Ephesians 6:11: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes, tricks] of the devil.”
In a couple of weeks, children across North America, and other places in the world, will go “trick or treating” as a part of Halloween. The original idea of this custom (which is largely forgotten) is that a person would perform some type of mischief (trick) upon a homeowner’s person or property unless a treat (food, money, candy) is given in return.
This practice led me to think about the “tricks”, or “mischievous schemes” that the devil performs in order to keep people out of church. Here are three that I thought of.
TRICK #1: “It is better to think about God while sitting in a fishing boat, than to think about fishing while sitting in a church.”
You can substitute hundreds of activities in place of fishing here. Going to the lake, the mountains, the beach, Grandma’s house, sleeping in (after all, Sunday is a day of rest), sports….the list is almost endless.
TRICK #2: “I would go to church if it were not for all the hypocrites in the church.”
God is good but people mostly are not. Even church people behave badly. All churches have hypocrites and phonies. People in church hurt other people’s feelings. They say and do things to offend others. And guess what? The same happens in every part of life. Hypocrites are everywhere. Strangely, I have never heard anyone say, “I would go to work if it were not for all the hypocrites at my job.”
TRICK #3: “I don’t need church in order to worship God.”
Many of us have “God moments” outside of church. Creation itself cause us to reflect upon the goodness of God (Romans 1:20). I have personally stood before the ocean, or upon a mountain, and marveled at His handiwork. To this point, I have never broken out into a worship service, nor have I seen anyone else do it. Individual praise is one thing; public, congregational worship is another.
The question is, Why does the devil “trick us” into not going to church? Three reasons:
1. The devil does not want us to worship with other believers, because God will be glorified and Satan will be reminded of his forthcoming destruction. The devil hates it when we sing praise songs to God at church. He hates it when the offering plate is passed and people give their money to God and not him. He hates it when people are praying to the Almighty. And, oh how he hates the Word of God. He hates it when a man of God opens the Word of God and feeds the people of God. Therefore, the devil will do everything in his power to trick folks from going to the house of God.
2. The devil does not want us to fellowship with other believers, because there is strength and security in numbers. When a soldier wanders off from the platoon, he is a wide open target to get killed by the enemy. “Fellowship” is not about pot-luck suppers, dinner on the grounds or ice-cream socials. Fellowship is about praying together, encouraging each other in the faith, bearing each others’ burdens. Fellowship makes us stronger and the devil knows that.
3. The devil does not want us to serve with other believers. When church members do ministry projects in their community, give time, money and efforts to reach lost souls, support preachers and missionaries, the devil is infuriated. His kingdom is threatened by the onslaught of God’s people doing God’s work, especially when they are unified in their mission. When a lost soul is rescued form the devil’s hell, there will be one less person occupying the eternal flames of damnation. Misery loves company and Satan does not want to be alone in his suffering.
Church is a good thing, Church is God’s place. Church is God’s people. Church is God’s way of being with His people in the here and now. One day, the saved on earth will gather to their home beyond the shore and we will understand it better. For now, however, we meet Him at His house, in order to receive the treats which await us from a loving Father. Don’t let the devil trick you out of God’s treats.