It goes without saying, this current COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a decisive moment for nations all around the world. We are currently experiencing a season of global divine trial. When it comes to churches and denominations that claim the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, it has been no different. It is fair to say that the coronavirus has caused much division, disagreement and contention amongst the people of God.
Despite all the many things Christians may not agree on, there is this one thing that, virtually, all Christians are unanimous about: the Devil is busy at work at the moment. Perhaps even in a more intense way than he has been in the last little while.
Going back to the disagreements, even though Christians agree that Devil is up to something, they disagree enormously on what that something is. For example, whilst one may suggest the Devil is busy promoting one thing, another will argue that the Devil is not promoting that one thing but, rather, he is behind the one who is denouncing that one thing and causing disunity amongst believers.
I know what you are thinking right now: our current day and time is not a sea in which inexperienced sailors should venture themselves, but the truth is rather crude, sail through this rough waters we must; regardless. So, in order to abide by the exhortation coming from 2 Corinthians 2:11, which stems out of the knowledge that Satan is constantly trying to outsmart us based on our ignorance of his multiple schemes, the questions we should be trying to answer are: what is Satan busy trying to accomplish in our midst during this pandemic? How do I spot the main work of the Devil in order to not be deceived by the Father of Lies?
Let me suggest a couple of things from the Scriptures that might help you answer those questions above.
Is there a snake under every rock?
One of the things I noticed in many discussions taking place now is that some people can readily see the work of the Devil in some aspects of the pandemic but not in other aspects of the same. Some, for example, have refused to believe that the Government has been used by Satan for his purposes but can quickly see the Devil using pastors who are speaking against the Government. That goes both ways. Crazy, right? Which then gives origin to the question: where is the Devil acting now? Is there a snake behind every rock or just behind some specific types of rock?
In order to answer that question well, we first need to understand the nature of the work of Satan in the world. Whilst we know Satan doesn’t share in the divine attribute of omnipresence, what we do know is that he, somehow, has managed to exercise over the whole world his power to blind people to the truth, resulting in him being at work on the lives of all who do not yet know Jesus (2 Cor 4:4; Eph 2:1-3). That’s not to say that the whole unbelieving world is demonized like we see in some horror movies but to just point to the reality that everyone who is not under the lordship of Christ is, by default, under the power of Satan. In this spiritual battle, there is no middle ground.
Another reality that is important for us to acknowledge is that even though Satan has lost the battle for control over the lives of true Christians, he hasn’t given up on bringing havoc and destruction amongst the people of God yet. Again and again, in the New Testament we see the evil one making war against the saints, trying to undo the work of the Gospel and even trying to infiltrate the communities of the faithful in order to kill, steal, and destroy (Rev 12:17; Acts 5:1-11; 2; Cor 11:13-15).
In other words, theoretically, Satan could be behind any and every rock. Satan could be behind politicians as well as people in churches. Satan could use the lips of people in positions of authority as well as Christian blogs.
In this case, where are the satanic voices coming from? How do we discern truth from error?
The doorway to Satanic activity
In the New Testament, we are confronted a couple of times with the truth that, in varying degrees of influence and, most of the time, even unintentionally, people open spaces in their lives for the Devil to work through them against the plans of God. Out of the many stories we could cite, most notably, we see that reality taking place in the lives of two of the twelve apostles chosen by Christ himself: Peter and Judas (Matt 16:21-23; Luke 22:3-6).
Whilst the aftermath of their sin led both these men to a different outcome in their walk with Jesus, there is one common ground between them: both, at some stage, started to be influenced by Satan rather than Jesus and tried to oppose what God was going to accomplish. In the case of Judas, the impression we have is that his downfall was his greedy heart, since the Scriptures tell us he was a thief, and he also received some money in return for betraying Jesus (John 12:6).
When it comes to Peter, things are not as clear, but we do know at least one thing: Peter’s diabolic inspired words were uttered straight after Jesus started to proclaim he needed to die and be raised from the dead. On top of that, we also know that Jesus rebuked Peter on the account of him “not setting [his] your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” and from then onward, Jesus started to teach that the life of the Christian is a life of sacrifice for the purposes of God instead of selfish ambition. (Matt 16:21-28).
Do you notice anything in common between the greedy heart of Judas and the selfish ambition of the corrupt mind of Peter? They are both actions of embracing a pattern of thought and/or behavior that goes against the word of God. Ultimately, both men didn’t start the day wanting to go against what God was doing. They had no intention of becoming a partner with Satan for attempting to destroy the works of God, nevertheless, that’s precisely what they did. Their appetite for sin was the very door Satan used to manipulate at least two of the apostles to do his will. Indeed, friendship with the world is enmity against God (Jas 4:4).
Satan will try to use whoever is available and those who are available are the ones holding on to carnal thought patterns and fleshly deeds whilst ignoring the spiritual realities described in the Word of God. Those are the ones who have in one or in multiple areas of their lives, even perhaps unintentionally, decided to not engage with what God has to say but put their undivided trust in the words coming from a type of wisdom that ignores or even despises Biblical spiritual realities.
Not being ignorant of the schemes of the Devil by being aware of the primary things in the word of God
Since there are many currently claiming to speak the truth and to speak for Jesus, where is the voice of Christ in this pandemic, then? Who should you trust? Should you listen to the one quoting Romans 13 saying you should be submitting to every government directive, no questions asked, or to the one quoting Acts 5:29 saying there are limits for the church’s obedience to external voices coming from places of authority?
Although those are legitimate and important questions to ask, I believe the Satanic work of deception runs much deeper than that. Astonishingly, somehow, the church seems to have decided to abandon the unique contribution she could have to this discussion by not fulfilling her God-given prophetic role designed to bring spiritual matters such as sin, judgement, and salvation to the attention of all. What we see, instead, is a church discussing policies, procedures and compliances as she puts her trust almost exclusively on that type of wisdom mentioned above, which ignores and even denies the role of God in our present circumstances. A church that looks as stuck as the rest of the people, lingering in a place where fear, confusion, and apathy reign, while she awaits for the salvation that comes from her appointed idols.
This is indeed a sad situation. A church whose primary word of advice is to go and get vaccinated, wash your hands, and make sure you practice social distancing, should be ashamed of herself. I am not being for or against sanitary and hygiene measures here, but I am being completely for the primary word from the people of the Lord being and timely word from God coming straight from his word to all people.
I am for a church who speaks like her Master in Luke 13:2-5 when he said “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish”.
I am for a church that speaks like Amos when he said “Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the Lord has done it?” (Amos 3:6) or like Hosea when he said “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.” (Hos 6:1)”
Let us not forget, Peter became a mouthpiece for the Devil when he openly decided to ignore the word of God being spoken by Christ himself and decided his plans, ideas, and strategies were better than his. Peter’s mistake was to trust in the ways of mortal men in order to avoid temporary death instead of trusting in the ways of God which lead to eternal life.
Do you want to know who is speaking for God and who is speaking for the Devil the next time you hear a politician, a preacher, a Youtuber speaking about the Pandemic? Just ask this question: in what direction is this person pointing when it comes to the source of ultimate hope in this pandemic? The answer will either be the God who revealed himself in Christ Jesus or something or someone else. There you will have your answer. Satan will happily throw you a bone if he can keep you out of the banquet.
Make no mistake, the Devil is very busy indeed. In a time of turmoil and trial, he is busy pointing people in many directions, as long as they don’t go in the one direction that can provide true and lasting relief, namely, the direction of Jesus Christ.
“And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. Repent, therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus,” (Acts 3:17-20)