Satan Goes to Church
An old legend relates that a pious man met Satan one day coming out of the church building. “What are you doing here?” asked the man. “I thought you never set foot inside the building.” “Oh yes,” answered Satan, “where there is praying and preaching against me I must see to it that I do not lose too many souls.” “How do you do that?” inquired the man. “Oh, I have my own methods which work very well. For instance I set the young ladies’ eyes wandering over their neighbor’s hats and dresses and soon the spirit of worship is gone. I persuade the young men to look at the cute babies so that they do not hear anything of the word that is proclaimed. I arrange for housewives to be more interested in thinking of food and household chores than what is said in the pulpit. I turn men’s thoughts to business and the latest political news. Most important of all, I interpret every word of the sermon so that it concerns only his neighbor. Then as soon as the worship is over, I change the conversation, and the preacher’s words are soon erased. Yes, I’m pretty good at my job.” (via THE GOSPEL TEACHER, 9/82). There are many ways in which Satan can hinder every aspect of our worship to God.
Satan Hinders Our Prayer
In reference to the temple Jesus said, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called the house of prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Mt. 21:13). Just as the Jews of Jesus’ day were tempted by Satan to pervert the place of prayer, so he tempts us to pray our public prayer to God. Prayer is no minor item of our worship. As the closet is for private prayer, so worship is for public prayer. Without prayer, a church is like a body without the spirit; it is dead being alone. To neglect prayer in worship would be turning our worship from God and not inviting Him to worship with us ( Mt. 18:20).
Prayer is expressing one’s desires to God. However, many pray a memorized form of prayer in worship to God which doesn’t even come close to expressing their true inner desires to God.
This not only can represent the attitude of the one leading the prayer but those in the congregation which hear this prayer. Paul taught that prayer must be uttered with thoughtfulness as to the meaning of what is being said, “I will pray with the spirit and with the understanding also” (I Cor. 14:15). In Matthew 6:7, Jesus condemned vain repetitions in prayer. “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” We may pray most when we say the least, and we may pray least when we say the most. If you don’t mean what you pray, then you might as well not pray.
Satan Hinders Our Singing
As in all ages, singing is important today as it has been in the past. Singing has been used for centuries as a source of entertainment, education, and praise. In Ephesians 5:19 God commands man to sing as an act of worship to Him. “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.” This act of worship must be spiritual, not secular. It should be scriptural and not false. Paul said he would “sing with the understanding” in I Cor. 14:15. Do we really sing with the understanding or does Satan tempt us into singing like this?
If we don’t mean what we sing we are guilty of mere lip service to God or if we utter words that don’t express the true sense of our heart, then our worship is vain or empty. In Matthew 15:7-9, Jesus condemned the heartless worship of the people. “You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as their doctrines the precepts of men.” By hindering our singing, Satan can effectively rob God of the praise He deserves and our fellow Christians of the encouragement and admonition they need.
Satan Hinders Our Partaking of the Lord’s Supper
Satan wants to hinder this part of our worship because by doing so he can rob us of the many benefits derived from this act of worship. First, he hinders our memorial of Christ. Jesus has left no statues or personal relics of Himself behind for us to use as a memorial. He even left us an empty tomb. However, He did institute a memorial feast for us to observe each Lord’s Day. He commanded his disciples saying, “This do in remembrance of me” (Lk. 22:19). Henry Ward Beecher explained its importance very well when he wrote: “I cannot bring back my little child, but I can take a locket and look at his face, and he springs to life in my inward thought. There are scenes of my childhood that I cannot tread again, but a very simple memorial, a little dried flower, or some little yellow faded note brings back again the sweet sense of an early experience. And so, by some very simple symbol, we can bring back again before us the Savior broken for us, His blood shed for us, His love so great, dying to give us life.” If Satan can get us to forget Jesus’ sacrificial death for us, we will forget our past condition without Him, and enter sin again.
Secondly, Satan robs us of communion with Christ when he hinders our partaking. The Lord’s Supper is a foretaste of heavenly communion with Christ. Here, we commune with Christ’s feast once a week. In eternity we will commune with Him without the physical supper. Into this heavenly communion, none will be received except those who have communed with the risen Savior upon the first day of every week in a proper manner.
Finally, Satan keeps us from making a proclamation of the gospel when he hinders our partaking of the Lord’s Supper. When the Lord’s Supper is taken “ye proclaim the Lord’s death till he come” (I Cor. 11:26). Thus, everyone who is partaking of the Lord’s Supper is preaching a sermon of Christ’s death, second coming, unity, salvation, the New covenant, and the Kingdom which has come. No sermon on these subjects could be more convincing than the whole congregation partaking of the Lord’s supper in joint participation.
Remember, the man who tramples on the flag of his country, insults his country; and he who treats with indignity the representative of a sovereign, thereby offends the sovereign himself. In like manner, he who treats the symbols of Christ’s body and blood irreverently is guilty of irreverence toward Christ.
Satan Hinders Our Giving
Malachi asked, “Will a man rob God”? (3:8). Yes. This is the answer for today as well as in Malachi’s day. If Satan has his way, man will rob God by not giving on the first day of the week in an appropriate manner. God has outlined the kind of giver he wants His worshipers to be. 1) Sacrificially (2 Cor. 8:5) – A man must first give himself to the Lord. Then giving of his money comes naturally. 2) Regularly – “Upon the first day of every week…” (I Cor. 16:2). 3) Personally – “let each one of you”. 4) Proportionately – “as God has prospered him”. 5) Preventively – “that there be no gatherings when I come.” 6) Equality – 2 Cor. 8:13,14. 7) Purposefully – “as he purposes in his heart” (2 Cor. 9:7). 8) Bountifully (2 Cor. 9:6.9). Confidently (2 Cor. 9:8. 10). Cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:7). It should be hard not to be cheerful when we give considering the great gifts from God. 11) Liberally (2 Cor. 9:13). 12) Willingly (2 Cor. 8:13). Someone has said givers are like wells. There is the well from which; you have to draw water. Some wells have to be pumped. Some wells are overflowing with water.
Satan Hinders Our Preaching
Since preaching is designed to convict men of sin, tell of Christ and His kingdom, and point the way to salvation, then Satan wants to stop it any way he can. There are several ways he can accomplish this. First, there is the preaching of false doctrine. Next, he can weaken the preaching by making it ear scratching, “positive”, entertaining, or smooth preaching. Third, he can have one of his preachers call sin something other than “sin”. For example, “homosexuality” is called “an alternate life style” and “prostitution” a “respectable manner of wage earning”. Finally, if he fails to hinder the true message from God’s Word, he can hinder the hearers. He can tempt the audience to stop their ears, fall asleep, or simply fail to apply the message to their lives.
Jesus strongly desired to worship God while upon the earth. Satan was unable to interfere with his worshiping. In the book of Revelation is depicted scenes of worship around the throne of God. This too was uninterrupted worship. Jesus can show us the way to have unhindered worship to God. He said, “But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is a spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (Jn. 4:23,24).
– Daniel R. Vess