Posted on June 19, 2013
#7: When Satan Goes to Church
Hi! So glad you’ve joined us for Knowing Jesus, our study in Mark’s gospel. Last time, we looked at Jesus as a teacher. Today, we’ll see how He handled a demon in the synagogue. What happens when Satan goes to church—and finds Jesus there? Pick up your Bible and let’s see!
Read Mark 1:23-28.
Also read another view in Luke 4:33-37.
One Sabbath, Jesus was teaching in Capernaum’s synagogue (the Jewish version of a church building). The people were listening closely. Suddenly a loud, mocking voice rang out. “What is there between us and you, Jesus, Nazarene? Did you come to destroy us? I recognize you—Holy One of God!” There in their midst stood a man they knew, breathing heavily and sneering at Jesus, his eyes full of hatred—or was it fear?
Jesus zoned in on the owner of the voice, a demon living in the man. Never, on this occasion or any other, did Jesus welcome the testimony of Satan’s minions. (See Mk.1:34b and 3:11-12.) Jesus muzzled the demon with one word—”Phimotheti! Silence!”—and cast him out with another—”Exelthe! Out!” The demon shrieked, shook the man, threw him to the floor but did him no harm, and was gone.
What if such a thing took place during your church service? How would folks react? How would you react? Jesus’ audience sat silent, frozen in place, stunned at what they’d seen. How long had this man been among them? Had they known, had they ever suspected, he was demon-possessed? Were they shocked at Jesus’ words to him? We know they were amazed at Jesus’ power. On every mind was the question, Who is this Man, whom evil spirits obey?
Notice that, though there was apparently only one demon in the man, that one referred to himself in the plural—as “us.” Were there more demons present? How active were Satan’s forces in that assembly? How active are they in yours? On any given Sunday, what behavior goes on within the walls of your church building that is not of God? Has it ever occurred to you that Satan goes to church? Maybe he’s able to work so effectively in our churches because we drop our guard, not expecting to find him there.
In his book The Reality of Prayer, E.M. Bounds wrote, “Division and strife are the devil’s bequest to the church, a heritage of failure, weakness, shame, and woe. The oneness of God’s people was to be the one credential to the world of the divinity of Christ’s mission on earth. Let us ask in all candor, are we praying for this unity as Christ prayed for it?” Have we left our churches easy prey by failing to pray?
You serve your church when you ask God to defend it against Satan. Pray that God will ban Satan from your church, stopping his attempts to bring division, malicious talk, lies, jealousy, dissension, hateful actions, hypocrisy, gossip and the like. Ask God to open your eyes to Satan’s work wherever it’s happening—including the halls of your church. Invite God to permeate your church with His love and wisdom. The power that freed the Capernaum synagogue from Satan’s influence is unchanged; He can free your church too.
What do you think?
Have you seen evidence of Satan at work in your church? Imagine the impact if even a few people in your congregation prayed faithfully for it each week for one year. How might your church be purified, strengthened and built up?
Are you willing to commit to weekly prayer for your church?
© Diane McLoud 2013