Summary: Once you become a Christian, the devil doesn’t give up on you. He just changes his strategy. What to do when Satan tries to hinder you.
This is the seventh message from my verse-by-verse series from 1 Thessalonians. Our theme is “Finding HOPE in a HOPELESS World.” This message is entitled, “Don’t Let Satan Stop You.”
The devil is the root source of all the world’s problems. An old deacon used to pray the same prayer every week. He would say, “Lord please clean out all the cobwebs in my life.” Week after week he prayed the same prayer. “Lord, please remove the cobwebs from my life.” Finally the pastor had heard enough and after the deacon finished he prayed, “Lord, I’ve got a better idea. Please kill the spider.”
Hardly a week goes by that we don’t get the news of another example of human evil or natural disaster. Sadly, when some people look around at the presence of evil and suffering they shake their heads and think we live in a hopeless world. What’s going on when a gunman fires into a Mother’s Day parade? Or when tornados continue to rip through schools? Or when crazed radical Muslims attack a British soldier in his own neighborhood? If you only look at those signs, it would seem hopeless, even senseless.
But remember, there is NO HOPE to be found in this world. Our only source of HOPE is in a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Only then do we discover H.O.P.E., Having Only Positive Expectations.
But people still wonder why there is so much disaster and evil in our world. There is one very important truth we can never forget. There exists in this universe a living source of evil: Satan is real. Jesus recognized him. In fact He called him the Father of lies. Jesus gave us Satan’s job description: He kills; he steals; he destroys; he tempts, he accuses; he shames; he confuses; he discourages. His name is Lucifer, and the title Satan means “adversary.”
The devil resisted Paul’s efforts to return to his friends in Thessalonica. And we need to be aware there are times that the devil tries to stop us from doing what God wants us to do.
1 Thessalonians 2:17-20. “But, brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan stopped us. For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.”
1 Thessalonians 3:1-5. “So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.”
Many of you of my generation and older remember radio commentator Paul Harvey. I can still hear his crystal clear voice saying: “Hello, America. This is Paul Harvey! Stand byyyy for Newwws.” But he did more than give the news; he provided a social commentary. Paul was a committed Christian and he was deeply disturbed with the moral decline in America. In 1966 he shared one of his most famous monologues. He described what he would do he were the devil. His thoughts from fifty years ago have actually become a chilling prophecy of what we see happening in our country today.
“If I were the Prince of Darkness … I’d set about however necessary to take over the United States. I’d subvert the churches first. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve, ‘Do as you please.’
To the young I would whisper that the Bible is a myth. I would convince them that what’s bad is good and what’s good is boring. And the old, I would teach to pray after me, ‘Our Father, which art in Washington …’ If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine young intellect but neglect to discipline emotions—just let them run wild. And before you knew it, you’d have drug-sniffing dogs and metal detectors at every schoolhouse door.
I’d have prisons overflowing and judges promoting pornography. Soon I would evict God from the courthouse and the schoolhouse and then from the houses of Congress.