Satan Attacks Leaders
Satan also aims at those in office in the church. What better way to infect the whole town than to poison the cistern where they draw their water?
Satan singles out persons of prominence and power. They may be either in the state or in the church. If he can, he will secure both the throne and the pulpit, as the two generals that command the whole army. A head of state may influence thousands; therefore, Paul said to Elymas, when he tried to dissuade the deputy from the faith, "O full of all subtlety and mischief, thou child of the devil" (Acts 13:10). As if he had said, "You have learned this from your father the devil--to haunt the courts of princes and wield your influence over rulers."
Satan doubles his leverage in gaining such leaders to his side. First of all, they have the power to draw others to their way. Corrupt the captain, and he will bring his troops with him. Let Jeroboam set up idolatry, and all Israel is soon in a snare. Second, should the sin stay at court and the infection go no further, yet a whole kingdom may pay dearly for the sin of its leader. David succumbed to Satan's temptation to number the people, but the entire nation suffered the plague of punishment with him (1 Chronicles 21).
Besides trying to infiltrate the ranks of government, Satan also aims at those in office in the church. What better way to infect the whole town than to poison the cistern where they draw their water? He takes special delight in corrupting the heart of a minister. If he can wiggle into a pastor's heart, then he is free to roam among God's flock undetected--a devil in shepherd's clothing. Who will persuade Ahab to go to Ramoth-Gilead and fall? Satan can tell: "I will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all [God's] prophets" (1 Kings 22:22). How shall sinners be hardened in their sins? Let the preacher place cushions under their consciences and sing a lullaby of "Peace, peace," and it is done. How may the worship of God be discredited? Let the world observe the scandalous conduct of a minister, and many, both good and bad, will reject the truth of the Gospel on the strength of the lie his life tells.
RJ, your post brought to mind something written by John Angell James about the responsibility we, as the laity have to pray for pastors, elders, and all in church leadership.
How often and how earnestly did the great apostle of the Gentiles repeat that sentence, which contained at once the authority of a command and the tenderness of a petition--"Brethren, pray for us." In another place, he ascribes his deliverance and preservation to the prayers of the churches--"You also helping together by prayer for us" (2 Corinthians 1:11). Surely, then, if this illustrious man was dependent upon, and indebted to the prayers of Christians, how much more so the ordinary ministers of Christ! Pray, then, for your ministers; for the increase of their intellectual attainments, spiritual qualifications, and ministerial success. Pray for them in your private approaches to the throne of grace; pray for them at the family altar; and thus teach your guests and children to respect and love them. Reasons both numerous and cogent enforce this duty. It is enjoined by divine authority. It is due to the arduous nature of their employment. Little do our churches know the number and magnitude of our temptations, discouragements, difficulties, and trials.
'Tis not a cause of small import
The pastor's care demands,
But what might fill an angel's heart,
And filled a Savior's hands.
Our office is no bed of down or of roses, on which the indolent may repose with careless indifference, or uninterrupted slumbers. Far, very far from it. Cares of oppressive weight; anxieties which can be known only by experience; labors of a mental kind almost too strong and incessant for the powers of mind to sustain, fall to our lot, and demand the prayerful sympathy of our flocks. And then, as another claim for our people's prayers, we might urge the consideration of their own interest, which is identified with all our efforts. We are to our people just what God makes us, and no more; and he is willing to make us almost what they ask. A Regard to their own spiritual profit, if nothing else, should induce them to bear us much on their hearts before the throne of divine grace.
Prayer is a means of assisting a minister within the reach of all. They who can do nothing more, can pray. The sick, who cannot encourage their minister by their hearts in their lonely chamber: the poor, who cannot add to his temporal comfort by pecuniary donations, can supplicate their God "to supply all his needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19): the timid, who cannot approach to offer him the tribute of their gratitude, can pour their praises into the ear of Jehovah, and entreat him still to encourage the soul of his servant: the ignorant, who cannot hope to add one idea to the stock of his knowledge, can place him by prayer before the fountain of celestial radiance: even the dying, who can no longer busy themselves as aforetime for his interests, can gather up their remaining strength, and employ it in the way of prayer for their pastor.
Prayer, if it be sincere, always increase our affection for its object. We never feel even our dearest friends to be so dear, as when we have commended them to the goodness of God. It is the best extinguisher of enmity, and the best fuel for the flame of love. If some professing Christians were to take from the time they spend in praising their ministers, and others from that which they employ in blaming them, the former would find still more cause for admiration, and the latter far less reason for censure. Therefore, "brethren, pray for us."
The Duties of Church Members to their Pastors by John Angell James
It is obvious that such words are timeless in their application. What better sums up the current situation on our government officials, across all party lines... And, the current and lamentable condition of the visible church which is teaching false doctrines, sinful practices and which has corrupted the holy worship of God, gladly received and acted out among those who profess to belong to Christ?!!
Isaiah 30:8-11 (ASV) "Now go, write it before them on a tablet, and inscribe it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever. For it is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of Jehovah; that say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits, get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us."
Jeremiah 6:13-17 (ASV) "For from the least of them even unto the greatest of them every one is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even unto the priest every one dealeth falsely. They have healed also the hurt of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush: therefore they shall fall among them that fall; at the time that I visit them they shall be cast down, saith Jehovah. Thus saith Jehovah, Stand ye in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way; and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls: but they said, We will not walk [therein]. And I set watchmen over you, [saying], Hearken to the sound of the trumpet; but they said, We will not hearken."