Our Enemy’s concern for His followers is not primarily one of outward appearances. His concern has, from the start, always been for their hearts. In many ways, this has made our job easier, for the human heart is marvelously sinful even without our help. This is no excuse, however, for you to rest easy, for it is amazing what our Enemy is capable of doing even through His redeemed—yet still sinful—followers. You must therefore do everything in your power to harden His followers’ hearts. Push against their personal piety.
Piety, of course, means humble reverence and devotion. It’s an old word that our Enemy’s followers adopted ages ago, but it has recently fallen out of use. Don’t be deceived, however—piety is still everywhere our Enemy’s Spirit dwells. It is your job to minimize piety, and, if possible, eradicate it.
Our Enemy’s concern for His followers is not primarily one of outward appearances. His concern has, from the start, always been for their hearts.
Several strategies will help you in this regard. First, primarily focus on eliminating repentance. Repentance is the very practice that makes piety possible. Ideally, your targets would adopt the practice of rarely—if ever—asking for forgiveness from our Enemy, much less from each other. Moreover, it is helpful if His followers never to see anyone else asking for forgiveness. An atmosphere lacking in repentance breeds moralism and hard-heartedness.
Second, emphasize outward appearances. Though this is a concern of our Enemy, it is not His primary concern. Ensure that you make keen use of your targets’ pride in executing this strategy. As you pique His followers’ pride, ensure they notice others. For example, prompt your targets to be casually covetous of one or two particular families every time they go to worship. Get them to notice new cars, beautiful spouses, or brilliant children. Social media is wonderfully helpful in this regard. Use Twitter to stoke anger and pride, Facebook to foment gossip and contentiousness, Instagram to promote envy and lust. These are just several examples; there are many more technologies at your disposal.
Third, ensure that your subjects never have time alone with our Enemy. Distract them at whatever cost from spending time reflecting on His Word; praying for their families, their churches, and their neighbors; and singing to our Enemy in their hearts. The best distractions are seemingly holy distractions. Get them to overcommit to ministry. Prompt them to attend so many church functions that they come to believe they have no need for personal reflection. When they do spend time in our Enemy’s Word, prompt them to give up almost immediately by distracting them with thoughts of the day, desires, and worries.
In short, make them distracted and prideful. Push against piety. It is important in these matters to be vigilant; our Enemy counters our strategies in ways we least expect.
Thomas Brewer is senior associate editor of Tabletalk magazine and a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.