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