Letters to the Family of God

by Joe Franzone | February 16, 2023 | Pastor's Blog

Family of God - Website (600 × 282 px)

February 16, 2023


What would things look like if Satan really took control of a city? Over a half-century, ago, Presbyterian ministry Donald Grey Barnhouse [of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, PA] offered his own scenario in his weekly sermon that was also broadcast nationwide on CBS radio. Barnhouse speculated that if Satan took over Philadelphia all of the bars would be closed, pornography banished, and pristine streets would be filled with tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The children would say, “Yes, sir” and “No, ma’am,” and the churches would be full every Sunday…where Christ is not preached.


From Christless Christianity - Michael Horton



For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.


2 Corinthians 11:13-14

Dear friends.


For someone to be exceptionally good at impersonating someone else, they would look almost exactly like them. On the social media platform Instagram, there is a gentleman with a near-perfect impersonation of the actor Tom Cruise. It always takes me a moment to remind myself- that's not Tom!


God is light. Satan masquerades as “a messenger” of light. Many years ago, in a sermon I attended, Sinclair Ferguson said Satan might tempt us with 99 good things to have us fall into the one wrong thing. Judas and Peter were his examples. Both had moments of profound pride. The former trusted his personal judgment on Jesus, the latter his personal judgment on himself. Both, like Satan, in his pride, trusted their own words and not the words of Christ.




CS Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity, said,

Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If someone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone…that raises a terrible question. How is it that people who are quite obviously eaten up with Pride can say they believe in God and appear to themselves as very religious? I am afraid it means they are worshiping an imaginary God.

You will be like God (Genesis 3:5) is probably the baseline of Satan’s temptations, be they small or great, dark or imitation light. Think of it like this. No one is greater than God. To be like Him is to have no competition from others hence nothing to compare yourself to, which is much of the deception of the journey. On the way up, a person’s comparisons feed their pride. Having reached the top, they will quickly find out I can’t hold here. It happened to King Solomon. He reached the earthly equivalent of the top and was overwhelmed with a profound sense of emptiness that made him write:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”

says the Teacher.

“Utterly meaningless!

Everything is meaningless.”

Ecclesiastes 1:2

Everything is not meaningless. But having reached the top, without God, he saw life as it is apart from God—meaningless. You see, in God, we are confronted with One who, in every respect, is incalculably greater than us. Unless God is known this way, and we know ourselves as completely dependent on Him, nothing without Him. We do not know God as He is, and therefore, we honestly do not know God at all.


Therefore, religion, spirituality, and moral zeal—what Paul referred to as the appearance of godliness but denying its power (2 Timothy 3:5) build its foundation on do’s and don’ts, feelings, and quests. All of which begin with the self. Of course, those can all do well for a long time. The powers and principalities will be glad to shine a false light on Jesus being useful for our well-being, moral fortitude, business, work, relationships, etc.—the one who can get you where you want to be—anything but the Gospel.


I wish I could speak more about this. But I have some growing to do. However, I know this from my own personal experience. Pride assumes that we are not helpless sinners who must be rescued but well-enough people who need better books, examples, exhortations, and instructions. Pride says to look for a solution from inside the self. The Gospel is different. It uncovers sin in the heart and says Jesus died for that—humble yourself, go to Him, and stay there.



God bless you, dear friends.


Pastor Joe