Galatians 4:8 ESV Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.
The devil enslaves. Sin enslaves. To be in the kingdom of darkness is to be a slave to it. Owned by it. Possessed by it (I suppose in this sense every person outside of Christ is “possessed”). The devil considers his slaves to be his property, his servants. He owns them. And ownership is what I want to talk about in this article.
A characteristic of the devil and his servants is that they demand ownership. They consider people to be their property. If you have had experience with a domestic abuser, a sociopath, a narcissist, or other such wicked people (some of whom I will describe for you in a moment), then you know this to be true. YOU are the abuser’s property. He owns you. That is his wicked mindset. That is what he is all about in, for example, divorce proceedings. How dare his property try to be free from him! The wedding vows, to him, are a contract of possession. “I’ve got you now!” All of his promises to love and honor are wicked lies.
These 30 plus years of pastoral ministry have brought many such people across my path and numbers of them have targeted me in my role as pastor. They see the pastor as their property. They own him. He is their servant, their hired man. And as a result of course, they demand that he obey and do their bidding. When he doesn’t, literally all hell breaks loose.
Brady is regarded in his community as a model Christian. Self-employed, he devotes a huge amount of his time and resources to his “ministry” which he established. He is all about “winning souls” for Christ and he tirelessly organizes evangelistic events in the community, networking with churches and parachurch groups. In fact, he has been able to invite some pretty well-known guest speakers to come and be “keynote” figures at his crusades.
When a new pastor came to Brady’s church, it wasn’t long before Brady was flattering and recruiting him. Brady (who refused to be a church member because he had his own “ministry”) not only requested, he expected and demanded that the pastor participate in Brady’s own efforts to “lead people to Christ.”
For some months, Brady continued to be a fine “friend” to the pastor, asking to meet regularly with him for prayer for the community and to share ideas about how Brady’s organization could expand. But eventually, the pastor began to realize that Brady was expecting far too much, and in fact was not so subtlely implying that the pastor should devote even more time to Brady than to the ministry in the church. The pastor was also starting to realize that Brady’s goals seemed to center on….Brady, even though he claimed to be serving Christ.
The breaking point came when the pastor had a talk with Brady and informed him that he needed to devote his time primarily to the church ministry and that he would therefore not be able to accept Brady’s insistent and oft-repeated “invitation” to be a member of Brady’s leadership board.
The change was instantaneous.
Brady’s countenance turned dark. From that point on, Brady had a scowling attitude toward the pastor and eventually he quit attending the church entirely. Even to this day, over 25 years later, if the pastor encounters Brady in, for instance, a grocery store, that scowl is still there. Brady’s organization? Well over the years a few more of the board members saw Brady’s egoism and even saw concerning practices regarding the finances of the organization. They resigned. Brady did his part in overt and covert ways to damage the pastor’s ministry.
But you see the point. Brady, just like his real father, has entitlement to ownership. He sees people like the pastor as his servants that he owns, and he demands compliance. Brady is not born again. Brady does not know the Lord, in spite of the intricate disguise he wears.
And then there is Linda. Yes, the enemy has women servants as well as men. Linda was quick to greet the new pastor upon his arrival in the community. Linda introduced herself as “a member and pianist of your church.” She also announced that she held “her weekly women’s Bible study at her home with her ladies.” Emphasis upon “her.” Linda often boasted of her stubbornness – excusing it as something in her German genes, as she would say.
As time passed, it became evident to the pastor that while Linda was a member of the church, she refused any accountability in respect to “her” ministry. She refused to inform the pastor what study material she was using in the women’s study, and she even refused to provide any attendance statistics. Note: The church was being largely supported by an outside missions organization that paid 90% of the pastor’s salary. The pastor was required to file a monthly report with that organization, which included financial and attendance figures). But Linda’s response was “this is MY ministry. These are MY ladies. I don’t have to give any report to anyone.” She was in charge in her estimation, and the pastor was to be her servant.
All of this was troubling for a number of reasons. Linda was known to embrace some pretty dicy and off the wall theological doctrines. In addition, 2/3’s of the ladies in her group were also members of the church. Much of what they were being taught by Linda was unbiblical and worked to undermine the efforts of the church’s ministry.
Ultimately, the pastor spoke to Linda about the things she was teaching in her group. And predictably, Linda was anything but humble and teachable. She exploded in fact and at the next congregational meeting led several people in (intentionally making an “entrance”), seated them in one row with her, and at mid-meeting point stood and announced that she and her group could no longer attend the church. “You all will have to get along without me and find another pianist.” And then out she went with her little band.
Linda, much like Brady, saw the church and particularly the pastor as owned property existing for the sole purpose of serving them. Linda and her husband (an unsaved man) would eventually move to a new community. Years later, the pastor learned that, sure enough, Linda had joined a church and once again had “her” bible study in her home.
Linda is unsaved. Linda is not born again. Linda and Brady have an appearance of godliness, but deny its power.
Avoid such people.