FIVE EXTERNAL TACTICS


STANDING STRONG THROUGH THE STORM

FIVE EXTERNAL TACTICS
=====================
Then the chief priests and the elders of the
people assembled in the palace of
the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas,
and they plotted to arrest Jesus in
some sly way and kill him. Matthew
26:3-4

In the New Testament we see Satan using five external tactics
against the
church: rulers, priests, merchants, mobs and families—and of
course, these
often occurred in combinations. The followers of Jesus tend to
unite the
enemies of Jesus, so that quite unlikely alliances can be created.
Jesus
himself saw this when the Pharisees and the Herodians—two groups that
never
spoke to each other—got together to plot his assassination after he
healed a
man with a withered hand on the Sabbath (Mark 3:6).

It is
surprising to some that the rulers are not the biggest persecutors
of
Christians in the New Testament. That dubious honor falls to the
Jewish
priestly caste. But there is no doubt that strong opposition came from
the
rulers. Pontius Pilate was complicit in the death of Jesus; Herod
Agrippa
killed the apostle James in Jerusalem (Acts 12:2); and of course
Nero
initiated a terrible persecution against the Christians of Rome in AD
64—the
community most think Mark’s gospel was written to
encourage.

Though it was Pilate’s order, it was really the Jewish high
priest who pushed
Pilate into giving the order for the crucifixion when he
was inclined to let
Jesus go (see John 18:31), and tried to accomplish this
by arranging a crowd
clemency scene. All throughout his ministry, Jesus’
bitterest enemies were the
priests. And so it proved for the early church.
The first flogging of
Christians was administered under the auspices of the
Sanhedrin (Acts 5:40),
and the first martyrdom of a Christian (Stephen) was
carried out by enraged
clerics (Acts 7:54-59). And so it continued also for
Paul, the main character
of the early church, ironically a former Pharisee
and a witness to the stoning
of Stephen.

But it is a sad fact that the
class threatened most by radical Christian faith
is the clerical class,
whether of one’s own religious persuasion or of a rival
one. This is not to
say all clerics are persecutors. Many Pharisees became
followers of Jesus,
and some, like Nicodemus and Simon, were the very model of
courtesy and
open-mindedness. Nevertheless, in the history of the church,
other
“believers” have perpetrated most violence on
Christians.

RESPONSE:

Satan uses external as well as internal
tactics to attack the advance of the
Kingdom of
God.

PRAYER:

Lord, help me show love to other “believers” who do
not hear Your voice but
are used as tools of the enemy.

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