Disguise of evil. And Deliverance

Job 1:6.---' Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.'

What lessons has a text such as this for us?

We fight not against flesh and blood, but principalities in spiritual places. Apostasy is not a question for us, as far as rejecting it altogether. What we are {I think} concerned with is the problem of heresy teaching in the Church of God. Heresy is teaching error, but not on purpose; apostasy is teaching error on purpose. There is a Satan lying in wait to taint with evil the holy exercises of our religion in contemplation and devotion. In the atmosphere of worldly temptation we take heed to ourselves, for we know that the enemy is near. There are Satanic areas where we know Satan has laid his snares, and we look well to our going. In the crude throng and in the fevered worship of Mammon we recognize the presence of the dark god of this world, and we do battle against the noxious atmosphere, and slack not our fight against the visible Satan that threatens us. But we do not expect Satan to appear among the angels and in our holy places, and so we are off guard.

Martin Luther tried to be perfect. But the devil said to him, "Martin, you'll be a sinner as long as you live." That led him to the necessity of going away somewhere where he would find it easier to keep out of sin's way. But even the monastic life can be the devil's roosting-place. Martin found there was no refuge but Christ.

There is a Satan ever ready to simulate the holiest forms. Satan came among the sons of God. He was detected and separated from them only by the eye of the all-discerning God. It is by such disguise, by this process of Satanic simulation, that the Christian religion has been from time to time mingled and corrupted with pernicious error. Untruth has changed itself into the form of truth. Satan has put on the likeness of the angels. The devotion of the soul has been corrupted into the attitudinal reverence of aesthetic forms. Repentance has been degraded into imitative penance. The sovereignty of Christ is mimicked in the sovereignty of an ecclesiastic. The keys of the Kingdom of Heaven have been recast to fit the ambitions of secular and political dominion. The grace of God has had its superficial likeness inscribed on the tablets of priestly ordinances and government. Such errors have simulated the sacred image of truth, and have masqueraded as things of light.

One illustration of the same insidious disguise of error is found in the wide-spread descent of the Christian pulpit of today from the spiritual standard of the gospel. The Church is asked to concern itself fundamentally with the material concerns of men, to help to make this earth a material paradise. We are confidently told that this is a larger and truer gospel. But when we find that the ideals of human life are being lowered---that the pulpit is descending from the splendor of its message of spiritual salvation, that the multitude are being taught to strive for the things of the present world rather than for the kingdom of the spirit---we have good cause to fear that the subtlety of the satanic presence has insinuated itself among the sons of God.

This skillfully disguised Satan not only deadens or paralyses the spiritual energy of the Church, but actually makes the Church the instrument of its deception of the world. However men may rail at the Church of Christ and at Christian ministers, the world recognizes at heart the unique position and power of the Church of Christ. They may be loath to rise to its great spiritual demands, but they are swift to respond to its unspiritual concessions. The course of untruth becomes swift when the Church is the leader of it. The world will run riot into worldliness and materialism and unbelieving rationalism if the Church gives the slightest sanction to it. The subtlest Satan is that which corrupts the temple of God, for from that demoralized center it is easy to corrupt all the rest of the city of humanity.

Surely it is clear that against such a danger as this the Church of Christ should be constantly on its guard. Its purity and truth are a matter of life and death for the world. We must prove all things, and not hastily run in the way of human wisdom or of human impatience. The one of these would corrupt the single gospel of redeeming love, and annihilate the God of miracles. The other would lower the standard of our spiritual ideals, and seek to win the multitude through the wide gate and the broad way of material satisfaction. Judgment in time and eternity begins at the house of God.

A religion that cannot be trusted to direct men aright in civic, national and international affairs is not fitted to be a principle law of action in any relation of life.

"Brethren we must pray for the Church!"