How Do I Stand Up Against Spiritual Opposition?
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Matthew 5:11
When you have an enemy outside your gate and you are only vaguely aware that he is out there, you are vulnerable. That’s why people put locks on their doors and install alarms and surveillance cameras. That’s also why some live in gated communities behind walls.
There are times, however, when the enemy is more elusive. A casual reading of the New Testament makes you aware of the fact that the writers believed Satan was alive and well, and anyone with a grasp of what is happening in our world today must immediately recognize that old Slew Foot is still with us; however, he’s wiser and more sinister than ever.
Evil is rampant in our world today, and behind that force is a spiritual struggle, whether you call it good versus evil or God versus Satan. It’s there, and often God’s children become prime moving targets. Never forget that when Satan launched His first battle with God, he made God’s children living in the garden his first target.
Paul, writing to the fellowship of believers at Thessalonica, said, “For we wanted to come to you–certainly I, Paul, did, again and again–but Satan stopped us” (1 Thessalonians 2:18). Note those three words: Satan stopped us! Here’s how three other translations put it: “Satan hindered us” (KJV), “Satan stymied us” (Message), and “Satan prevented us” (NLT).
The verb Dr. Luke used when he wrote what Paul related is an interesting one. Peter used the same word (1 Peter 3:7) when he told husbands to settle their arguments peacefully so that their “prayers may not be hindered.” In the first century a secular writer used the word to describe how two warring factions were separated or stopped from confronting each other because one had cut a trench between the enemy forces to prevent the progress of the other one. Another uses the same word to put a trench across a road so someone could no longer pass. Getting the idea?
How did Satan stop Paul? In Acts 17 Luke explained that Paul and Silas, along with Timothy, had been in Thessalonica for at least three weeks. On three consecutive Sabbaths Paul had gone to the synagogue and demonstrated convincing proofs that Jesus had to die for the sins of the world and was buried and rose again the third day.
While some Jews and many Gentiles believed, this kind of preaching produced many enemies. The opposition went to the market, hired a bunch of thugs, and started a riot. When the authorities went to look for Paul and his group, they ducked out the back door, and the mob grabbed Jason, his host and held him as ransom. Paul knew if he went back to Thessalonica as he wanted to, Jason’s life was imperiled with either prison or death, and Paul chose not to do that.
OK, Satan threw a roadblock in his way. He effectively shut him down. That’s what an enemy will do, you know. Paul couldn’t change the response of wicked men who hated him because He preached the cross of Jesus Christ, and neither can you prevent your enemies from doing what they can to hurt you as well—not because of what you have done, but because of what you represent. It all comes with the territory. When that happens, Jesus said you should rejoice. He said, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me” (Matthew 5:11).
Satan is still throwing roadblocks in the path of God’s children—things which keep us from accomplishing everything we would like to do, but he can do nothing which God does not allow.
Resource reading: Genesis 1-2