadership. He knows that if he smites the shepherds, the sheep too will be scattered and they will be an easy prey for his cohorts. In this chapter, we look at certain areas that the enemy targets in the minister’s life and how to wage successful warfare against him and his hosts.
A False Sense of Security
The Christian minister is saved, and so does not belong to the wicked one and the wicked one cannot touch him. However, the enemy has implored several skills that he has acquired over ages to use against God and His people and the devil will make sure that he leads you to your downfall without finishing the task that God has given you. Hence, his scheming ways will make you develop a sense of false security as your downfall. By a sense of false security, we are not implying that Satan suggests to you that God is not protecting you, but on the contrary, he makes you feel so confident in your ministry achievements to such an extent that you forget you are capable of falling especially that time when you think you are standing. (1 Corinthians 10:12) He sells you the notion that because of all the achievements that you have seen, what great works you have done for God, you are now untouchable and you cannot fail or fall. As if this is not enough, he has certain ways that will make you lose your focus on God and his provision, asking you to rely on the arm of flesh and sin against God.
The devil is a master at using this trick, and if you are not careful, you will tread down the path of the ancients who failed to recognize this trick. To Adam and Eve, the devil suggested that their dependence with God was a manipulation. They had everything from God and only lacked divinity that God had willfully chosen not to give them. As a result, he assured them that all they needed was to eat and be like God, independent and sovereign. In other words, he sold to them the life of a false security that comes from knowing that you are now a god and invincible. The idea shone bright in the mind of Eve who took of the forbidden fruit and ate, and gave to her husband who was also with her (Genesis 3). However, unlike what they had been promised, they saw nothing of truth in it but death, shame and dishonor.
The Israelites too are an apt example. When God called them, he wanted them to be independent of everything except Him. He wanted them to derive their living from Him. God wanted their worship, love and trust so that they can dwell together as equal partners. Sadly, despite seeing God’s works and amazing powerful displays of His majesty, they wanted to have their own sense of security. Yahweh was not enough for them. They had seen other nations with their own gods, the Egyptians, the Canaanites and all surrounding nations. Here they stand at the foot of Sinai, the mountain of God, and yet they demand from Aaron, “Make us a God!” They wanted their own man-made god to provide them with a sense of security that other abominable nations enjoyed from their false gods. In that instant, they forsook God who was with them, who had carried them on eagles’ wings to the place where they are, out of Egypt.
Many times, a young minister will be tempted to think that God is not enough for him. The enemy will tempt you not to trust God or see Him at work and will challenge you to do things in the flesh, not because God is not able, but because you want something visible and tangible that gives you some security and guarantees your protection. You are not the only one! The Israelites did that even as they witnessed God’s pillar of cloud and fire yeah, they went on to demand a god to worship and serve, a god that would help them fight their battles like the nations around them and give them some pleasures. This angered God who almost destroyed them had Moses not interceded for them.
In the days of the Judges, the Israelite community demanded of themselves a king. Although various elements led to that, we should not lose sight of the fact that God himself made it clear that they had rejected Him. They wanted to be like other nations; after all, they were now free men in their own God-given promised land that flows with milk and honey. Because they were surrounded with various religious people who had tangible evidence of a physical God and physical king, they thought this was a worthy endeavor. Remember, Moses had warned them that they should be careful after they have eaten and satisfied, and having grown prosperous, that they would forget God.
One of the great things Satan uses against a minister is his success and achievements. He knows if he makes you see them daily and keeps reminding you of your achievements, those achievements will be your idols and you will forget God. Satan wants you to have a physical religion that has a physical God of self success. When you look at it, you lose your faith and allegiance to God. Your commitment dwindles and your dedication vanishes. After all, why would you need to keep living the life of faith when you have achieved as much? One old pastor once approached a young pastor and said, “I have live all my previous life on faith, now it’s time to turn to money. No more faith but reality”. He meant that serving God by a life of faith is no longer ideal for this period. People want to see pastors with different securities that prove they re men of God.
In Nebuchadnezzar’s time, he felt that he had accomplished everything in ancient Babylon by His mighty alone, and he was humbled for seven years and turned into a beast until he knew that the Lord in the heavens reigns. David was incited by Satan to number Israel so that he can boast on the armies of Israel and not trust God and a three days’ pestilence almost wiped the entire nation. Our point here is that, never look contended and fulfilled; don’t be self-sufficient. You are not god. You need God daily to guide you, lead and provide for you. The Lord is your protection and your shield. Remember that ministry is waging spiritual warfare. In this spiritual warfare, when you begin to rely on your might, the enemy has won because you have forgotten that “it’s not by mighty, nor by power” but by the Spirit of God (Zechariah 4:6). Most young ministers have dismally fallen from their spiritual place in ministry because they bought into the idea of self-sufficiency and did not put on the whole armor of God that enables them to stand on the evil day fighting against principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:12-18).
Another way the devil wages his war against young ministers is by promoting false doctrines. The devil does not forbid us to read and study bibles. Instead, he causes us to follow misguided leaders and read books that have wrongly handled the word of truth. Way back when we came to Christ, there were several ministries in the United States and Europe that would make us enroll in free bible correspondence courses. Because of our desire to study God’s word, we wrote and studied from many of these schools. Some ministries would send us books and other free literature. Because we did not k what was true and false, we just ate any spiritual junkie that was served us by these ministries. We devoured anything that spoke of God and Christ, even if it was false and dishonoring, but because we did not know, we thought that we were giving ourselves the best education in the world because it was American or British. Yet, over 90% of the things we learned were full of error.
We started ministry at a time when American churches were still generous to the third world countries. They would send us used books and Bibles from their “unwanted” reserves; donate them to Africa for African pastors and preachers. This was quite a commendable task because we did not know where to get such books from or even had the money to afford a single purchase. Because of our quest to study ad learn the Bible, we simply treasured to heart any such religious material that could come our way. However, this influx of religious books has been the greatest single contributor to false teachings in the African church because of the wealthy heretics that exists in the Western Churches. The devil saw a window of opportunity and used religious literature to spearhead heresies and error in the African church.
He further worked behind the scenes to provide scholarships to several pastors and potential church leaders who went and attended liberal theological schools that had a defective view of Christ and God and brought them back to us as pastors and church leaders. Yet, amongst the few, God always left a remnant and those from the most evangelically fundamental camp began to find scholarships in Christ honoring schools and seminaries, who upon their return began to challenge and question strange doctrines and practices. In a way, Satan had already taken a strong footing in most young ministers because of the abundance of false religious literature.
As a result of this development, theology began to be treated with suspicion. It was confused with religious studies and up to this day, those who went to theological schools are viewed as the unspiritual that tend to rely on human wisdom and knowledge when it comes to the things of God. The ever increasing criticism of theology in the African church is a sure sign that most people are confused and have not heard the truth. Wrong theology produces false Gospels but sound theology produces a healthy church that is formidable to the enemy. The devil knows that a church that has a sound leader, who is well competent in biblical truth can cause a devastating blow to his kingdom, so he pursues after young ministers and make them exposed to false teachers, and false doctrines that will incapacitate their effectiveness in dealing with the devil.
Another way false doctrines have been used by the devil to wage war against Christian ministers is through fraternities of pastors and other religions. Secular government, for the sake of peace and unity in the land, appeals to ecumenism and religious tolerance. While we all need peace and seek to see unity prevailing in our countries, it is wrong to compromise spiritual standards for the sake of accommodating other religions and make them feel comfortable in such meetings and forums. God’s call in the Bible to the Church and its ministers has been a cal to separation, a call to holiness. God wants us to be distinct, set apart and separated and not to mingle in the business of other religions because we serve different gods. In most cases, Christians are the most vulnerable because they will be forced to reach a compromise. Such compromise happens in the most basic fundamental beliefs and creeds of Christianity. There begins the spiritual battle for the minister who wants to please all the gods of various religions in the spirit of ecumenical movement. We have recently seen some disturbing trends in the world as Christians are uniting with Muslims to make one world churches that embraces all religions and to be honest; we are heading towards the destruction paths. “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” “Proverbs 14:12; 16:25).
Other way false doctrines are used by Satan as a tool to destroy young ministers is the widespread distribution of new Bible versions. Basically, most young ministers hates reading, studying or going through a theological school. They feel it is not important as long as they have the spiritual gifting and charisma that labels them as men of God. As a result, they do not even know why certain Bible’s are preferred than others and why some Bibles have been condemned. The devil will make sure that he will keep you in outer darkness, and never know which Bible translation is better and why. He will tell you there is no difference between the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures and the King James Version. He will tell you the difference lies in the simplicity of the language but not tell you that the New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures dishonors Christ and dethrones God and its heretic in its Christological views.
The devil will not tell you that the New International Version is so subtle and has removed many verses from its text and those that speak of Christ as God or the Son of God have been changed to say the servant of God, etc. Now, when the devil attacks the Bible, how can you think he will leave you untouched? The devil does not care about your spiritual life; he is concerned with making you do things for God wrongly! You may worship and serve God in any way, but the devil will strive to make sure that you do it erringly, because if you do not live an unexamined life, you make the enemy win the war. God wants us to be separate even in teaching and doctrine, and Satan says there is no harm in having the false yeast and leaven of false gospels mixed with your Christianity. He wants us to believe that the Bible is not all there is but that God has other vices and books that he has given and theologians wants us to remain in the dark.
This is why in so many churches, young pastors have gone seeking after the supposedly Bible’s lost books because they feel there is more revelation of God found elsewhere. For example, in Zimbabwe, the Gospel of God Churches teaches that the Bible is stale, and not the only written inspired, infallible and authoritative revelation of God. Even in some established and free churches, people have viewed the Bible with suspicion and some even labeling it “a colonial tool”. The devil knows to wage successful warfare and win, the Christian would need “the sword of the Spirit, which is, the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). We should remember that “the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
In some of the churches, the devil has waged a serious attack which the churches are oblivious of. Some churches think that they are secure because they have a good intercessory team, a charismatic leadership and faithful congregants, yet, Satan’s war against the church does not come in the areas where the church is strong but in its weakest spots. These weakest spots includes putting in leadership positions small group leaders who are bent on teaching unbiblical theology, with no internal system in place to recognize or address that problem since they are the pastor’s favorites. Moreover, he devil will ensure that the Church has no education department that is led by a scripturally knowledgeable person who can check the curriculum and educational content of the church to see if its sound in its theology. This also touches the music of the church and the enemy will let the congregation sing music lyrics that promotes bad theology, sensualism and false worship. What’s much worse than this? It is the preacher who preaches a biblically inaccurate sermon with poor exegesis and in the power of the flesh!
To be continued…