10 Ways the Enemy Infiltrates the Church

In some ways, this post is just a Bible review. As I think about ways the enemy seeks to infiltrate a church, I find many of those ways in Paul’s correspondence to the Corinthians. While this list isn’t exhaustive, here are some ways we should recognize:

  1. Rivalry in the church (1 Cor 1:10-17). When groups compete against each other, and ministries fight for their turf, the enemy is winning.
  2. Immaturity among believers (1 Cor 3:1-4). When leaders are still essentially baby believers, the door is open for Satan’s forces.
  3. Tolerating sin in the congregation (1 Cor 5:1-13). The Corinthians not only knew about open sin in the church, but they also boasted about it. Even if we don’t go that far, ignoring sin is evidence of Satan’s influence.
  4. Believers turning on believers (1 Cor 6:1-8). The Corinthians apparently regularly filed grievances against one another rather than try to work them out in Christian love. Internal strife marked their congregation.
  5. Sexual immorality in the church (1 Cor 5:1-13). There’s a reason Paul so often spoke against sexual sin (e.g., 1 Cor 6:12-20, 1 Cor 10:8) and called believing couples to give themselves to each other physically lest Satan tempt them (1 Cor 7:5). This temptation is real and powerful.
  6. Misuse of Christian liberty (1 Cor 8:1-13, 10:23-30). This issue is often the result of our living in our freedom without regard for others—and the enemy finds working room when we’re self-centered.
  7. Idolatry in the church (1 Cor 10:7, 14). The demons delight when we elevate someone, something, or some action above the true God. Sometimes, our idols aren’t figurines on a shelf, but gods in our heart.
  8. Competition over spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12-14). When we think we’re more gifted than others, or that our gifts are more significant than others, we’re playing into the devil’s hand.
  9. Unwillingness to forgive a repentant believer (2 Cor 2:5-11). When we don’t forgive a returning brother or sister in Christ, we open the door to the enemy’s influence.
  10. False teaching in the church (2 Cor 11:1-15). From debates about the Lord’s Supper to questions of the resurrection to preaching about “another Jesus” (2 Cor 11:4), the enemy seeks to sow falsehood in the church—often through teachers who seem to be angels of light.

Which of these strategies is most evident in your church? What steps are you taking to counter the enemy’s work? What steps are you taking to prepare for his attack?


  • Robin G Jordan says:

    I didn’t read your article until late this evening. You are describing the state of many evangelical churches today. What went on in the church at Corinth in Paul’s day is going on in evangelical churches in our day. Evangelical Christianity is in a very poor state in the twenty-first century. I am not suggesting that non-evangelical churches are any better off. They aren’t. We have clearly reached one of those times in church history when Christians need to rediscover (or discover for the first time) the teaching of our Lord and his apostles. I can think of at least one pastor who is more influenced by political ideology than he is the teaching of our Lord and his apostles. I do not believe that he is an isolated case. Instead of urging people to love those with whom they may disagree, he is demonizing on his Facebook page those who have different political opinions from his own. Many pastors and their congregations have become like ships that have come loose from their moorings during the night and are drifting in dangerous waters. They are about to be shipwrecked. It may not win us any popularity contests but we need to be teaching what our Lord and his apostles taught. Otherwise the derision with which some non-Christians view Christians will be deserved.

  • Chuck, your article hit on things I have seen in different churches I have visited. Perhaps church has become a gathering place for socializing (unfortunately, not since Covid) and the sermon is just a Bible reading where it is forgotten as soon as it is finished.
    Robin I think your comment is absolutely correct. When will Christians and non-Christians learn? It seems that evil has a very simple and easy method of attack. Turn everyone against each other and politics and the news does that seamlessly.
    I feel the church sermons are not really addressing the issues of today but are just reading scripture. Which leads to the rivalry point above for the clergy of having to deal with competing ideas of what should or should not be read during services from the congregation. Wow, I could go on-and-on but will leave it here.

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