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1 Thessalonians 2 v 18 Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.

Please read Luke 11

Our subject that we started to address last week was this –

1. Paul and the missionaries met with RESISTANCE. Satan hindered them.

Paul on their behalf does not specify exactly what it was that actually stood in their way – but they were certainly blocked every time they attempted to go back.

We tried to guess what it was.

1. We know from Acts 17 that there was a Civic embargo or blocking order placed on 2 believers.

2. Secondly and linked with this it could have been the continuing real opposition of the Jews in Thessalonica.

3. The resistance could have been in the form of Paul’s own health. He may have been too ill to make the journey from Corinth to Thessalonica.

4. Another suggestion could have been the local circumstances in which Paul found himself at Corinth.

Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.

We reminded ourselves about this hindering person Satan. Satan is a fallen angel. He has the power to exercise an influence over sinful men and the creation in general – but Satan is under the ultimate control of the Lord God! Even though he is the arch enemy of the God’s people, believers, yet the Lord Jesus Christ has overcome him and his power is even more limited than it was before Calvary.

Revelation 20 v 1 – 10 confirms that the Lord Jesus Christ confines Satan for the Gospel age between His death and resurrection and His second coming – Satan is bound and restricted – but he still can hinder! Satan is not omnipresent like the Lord Jesus is by His spirit. But he does have the power to distress the people of God and to hinder their efforts for the Gospel and their own pursuit after holiness. It is this hindering, which can take several forms, that we need to go back to this morning.

1. Satan can raise up false teachers amongst believers in their Churches.

2. Satan can turn believers aside from the right ways of the Lord.

3. Satan is sometimes allowed to afflict the bodies of Christians.

4. A fourth thing that Satan is allowed to do is this – he can rouse men’s feelings against the people of God.

The Power of Satan works through many agencies. He seems to have his fingers in every pie, his tentacles reach out into every sea! Therefore we must be watchful, but as we have said already, Satan’s power is limited – therefore we need not be discouraged. It is Satan’s nature to hinder. In fact he does all that he can to impede and obstruct our pathway through life with the Lord Jesus Christ.

I. Satan does all he can to hinder our Worship.

Worship is always under attack from the enemy of our saviour. When Satan approached the Lord Jesus Christ to tempt Him in the wilderness the third temptation required the Lord Jesus to fall down and worship the Prince of the world. So he wishes to hinder us from worshipping the Lord God in spirit and in Truth – with our whole hearts and according to God’s word. Much of His successful hindrances to God’s people today have been in this realm of worship. He has deflected believers from true Biblical worship and they have departed into the realms of man centred and carnal worship styles that reflect the world and its entertainment idiom. Satan rubs his hands when he sees man, not Christ, being worshipped in sensual feelings-led worship.

But we need to be more specific in our considerations this morning about how Satan can hinder US in our worship – in 3 areas.

1. In Private worship – in our own personal devotional life.

2. In Family worship, when we meet in our homes to honour our saviour.

3. In Public Worship – when we come to the Lord’s House at various times.

There are real hindrances, sent from Satan, that we need to be aware of and then know how to deal with – to counteract and combat such things sent from the evil one.

1. Satan does all he can to Hinder our Private worship.

There a number of battles that each of us as believers in the Lord have to face.

a. There is the battle to find the Time to meet with Christ.

All of us in this modern life are busy. We have much to do whether we are in families or even if we live alone – we are busy! We are in a routine – work – leisure – church – etc – and unless we allocate TIME to spend alone with God we will suffer in our souls. Satan hinders by speaking to us in our minds when thoughts are stirred up within us about a regular devotional time in private. He struggles to suggest that the time that you allocate is not the best time – that there is a better one. You think the evening will be good – Satan will find reasons why you should not meet with God in the evening – surely the morning is best. You find a dilemma within you – you rationalise almost in a conversation with Satan – “I am brighter in the morning than in the evening – so perhaps the morning would be better. The only thing is I have to be out to work at 7.30 am – what time will there be for meeting with the Lord?”

There really is only one way to fight Satan in this matter of time. It is a matter of resolve. It is a matter of the soul saying, “I desire and I resolve to meet with Jesus, the lover of my soul, at a regular set time every day. I will plan my day so that there will be a portion of time when I am at my best in body and mind to give Him my attention. And I will not be hindered.” Now this is the resolve and is linked with the will. And the Lord understands His children’s earnest desires – even when unexpected circumstances seem to interfere with the resolve. Illness, oversleeping and domestic emergencies can all conspire to hinder us – Satan can use them all – but if our resolve is strong then we will be ready to make the time to be with the Lord. Psalm 55 v 17 tells us David’s resolve –

Evening, and morning, and noon, will I pray.

b. There is the battle to find the Place to meet with Christ.

In a busy home it can be hard to find a place to be quiet and alone. For those in busy houses negotiation needs to be made with other family members to allow an undisturbed place for private prayer. Part of our resolve is to put arrangements in place – resolve without action will not result in achievement.

And even if the believer lives alone there are plenty of distractions whichever place is selected.

A place must be found where there are minimum distractions. It is no good choosing the place where most work is done – for Satan will remind us of the list of things that we must do and then suggests that we attend to them straight away – by doing so he hinders our worship, reading and prayer. Sitting by a window can be very pleasant –but if there is activity going on outside – Satan will draw your attention to it and draw you away from your devotions. You can probably make your own list of distractions – you know your own situation. Yet again if the resolve is there to meet with Christ then the Holy Spirit will make you wise to Satan’s hindrances and help you to resist him.

c. There is the battle to find concentration when we meet with Christ.

The time and the place is set and you are undisturbed. You open the word of God and start to read. Yet again Satan seeks to hinder. Unless we have a programme of reading the scriptures and we just read at random, then he has us straight away. Because the first thing we have to do is to decide where to read – and he will make sure that we take up a great deal of time in deciding – so there is little time left for reading and letting God speak to us. Perhaps this is not the problem. We are using an aid – a Bible Reading guide with notes – or the helpful Robert Murray McCheyne Reading plan that can be found in the back of the TBS Bibles. But we read a few verses or even a chapter – and we find a thought coming into our mind that was quite unexpected. We read, but we are not reading. Concentration begins to flag and we are gripped by other thoughts rather than the word. Now we may blame Satan for this – but what do we do about it? What can help us with concentration?

Some find that writing in a notebook, thoughts that arise from reading the scripture, a great help.

Some will use a commentary. George Whitfield read the Bible and Matthew Henry’s commentary on the apportioned passage every day – with great profit.

Perhaps amongst ourselves we will be able to share what strategies there are that we have used successfully against this hindrance of Satan.

d. There is the battle to get down to prayer.

This is probably the hardest part of private worship for any believer. Satan will always seek to hinder prayer. If he can keep you longer in the word and meditation so that you have less time to pray – he will. Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees. How many times have we spent much time in Bible Study and enjoying the word, only to find there is little time for prayer? Prayer is the hardest of all disciplines, and yet should be for us the most delightful. How easy it is to be hindered from prayer – even though we have so much to praise and thank our faithful Saviour for – our salvation, the forgiveness and cleansing of our sins, the promise of eternal life in heaven. How easy it is to be hindered from prayer even though we know that we have a long prayer list to aid us – our members’ lists – the list from Tuesday’s Prayer meeting; the missionary prayer requests and our own knowledge of our family, friends and acquaintances for whom we should be much in prayer. It is not that we do not have "thought material" to pray for – it is the ease with which we are hindered and distracted – and find a book or a Christian Magazine that just happens to be within reach when we come to prayer – to be more attractive than praying! Brothers and sisters – we have to be honest – is not this our experience? It is the mark of the hindering of the evil one.

How subtle he is! How vicious he is – because later in the day he whispers to our hearts and tells us how unfaithful we are to our saviour – how we failed in our devotions – how angry the Lord is with us for being hindered!

How can we resist these hindrances?

The Lord Jesus Christ is our pattern who knows how to deal with Satan – with the word of God. In His temptations he answered with scripture. What then can we have ready to resist the devil?

First we have to see our daily communion and devotion and worship of the Lord Jesus Christ not as a chore but as a delightful duty! Paul said in Romans 7 v 21

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. 22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:
25 So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Can we delight in the word and delight in prayer? Surely because the

yoke of the Lord Jesus Christ is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11 v 30)

we can find delight in the secret place. The yoke of the Lord Jesus Christ is not painful and tedious – it is pleasant, gracious and harmless – it does not hurt us to wear it.

Secondly the devil will question like this –

Job 27 v 10 Will he delight himself in the Almighty? will he always call upon God?

Job 34 v 9 For he hath said, It profiteth a man nothing that he should delight himself with God.

And we can answer –

Job 22 v 26 For then shalt thou have thy delight in the Almighty, and shalt lift up thy face unto God.

Psalms 1 v 2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

Tell Satan that God’s word is your delight and that it will last all the day in your mind as you meditate on it. He will not like it! Tell him this from Psalms 119

16 I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

24 Thy testimonies also are my delight and my counsellors.

When Satan suggests that God is not interested in your prayers – tell him this from 2 Chronicles 6 v 19

Have respect therefore to the prayer of thy servant, and to his supplication, 0 LORD my God, to hearken unto thecryand the prayer which thy servant prayeth before thee:

Tell him that God hears his children and receives their prayers. Let us be watchful and ever ready to deal with these hindrances – with the word of God.

Thirdly tell Satan that you have made up your mind to meet with the Lord Jesus and that your WILL is fixed on it David said this in Psalms 18 v 3

I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.

Psalm 34 v 11 will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

With a delight and a resolve and a will that is firm and fixed you can be equipped to deal with Satan and his hindrances to your personal devotions.

2. Satan does all he can to Hinder our Family worship.

The Battles for family worship are similar in that Satan loves to hinder Christian families and intends to keep them from the word of God and prayer in the home. Family routines differ from family to family. But parents have a responsibility to so arrange the routine in order to make sure that God’s word is heard every day and that the family are led in prayer and worship. “The family that prays together – stays together”

But it can be very hard. Dad off to work early in the morning – children need to be prepared for school – meals to be prepared –lunch boxes – and all the normal things that families do. When can there possibly be time to set aside so that the family can be together to hear God’s word and offer praises and prayers of thanks and intercession?

Again it takes resolve and an exercise of will. Routines need to be looked at and a time and place set up so that an aim is in view for daily worship.

So the family have been called together for devotions, it could be at mealtime – then the phone rings – or the door bell goes – or one of the children needs the bathroom – it takes much patience, flexibility and understanding to put Family Worship in place and to maintain it! Every family member benefits from time together to talk, pray, read and ask questions with the subject being the Lord God and His word. Every family benefits from the ability to talk to the Lord God and bring ordinary domestic requests in prayer, as well as the bigger intercessions. Young children soon pick up the parent’s determination to honour God in the Family – and will find church attendance more natural if it is something familiar at home – and in later days, when the children are converted they will remember the consistency and faithfulness of their parents as an example for the shaping of their own lives and families.

Nevertheless the hindrances from Satan will be present in the home too – he hates it when such godly activity happens in the home; and we must be as resolute to resist him and maintain family worship as we must be in private.

3. Satan does all he can to Hinder our Public worship.

A personal question – how did you come to worship this morning? I don’t mean did you walk or travel in a car – I mean how was your heart as you entered the Lord’s house and began to engage in the highest activity that man is capable of doing – worshipping the living God?

Has Satan hindered you this morning? Has he caused your thoughts to wander while you struggle to concentrate on hearing the Lord speaking through His word in this means of grace?

Has Satan turned you off worship this morning? Perhaps you were keen earlier but you have cooled down. Perhaps there was a time when with joy you came to Church to draw on the water of the wells of salvation – but now its all rather dull and routine? Has Satan discouraged you from attending His house; yet you are here because it is expected of you? Perhaps his influence causes you say, “I have no heart to hear God’s word to day, I have no heart to pray and to say Amen; I have little delight when God’s word is read – I have not even brought my Bible to prayerfully follow the words of the readings.”

How do we deter Satan in this hindrance to us?

1. The Battle is usually fought, and then won or lost on a Saturday evening! If we go to bed late we are likely to be weary and not our best on Sunday morning. Satan hinders us in advance. This is why in our members’ handbook there is advice and a set of resolutions that we can make in order to prepare for Worship on the Lord’s Day. If you do not have a copy there are some in the vestibule. If we bring the week’s business with us into the Lord’s Day then we will benefit little from worship – and God will be short changed. Thomas Brooks remarks –

“as we approach the Lord’s day let us not be vexed with busy thoughts about our day to day activities as they crowd our minds all week. Instead clear your mind of the cares and concerns of the world. The stars that have least circuit are nearest the poles; and men that are least perplexed with business are commonly nearest to God.”

2. We can have our hearts and minds strongly affected with the greatness and holiness and majesty of Almighty God. We can think – use our minds – to consider His mercy, compassion and faithfulness to us in the past week. We can come with thankful hearts. We can come determined to give the Lord every last ounce of our energy in His worship – as David said in the Psalms –

5 v 7 But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.

7 v 17 I will praise the LORD according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the LORD most high.

Yet again it is a matter of the will. We can and we must be aware of Satan’s hindering ways and our wills can be alert to doing all we can to make sure that he has no victory – and that at all costs Jesus Christ, our wonderful and glorious saviour is given the honour, praise and worship that He so richly deserves.

Oh my friends – do we love our Saviour? Is He everything to us? Is He number One in our lives? Does He have the highest place in our thinking? If He is then we will do everything in our power to offer worthy praise and worship when we come together, and to hear His word.

And if Satan cannot hinder us in this area – of devotion and worship –he will try something else. He suggests that we can do without Public Worship – that we can get on very well in our Families without daily Bible reading and prayer; and even that attendance at God’s house for worship can be missed without any detriment to our souls. Don’t listen to him, my friends – he is a liar!

Our time is almost gone and it would have been good to tell you in detail, of some of the other ways that Satan can hinder us. Briefly

He can hinder our pursuit of holiness and Christ likeness.

And he does this by telling us that we are no worse than others; that we are doing rather well; that our graces are improving well and that we are much more holy than others in the church; and if these things are true then we need not put ourselves out too much in seeking to overcome sinful habits and proud thoughts. Answer him with these verses from Leviticus 20 v 7

Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.

And 1 Peter 1 v 15

But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

Again the lying angel Satan loves to feed our proud hearts

– this also is a hindrance – and we must challenge him – by having a high view of our saviour and a low view of ourselves – and remember what John the Baptist said, and say it of ourselves –

“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3 v 30

John Calvin remarks

“When our endeavours are directed towards the work of the Lord, it is certain that everything that hinders proceeds from Satan; and would to God this fact was deeply impressed on the minds of all true believers – that Satan is continually striving, by every means, in what way he may, hinder or obstruct the edification and work of the church.”

Satan does all he can to hinder the preaching of the Gospel.

He will seek to keep preachers from preaching by discouraging them and causing them to fear the crowd. He will seek to keep the Lord’s people from speaking up for the saviour when opportunity arises – many are fearful of saying that they love the Lord. He hinders some by saying that their gifts are not in the area of speaking for Christ – don’t ask me – I am not equipped. This is a form of hindrance to the Gospel. Satan loves to hinder seeking souls from considering their state before God.

He also snatches away the word of God sown as seed in the hearts of many. The parable of the sower illustrates this – the good seed is snatched away by Satan’s birds before it can take root. Many times have I spoken to men about their souls and how to get right with God by repenting of sin and trusting Christ and His cross – and at the time they appear moved and thoughtful – only to return for a further conversation with the same men and found them utterly uninterested. Satan had stolen the seed from them.

As we close this morning let us not be discouraged by the potential of this subtle enemy – Satan the hinderer! Let us think much more about our dear saviour who went all the way to Calvary for us and who bled and died for our sins so that we may be free. Let us be good soldiers bearing our saviour’s name and not be unaware of Satan’s ways. In 2 Corinthians 2 Paul exhorts Christians to forgive an erring brother – for this reason

11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.

We need not let Satan get any advantage over any of us – when we look to Jesus – the victor – the mighty One – our risen Lord who will do away with Satan and all his hindering ways. There is only a little time for us to put up with him, brothers and sisters! Glorious eternity with the Lord Jesus Christ is before us –so let us oppose the enemy with all our might and seek not to be hindered in any way – for Jesus’ sake and His glory.

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