Thursday, November 5, 2009

How Not to Waste Your Life: Three Keys, Part 2

How can we reach the end of our lives and not say, "I've wasted it! I've wasted it!"? In this series I'm exploring three keys that Paul speaks of in 1 Thessalonians 2:17-20, But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.

The first key we looked at was the need to genuinely love people.

Key #2: Understand Your Enemy
If you are going to be used of the Lord and not waste your life then you will come under satanic attack. I think that often in our culture we forget the reality and seriousness of spiritual warfare.

But how does satan hinder? The Bible shares many of his methods:
* He is the father of lies – so he lies and distorts the truth – Jn. 8:44
* He tempts believers – 1 Thes. 3:5
* He snatches the Word away – Matt. 13:
* He harasses, like he did to Job
* He disguises himself as an angel of light – 2 Cor. 11:14
* He accuses believers before God’s throne – Rev. 12:10
* He shakes up and distresses a life, like he did as he “sifted” Peter – Lk. 22:31
* He causes disease – Lk. 13, 16
* He possesses – Matt. 8:28
* He devours – 1 Peter 5:8
* He kills, he’s a murderer – Jn. 8:44
He has countless ways he can hinder and harm believers. Martin Luther said it well in a hymn, “For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe. His craft and power are great and armed with cruel hate, on earth is not his equal.”

Satan is all about attacking the church and church leaders. We saw this in Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). And we read about it all over in Revelation in regards to the churches listed there in chapters 2 & 3.

Think about the scandals we hear about in regards to church leaders. Not that long ago we heard of an evangelical pastor who was caught hiring a male prostitute and buying drugs from him. And we know that Jesus said to Peter, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat (Lk. 22:31). And so here is satan focusing on Peter. And we know that Paul was given a thorn in the flesh that he describes as, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited (1 Cor. 12). Satan is always after church leaders.

And what does Satan want to do? Look at your text: he wants to hinder the progress. Hinder was a military term for tearing up roads or digging trenches to impede an enemy’s progress. Paul says that Satan is breaking up the road in front of him, “He has dug a bunch of trenches and I can’t get there.”

What are we do do?
Now, we have to ask ourselves, does this mean that Satan is too powerful? Should we run in fear? I mean why doesn’t Paul just say, “Satan I bind you!” Well to put it simply: because that’s not biblical. What we see in Scripture is that though Satan is opposing us, he is controlled by the providence of God. He can only do what God allows him to do and in the end even his hindrances serve God’s purposes. Paul’s thorn was used by God to show Paul’s weakenss and God’s strength. So here we have Satan successfully hindering Paul from going to Thessalonica but this could only happen because this fit in with God’s plans for the work that God had for Paul. James tells us, submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (Js. 4:7). No binding, just get close to God and try not to give in to the devil’s attacks.

So far we’ve seen our need to love genuinely people and to understand our enemy so that we will not waste our lives. Paul gives one other key, and we'll look at in the next post.

Until then, keep your eyes on Christ!


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