How Far Will You Go? (ATP)
1 Thessalonians 2:18
Because it was our will to come to you. [I mean that] I, Paul, again and again [wanted to come], but Satan hindered and impeded us.
If we are overcomers as Christians and the devil is only as strong as we allow him to be in our lives why was he successful in hindering Paul? Here it seems Paul is portraying Satan as being powerful or at least more powerful than I thought he was.
John 8:44 (NKJV)
…When he (the devil) speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
Satan is a master manipulator, though I really don’t like to give him credit for anything. His most powerful weapon is in his convincing lies. After all, he’s had a very long time to perfect this and he knows humans and our weaknesses. He will convince people of all kinds of things and if you are not founded in faith you will believe them thinking it’s your own ideas. Many people, without realizing it, follow the devil thinking they are doing right. Recently some people who were trying to close our church down thought that they were doing a good thing for the community. They had no idea that their attempts to hinder us, were completely satanically inspired.
Satans power is and always has been in manipulating humans to use their authority, power, or efforts in the wrong way. Think about the best trouble makers you’ve either known or heard of. They were never content doing something on their own but often would convince others to join in on their bad ideas. When I was younger I had a group of friends that perfected manipulation. We would constantly manipulate each other to do whatever hair-brained idea we’d come up with because we didn’t want to go at it alone. Likewise the devil will look to use any willing vessel, often times even other believers!
Our authority is as sure in the Word as our victory. However, just because we have access to something does not mean we will access it. We have been given free choice, not just us Christians, but all of humanity. Have you ever been trying to be right, and someone just keeps getting in the way of that? Others doing things seemingly like they know the perfect thing to do to stop or hurt you? It’s amazing that people can accomplish anything sometimes.
I want to draw your attention to the word hindered in your scripture. This word also means, be tedious unto. Hindered doesn’t mean stopped, it means slowed. When winter in Western NY hits us, it affects us much differently then say a little snow in the south. We can get feet of snow, but because we are accustomed to it, it doesn’t stop us though driving to the store may take a bit longer. The trials that come our way, inspired by satan, carried out by humans can slow us down. Standing on God’s truth ensures they won’t stop us.
This is what it is like with walking out our faith. The devil can’t stop us but he will send every person or thing he can in our way to try. The key is not what he does, but how we respond. A little further down in 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4, Paul continues by saying, “that no one should be shaken by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we are appointed to this. For, in fact, we told you before when we were with you that we would suffer tribulation, just as it happened, and you know.”
Paul knew he would face opposition. We find this in Acts 20:23 , “except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me.” Here’s the thing we can be sure of, the devil will do whatever he can to stop us from fulfilling God’s plan. We have to hold on to the fact, through every trial, that we hold the victory. Certainly being beaten and thrown into jail time and again could be disheartening. This is why the knowledge of victory is so important, and why Paul encouraged the Thessalonians with these words.
Jesus said in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Our peace will be found in His promise of victory. We cling to the words of Christ remembering that regardless of what comes our way, if we trust Him, we always end up on top! Though we may be hindered from time to time, we cannot be stopped! We stand on the Word and we stand until the end, we are the Body of Christ!