The times I have been in the most despair, I was alone and isolated. We have all heard the phrase “there is strength in numbers”, but do we apply this truth to our lives? Satan’s primary goal in the thousands of his various attacks on us is to take down our faith. His primary goal against the church is to fragment the formidable force of united faith and isolate believers, weakening the church and making individuals more vulnerable. “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Heb. 3:12-13). His forces are hell-bent on these strategic objectives (Eph. 6:11–12).
The writer of Ecclesiastes (probably Solomon) gave an eloquent reason that we should not allow ourselves to be isolated. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up…Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” (Eccl 4:9-10, 12) If you find yourself in despair or anxious, are you isolating yourself or are you with a family of believers?
If you are going through this journey of Christian life alone, you are more vulnerable to the deceitfulness of the devil, and you are being disobedient to the Lord’s will. We need each other to remind each other of God’s Word, especially when we are listening to the lies of the devil. When we are alone, we are easier targets. “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:8-9)
The faith of a Christian is God’s chosen channel to bring His saving, sanctifying, strengthening, healing, and delivering grace to the world. If Satan can weaken our faith, he can immobilize us. If he can destroy our faith, he can destroy us. But if he can’t disarm our faith, Jesus will destroy him through it. This is why we find the fight of faith and the unity of faith so hard (1 Tim. 6:12; Eph. 4:13). The stakes are very high in this spiritual war and the battle line is drawn over our faith. Satan is doing everything he can to employ the power of unbelief against us. This is what’s taking place in all our temptations to disobedience, discouragement, doubts, distractions, and divisions. Satan is trying to weaken and destroy our faith and, through us, the faith of others.
Nothing on earth is more powerful than the Holy Spirit flowing through the faith of a born again disciple of Jesus, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4). It is the greatest superpower available to anyone anywhere. Through faith nothing is impossible (Matt. 17:20). When a Christian is full of Spirit-empowered faith, he cannot be stopped speaking about what he has seen and heard (Acts 4:20). This means that nothing is more humanly destructive to the domain of darkness than a faith-filled Christian. Through him, Jesus destroys the devil’s works (1 John 3:8).
The only thing Satan’s forces fear more than the vibrant faith of a Christian is the unified, collaborative, vibrant faith of a community of Christians. Human beings were created to live in community; we are stronger together than when we are alone. As we build community and fellowship, we all grow stronger and more faithful to God. Matthew Henry comments, “Two are better than one, and more happy jointly than either of them could be separately, more pleased in one another than they could be in themselves only, mutually serviceable to each other’s welfare, and by a united strength more likely to do good to others.”
I heard a story on the news last night that with the advancement of technology, people are more isolated than ever before. I believe it! We all have stayed home from church when we aren’t sick, and watch a sermon on the computer or TV. We hear God’s Word, we talk with Him, but we aren’t there in person to spur each other on and to encourage others. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Heb. 10:24-25) I’ve heard many say going to church isn’t necessary (and I’ve said it myself), but that’s not what God’s Word says: “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” (Prov. 18:1) We are to seek God’s will, not our own.
God saves us as individuals—I cannot count on anyone else’s faith in order to be redeemed. However, the Lord redeems us to put us in community. This happens primarily in the church (Jesus’s body), where God provides the fellowship that we need in order to grow and thrive. We cannot be lone rangers and expect that our faith will thrive. A most important point to make here is that we aren’t here for ourselves; we are here for God’s will and His purposes, and He intends for us to be in community. “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.” (Rom. 12:4-5) Are you seeking to build community in your church? Are you making time regularly to fellowship with the Lord’s servants? If not, have you asked yourself why you are choosing to live in disobedience to God’s Word? As a friend of mine frequently says, “God’s Word isn’t Walmart, you don’t get to pick and choose what you will obey”.