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Satan’s Opposition to the Gospel is Real!

Last week, in our continued study of 1 Thessalonians, we learned how much the world opposes witnessing for the Lord Jesus Christ. In this week’s verses, Satan’s opposition comes to the front.

But we, brethren, being taken from you for a short time in presence, not in heart, endeavoured the more abundantly to see your face with great desire. Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:17–18)

The Holy Spirit reveals Paul’s continued desire to return to Thessalonica. Even though things ended badly, Paul still longed to return. You will note that he “endeavored the more abundantly” to see them with “great desire.” Yes, he was not there with them physically, but his heart remained with them. The word “endeavor” connotates having a keen interest, an intense desire, or an impatient expectancy. In other words, the thought of returning to Thessalonica consumed Paul. There was unfinished business there. Thus, he did everything he could to return to them and finish what he had started.

O that believers have the same overwhelming interest in the souls of others. Too many times in our witness, we encounter opposition. Facing opposition is a given when it comes to witnessing. As we do, we become discouraged to the point of quitting or giving up. We do this, especially with those people closest to us and love the most. We share the gospel with them. They raise their objections loudly, and we immediately abandon hope. Instead, we must develop the same intensity that Paul exhibited. Christ himself said men would hate us even as they hated Him. However, we must not quit. Instead, we must understand that God can do all things and, with His love in our hearts, determine to return to the unlovable by sharing the gospel’s good news.

Scripture teaches us that believers face three enemies during their journey on earth. One of those is our own flesh and its desires.

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.” (Galatians 5:16–17)

A second is this world and its belief system, which seeks to ignore God.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” (1 John 2:15–16)

There is a third enemy. This enemy is Satan.

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:8–9)

In this week’s text, the Holy Spirit speaks about Satan’s opposition to Christ and the gospel. Even though Paul had an overwhelming desire to return to Thessalonica, Satan hindered him. Satan stood in the way, preventing Paul from fulfilling his passion. Note that Paul tried “once and again.” In other words, it was Paul’s intent to go back to Thessalonica on multiple occasions. Yet, it was Satan who hindered him. The term “hinder” simply means preventing an endeavor’s progress or acocmplishment.

Satan is God’s adversary. He is not God’s equal. Yes, he is powerful, but his power is only a tiny fraction of God’s. It is a fact that Satan is limited by God’s authority even now. The book of Job is a testament that Satan cannot do more than God ordains. Despite all this, Satan’s objective is to oppose God at every turn. As believers who desire to see God’s kingdom expand, Satan also stands ready to oppose us. That is why the Holy Spirit warned us about him in 1 Peter. We must always remain sober and vigilant. Satan seeks to “devour” any believer who stands for the Lord. It warns us again that we must remain faithful to God through obedience to His Word. God’s Spirit works in and through us as we obey, helping us overcome all three enemies. There is no doubt the struggle is real. Paul himself testified about how real Satan’s opposition was to him and the furthering of the gospel. Here is the one thing we must remember.

Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

God is on our side! We can overcome with His help and the power of His Spirit. Determine to be a witness for Christ. Recognize the enemies that oppose us. Submit and rely on God’s power in overcoming those enemies.