Concepts of corporate freedom
Once you've understood and experienced the Biblical principles of personal freedom, it becomes natural to apply them to the corporate body of the Church. The concept of giving a "foothold" or "place" to the devil through sin is well understood in our personal lives but take note of the corporate context of Paul's teaching on this:
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbour, for we are all members of one body. "In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:25-27 (NIV)
This concept of "corporate personality", how God sees us as a body rather than as individuals, is even clearer in the Old Testament. Achan - one person - stole some of the 'devoted things' and as a consequence many other people died in a battle that they should easily have won. Take note of how God saw the situation, not just as the actions of one man (which they were) but as the responsibility of the whole corporate body:
But the Israelites acted unfaithfully in regard to the devoted things; Achan... took some of them. So the LORD'S anger burned against Israel. Joshua 7:1 (NIV)
"Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied... That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies." Joshua 7:11-12 (NIV)
How does this matter to me?
Even though we acknowledge intellectually and theologically the existence of a real devil, those of us brought up with the Western world view are predisposed to overlook the reality of the spiritual world. So, when it comes to running our churches and ministries, it's all too easy to assume that the problems that arise are all down to people.
Now, we don't in any way want to slip into a "devil made me do it" mentality - anyone who holds wrong attitudes or commits wrong actions must bear responsibility for those - but, according to the way the Bible says the world is, there is something more going on. We really are "not fighting flesh and blood".
If Satan has been given a "foothold" in a church through sin in the past that has not been dealt with, then he will continue to use it.
When a church - a corporate body - sees recurring negative patterns of sin, conflict or attack or just does not seem to be making the progress it should, rather than simply blaming other people, we should perhaps be making sure than any influence given to the enemy in the past has been taken away. It's straightforward to do - in Christ we are the ones with the power and the authority - but if we don't do it, we risk going round in circles of frustration.
Setting Your Church Free is a straightforward process for church leadership teams that addresses these issues.
We are currently working with groups of leaders in a whole community to take the same concepts up to the level of the One Church in an area. The combination of unity and corporate repentance is a powerful one.