"Satan’s Fight Against Christians"
Satan was at work seeking to destroy what God was doing through Paul. Satan cares not if a person becomes a Christian; his goal is to get them to quit. Satan wants your spiritual life to be so difficult you simply walk away - and he wins.
Satan’s Fight Against Christians
(1 Thes. 2:17-3:5)
A. When we choose to live according to the Word of God (the Bible) and not according to man’s traditions or interpretations, we should expect that people around us won’t like how we live, what we believe or what we teach. If we are going to strive to be as close to God’s message as possible, striving to walk in His clear pathway, then society and its influence will find us intolerant of what God calls sinful behavior that the world calls normal and enlightened.
B. I want you to listen to a few verses before we come to our text in 1 Thessalonians.
- 1 Pet. 4:12-13
- 2 Tim. 3:12-13
C. Difficult times come upon everyone. People experience pain and suffering because evil is in the world, but God’s message to us is that if we choose to follow Him, then we need to expect a degree of hatred from the world.
D. People love darkness rather than light. Love it so much, that they want the light to be put out so that it doesn’t expose the deeds of darkness. The world did not accept Jesus, but killed him. The world did not accept the message of the Apostles, but killed them. What should we expect if we look like characteristics of Jesus and teach the same things as the Apostles?
E. Part of what made the first century church such a tight-knit family is their need for one another. They leaned upon each other in good times and difficult times.
F. Hebrews 11 is a great chapter of faith concerning people under the old covenant. Some of whom died for the faith. But they could only hope for what you and I have in Christ Jesus. The Hebrew writer continues in chapter 12 telling us to keep our eyes on Jesus who suffered but is now seated at the right hand of God. Then we get two verses that speak very clearly to many of us (Heb. 12:3-4).
I. The Attack of Satan
A. Jesus told us that the thief comes to kill and destroy. John tells us that Satan was a murderer from the beginning. Paul says that Satan and his angels can appear as angels of light to deceive mankind. Peter says that Satan prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. Yes, evil and sin are what we face all the time, but sometimes we are under direct attack by evil forces.
B. Paul writes to the young church in Thessalonica because he was fearful that Satan’s attack on them would have caused them to walk away from their faith. He is so happy to hear that was not the case, but he tells them (and us) that Satan wants to hinder anything that is of God.
C. Look at how Satan went to work in that church. The first thing he did was to get their source of spiritual teaching away from them (READ 1 Thes. 2:17-20). I don’t know the battles that Paul had with Satan and evil, but Paul says “Satan hindered us” from coming to you. Calvin wrote, “For, whenever the wicked molest us, they fight under Satan’s banner, and are his instruments for harassing us.”
D. Isolation is a great tool Satan uses to weaken our faith. The less time you spend with God and the family of God, the more likely you will fall to the temptations around you. Satan wanted to isolate these Christians from good teachers like Paul, but Paul had sent Timothy there to strengthen them. Whether Paul is trying to skirt what Satan was doing, I don’t know. I just know these Christians were not left spiritually alone.
E. The second thing Satan helped to orchestrate was the persecution they were facing. Again, it may not be Satan himself, but evil or evil workers accomplish Satan’s goal. (READ 1 Thes. 3:3-5) When I am alone and life is difficult BECAUSE of my faith, quitting is easier. Some people think, “It’s just not worth all this.” Satan’s goal is to get you to walk away from God. Persecution will either drive you away from God or backfire on Satan, and drive you closer to God.
II. God’s Protection
A. READ 1 Thes. 3:1-2. God’s protection for these young Christians was the encouragement give through Timothy. My point God sometimes protects us through the strength of others. Paul was concerned that “the tempter had tempted them” to walk away from their faith.
B. Let me encourage you to step up your involvement with others. There are some in this congregation that are relatively young in their Christian walk. You could be the “Timothy” God uses to give young in the faith Christians strength for the journey. You who have walked with Christ for 10, 20, 30 plus years have faced the tempter and stayed strong – now use that strength to strength your brothers.
C. The method that God gives is for the older to teach the younger. It might be time for you to start teaching, to start encouraging, to start strengthening others.
D. When Paul wrote the church in Corinth, he understood the need to comfort them because of the difficulties they were facing. These words are often shared at funerals, but listen to what Paul says to them (2 Cor. 1:3-7).
E. My point is you might be the person God wants to use to comfort others because you have been blessed when someone else walked with you through the storms of life.
A. Satan wants Christians to fail. I close with a reminder from a parable that Jesus told about man who sowed seed and what happen. Jesus explains that the seed is the word of God and the different soils describe the hearts of me. The pathway is when a person’s heart is hard and it is easy for the evil one to snatch away the effect of God’s word.
B. The second is the rocky ground that when persecution arises because of the word, these Christians immediately fall away (that was Paul’s fear about the Thessalonians). The next was thorny, the heart of people who were unproductive because this world is more important than the next. In each case Satan or evil came to work. Look at your heart and make sure it is the good productive soil.