I recently re-watched the movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. I found in this viewing some uneasy parallels with today’s church. In this episode, the Ministry of Magic took over the running of the Hogwarts school, denying the return of the enemy, He-who-shall-not-be-named (Voldemort), which occurred in the previous movie. The ministry made many efforts to squash any affirmation of his existence.
The Defense of Magic teacher was replaced by a Ministry official, Dolores Umbridge, who taught that the mere theory of defense was good enough to learn, as there was no enemy to defend against anyway. This was disturbing on several levels because it mirrors the affair of the church at present. Seminary-trained teachers have entered our pulpits and insist that there is no spiritual enemy. He-who-shall-not-be-named (Satan) does not exist as a literal person, and he and hell are only metaphors of evil or error.
As a result, we are not taught how to put on our spiritual armor. Since there is no enemy of Christianity bent on destroying it with lies left and right, as many teachers seem to assume, our weapons of warfare have been replaced by useless psychology, feel-good platitudes, and misguided self-effort. We are taught that God wants us wealthy, that the caring for the poor will solve our problems, and that personal faith is a power that will net us whatever we can sincerely imagine.
The Bible tells us to be the light of the world, to show by our lives the life of God. But we have given in to the pressures to be politically correct in all things. We dare not say that Jesus is the only way to God lest we offend somebody. We don’t address sin in the pulpit because we don’t want to scare away the congregation who pays our salary.
We are strangers to the idea that faith is the victory. We don’t know the power of the cross. Far from spending time with God to learn of Him, we are insatiably consuming content on the Internet and mobile phones. The pursuit of God has been replaced with the pursuit of the elusive American Dream.
The enemy has scrambled our knowledge of the holy so we no longer recognize the things of God when we read or hear of them in the Word. God is to be obeyed, but authority is challenged at every rung of the ladder. Marriage between a man and woman offers wonderful insights to the intimate union of Christ and His church, but it has been distorted by gender confusion. The old New Age doctrine of having faith in yourself to get what you want has distorted the biblical message of faith in God. God is to loved and understood as a Father, but few understand what that means anymore, with so many fathers absent either in body or mind. In the end, our enemy has been undermining every value that helps us identify as God’s people.
For many, hell does not exist. Satan is an abstraction. The coming judgment is a vague concept that does not prepare earnest hearts to serve the Lord in fear and faithfulness. A leisure mindset rules, not a work ethic. Or a consumerist mentality dominates; not knowing how to discipline our desire for perishable things, we don’t save for retirement and are heavily in debt. If we cannot prepare for a life after working because we have been conditioned to spend, spend, spend — because retirement seems too far off — then why do we think we’ll be prepared to hear the Lord’s “Well done,” which is even further off?
As did Umbridge in the movie, we have replaced real learning with rules and regulations, exactly as the Bible predicted will happen in the last days in the church.
Paul discipined his body’s cravings lest he be disqualified from a prize, lest he be rejected for holy anointing on his ministry. He gave the sorry example of Israel’s fall into idolatry, who gave in to their sexual desires and pursued idolatry — loving something else more than God. Since hell is not real and heaven seems far off, who disciplines their body to restrain their appetites that the Spirit may truly rule?
Ask your ministers if they believe that Satan is real; ask if hell is a real place. Chances are, they believe that heaven is something you make on earth by your right living.
In the movie, a secret Order of the Phoenix was organized to do battle against the enemy. These young men and women saw the real danger and stood together to fight it. It’s time for the Order of the Overcomers to face the reality of the foe and be trained to stand their ground. Harry Potter and other students began meeting secretly to learn warfare. We too must learn from the wise to battle for the right. We need to recognize the evil of the day, to recognize the signs of the times, to recognize that sin in us is an on-going issue — and the power of the cross is sufficient to save us.
Have we learned of the power of denying ourselves and picking up our cross daily? Or have we instead comforted ourselves by indulging in every whim?
Have we seen the value of our trials to teach us faith and endurance, or do we expend money and effort to extricate ourselves as soon as possible from uncomfortable situations, saying that God would never bring difficulties into our lives to test us and perfect us?
“When new gods were chosen, then war was in the gates. Was shield or spear to be seen among 40,000 in Israel?” (Judges 5:8). When the church started incorporating anti-god rhetoric, only a few stood against the tide. Will you? It’s time for awakened brothers and sisters to form Orders of the Cross and learn to fight. Let’s submit ourselves to the Holy Spirit for individual training. We need to learn again the calculating nature of our enemy who would deviously use our culture to mold our values in opposition to the Word of God. His campaign is long and his results will be sure: alienating the church from the love and holiness of God through our education, scientific, and political arms, entertainment and news media, and especially in our seminaries, Bible colleges, church pulpits, and television preachers.
His results will be sure because he knows our personal weaknesses, the ones we don’t acknowledge and therefore cannot post a watch against.
Here is an account of the church in the last days before Christ comes, based on 2 Peter and 1 Timothy. Can you see the truth of why this will occur? He-who-must-not-be-named has been working hard. His strategies, unquestioned, continues to be successful:
Departing from the faith
Heeding deceiving spiritus and doctrines of demons
Having a damaged conscience
Forbidding to marry
Commanding to abstain from foods
Denying the Lord
Exploiting the flock with covetousness
Walking after the flesh, not the Spirit
Slaves of corruption, yet promising liberty
Do you want to be in this number when Christ comes for the faithful ones? It’s time to wake out of sleep, for our salvation is nearer than when we first believed. The prophets lamented that the end was near, and we are not saved. The people perish for lack of knowledge. The nation was in collapse because the people lost their vision of who they were.
Are you a consumer, or a child of God? Are you captive of the glowing screen, or set free to serve the Lord Jesus Christ? Do you perform your works because it’s what everybody else is doing, or because you have sought the personal will of God for your life?
Do you exhibit the values of the community, or are you as salt and light, your behavior in opposition to the unholy in your midst? Do you compare the changing values against the Word to see if they measure up, or do you automatically follow the herd mentality? Are you the reason atheists say that faith means to believe without proof, or do you have real spiritual understanding of why you make your choices?
In the end, the children in the movie did not have enough power to overcome the enemy. There was a greater power that came to their rescue, however. It’s not our ability or training that will be the enemy’s downfall. The Lord will assuredly capture him and toss him and his ilk into the Lake of Fire.
But with training in righteousness we can be those who develop the mind and self-discipline of the Lord with wisdom and experience to rule with Him in His kingdom. Honor and reward are not a sure end for every believer. The greatest promises will be given to those who end their lives still clinging to faith in God. He who endures to the end shall be saved.
Steve Husting, author, Ready for a Reward