1 Thessalonians 2:18
Why we would have come to you, even I Paul, once and again; but 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.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.