SATAN LOVES GOOD INTENTIONS AND RELIGIOUS PEOPLE
by Rev. Ernest O'Neill
Satan loves religious people. Satan isn't shocked if you go to church services. He isn't upset if you go to prayer meetings and if you go to Bible studies and if you get involved in all kinds of religious activities and become part of the whole religious scene here in America. Satan isn't opposed to that because he actually can use that to confuse the whole issue of what is true and untrue and what is God and not God. Satan doesn't oppose religious practices. He doesn't oppose those of us who get involved in all kinds of religious activities and religious jargon and religious shibboleths. What he hates and what he is determined to destroy is the word becoming flesh.
So as long as you go to church, and as long as you act religious, and as long as you keep that to Sundays and don't let it get into your everyday life, you won't have any trouble from Satan. You won't have any opposition from him. And it's interesting that Satan actually doesn't oppose your good intentions. He won't try to destroy you if you keep your religion in the realm of thoughts and intentions and good plans. I'll show you an example of that in Mark 10:17.
Mark 10:17, "And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, 'Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' And Jesus said to him, 'Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: 'Do not kill, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and your mother.' And he said to him, 'Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.' And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said to him, 'You lack one thing; go, sell what you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.' At that saying his countenance fell, and he went away sorrowful; for he had great possessions."
So you can have good intentions and can actually do lots of things that are good, except for the one thing that means that the word would become flesh in your life. It’s the one place where God's will is not being done by you in your everyday life. And if you don't allow the word to become flesh there, Satan will give you no trouble with all kinds of other religious ideas and intentions.
It's very interesting but if you notice there wasn't tremendous opposition even to Isaiah's birth or Jeremiah's or Micah or Amos, as they all preach the forgiveness of sins. Satan isn't very opposed to the idea of forgiveness of sins. That's why Christendom in so many parts of our nation prospers because forgiveness of sins is very popular. It emphasizes only that "I am going to get to heaven, I am not going to hell, I am going to get to heaven." But it doesn't do much in regard to dislodging Satan's position of princedom in this present world and that's the only thing Satan is concerned about.
Satan is not concerned with Jesus saying, "I believe God could heal sickness", Satan isn't concerned with that. He doesn't care if we all believe God can heal sickness. But he is desperately opposed and vehemently hostile to a man like Jesus who comes to a paralytic and says, "Get up, take up your bed and walk." That is the word become flesh and Satan is opposed to that. Satan is not opposed to you thinking, "I should say something about the attitude in our office to language. The language is miserable. It is dirty and filthy. I should say something about it. I have been in this office for several years and I should speak out."
Satan isn't concerned about you. He won't oppose you at all. He'll let you carry on with those good intentions and those good desires and those good beliefs for years, as long as you never actually speak out. But the moment the word becomes flesh in your life, you will face the same things as the baby Jesus faced because the moment you do that, the baby Jesus is beginning to be born in your life.
Satan isn't concerned with Jesus saying, "I believe God could raise the dead", he isn't concerned with that. He isn't troubled if you say, "I believe Jesus could raise the dead". He isn't concerned with you saying, "Well, I believe God could heal Susan, I believe that." He isn't concerned with you saying, "Well, I believe if I did give my tithe to God, he probably would sort out my finances, I must do that sometime." God isn't in your life. He hasn’t become flesh in you as long as you say those things. What Satan is opposed to is when Jesus goes to the tomb of Lazarus and says, "Come forth, Lazarus!" He expresses in his words and with his actions what he believes God's will is for his life. That is the word become flesh and Satan opposes that.
Loved ones, in years to come maybe I'll be able to explain to you in greater detail why we've gone through some of the things that we've gone through, but some of it can be very plainly explained by this Christmas story. While you and I want to gather in this sanctuary and sing hymns and pray nice prayers and generally uplift each other and encourage each other, but do not practice victory over sin in our own lives Satan will not bother us at all. In other words, while we talk about the homosexuals and while we talk about the drunkenness and while we talk about the dishonesty and while we share with each other all our desires to be better and don't come into victory over sin in our own lives, Satan will not bother us at all. But once you begin to preach and share and live victory over sin, the powers of hell itself converge on such a little body of people.