16. Perils of the Preacher (Part 3)

The “Church” Paradigm (a la Tozer)

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Mk. 3:11 π Lk. 4:41; 2nd π Lk. 22:3 π Jn. 13:27 π Jn. 17:12 π Acts 16:17 π 1 Cor. 2:8 π 1 Cor. 6:19 π 2 Cor. 6:16 π Eph. 4:12 π Eph. 6:12; 2nd π Col. 2:15 π 2 Ths. 2:3 π 2 Ths. 2:4 π 1 Pet. 5:8; 2nd π Rev. 12:9 π Rev. 12:12; 2nd π Rev. 13:7

All quotes from A.W. Tozer are from his book, God Tells the Man Who Cares unless otherwise specified.

Tozer wrote:

Satan knows that the downfall of a prophet of God is a strategic victory for him, so he rests not day or night devising hidden snares and deadfalls for the ministry. Perhaps a better figure would be the poison dart that only paralyzes its victim, for I think that Satan has little interest in killing the preacher outright. An ineffective, half-alive minister is a better advertisement for hell than a good man dead. So the preacher’s dangers are likely to be spiritual rather than physical…” (“Perils of the Preacher,” p. 91)

Tozer says that Satan doesn’t rest in devising pitfalls for “the ministry.” Even in saying this Tozer betrays a separation in his mind between “the ministry” (which is supposed to be done by all the saints – Eph. 4:12; top ) and the rest of the people. Also, buried beneath this recognition of Satan’s activity likes the hidden presumption that Satan could not possibly conceive of and enact anything that could actually do any real harm. Oh, Satan might be able to divert a handful of preachers into error and heresy, but divert a great mass of “Bible-believing” peoples and assemblies into the great falling away, the apostasy, prophesied by the New Testament? Never! Tozer’s idea of Satan would seem to be that of a harmless, toothless, aged old lion content to spend his last few remaining days eating scraps from the Lord’s table. (see 1 Pet. 5:8 , Rev. 12:12 for the true picture.; top)

Most people do not recognize the scale of the warfare the devil is conducting against the people of Christ. They do not even recognize that the devil has a vast army of accomplices in his war against the saints. He has both fallen angels ( Rev. 12:9 ) and the realms of the demonic unclean spirits. ( Lk. 4:41 , etc.; top) Most people do not recognize that there are four types of spiritual entities against which we should be wrestling – they do not know how they differ from one another nor do they know how to overcome them and many do not seem to think they are supposed to even try!

Paul wrote, “[We wrestle] against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” ( Eph. 6:12; top ) The principalities are the evil spirits influencing governments, the powers are the evil spirits influencing the world’s systems (medical, political, legal, educational, financial, etc.) and the spiritual hosts of wickedness inflict their torments on individuals. The rulers of the darkness of this age are those spiritual beings whose work is to influence people away from the one true God and His Son the Christ. There are at least five of these rulers depicted in the New Testament. The ruler of false religion (seen particularly well in Bethel and Babylon) works to get us to do anything other than abide in Christ and is the primary author and crafter of the “church” system. The ruler of displacing Christ (anti-Christ) works to get us to receive any man or any thing in any rightful place of Christ or His Spirit and is the main author and implementer of Nicolaitan clergyism The ruler of misusing wealth (mammon) works to get us to use any of our resources (time, energy, money, etc.) on anything other than the true kingdom of God as He would have us invest in it and is the key manipulator behind the “tithe.” The ruler of fearing man works to get us to be afraid of offending men instead of fearing to offend holy God and renders close support to the Nicolaitan clergy. (“Touch not God’s anointed!”) The ruler of error works to get us to listen to any inner voice other than the Spirit of truth and is the perpetrator of many deceptions which, small at first, lead to the takedown of men who set out to do God’s work.

While Tozer (and most of Christendom right beside him) envisions the downfall of a single prophet of God, the devil envisions the downfall of whole assemblies and denominations and generations and cultures. One of the greatest downfalls of the modern “gospel” is how small and therefore irrelevant it has become in its ideas. This too is the work of the demonic to cause us to fail to see how grand the scale of conflict between God and Satan really is.

“Perhaps a better figure would be the poison dart that only paralyzes its victim,” wrote Tozer, “for I think that Satan has little interest in killing the preacher outright.” The lethal persecution of Christians has always produced (and always will produce) more genuine unshakeable converts than any amount of evangelistic preaching. When Christians die, almost all die so well that the souls of the onlookers are stirred to a godly desire for the eternal life the Christian is now enjoying. Satan learned quickly that compromise and comfort are much more effective against true Christians than is outright persecution and straightforward resistance. The crucifixion of Christ was an unexpected devastating blow to the realms of darkness ( 1 Cor. 2:8 , Col. 2:15 ) but the devil is not yet ready to concede defeat. ( Rev. 12:12 ) In fact, for a period of time, we are told that the last-days saints (us who are alive at the time) will be given into the hands of Satan’s end-time rule. ( Rev. 13:7; top ) Make no mistake here: Satan is still at war against God and His people. He may be entirely outclassed by God but he is not the inept imbecile many people believe him to be – this deception also being the work of the demonic.

Paul wrote, “[The man of lawlessness] opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.” ( 2 Ths. 2:4 ) This man, whom many call “the antichrist” (whether that proves to be a correct interpretation of this verse is yet to be seen), being filled with the devil (as was Judas Iscariot ( Jn. 13:27 , Lk. 22:3 , compare Jn. 17:12 , 2 Ths. 2:3 ), wants to sit in the temple of God and be seen and worshiped as God. If this is his end-time strategy, what do you suppose is his strategy now to ensnare the people who claim to follow Christ to receive him as God? The same! He wants to somehow spiritually insert himself or some evil spirit into us (the temple of God – 1 Cor. 6:19 , 2 Cor. 6:16; top ) and lure us into such a state of deception and confusion that we will come to follow that evil spirit as if it were God Himself.

One of the most diabolical teachings of the demonic which the “church” puts forth regularly and vehemently is that “No Christian can be demon-possessed. Period.” The fact that there is no Scriptural basis for this statement (not even a “proof text” jerked out of context!) does not deter anyone from teaching this distortion. The demonic is given place in our lives wherever we believe a lie. The more important the lie, the greater the demonic influence will be in our lives.

It is thus that Tozer’s “better figure” of a paralyzing poison dart still comes up short of the real situation. Wherever the whisperings of the spirit of error have gained acceptance in a “pastor’s” soul – and many of those whisperings are routinely lectured in seminaries – there is a ready place for the demonic to enter in and what better place to exert influence upon hundreds, even thousands, of other people than from within a “pastor” already standing over people preconditioned to receive every word that comes from his mouth! Those who think that the demonic won’t preach the gospel or speak any truth whatsoever are totally ignorant of the demonic’s tactics as revealed in the New Testament. ( Mk. 3:11 , Lk. 4:41 , Acts 16:17; top )

“An ineffective, half-alive minister is a better advertisement for hell,” wrote Tozer, “than a good man dead.” As far as this goes, it is an accurate statement. But a demonically controlled puppet in a pulpit, who preaches a demonically-tainted “gospel” (with only as much taint as can remain undetected by the majority of the spiritually anesthetized listeners) is an even better recruitment tool for hell.

“So the preacher’s dangers,” Tozer wrote, “are likely to be spiritual rather than physical.” Peter wrote, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” ( 1 Pet. 5:8 ) In nature, the male lion, as head of the pride, does not hunt and he does not do the killing – though they do the first of the feeding. It is not the roaring male lion who will kill you. He’s only the distraction. It is the pride (and that can be taken spiritually in either of two ways!) that will kill you and deliver you on a platter to the devil. That pride is the four types of spiritual enemies against whom we are to wrestle. ( Eph. 6:12; top ) It is not just the preacher – again see Tozer’s subtle bondage to the “church” paradigm that exalts “the minister” above the people – it is all of the saints doing the work of the ministry whose dangers are likely to be spiritual rather than physical. Those who don’t know to or how to wrestle and overcome the pride of the devil are already his victims. But even there our Shepherd knows how take a lamb from the very mouths of the lions if we will but call out to Him in true repentance for having partaken of the table of the demonic, the “church” that is the apostasy, the great falling away from the true faith.

15. The Responsibility of Leadership (Part 2)
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