As I counsel a person in trouble and tribulation, one of the first things I look for is how faithful he has been in attending the local church. Invariably I find that church attendance has declined drastically or has ceased altogether. Then I ask him about his salvation experience and most will proclaim that they are believers because they prayed to receive Christ at one time. That may be; or not. But one thing is sure, the person who abandons his attendance at a local church will soon find himself in bondage to one thing or another. He will fall into depression, alcoholism, drugs, denial, financial ruin, envy, jealousy, covetousness, fornication, adultery, etc. I have counseled many of these….and they wonder why things are not going well.
Hebrews 10:23, 25 admonishes us to; “hold fast the confession of our hope…not forsaking our assembling together as is the HABIT of some…” Those who are failing and falling are those who have habitually left the assembly of their fellow believers and subsequently the teaching, preaching, and worshiping of the Lord.
As I thought about this sin of omission, five things came to mind concerning the state of the one omitting church attendance:
1)Loss of spiritual insight – no longer able to discern between good and evil and calling evil good and good evil. No longer “accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.” Everyone attending to this person must administer the milk of the Word until he is once again able to stand on his own. (Hebrews 5:12-14)
2)Loss of spiritual hunger. I’m reminded of the passage in Matthew 5:6; ” Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be FILLED.” Having left the Living Water and wandered out into the wilderness of the world, this person has become empty. “They went far from Me, and walked after emptiness and became empty.” (Jeremiah 2:5)
3)Loss of spiritual eyesight. Where once they were walking in the light and their God was “the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.” (Psalm 36:9), and; “The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness.” (Psalm 18:28), now, after forsaking the assembly of one another, “The way is like…darkness; they do no know what makes them stumble.” (Proverbs 4:19) Whereas once “they would have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” but in their disobedience, “it is shameful, even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.” (Ephesians 5:11&12)
4)Loss of spiritual fortitude. Once they were “grounded and steadfast in the faith” (Colossians 1:23), “pursuing righteousness…fighting the good fight of faith“, now they are helplessly wandering around defeated, battered, disarmed, floundering in the miry clay, unable to raise a hand of resistance at the lion who recognizes that the wayward soul is no longer “sober, vigilant…steadfast to the faith” and “your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” (I Peter 5: 8&9)
5)Loss of first love. He who has forsaken the assembly of his fellow believers has given evidence that he has left his first love. Where once he abided in His love and experienced the fullness of His joy, now his soul is experiencing darkness for his waywardness. And, the Lord says: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.” (Revelation 2:4&5)
And you cry out; “What must I do?” I give you this final admonition from the Lord Himself: “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lamp stand from its place – unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:4&5)
Oh, the Lord is merciful toward those who have strayed from the fellowship of the church. Repent, and He will forgive you and will restore you to a joyous fellowship with Himself and His church.
May the Lord bless you.