Summary: Satan seeks a road into our minds to decieve us and destroy us. This sermon deals with blocking that road.
It was an uneventful day. It had been 50 days since Passover. The streets of Jerusalem were busy with people rushing around preparing for yet another festival, all except for a few who were gathered in an upper room at the Temple. They were called people of The Way because they had followed a man who claimed to be the way to God.
The room where these people were meeting was suddenly filled with a loud noise. It sounded like a massive wind storm. Then they witnessed tongues of fire settling on each other. They began speaking in a language they did not understand.
At that time there were devout Jews from every nation, all with different languages, living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, they came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers. Some thought these believers of the way were simply drunk.
Peter, their leader, preached a message that everyone heard and understood in their own language. That day 3,000 people became followers of The Way. One day they would be called Christians.
We know this day as the day of Pentecost. It was the day that the church was born. And in the spiritual world it was the day of a great invasion. It was the day that the power of the Holy Spirit was delivered to individuals to begin overthrowing the kingdom of darkness that Satan had established. The believers had been transformed from vessels of flesh to spiritual warriors. Their mission became to enforce the victory that Jesus had already won. In one swift moment the Kingdom of God had arrived in the midst of Satan’s kingdom. And thus the spiritual warfare began.
Satan immediately begins seeking forces to use to destroy this new element called the church. He realized that the most effective method was to use those who felt the most threatened by it. He would use God’s own people, the Jews. He had a great ally in a Pharisee named Saul. But Jesus proved himself to be more powerful and converted Satan’s ally into his own. And Saul became Paul.
Now Satan switched gears. Paul was too effective in establishing the church. So Satan geared up his attack to shut all doors of opportunity for Paul.
Paul found himself in Rome in 64 AD. Rome was on the verge of a horrific disaster. On July, 14th of that year the great fire of Rome breaks out. The great fire ravaged Rome for six days, destroying 70 percent of the city and leaving half its population homeless. Hundreds were killed.
There is no evidence that the Roman emperor, Nero, started the fire. Still, he did use the disaster to further his political agenda. Nero did not like the art work of the city and used the devastation of the fire in order to change much of it and to institute new building codes throughout the city. Nero also used the fire to clamp down on the growing influence of Christians in Rome. He arrested, tortured and executed hundreds of Christians on the pretext that they had started the fire. Caught up in this attack on Christianity was Paul.
Paul would never leave prison. In fact, he would spend his life shackled to a Roman guard and having no one but the Holy Spirit to talk too. It was under these circumstances that he wrote from prison the books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Second Timothy, and Philemon. Satan thought he had shut the door of opportunity in Paul’s face to reach others. Paul is still reaching others today through his writings. In his final letter to Timothy he writes; 2 Timothy 2:9 “And because I preach this Good News, I am suffering and have been chained like a criminal. But the word of God cannot be chained.” Paul writes my flesh may be restrained but my spirit is free. My flesh may be restrained but my ministry is free.
There are others in the Bible that Satan tried to close the doors of opportunity on. Domitian, the Roman emperor, sent John away to live on the isle of Patmos. It was there that John was given the Revelation of the End Times. Satan never wanted that written. Something I am learning through this study for my self is that a closed door does not mean you failed. In fact, Satan may be setting me up to be even more of an impact for the Kingdom of God.
Paul reminds us of who we are in Romans 8:35, 37. “Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?