Jesus warned us in one of His parables that Satan seeks to snatch the Word away when it’s sown (Mark 4:1-20). He swoops in like a bird, grabbing the Word before it ever takes root in the lives of hearers. Here are some ways he will strive to do that this weekend at your church:
- Divert preachers from ever sowing the Word in the first place. The enemy is not alarmed by the greatest preaching orator if he never gets to the Bible. It’s the Word of God that makes Satan flee.
- Use distractions to keep us from hearing the Word. Of course, stuff happens during a worship service. Babies cry. Sound systems crackle. Bibles drop. Doors open. Phones ring. They just happen, but the enemy uses anything he can to block the Word.
- Magnify our worries. Worry is itself ungodly, though most of us wrestle with it at times (see here for ways to break its bondage). What the enemy does is overwhelm us with the worry so we hear little else.
- Intensify relationship divisions in the church. Satan has always been about dividing the people of God. Few things block our listening like rising feelings of anger and bitterness toward someone else in the worship center.
- Remind us of what we’ll miss if we follow God. That’s what he did in the Garden of Eden – directing Adam and Eve to the one tree they could not have. It’s hard to hear the Word clearly when our mind is focused on the things of the world.
- Convince us that the Word is not trustworthy. Even if we listen to the Word, the enemy’s whispering in our ears, “You don’t have to worry about what you’re hearing. It’s not truth anyway.”
- Turn our attention to something else. There’s so much else to do. Read the bulletin. Check your phone. Doodle on the offering envelopes. Scan through the hymnal (if there is one). Read the visitor’s cards. None of these actions is wrong, but all of them can turn us quickly from the Word.
- Resurrect yesterday’s sin in our minds. The enemy has a way of reminding us when we hear the Word, “But that doesn’t apply to you. You’ve crossed lines beyond God’s forgiveness.”
- Offer false confidence of our walk with God. You don’t need to listen much to the Word if you’re already convinced you have no real need to hear anything.
- Create fear in us. I think primarily of believers around the world. They hear the Word in one ear, and the enemy is shouting loudly in the other, “But this will cost you your family, your job, and maybe even your life.” It might, in fact.
My point in this post, though, isn’t so much about the particular ways Satan works. Instead, it’s that the enemy is indeed working every time we proclaim the Word. Somebody needs to be praying, then, that God will keep him from winning in his attempts to snatch the Word away.
Maybe that somebody in your church this weekend is you.