As I was recently doing some research, I ran across this quote from the infamous movie star, Jimmy Stewart (of “It’s a Wonderful Life” fame). Years ago, one asked him, “What has been your greatest failure in life?” He responded, “My greatest failure in life is not getting my wife and children to go to church. This has been very painful to me. I feel this has been one of my most important responsibilities, and I feel that I have failed in this on all counts” (Saturday Evening Post, April 1, 1977). Certainly, many people feel that neglecting the assembly of the saints is of little consequence. Yet, when David lusted after Bathsheba in Second Samuel 11, one sin (not being where he ought to have been) became many sins. Usually, that is the progression of sin—it is difficult to pinpoint one sin, but usually affects other areas of life and spreads to at least factor other sins. Such is also the case with neglecting the assembly of the saints.
Neglecting the assembly of the saints associates itself with idolatry. One will worship in two ways—either one will worship God acceptably, or one will worship in an idolatrous fashion. One who wishes to worship God acceptably will have Him as his object. Yet, one who chooses to worship otherwise will begin to worship anything else other than God. One may begin to worship work, recreational activities (trips and so forth), sleep, laziness and such like. Whatever one supplants in the place of worshipping God with the assembly of the saints has become his idol. John said, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).
Neglecting the assembly of the saints associates itself with adultery. As Christians in the church of our Lord, we are the bride of Christ (Rev. 19:7; 21:2; 22:17). God said through Paul, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:2). Whenever one chooses to neglect the assembly of the saints, he is flirting with the world instead of spending the necessary and required time with God (cf. Jas. 4:4). Thus, one who neglects the assembly of the saints is committing spiritual adultery.
Neglecting the assembly of the saints associates itself with stealing. “Let him that stole steal no more” (Eph. 4:28). Peter says, “But let none of you suffer…as a thief” (1 Pet. 4:15). The fact is that God has made us stewards of our blessings. Paul said, “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20). When we choose to neglect the assembly of the saints, we are stealing God’s time, opportunity, effort and such like. Rather, we are to seek “first the kingdom of God” (Matt. 6:33). By not doing so, one is guilty of stealing from God. In addition, one steals the mutual edification he or she should be giving to his brethren (cf. Heb. 10:24-25).
Neglecting the assembly of the saints associates itself with suicide. One who neglects the assembly of the saints is like a banana—every time one leaves the bunch, someone skins it. One who neglects the assembly of the saints is like a leafy branch of a tree—if one carefully lays it aside, the color slowly fades until the leaves go limp, curl up and die. One who neglects the assembly of the saints is like a fish out of water—if one carefully lays it on the sand, it struggles, weakens, quivers and dies. Therefore, from a spiritual perspective, one who chooses not to assemble with the saints is no different than Ahithophel (2 Sam. 17:23) and Judas Iscariot (Matt. 27:5; Acts 1:18) who took their own lives needlessly.
Therefore, when one chooses to neglect the assembly of the saints, one must understand that he is also involving the sins of idolatry, spiritual adultery, stealing and spiritual suicide. Dear reader, do not risk your soul in such a manner!