July 7, 2010
Building Strong Friendships in Christ
Overcoming Satan’s Hindrances Today
“For we wanted to come to you–I, Paul, more than once–and yet Satan hindered us.”
1 Thessalonians 2:18
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I met a man recently who told me that he had made a deal with the devil, and slept with his wife. He loved to drink heavily, and planned on going down in a blaze of glory. He seemed proud of his evil behavior, and saw no reason to repent of his sins. He also did not take seriously the power of satan. But Paul understood the power of satan and how satan moves to hinder the plans of God.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:18, Paul talked about his plans, in Christ, to come to the Thessalonians to visit them. More than once, Paul wanted to come. While many Christians understand intellectually that satan exists, and takes action today, they fail to appreciate just how active he is to work against God’s plans. Before we examine more closely the hindering work of satan in Paul’s life and ours, let us review three key points about satan.
First, satan has limited power over the believer. In James 4:7, satan, also called the devil, can be resisted by the believer submitting to God. As the believer submits to God, and resists the devil, the devil will flee from the believer. Therefore, we understand that God’s power in our lives allows us to resist the devil and overcome his evil plans for us. We do not need to fear the devil, and in fact, God commands us to fear only God (Matthew 10:28). By putting on the full armor of God, we stand firm against the schemes of the devil (Ephesians 6:10).
Second, satan loves to accuse the believer before God. In Job 1:6-12, satan stands before God and tells God that Job would fold under pressure. God tells satan that satan can attack Job through his circumstances, but not by hurting Job’s body. Job did not give up, but remained faithful to God. Later, God allowed satan to increase his attacks upon Job, but Job remained faithful. In Revelation 12:10, satan is described as the creature that accuses Christians before God day and night. But, Jesus Christ the Righteous, stands as the Christian’s Advocate with the Father, and wins every case (1 John 2:1).
Third, Jesus has already bound satan, and restrained his power, so that Jesus and His disciples can plunder the domain of satan’s darkness upon earth. Jesus explained that He cast out demons by the power of God, and so He first had to bind the strong man (satan), before plundering the strong man’s house (Matthew 12:22-29). After Jesus sent out His disciples to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom and to cast out demons, they reported that “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” Jesus replied that He saw satan fall from heaven like lightning. Jesus meant that satan and his power were no match for the power of Jesus Christ. The demons recognized Jesus and knew about His great power over them (Luke 4:31-37). He had the power to destroy them.
Therefore, with those points about satan in mind, we know that Paul would face opposition by satan, but ultimately satan cannot frustrate the plans of God. God allows satan to test believers, to accuse believers, and to hinder believers, but God will always be in full control of all events.
Paul uses the term “hinder” which carries the idea of cutting a road, or to make a road impassable. In Galatians 5:7, Paul asked the Galatians who had hindered them from obeying the truth. Paul meant that some actions of satan had delayed his intention to visit the Thessalonians. Those actions could be Paul’s health, the opposition of Judaizers attacking saints who needed strengthening (as in Galatians), or some other work of opposition to the plans of Paul. Notice that the whole ministry team wanted to see the Thessalonians.
Paul may never have made it back to Thessalonica, but that was not his point. Paul told the Thessalonians why he had not yet come to see them. He really wanted to come, but the schemes of the devil were hindering him. Paul wanted the Thessalonians to know his heart and intentions were motivated by love for them.
So, we learn some more about building strong friendships in Christ.
● Strong bonds of friendship form when we stand together against satan and submit ourselves to God.
● Strong bonds of friendship grow when we understand that satan intends to accuse us, hinder us, and divide us because we live for Christ, according to His plans. Take the time to tell other Christians about your desires to see them, and let them know if satan hinders you.
● We harm our bonds of friendship when we ignore satan, and allow him to separate us from God’s plan and never say a word about it. Ultimately, God always triumphs.
Application for Today
Today, I will draw near to God and He will draw near to me. I will resist the devil, knowing that he will flee from me. I will encourage other Christians to stand firm against the devil, and walk in the power of God. Will you resist the devil today?