Few Scriptures are quoted and written about in congregations more than Hebrews 10:24, 25: “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, NOT FORSAKING THE ASSEMBLING of ourselves together, as the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
These two verses, especially verse 25, are used to remind Christians that the assembly of the congregation is very important. You don’t want to miss it. In fact it has been used to shame, intimidate, encourage, and even dis-fellowship members who don’t regularly attend the assembly on Sunday morning. They are charged with abandoning the assembly.
Church attendance is one of the major concerns of most church leadership. The question is always being asked, “Why do certain members choose to miss church services? Next to the contribution the attendance number is a priority. The lingering question remains, “How can we encourage church members to attend the assemblies?”
Here’s a wake up truth you may not have thought about. The arch enemy of God and all people, Satan, never misses a church meeting. Actually it doesn’t matter when the meeting occurs: in a home, in a retreat, seminar, etc. Satan never misses a meeting where the Word of God is being considered, even in private places when a person is considering God’s word.
Several times in his Revelation letter to the Seven Churches of Asia, the apostle John called to their attention to the influence of Satan (cf. Revelation 2:9, 13, 24; 3:9; 12:9; 20:2, 7)
Satan (Devil) is Real
Sadly, Satan has been relegated to a creature in horror movies with red glowing eyes, horns and a long forked tail. He is a character who comes out on Halloween dressed in a red suit, with horns and his most potent weapon is a pitchfork, and he loves to scare children as the “Boogie Man.” Surveys reveals that numerous Christians don’t believe Satan is a real being; only a symbol. This places him in a position not to be taken serious, which is a major step in conquering believers (He already has nonbelievers, 1 John 5:19).
The apostle Peter writes a very graphic description of our enemy: “Be sober, be vigilant, because your ADVERSARY the devil walks about like a ROARING LION, seeking WHOM he may DEVOUR” (1 Peter 5:8). If you’ve ever had the occasion to visit a Zoo at feeding time and watched the hungry lions roaming in their cages, you’ve seen a picture of what Peter is writing about.
As we correlate the Scriptures relating to Satan’s activities, we see numerous examples of how he tries to deter, derail, discourage, and destroy people. It all started in the Garden of Eden with our greatest grandparents, Adam and Eve. He has not stopped—he is “roaring this very hour.” Here are some example of Satan’s attacks:
- After fasting for forty days and forty nights in the wilderness; at a time of physical weakness, Jesus is confronted several times by Satan. In His last response to Satan, Jesus said, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve’” (Matthew 4:1-11). If Satan was bold enough to challenge (tempt) Jesus, do you think he will bypass you and me? In the Book of Job we see his boldness as he challenges God (cf. Job 1 & 2).
- The apostle Paul didn’t underestimate the presence, power, and persistence of Satan. “Therefore we wanted to come to you—even I, Paul, time and time again—but Satan hindered us (1 Thessalonians 2:18). Satan instigated persecution, ridicule, jailing, and other “wilds” in trying to stop Paul. Paul affirms the power and pseudo signs Satan continually attacks: “The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders” (2 Thessalonians 2:9).
- Satan gets involved in the stewardship practices of Christians—the church. The first “church funeral” involved Satan. A husband and wife, Ananias and Sapphira, lied about the proceeds they received from the sale of property. Here is the apostle Peter’s remarks about the sin of the couple: “But Peter said, ‘Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of land for yourself? (cf. Acts 5:1-11).
- In his epistle to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul wrote about the influence of Satan in the universe: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principles, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:11, 12).
- The attacks by Satan were relentless on the apostle Paul. Here is what he wrote to the Corinthians: “And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure” (2 Corinthians 12:7). He made it clear that “Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Satan is real. God thinks so. Christ thinks so. Paul thought so. Peter thought so. The Bible presents the truth that he exists and is out to destroy.
Why Satan Never Misses a Church Meeting
Now to address our subject for this lesson: Why Satan Never Misses a Church Meeting. Before why look at why he never misses a church meeting, we needed to be reminded of one thing. Satan has “faith and believes God is real.” Here is how James wrote about Satan’s faith: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19). James’ point is that mental assent and verbal encouragement, no matter how politically correct it may be, is impotent. Satan has mental assent that there is a God. Contrary to the lack of spiritual behavior by Christians, Satan trembles.
Here is why Satan never misses a church meeting: “Those by the wayside are the ones who HEAR then the DEVIL comes and takes away the word out of their HEARTS, lest they should believe and be saved” (Luke 8:12). The Devil wants to steal the word out of hearts. And where is the word most frequently and persistently presented? In church meetings! In Bible classes, sermons, prayer services, group studies, seminars, workshops, etc.
The Parable of the Sower was taught by Jesus to reveal what happens when the “seed of the kingdom”—the word of God—is sown in human hearts (Luke 8:11). When the seed in sown the first response comes from the Devil as he attempts to “take away the word out of hearts.” The next two hearts reveal how even those who receive the word, in time fall away (Luke 11:13. 14). The one-out-of-four hearts that make it is described in verse 15: “But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who having heard the word with a noble and good heart, KEEP it and BEAR FRUIT with patience.” Satan loses one-out-of-four; wins 3 hearts.
Satan is not overly concerned or excited about a Christian attending a church meeting; certainly he had rather they not, but what really matters is not being affected by the word—not intentionally doing anything about or with what is heard. Attend every meeting, sing all the songs, concert in prayer, take the Lord’s Supper, give your money, which are great habits. But don’t be a “DOER” of the word (James 1:21-26).
How does Satan go about taking the word out of hearts? How about your heart? How about my heart? Here are some possible ways:
- By not thinking the Word applies to you (cf. psalm 119:11).
- By not being concerned about studying the Word (2 Timothy 2:15).
- By doubting what is heard. Skeptical or agnostic in thinking.
- By not understanding what is heard. Unanswered questions.
- By not willing to repent or change one’s life. Love a certain sin.
- By believing they can’t live the Word. “It’s too difficult”, “I’m not perfect.”
- By being sidetracked or distracted from what is being said. Daydreaming.
- By procrastinating—maybe tomorrow, or later; not now.
The next time you are in a church meeting, regardless of where it is, or in private alone with the Word of God, remember: SATAN IS THERE WITH THE GOAL OF STEALING THE WORD. What intentional plan do you have to keep Satan from stealing the word from your heart?