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Chapter 11 - The
early Christian Era - Persecution
Satan has never been shy about using brute force such as his attempts to kill baby Moses and Jesus. The persecutions of Christians in the early years may have had the hope that they could be exterminated. However, Satan is skillful and incorporated in his stirring up persecution was a plan to guide the beleaguered Christians into actions that would grow to become hindrances and then stumbling blocks.
One of the first acts Satan took was to infiltrate Christianity with false teachers.
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. - 2 Peter 2:1
The book of Galatians is pretty much entirely devoted to the problem of false teaching. What is described is not so much a failure of leadership, but the failure of individual Christians to walk by the Spirit instead of the flesh. This can be instructive as it illustrates that the Christian does not have to be smart, learned, or defensive to withstand false teaching, just walking depending on God (faith) by the power of his Spirit (the Spirit of truth).
In addition to periodic persecution from Roman rulers, false teachers including Gnostics infiltrated the church. People often responded to threats from within as well as external defensively (in the flesh rather than by the Spirit) and as a result turned to creeds, bishops, and rules to protect them. Satan was able to get Christians constructing the foundation of the organizational systems he would require to enslave the world.
As people became Christian, they presented Satan with a new opportunity. To understand this, it is important to consider what makes a Christian different from other humans. From the point of view of the Christian, he has new and eternal life and his sins are forgiven. From the point of view of Satan, there are people who now have their selfishness limited because of the indwelling Spirit of God. This makes them more useful in building a collective that can grow large enough and still retain more stability than other collectives he has attempted.
The problem Satan faced was that Christians who grow closer to Jesus and are more led by the indwelling Spirit of truth are less useful for his purposes. Satan had to make sure that Christians could be kept in a state of retarded spiritual development. Initial persecution was useful for Satan to drive Christians to accept and even seek traditions and practices that would hobble them and their children.
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