A recent newspaper investigation found that more than 200 Southern Baptist ministers, deacons, and others have been found guilty of sex abuse. Almost 380 church leaders and volunteers have been accused, including pastors, youth ministers, and Sunday School teachers. I have seen many comment things such as “at least it’s not the Catholic Church” or “and you said it was just priests and the Catholics.” Let’s be clear. This is not a Catholic problem, a Baptist problem, or any specific denomination. This is a sin problem. It’s a Satan problem. We should respond to this news with heartbreak and nothing else.
“A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they may have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10 NAB)
The Bible teaches that Satan is out for three things: steal, slaughter, and destroy. He wants to steal what God gives us – eternal life. He wants to slaughter anything that glorifies God and brings honor to the Lord and Savior, and he wants to destroy the Church. There is his mission. It’s the same mission he has had since the beginning of time. If you do not think that the devil has infiltrated the churches, dressed as priests and pastors, with the ultimate intention to destroy Christianity then you have been deceived. It is not just Catholics that Satan wants to destroy. It’s Christianity and the Catechism is very clear on who is a Christian.
“However, one cannot charge with the sin of the separation those who at present are born into these communities (that resulted from such separation) and in them are brought up in the faith of Christ, and the Catholic Church accepts them with respect and affection as brothers…All who have been justified by faith in Baptism are incorporated into Christ; they therefore have a right to be called Christians, and with good reason are accepted as brothers in the Lord by the children of the Catholic Church.” (CCC 818) The Catholic Church acknowledges those who are Protestants (including those within the Southern Baptist Church) are Christians because they are taught and brought up in the baptism and faith of the Lord Jesus. Satan wants to destroy anyone who is a Christian because he wants to remove that glory from God. He wants to smash the relationship Jesus has with those who have received him and accepted him as Lord.
We must first begin with acknowledging sin. We must call sin what it is….sin. We need to stop calling it a psychological problem, a personal problem, a ‘disorder’, a disease, or anything else. It is sin. Period. When we properly acknowledge the problem then and only then can we use the proper cure – Jesus.
Secondly, we must teach our children at home why we believe what we believe. Stop believing your children will remain Christians simply because you force them to go to Mass every Sunday. Stop thinking that they will eventually just go through the routine that you do because you make them or you tell them that’s what they should do. If you do not know why you believe what you believe, other than the fact that’s what your parents told you to believe, etc, then get into some studies and learn why the Church teaches what it does and why you actually believe what it teaches. Our children need to begin being evangelized in addition to sacramentalized.
“The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” (I John 3:8)
Third, we must be very clear that the devil is real. He is not some made up character that opposes a real God. If God is real, then Satan must be real. Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said about the devil, “the Prince of this world whose business it is to tell us that there is no other world. His logic is simple; if there is no heaven there is no hell; if there is no hell, then there is no sin; if there is no sin, then there is no judge; and if there is no judgment then evil is good and good is evil."
The Bible says those who sin belong to the devil. He even rebuked Saint Peter when Peter said Jesus could not possibly be crucified and die. He rebuked him by calling him Satan. Jesus did not mean that Peter was actually Satan, but that his actions and statements at the time were from Satan.
“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16:23)
Lastly, we must resist the devil. We must learn truth so we can teach truth. We must submit to God so we can teach others to submit to God. We must pray when we want to sleep. We must live our faith rather than making it another item on our weekly to-do list. We must be the hands and feet of Jesus so that others can walk with Him as well.
Let’s devote time this month, and for the rest of our lives, to pray for each other – Catholics and Protestants alike – so that we may stand in the face of evil and we may be vigilant. Pray that we may be bold to resist the devil and do what God asks us to do.