BY: SOLOMON KIM
The enemy always has an identity. For Batman, it’s the Joker. Democrats, Republicans. Communists, Capitalists. Red Sox, Yankees. David, Goliath. The forces of good and evil, right and wrong, vicious and righteous clash in a never-ending conflict of titanic (or miniscule) proportions.
One thing that should be fairly clear-cut is the identity of the enemy of the American church. To be clear, the Church of Christ is universal, including disciples of all nations and tongues. The American church simply refers to the manifestation of Christ’s Church here in the United States. The enemy of the American church, therefore, refers to the existence or condition that keeps Christians in America from glorifying God and taking up the Great Commission which entails spreading the Word of God and the love of Christ to the world. So what is it?
Hypocrisy is the first thing that comes to my mind. Christians preaching one message and living out another, judging instead of forgiving, hating instead of loving. More than anything else, it seems to me that it is hypocrisy that stumbles the work of Christ here in the States. So are we done? Have we achieved what this article set out to achieve? No, we haven’t. We’ve only scratched the surface. Hypocrisy is a symptom, a consequence of a much deeper, much more sinister issue.
The reign of Satan. God’s enemy, Satan, is the force threatening the American church. It really is that simple. The enemy of God is the enemy of the greater Church of Christ and therefore the enemy of the American church. Why all this build-up when all we have to do is simply watch out for and fight against Satan? Consider that statement. Consider how helpful it is in the “war against the devil.” Not at all. Leaving it at that is putting Satan’s name on a wanted poster without any description of what he looks like or what he does.
So what does Satan look like? He is called the father of lies, the ancient serpent. In popular culture he looks like a satyr, a half goat, half man, with horns and a pitchfork. If you saw Satan walking, slithering, or clopping down the street, you’d be able to pick him out in an instant. There lies his first deception. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, an illusion of beauty. He is often called the Prince of the World and hides behind a shroud of false glory and majesty. He offers us bread when we are hungry, power when we are weakened, and dominion over the entire world if we would only worship him instead of God. It sounds like a good deal, but what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? What good is the entire world if we’ll die in eighty odd years and spend eternity in hell, separated from God? What do I see when I try to visualize Satan? I see the world’s greatest salesman with an attractive smile, trustworthy eyes, making empty promises.
Even in our modern times Satan prowls like a lion, seeking someone to devour. In the verse this statement is derived from, he is described as a roaring lion. Pretty conspicuous. However, we don’t typically see or hear Satan as easily as we would an angry, carnivorous beast. So is he just biding his time, or better yet, not active anymore? By no means! One of the most dangerous things we can do is believe that the threat is gone. C.S. Lewis wrote a chilling series of letters from the perspective of a senior demon to a lesser demon. “When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism, and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and skeptics.“ If we saw demons prancing through the streets, possessing our neighbors, and wreaking havoc in our modern society, it would be much easier to remain alert and cling to God. Against a generation trying to validate its faith with undeniable supernatural experiences, undeniable supernatural experiences would be the least effective weapon. Instead our enemy is much more sly, turning us into materialists and skeptics, disguising sin, and twisting otherwise good things.
The enemy is called the ruler of the world and in this age of modern spiritual warfare he uses the world, perverting God’s otherwise good creation to turn our sight away from heaven. Perversion itself is defined as an alteration of something from its original course to a distortion or corruption of what it was first intended. Now the world refers to the things of the earth, like objects, society, social status, customs, nature itself. Everything on this planet was designed and created by God, and everything that He made was inherently good. However, Satan takes that creation and perverts it, twisting it towards his purpose of turning us away from God.
Probably the most controversial of these distortions lies in sex. Sex was created by God and is good, beautiful, and powerful. It is how we reproduce, how we become fruitful and multiply. However it has become a shell of what it is in Scripture. It has become associated with dirtiness and filth, a taboo topic of respectable conversation. Despite this, it is on everyone’s television and computer screen. It is used to sell products and movie tickets. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the average American has his or her first sexual encounter at seventeen years old, making the nineteen year-old virgin feel embarrassed, or the sexually active fifteen year-old feel affirmed. Our society no longer sees marriage as a prerequisite to sex. The virgin groom and bride are outdated traditions clung on to by the uptight, conservative, and overly religious. The solemnly sworn oath of commitment to one’s spouse is no longer important. In fact, for many people it doesn’t matter who it is as long as they make them feel good.
Satan took the sacred gift and heavy responsibility of sex and turned it into a cheap commodity. On a mission trip in Cambodia this past summer I was offered prostitutes by a complete stranger as I walked through a well-populated tourist area. He offered me thirteen and fourteen year-old girls, with a smirk on his face. That look and the ease with which he approached me showed me very clearly how cheap sex had become. So cheap people can buy it any night on the streets even here in America, here in the Bay Area.
The enemy also succeeds in perverting good intentions most people (and Christians) don’t even think twice about. For those of us seeking to have families of our own someday, we want to be able to provide for them. This requires some degree of money, typically gained through a job or career, often making our studies our top priority. However, Satan convinces us that we need mountains of cash, that we need complete financial security. Many Christians even lie to ourselves, saying the more financially stable we are, the more we’ll be able to give to and serve the church. What usually ends up happening looks much like the story of the rich farmer who stored all of his grain in bigger and bigger barns, only to die and thus lose everything. We build up defenses and safeguards so that in the case of emergencies we will be able to get by. We forget that God promises that He will provide for our daily needs just as He did for the Israelites as they wandered the wilderness for forty years. Instead we look for instant gratification instead of taking comfort in the sure promise of God’s provision.
We are promised so much more than what the world can offer us, but Satan makes us doubt God’s words. The very first thing recorded from his mouth is, “Did God actually say…” From the very beginning he encourages doubt in the word and promises of God. He shrouds in darkness things that are supposed to be clear and of God, placing us in a grayish region of ambiguity our generation is so fond of. However, in these matters where the stakes are literally life and death, we cannot afford to be unsure.
 Matthew 28:19 ESV
 John 8:44 ESV
 Revelation 12:9 ESV
 2 Corinthians 11:14 ESV
 Matthew 4
 Mark 8:36 ESV
 1 Peter 5:8 ESV
 Lewis, C.S. The Screwtape Letters
 John 14:30 ESV
 Genesis 1:31, Timothy 4:4 ESV
 Genesis 1:28 ESV
 Luke 12:16-21 ESV
 Philippians 4:19 ESV
 Exodus 19 ESV
 Genesis 3:1 ESV