CONFRONTING THE ENEMY WITHIN
PART 1 of 7
An excerpt from Chapter 5 in David Orton's book,
"Snakes in the Temple: Unmasking Idolatry in Today's Church"
“But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may
somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ”
2 Cor 11:2-3 NIV
As a teenage ‘hippie’ I experienced a powerful conversion and received a clear call to preach. I
went into ministry training, got married, and at the age of twenty found myself serving the Lord
full-time in one of the fastest growing churches in our city and one of the leading catalysts for
renewal. I was passionately in love with Jesus and the world lay at my feet. God was moving –
and so was I!
But, little did I know what was around the corner. I was not only riding the wave of a move of
God in my own life and in the renewal, but I was filled with all kinds of stuff that he saw and
was committed to changing. He saw my deep feelings of inferiority, and insecurity, which I was
too ashamed to own. He saw mixed with my hunger for God my impatience and determination
to fulfil the call of God in my own strength. He saw through my ‘image-building’ right into my
need for identity. He knew who I really was and was committed to a process that would set me
free to be true to his design.
So, two things happened - I heard from God, and I found myself out of ministry.
I heard from God
First, the Lord spoke to me, and said, “David, I’m wanting to draw you aside and satisfy you in
deeper realms...I’m wanting to have a union with you and a fellowship. Don’t try and be like
others that you might see going here and there and doing this or that… don’t try and force an
image on yourself. What I want is your fellowship - it will take many, many hours just soaking
in my presence....”
With shame, I recall my reaction to this word from God. I effectively said, “Send it back –
don’t like it – another one thanks!” I groaned within myself, and complained not only to my
pastors, but also to God. What I wanted was something fitting for the nation-shaking ministry I
was destined to be! I wanted the earth to move! I wanted the works - trumpet blast, thunder,
lightening, the heavens opening - God saying, “Hey, this is my servant, my anointed –– apostle
to the nations extraordinaire – watch out!” Come on! What did I want with a word like the one
I got - hour upon of hour of just soaking in his presence? Sure, I had a passion for the presence
of God and had already committed myself to a lifestyle of prayer. But I was a young man of
twenty filled with spiritual testosterone. I had been captured by a vision of God impacting the
nations and we were on track to do it. Our church was breaking new ground in worship and
intercession. It was engaged successfully in publishing, renewal conferences, ministry training,
and strategic church planting in major centres of South East Asia. Why would I want anything
to do with a word suggesting I wasn’t going that track? Soaking in his presence just sounded all
a bit effeminate – I wanted the lightning and thunder – I wanted action. But, God had other
Out of ministry - “God blew on our church like a pack of cards”
The second thing that happened was that God blew on our church like a pack of cards. Whatever
else may be said about bad choices or enemy activity, the fact is, God is still in control and uses
all things for our good.77 We had purchased an office building to facilitate all the things that
were happening. It proved to be a flawed decision and the church hit the rocks financially. The
enemy had a ‘field day’. He had infiltrated our team with what can only be described as “falsebrothers”
who rose up against the founder with false accusations. He was wrongfully accused of
fraud, of being a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, and forced, not only out of the church, but also out
of the country. The church survived, but being a junior team member, I found myself without a
job and without a ministry.
Talk about being unplugged. All my youthful dreams lay in the smouldering wreck of a church
crash and I found myself selling life insurance to survive. Dazed and wondering, “What was
that all about?” I tried to make sense of it. Fortunately, God had already spoken, showing me
that what he wanted to do in my life was not like others. That I was not to look at those who
were “going here and there and doing this and that”, and seemingly achieving things in
ministry. He had also shown me that I was going to be hidden in the “cleft of the rock” even as
I watched my peers progressing and gaining visibility in the work of God.
“False images” or “Christ’s image”
But, what was the purpose of these dealings of God? Put very simply – to expose “false
images” and conform me further to “the image of Christ”:
“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love
God, to those who are called according to His purpose… to become conformed to the
image of His Son…” (Rom 8:28, 29 NASB, emphasis mine).
God’s design through life’s circumstances, including ministry deprivation, is to conform us to
the image of his Son. He is infinitely more committed to our character than our career! The
Lord had warned me not to force an “image” on myself. Looking at men of God in ministry I
admired, I wanted to be like them - to be doing the sorts of things they did. I found myself
unconsciously imitating them.
Emulating maturity or imitating ministry
But, I was to discover, there is a difference between emulating maturity, and imitating ministry.
To be inspired to live closer to Jesus through the example of another is one thing. But to imitate
someone else’s anointing, style, or personality is another. With the outbreak of the current
renewal it has been interesting to observe ministries imitate the style and anointing of some of
the high-profile leaders. All of a sudden, we had Rodney Howard-Browne look-alikes running
around the countryside doing their thing. Or alternatively, we have had pastors imitating the
church growth gurus producing ‘cookie-cutter’ churches. Emulating maturity develops within
us Christ’s image – imitating ministry only fabricates false images. One simulates renewal and
the other stimulates revival.
77 Rom 8:28
REPRINT AGREEMENT: Duplication and re-transmission of this writing is permitted
provided that complete source and website information for Lifemessenger is included.
Copyright © David Orton 2008
PO Box 777
Mount Eliza VIC 3930