Today’s Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2
Listen really carefully: whatever God backs, Satan attacks. In today’s chapter Paul has a great desire to be with the Thessalonian Christians, but Satan fights to stop it from happening. I wonder how many things we have in our hearts to do that Satan fights against. Listen to Paul’s desire and fight in 1 Thessalonians 2:18: “We really wanted to come. I myself tried several times, but Satan always stopped us” (CEV).
We have forgotten that we have an enemy who wants to disrupt our plans. Sometimes the best confirmation that our plans and desires are from God is Satan’s attack on them. The last thing the devil wants us doing is the will of God.
Paul has a desire to go to this new church in Thessalonica, and Satan is bent on stopping the apostle from visiting. Sometimes Satan succeeds. Those last words of this verse remind us of the war we are in: “I tried several times but Satan always stopped us.” These aren’t the words of a one-hit wonder. This is the apostle Paul. And Paul tries a number of times and cannot seem to get through Satan’s roadblocks.
C. S. Lewis was right when he said: “There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.” Always remember there is a counterclaim happening. Whatever God backs, Satan attacks. Or as Robert Murray McCheynne said, “I know well that when Christ is the nearest, Satan also is busiest.” The closer you get to what God wants you to do, the closer Satan comes in.
But some people don’t believe in the devil. Two boys struggled with the problem of the devil’s existence. As they walked home from Sunday school after hearing a message about the devil, one boy said, “What do you think about all this Satan stuff?” The other replied, “Well, you know how Santa Clause turned out. It’s probably just your dad.”
In his classic work The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis reminds us of two errors when it comes to Satan: “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.” You can give the devil too much or too little attention.
The Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary of the New Testament gives us an insight to the enemy’s tactics. The verb enkoptō, which literally means “to cut into,” originally referred to the military practice of cutting up a road so as to make it impassable for a pursuing army. Paul wants his readers to know that his present absence from them is not due to his personal choice but to the activity of Satan, who, in typical military fashion, has destroyed the apostle’s path back to Thessalonica. “We are evidently no friends of Satan,” says J. C. Ryle. “Like the kings of this world, he doesn’t war against his own subjects. The very fact that he assaults us should fill our minds with hope.”
I want to challenge you. What is it that you have been trying to do lately, and you are really convinced it’s something God wants you to do, but you can’t seem to make it happen? Maybe you are being hindered by Satan from doing God’s will like the apostle Paul was.
Maybe it’s purity in a relationship. Maybe it’s inconsistency in reading the Bible. Maybe it’s going to church or serving at church. Perhaps it’s forgiving an offense that is still lingering in your heart. Whatever it may be you have tried multiple times but have failed to gain any ground. What should you do? It may be time to launch a “gnu” attack.
There is a strange animal called a Gnu. When it catches sight of one of its predators, its enemies, it immediately drops down on its knees and, from that position, springs into the attack mode. Are you getting where I’m going here?
We need to practice a gnu way to fight.
We see our enemy putting up obstacles as he did for the apostle, and immediately we assume the gnu position and get on our knees and pray. That’s how we fight.