November 20, 2017

A Respectable Sin?

By Randy Blackaby

There is a sin which has become respectable these days. That sin is forsaking the assembly or failing to worship the Lord on a regular basis.

There are brethren who seem to feel absolutely no guilt about going camping, fishing or visiting on the Lord's Day, so long as they "make their appearance" at the church building once or twice a month.

And, some of the "faithful" brethren take exception to any effort to discipline these forsaking brethren. Thus, the forsaking become forsaken.

Unlike the psalmist who wrote in Psalm 122:1: "I was glad when they said to me, Let us go into the house of the Lord," many Christians must force themselves to go to worship.

Consider what this attitude reveals about us:

1. It means I'm willing to ignore what the Lord has told me to do. When I purposely and without serious hindrance fail to worship on the Lord's Day, I violate brazenly the commandment of Hebrews 10:25.

Some will be quick to say, "Going to church is not everything." That's true, but when we don't start there it is unlikely that righteous behavior the rest of the week will follow.

2. It means I don't really care to be with the Lord or his people. During worship we "commune" with both God and his children. That is, we share several things in common. Such is not possible when we don't assemble together.

Jesus said, "For where two or three are gathered together in My name, t am there in the midst of them" (Matt. 18:20).

Jesus also said, in John 14:1-3, that he has gone to prepare a place for us. But, if we don't enjoy being with him here on earth, will we be able or even want to be with him throughout eternity?

3. Our failure to gather for worship suggests we don't want or appreciate the blessings that are derived from this gathering. It means we don't think we need to be encouraged, instructed or corrected.

4. It is indicative of the fact that you enjoy being with people of the world more than with God's people. The apostle Paul, writing to the Romans in chapter 15:24, said: . . . whenever I journey to Spain, I shall come to you. For I hope to see you on my journey and to be helped on my way there by you, if first I may enjoy your company for a while."

Sure, there are some hypocrites in the church and not a few "weak brethren." But, overall, they are the best people in the world.

5. Lack of interest also indicates a high degree of selfishness, the main ingredient in all sin. Folks complain, "I just don't get much out of the services," Well, you might be surprised to know that worship really isn't primarily designed for us to receive but to give. The saint who gives praise to God, attention to the Word, a portion of his earnings and help to weaker Christians, will find himself getting a lot out of worship.

6. Negligence in worship also sets a soul-damning example to others - often to members of our own household. The parents who are hit or miss in their attendance at worship and Bible study will likely be the same ones who will call the preacher in despair when their teenagers are pregnant out of wedlock, addicted to alcohol and drugs and totally disinterested in biblical morality. Sometimes they really can't understand what happened. But the preacher will understand and so will many brethren.

Parents remain the greatest influence in the lives of their children. When they opt to do other things on the Lord's Day than worship, they send a strong message to their children, other family members and neighbors.

7. When I forsake the assembly I must feel I have nothing to contribute to the work of the Lord. But that is a gross error because theBible clearly teaches that each of us offers up spiritual sacrifices (1 Pet. 2:5). We can exhort, edify and comfort one another (Heb. 10:24-25 and 1 Thess. 5:11). We are to give of our means that others may hear the gospel (1 Cor. 16:1-2 and Mal. 3:8).

The church is the ekklesia or "called out" body of people saved from sins. What would happen to the church and its work if a majority of members opted to forsake assembling together?

Would the gospel be spread? Would the Lord be honored? Would each member be strengthened? Of course not.

Is lying or committing adultery or stealing worse in God's eyes than forsaking his assembly for worship? Study the Old Testament and you will see that the prophets accused Israel of each of those sins in conjunction with their forsaking the Lord.

The man or woman who calls himself a Christian but does not care to worship Christ is a liar (I Jn. 2:4). When we forsake the Lord for the "god of this world" we commit spiritual adultery by leaving the relationship to which we pledged to remain faithful. And, when we use the Lord's day for our personal pleasure and recreation, we steal what belongs to the Lord.

The one who forsakes worshiping the Lord is no better than those who lie, steal and commit adultery. There is nothing respectable about this sin.

It damns souls like all other sin. Those guilty need repent.

Guardian of Truth XXXV: 24, pp. 744-745
December 19, 1991

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