The local church is described as a body, both in its life and its function
The body also has enemies that can damage or even kill it!
Likewise, the local church has enemies that can keep it from moving into the future.
Today I want us to look at four such enemies so that we can avoid being a target
I. THE ENEMY OF IGNORANCE
A. Ignorance comes in many forms.
1. Note: "Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save." (Isa 45:20)
a. religious ignorance of the pagan who makes his god from a tree
b. today -- same: worship nature, crystals, idols, ancestors, etc
c. there is also the gods of self, ambition, pleasure, fame, etc.
2. "Hear now this, O foolish people, and without understanding; which have eyes, and see not; which have ears, and hear not:" (Jer 5:21)
a. stubborn ignorance -- refuse to listen to God and His Word
b. won't see, hear -- think?
c. spiritual ignorance abounds today
d. people tend to believe a lie rather than the truth
3. "Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land." cf Hos. 4:1
4. "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children." (Hosea 4:6)
a. specifically, ignorance of God's Word
b. it is possible to be destroyed by our own lack of knowledge
B. What ignorance can do
1. Cause us to miss salvation (expand)
2. Cause us to miss obeying God's will
3. Cause us to practice religion instead of biblical faith
4. Cause us to build monuments to ourselves instead of God
5. Cause us to miss God's purpose for us in the world
II. THE ENEMY OF UNBELIEF
A. Unbelief is a problem for both the saved and the unsaved.
1. "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." (John 8:24)
a. this is the simple fact -- people will die in their sins unless they believe in Jesus Christ
b. it is a matter of life and death
2. "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (2 Cor 4:3-4)
a. It is a terrible thing to be blind -- more terrible to be spiritually blind
b. Satan can blind people to the glory of the gospel
3. "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." (Heb 3:12)
a. Normally we only think of the unsaved as being unbelievers.
b. The Hebrew writer addressed himself to his brethren.
B. Unbelief can keep the local church from moving forward.
1. What we believe will determine what we do!
2. How might unbelief affect us?
a. we might know, but not believe, God's Word
b. we might not believe that God cares how we live
c. we might not believe that God has a plan to save the world
d. we might not believe it matters how we worship
e. we might not believe it matters how committed we are
3. We should be like the man who cried out to Jesus "...Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." (Mark 9:24b) "Be great believers. Little faith will bring your souls to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your souls." -- Spurgeon
III. THE ENEMY OF APATHY
A. The question, "Do you think the world's problems are caused by ignorance or apathy?"
B. The reply, "I don't know and I don't care."
C. Apathy is very similar to the attitude expressed by the church in Laodicea, for which Jesus soundly condemned them
1. Note: Rev. 3:15-16
2. That is what apathy really is: lackng passion; in a word -- lukewarm
D. How apathy can destroy us.
1. Causes us to be lukewarm about the local church
2. Causes us to be lukewarm about reaching the lost
3. Causes us to be lukewarm about liviing righteous lives
4. Causes us to be lukewarm about walking in the Spirit
IV. THE ENEMY OF SIN
A. This may be the most obvious enemy, but sin happens to people who don't know, don't believe and/or don't care.
1. Ignorance, Unbelief, Apathy -- all lead to sin.
2. If we practice sin, how can we not hinder the growth of this church?
B. Consider just a few verses
1. Heb 12:1.
a. a runner does not run a race hampered by weights
b. neither can we run the race of life hampered and weighted down by sin
2. Heb 3:12-13.
a. one of the reasons we need each other is that we can help help each other avoid having our hearts hardened by sin
b. if that happens, sin can cause us to leave God
c. we need each other to help stay on the right track
Growth necessitates life. This morning, I ask you this question: Are you born again? Do you know the life that only comes from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ? Have you placed your faith in His finished work on Calvary? Why not come this morning and accept Him as Savior and begin the new year with Christ?
Christians, for us to move forward, we must recognize and defeat our enemies. Other people, the government, economics, religious prejudice, and a host of others may work against the us, but the most dangerous enemy of all lies within ourselves. Ignorance, Unbelief, Apathy, and Sin. All of these are enemies that we can do something about. Are you under attack today? Fight! Do not give up! Enlist help. Why not come this morning renewing your commitment to Christ and the work of this local church?