There is animosity between Christ’s true church and the devil’s world. They cannot co-exist in harmony. Either the church will triumph and separate the saints of God from the world; or the world will win out and separate the saints of God from the church. The influence of the world separated Demas from the work of the Lord. See II Timothy 4:10.
Satan’s greatest tools are iniquity and idolatry. Iniquity is a direct attack on the church. It may be subtle, but it challenges the teachings of the ministry, the authority of the church, or the operation of the Spirit. God hates iniquity. Psalms 5:4-6. But sadly, most workers of iniquity do not know that they are working iniquity. See Ezekiel 33:30-33.
Its doubtful Hymenaeus and Philetus knew they were the workers of iniquity. See II Timothy 2:17-18. Diotrephes thought he was doing the right thing; but worked iniquity. See III John. They probably spoke dreams and words – but they were not of God. Jeremiah 23:25-28.
Idolatry is even more subtle than iniquity. It is an indirect attack. Idolatry, today, means far more than just worshipping an idol. Idols today are anything that lessens your love and committment to the Lord and His church. There is much idolatry in the 21st Century. It isn’t the mere bowing down to worship statues; rather, it is a frame of mind. Anything that diminishes your ability to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself, is idolatry. Matthew 22:37-39.
That can be a job, your family, your leisure activities, money, prestige, pride, or a multitude of other things. These are the things that choke the Word, and render you unfruitful in the things that really matter. See Luke 8:14; 21:34.
Satan’s greatest tools are iniquity and idolatry. Ezekiel 14:3 says that the people of Israel had set up idols in their hearts; not statues in their living rooms. Worldliness and materialism are idolatry. If the enticements of this world separate you from your first love, you have become an idolater.
If we align with the worldly order and system, we commit spiritual adultery. God’s people have a mission; to be a light to the world. Isaiah 49:6. To fulfill that mission, there must be a separation from the world. Ezra 9:1-2, 12-14.
Ministers are to feed God’s people with knowledge and understanding. Jeremiah 3:15. God sets watchmen to warn His saints. Ezekiel 3:17. Someone must warn them against iniquity and idolatry – lest they grow cold and draw back from the very thing that can prepare them to inherit eternal life.
Persecution will not destroy the church. Never has; never will. But iniquity and idolatry have destroyed many once-powerful churches and movements. “See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16.