1 Thessalonians 2:18
For we wanted to come to you--indeed I, Paul, tried again and again--but Satan obstructed us.
Sermons
Hindered by SatanW.F. Adeney 1 Thessalonians 2:18
Satan a HindererChristian Herald1 Thessalonians 2:18
Satan as a HindererHomiletic Review1 Thessalonians 2:18
Satan Hindering PaulJ. Hutchison, D. D.1 Thessalonians 2:18
Satan the HindererJ. Parker, D. D.1 Thessalonians 2:18
Satanic HindranceC. H. Spurgeon.1 Thessalonians 2:18
Satanic PowerJ. M. McNulty, D. D.1 Thessalonians 2:18
The HindererT. Kelly.1 Thessalonians 2:18
The Apostle's Anxiety to Visit the ThessaloniansT. Croskery 1 Thessalonians 2:17, 18
Great Desire to See the ThessaloniansR. Finlayson 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20
St. Paul's Love for His ConvertsB.C. Caffin 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20
St. Paul tells his friends at Thessalonica that he was anxious to revisit them, and that he made the attempt to do so more than once, but that he was hindered by Satan. The direct impediment may have been the opposition of his enemies (Acts 17:13, 14); or it may have been bodily sickness - "a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan." Whatever this immediate and visible hindrance was, the point of interest to us is that St. Paul attributed it to Satan. Let us consider the hindrance thrown in the way of good work by Satan.

I. SATAN HINDERS THE WORK OF THE GOSPEL.

1. The hindrance is to be seen in all times. Doors are shut; enemies are raised up; misunderstandings throw mission work into confusion.

2. The source of the hindrance may be discovered by its character. "By their fruits they shall know them." The excuse may be the preservation of order, the restraint of excesses, or conservative respect for old ways. That the real source of opposition is Satanic may be known when

(1) bad men are the agents,

(2) a good moral reformation is frustrated.

3. This hindrance converts mission work into a warfare. The Church becomes an army. The forces of light and darkness are drawn up in battle array. New territory cannot simply be claimed by planting the standard of the cross upon it. It must be fought for and won in conquest.

II. SATAN'S HINDRANCE IS INDEPENDENT OF THE CHARACTER OF THE CHRISTIAN LABORERS. Of course, if these men receive Satan into their hearts, so much the more effectually will their mission be frustrated. They become traitors who destroy their own cause by opening the gates of the citadel to the foe. Sin indulged by the servant of Christ is treason. This is a certain and fearful hindrance to success. But the Christian laborer may be faithful and may stilt be hindered by Satan. In the old tradition Satan dared to oppose the archangel Michael Shall we be surprised that he opposes a man? Satan resisted and tempted Christ. He hindered St. Paul. Therefore do not let us think that all difficulties will vanish if only we are true and faithful. Satan may hinder us, though we are innocent, through the wickedness of other men.

III. SATAN'S HINDRANCE IS OVERRULED BY GOD'S PROVIDENCE. Here St. Paul writes of Satan hindering him. In the Acts St. Luke tells us how, when the apostle and his friends "assayed to go into Bithynia... the Spirit of Jesus suffered them not" (Acts 16:7). Is it not possible that sometimes the two influences may have concurred in effecting the same results though originating in the very opposite sources and prompted by contradictory motives? Thus the messenger of Satan that was sent to buffet St. Paul was the means of applying a wholesome discipline and of saving him from undue self-exaltation. Thus, too, though Satan troubled Job, with the object of showing him to be a hypocrite; the great trial proved to be for the glory of God as well as for the honor of his servant. Satan tempted Christ, and so made him the better High Priest for us. Satan compassed the death of Christ, and thereby led to the redemption of the world. Satan's hindrance to our work may be overruled for its more full accomplishment in the end, just as the east winds of early spring help to secure a good fruit harvest by checking the too-early development of bud and blossom. Moreover, all this hindrance is but temporary. Satan's reign is for a season only. And when the hindrance is removed the final result will not have suffered for the delay. Perhaps it will even come the quicker for the temporary hindrance, as, when once it bursts its bounds, the stream rushes out with the more vehemence for having been dammed up. Let us not be impatient. Remember that God has all eternity to work with. - W.F.A.







Satan hindered us
It may he profitable to remind ourselves of two or three things bearing upon the nonfulfilment of our best purposes. We have schemes which come to nothing; wishes which perish in disappointment vows which fall so far short of realization as to afflict our hearts with a sense of self-perjury and self-contempt. What is that malign power which hinders us when we start on any holy errand? Why is there not a clear path to the soul's feet, so that we may run the way of the Lord? The question is all-important. If we know the hinderer we may address ourselves to the speciality of his power; but if we misconceive his individuality or resources we may exhaust our strength in profitless labour.

I. THERE IS A HINDERER. Not only are there hindrances; there is a personal hinderer. He is not visible. He is not persuadable; resist is the right word, not persuade. Is the tiger ever persuaded to spare the prey? God can be entreated the devil must be resisted. One man says there is no devil. Who is that one man? Where does he live? What has he done for the race? "Jesus I know, Paul I know, but who is this?" The devil tempted Jesus, entered into Judas, desired to have Peter, hindered Paul. I prefer that my faith should run in the line of these statements, notwithstanding their mystery, than that it should espouse the suggestions of speculators who have not yet established their claim to the confidence of souls.

II. THE HINDERER ASSAILS THE MOST EMINENT WORKERS IN THE CHURCH — The Saviour even, and here Paul. We are apt to think that the greatest escape the temptations which fall to the lot of others. But the greater the man, the greater the temptation. It is so in other things. The more refined the taste, the more sensitive to vulgarities. Our temptations —

1. Show our unity as members of a common race.

2. Should awaken our sympathy as partakers of a common suffering.

III. THIS HINDERER SEEKS TO FOIL THE AGGRESSIVE INTENTIONS OF THE CHRISTIAN.

1. In being a hinderer the enemy has the decided advantage.(1) It is easy to hinder, i.e., easy to do mischief, suggest difficulties, magnify obstacles.(2) It is easier to hinder than to counteract. Once let the seed be sown, etc. Once let a good impression be produced, etc.

2. Did Satan ever hinder a man from doing a bad action? When we were about to give a pound to a good cause, did Satan ever say, "Give two."

3. Remember the enemy deals with the purposes as well as the performances. He fights battles in the mind. What a wreck is the inner life of some of us!Application —

1. Satan comes to us sometimes through the medium of bad men.

2. Sometimes through the gratification of apparently harmless wishes ("There is no harm in it").

3. Sometimes through friendly but incapable advisers — men who are so far below our level, as utterly to miscalculate us. But there is hope. There is a helper. The Holy Spirit alone can overcome the spirit of evil.

(J. Parker, D. D.)

All agree about the hindrances, but some deny that there is a personal hinderer. They hoot at the idea that a God of infinite power and beneficence would permit so malignant a rebel to exist. But where have such people lived? There are thousands of visible devils, why not one invisible? The devil hinders —

I. BY SUGGESTING DOUBTS. The terrible catastrophe of the fall was accomplished by a doubt. One of his greatest achievements is to create the doubt of his own existence. We live in an age in which nearly everything that is necessary to be believed is doubted. Depravity is seen in nothing more clearly than the manner in which people act when in doubt religiously. Instead of wisely protecting our own interests, we often give Satan the benefit of our doubts. Nothing pleases Satan so well as to get people in doubt as to the Atonement, the Bible, Judgment, Hell, etc. If he can do this, he will soon have them acting in accordance with their doubts.

II. BY MAGNIFYING DIFFICULTIES. By this me as he hinders multitudes, young and old, from giving their hearts to God. He is not honest enough to tell people that this life is one of difficulty, whether they are good or bad; but insinuates that the most crushing difficulties are in the paths of righteousness. But he is a liar. We are not at home yet, only at school. Our work is to master the hard curriculum; but God's cheering promise is, "All things work together for good," etc.

III. BY DISTRACTIONS. He dislikes a fixed purpose for the right, and loves to disincline the mind to think on eternal realities. He does not mind men being piously inclined, and purposing to do better. If he can keep them from immediate surrender, he knows that all the rest will be of no avail in the final issue. Conclusion:

1. As a hinderer Satan is the cause of two things —(1) Much that we would do but cannot. Paul's visit to Thessalonica was frustrated.(2) Much that we could do if we would: as our sins of commission.

2. Our helper is greater than our hinderer.

(T. Kelly.)

Homiletic Review.
Satan bears a threefold character — tempter, accuser, hinderer. As a hinderer he is obstructive, while as a tempter and accuser, he is destructive.

1. He inspires indifferentism where there ought to be enthusiasm.

2. He influences men to oppose inertia to advancement.

3. He fosters extraconservatism. They used to say of Lord Eldon, that "he prevented more good than any other man ever did. Wilberforce breasted opposition for forty six years, in fighting for abolition of the slave trade. William Carey for fifteen years faced the opposition of his own brethren in furthering missions.

4. He leads to criticism and ridicule of what is good.

5. He moves men to determined and open antagonism to what is good — under every pretext.

(Homiletic Review.)

I. THAT THERE IS A PERSONAL HINDERER IN THE SPIRITUAL LIFE OF MEN. Both the tenor and history, and the assignment of personal attributes prove it. He is mighty, malignant, spiritual, invisible, and impersuadable.

II. THIS HINDERER ASSAILS THE MOST EMINENT PERSONAGES AND WORKERS IN THE CHURCH. This shows the unity of the race, and suggests a common sympathy.

III. THIS HINDERER SEEKS TO FOIL EVERY AGGRESSIVE CHRISTIAN INTENTION. Easier to "hinder" than counteract: to suggest difficulties and magnify obstacles. Satan hinders the cause of religion in the world by creating, and then pointing to the foibles and sins of professors.

1. Their inconsistencies — pride, worldliness, divisions, selfishness, covetousness, gloominess.

2. Their crimes — drunkenness, fraud, etc.

3. Lukewarmness.

(J. M. McNulty, D. D.)

s: — Paul and his companions were unable to revisit Thessalonica.

1. Not from want of will.

2. Not through the interpositions of Providence.

3. But because Satan hindered them. The hindrance was perhaps —(1) the persecution which made it prudent for them to stay away.(2) Or the Athenian philosophers and Corinthian heretics, which made it necessary that they should stay and defend and strengthen the young Churches.(3) Or dissensions which Satan fomented in the Churches they were visiting, which rendered their prolonged stay imperative. Anyhow, Satan was the prime mover. But why should he take so much interest in these three poor missionaries? That he might weaken the young Church at Thessalonica and destroy it; that he might thwart a powerful ministry; that he might keep Christians apart, and thus weaken that unity which is the strength of God's people. Note —

I. IT HAS BEEN SATAN'S PRACTICE OF OLD TO HINDER, WHENEVER HE COULD, THE WORK OF GOD. "Satan hindered us" is the testimony which every saint will bear against the arch enemy. He endeavours to hinder —

1. The completeness of the personal character of individual saints. Take the case of Job.

2. The emancipation of God's redeemed ones.(1) Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, imitating his wonders by their enchantments, Romanism is an ingenious imitation of, and a Satanic hindrance to the Gospel.(2) Korah and his company hindered Israel by their assumption of the priesthood. Satan hinders now by conspiring to deprive Christ of His sole right to the priesthood.(3) Achan hindered Israel seriously; so do Satan's traitors in the camp today.(4) When Ezra and Nehemiah were found to build the waste places, the devil was sure to stir up Sanballat and Tobiah to cast down. There never was a revival of religion without a revival of the old enmity.

3. The history of the New Testament Church no less than that of the Old is a history of Satan's hinderings. When Christ was on earth, Satan hindered Him personally, and through the Pharisees, etc. When the apostles began their ministry, Herod and the Jews sought to hinder them, and when persecution prevailed not, all sorts of heresies and schisms broke out. When the reformation dawned, if God raised up Luther, Satan brought out Loyala to hinder him. If God had His Wycliffes and Latimers, Satan had his Gardiners and Bonners.

II. THE WAYS IN WHICH SATAN HAS HINDERED US. He is very busy in hindering —

1. Coming to Christ: perplexing with the guilt of past sins, or with the doctrine of election. But you must surmount both, feeling that your great business is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. Prayer.

(1)Tempting to abstain from it.

(2)To relax importunity in it.

3. Christian work.(1) When we are prompted to work, e.g., to speak to one about his soul, to visit the sick and relieve them, to contribute to missions, to teach in the ragged school, then Satan hinders.(2) When we are embarked on the work, we never ought to expect success unless we have the devil making a noise. We are doing little good when the devil is quiet.

4. Christian union.

5. Communion with Christ: distracting us in our most sacred ordinance.

III. THE RULES BY WHICH WE MAY DETECT SATANIC HINDRANCES. I do not believe that Satan generally hinders people from getting rich. He delights to see God's servants set upon the pinnacle of the temple, for he knows the position is dangerous. You may tell when Satan hinders.

1. By the object. Satan's object is to prevent our glorifying God. If anything has happened to prevent your growing holy, useful, humble, you may trace it to Satan.

2. By the method. God employs good motives, Satan bad ones.

3. By their nature. Whenever an impediment to usefulness is pleasing it comes from Satan. He never brushes the feathers of his birds the wrong way; he generally deals with us according to our tastes and likings.

4. By their season. They come in prayer and while engaged in God's work. But we ought carefully to watch that we do not put the saddle on the wrong horse. Do not blame the devil when it is yourself. On the other hand, when the Lord puts a bar in your way, do not say, "That is Satan," and so go against the providence of God.

IV. Supposing that we have ascertained that our hindrance comes from Satan, WHAT THEN? Go on, hindrance or no hindrance.

1. If Satan hinders opposition should cheer you. It is your duty to show that Satan is your enemy; rejoice when a prospect of overcoming him transpires.

2. Stand out against him, because you have now an opportunity of making a greater gain than if he had been quiet.

3. Consider what you lose if you do not resist and overcome him. It will be eternal ruin; or at the very least the ruin of Christian usefulness.

4. Feed your courage with the recollection that Christ has overcome.

5. Remember the promise, "Resist the devil and he will flee from you."

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

The word "hinder" is a metaphor taken from military operations — the breaking up of reads, the destroying of bridges, and the interposing of varied obstacles, to cut off the enemies' approach or retreat. Or the figure may be that of the racecourse, the upsetting of a chariot by being brought into violent contact with another. Either way we have a graphic description of the obstructions in the way of the apostle's advance. Just as an angel stood in the evil way of Balaam, the apostate prophet, to intercept him, so is Satan here represented as standing in the good way of Paul. It is worthy of note that the personal spirit of evil is mentioned by his Hebrew name in this, Paul's earliest epistle — an epistle, too, addressed to a Gentile Church, and containing no direct quotation of Scripture. How, then, had these Gentile believers come to know his name and nature? By Paul's oral teaching, and probably also by a written Gospel. Now, of all the Gospels there is none which speaks so clearly concerning the personality and operations of the tempter under the name of Satan than that written by St. Paul's fellow traveller, Luke. Here we have, therefore, another incidental confirmation of the view that that Gospel may have been entrusted to the Church of Thessalonica to disseminate. However, such an allusion to the adversary of souls points very strongly to the doctrine of his personality. But to what form of hindrance does the apostle allude? It was not, we may be sure, to any pressure of labour; Paul would regard this as a burden of honour laid upon him by the Master. It may have been the danger to which he would be ex!nosed, as he had been previously, if he repaired to Thessalonica; but this cannot have bulked very largely in his view at the time; he is so sympathetically alive to the same danger as besetting his much loved friends. It is more likely that the restraint arose from trials befalling believers in the districts where Paul himself was; but this has no support from the context, for it would seem from that to have been one in which Paul preeminently was concerned — "Even I, Paul." He makes something like a severance of himself from his companion in regard to it, and the "once and again" seems to point not to habitual or prolonged hindrance such as arose from dangers besetting the Church, but rather to some sudden, unexpected, and powerful obstacle such as bodily sickness, which, after passing away, had come upon him once more. These considerations seem to point to the "thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan sent to buffet him." Like the mysterious agony which now and again seized King Alfred in the midst of intensest activity, this thorn in the flesh was an interruption for the time being to all apostolic plans. This hindrance, however, sent of Satan, as it was declared to be, was yet blessed of God to Paul himself, doubtless for the increase of his patience, the purifying of his desires, the quickening of his zeal, and his growth in grace. It was also blessed of God to others. To the apostle's enforced absence from Thessalonica we owe this Epistle, fraught with its words of warning, comfort, and direction for all time.

(J. Hutchison, D. D.)

Christian Herald.
I remember standing in the front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame, in Paris, admiring its beautiful statuary. As I did so a Parisian approached me and said, "Do you not see something amusing up there?" "No!" I said, "it seems to be all religious." Inwardly I was asking myself, "Is this an Atheist, or is he making a fool of me?" "Do you see those figures?" he inquired, pointing to a group representing a soul being weighed to see if it should be found wanting. "You observe that there is an angel standing on the one side and Satan on the other. Satan seems as if he were just watching to see that there was fair play" "Yes," I answered, "but I fail to see anything amusing in that." "Just look under the scales!" he replied. I looked, and there underneath was a little imp pulling down the scale. That is the way Satan gives fair play. A man says, "I will reform. I'll mend my life. I'll give up drink." "All right," says Satan, and he seems to stand aside and give fair play. Do not trust him. He has some unseen imp hanging on against you. If it be not strong drink, it will be some other sin. The only way to get clear of all these is to get Christ beside you; His power and grace will outweigh all the evil influences of Satan.

(Christian Herald.)

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