“Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.” 1 Thessalonians 2:18
Before Paul ever got to Thessalonica, he was trying to go to Asia. He had within him a desire to do so, but he allowed the Holy Spirit to guide his life. (Acts 16:6) Therefore, he did not go to Asia directly. It would be some time later that he was allowed to go there, but it was the Holy Spirit Who forbade him, at that point in time, and it would be the Holy Spirit Who would allow him when he went.
Skipping ahead to the time after which Paul had passed through Thessalonica, where a mighty work was done in a reaping of the Lord’s harvest, we see that he wanted to go back and check on them. He had been there but a maybe a month before being run out of town by the religious leaders of the synagogue who wanted nothing to do with Christ. They were so adamant about it that when they had heard he was in Berea, they went to Berea and chased him outta there, too. (Acts 17:1-15)
In a month’s time, Paul had spoken to many Gentiles in Thessalonica and knew that the Spirit worked among them and mightily saved many before Paul was run out. But, the Thessalonians remained on his mind, so much so, that he wanted to return to them. (1 Thess 3:1-5) He herein wrote, though, that he (and his group) was hindered by Satan. I find this interesting because Paul knew it was Satan. Paul could discern the difference between the Holy Spirit and “another” spirit. He also understood the scriptures and had knowledge of the book of Job, which applies to this passage.
In Job, we see that Satan searches the earth. (Job 1:7;2:2) The Apostle Peter tells us it is for the purpose of finding those he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8) As Satan searched, God asked him if he had considered Job, who was perfect and upright, eschewing evil? Satan basically replies, well, yeah, but Your Hand of protection is on the guy, and so, of course, he remains upright. Then God takes down the protection to the extent of Job’s things first, then to his health, and Satan jumps at his chances to corrupt Job by attacking his things and then his health, to the brink of death. So, here was a man who lived a Godly life, and Satan had to get permission to go after him.
Back to Paul.
Paul was doing the one thing that God most often says not to do. He was in fear. He experienced fear often, for God would tell him to not be afraid. In this case, though, he dwelt on the things that had happened. They were things he could not control, nor change. Those thoughts led to worry about the souls that had heard the Truth, and he had concerns for their walk, that they continued to walk with Jesus. Since worry is just another form of fear, Paul, though trusting his own life to God, wasn’t trusting theirs to Him. So, here was a man, upright and perfect (through the Blood of Christ), who eschewed evil, and he was hindered by Satan. God now, while guiding Paul through Corinth and eventually to Rome, was shutting doors to keep Paul on track. This particular door was blocked by Satan himself. God allowed Satan to be the closed door for a very good reason.
Satan in this case was using the religious establishment of the day, in the Jewish synagogue. They adamantly did not want Paul, and they certainly didn’t want Jesus. They wanted power and glory for themselves. That Jewish synagogue filled with religious zealots is representative for us today as, you guessed it, the modern “church.”
The modern church is the greatest hindrance to the gospel today. The world, the flesh, and the devil are all very much alive and must never be ignored, but the majority of what is called church is basically false christianity. They preach another Christ, another doctrine, and are led by another spirit that is not the Holy Spirit. The Blood of Christ is not preached. Sin is not discussed, exposed, or dealt with. The people’s ears are being tickled by what they desire to hear, and they are not hearing the Truth. Jesus saves us from Sin, not in Sin, meaning we must repent of it and accept Him to be saved. We cannot repent of what we know not. If the leadership does not point out that we are all sinners and that Jesus Christ crucified is the only Way to be cleansed of Sin and to remain cleansed of sins and guided by God, then guess what? The Sin remains!
Jesus Christ is the Message. His death on a Cross for our life is the Only Way! Paul preached this and knew this, yet even he experienced times of trial that were hard and he would rely on his flesh from time to time in his walk. At this time, when he finally couldn’t deal with it any longer, he surrendered it to God and sent Timothy. Timothy was not hindered in going back, and the freedom from the worry Paul experienced allowed him to continue his work in Athens, focusing on the church there. God was faithful to bring Timothy back with the good news of the church remaining and being strengthened, and Paul was encouraged once more.
Point to the Truth of Jesus Christ and Him crucified when presented with false doctrine and Satan’s strongholds within the church, but trust God to the work which only He can do in the Spirit. Do not worry when Satan comes against us and know that it is the testing of our faith in God. Know that God allows Satan leeway to do so, because great faith must be tested greatly, and as we recognize Satan working against us through discernment, give it up to God to handle. Whatever the church teaches, test it by the Word of God yourself and see if it holds water, or if it is contrary to what God says. God never contradicts Himself.
Discern the spirits. Fear not. Walk and speak in Truth and in Spirit. Trust God.