Summary: This sermon identifies three things believers ought to see that Satan does.
I am amazed at what someone can overlook that is literally right before their eyes. Have you ever watched the Discovery Channel or Animal Planet and seen shows about snakes or insects? Every time they do one of those there will be a scene that appears to be a tree branch and green leaves or a small pile of leaves and twigs on the ground. I know there is something there to see but I just can’t make it out; however the host of the show spots it right away. The reason he can see it and I can’t has nothing to do with his or my eyesight. It has everything to do with what he expects to see and where he expects to see it. He is actively looking for that particular something in that particular place you would expect to find it. He is a trained professional with all the knowledge and abilities that allow him to spot those things that are essential to his success. We as believers need to be just as effective at spotting those things that are essential to our success in being Great Commission Christians. For the animal expert failing to spot his target could mean a violent and painful death for him. For the Christian, failing to recognize our targets could mean eternal death and torment for others. You see we are not the only ones looking for these targets. We will see in the passage this morning three things that Satan sees that we ought to.
1. Satan sees those who are sent. V. 4
The Holy Spirit had told the Church to set aside Saul and Barnabas for the work to which He had called them and then He sent them out to do that work. This was not done in secret or isolation; it was done for all to see, including Satan. When one considers the adversity Paul endured in his ministry it is clear that Satan took notice. II Corinthians 12:7 makes clear that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was a messenger of Satan that was intended to hinder him. That wasn’t the only difficulty but is one that clearly identifies its source. Satan hasn’t changed since then. He still sees those who are sent and we should too. The first one you should recognize is the one that looks back at you when you look in the mirror. As a believer you should know that you have been called, well actually commanded to go and tell others. We are all sent in that sense. Now I believe that Satan really sees those who are sent, the sad thing is that he doesn’t need to pay very much attention to most of us. Why you might ask? Well for most of us there isn’t any chance that someone would come to Christ as a result of seeing our lifestyle, it likely isn’t any different than theirs and they sure aren’t going to hear the gospel shared verbally that would be too embarrassing and forward of us. No, Satan will only be concerned with those who might make a difference for the cause of Christ.
2. Satan sees those who are seeking. V. 7
Luke records that Sergius Paulus was an intelligent man. He called for Saul and Barnabas so that he could hear the word of God. This man was not seeking the oratory skills of those early missionaries he wasn’t even seeking a sign like Herod was of Jesus. He wanted to hear the word of God. Satan could see this clearly and already had someone in place to run interference. When I look at other scripture or extra biblical history it is not uncommon for a leader or king to have many advisors from various backgrounds. So this is not unique in its setting. What is clear though is that Satan does not want those who are seeking to hear the word of God. If he can prevent it from happening, he will by whatever means possible. Our challenge is to recognize those who are seeking so that we might bring the word of God to them no matter what we encounter along the way.
3. Satan sees those who will stand in the way. V.8
Up until this point things have been pretty clear cut. Those who are sent are believers. Those who are seeking are nonbelievers. But what about those who will stand in the way? In this passage Elymas was clearly a nonbeliever. Paul referred to him as a “son of the devil”. His intent was to prevent the seeker from hearing or believing the word of God. Satan saw him and was willing to use him. You might then assume that if we are to see those who will stand in the way we would need to look for those like Elymas who speak lies and pervert the straight ways of the Lord. In assuming that you would only be half right, you see a hindrance can be both active and passive. Elymas was actively standing in the way and that is easy to see. However we also should recognize the passive hindrances. Scripture plainly states that each and every believer is part of the body of Christ and not only that but each and every part has a purpose that it is supposed to supply. When one part is not functioning as it is intended it then becomes a hindrance. Paul confronted the one standing in the way head on with the power of God, and we should as well. The approaches for each are a bit different though. For the active hindrance we are engaged in spiritual warfare in which the power of God must prevail. For the passive hindrance we should be engaged in spiritual encouragement and love in which the Spirit of God will prevail.