That No Man Should Be Moved
© 2023 C. O. Bishop
1st Thessalonians 3:1-5
1Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone; 2 And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:
3 That no man should be moved by these afflictions: for yourselves know that we are appointed thereunto.
4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 5 For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonian believers partly because he simply misses them, as he wrote earlier. But he was also concerned for their spiritual well-being. He knew that they had been under persecution, and he was fearful that they could be turned aside from their faith by the harsh trials and become unfruitful.
Notice that, in verse five, he pointed out the enemy who sought to cripple them spiritually. It seems appropriate to spend some time on how that enemy attempts to cripple believers.
Paul was fearful for the believers at Thessalonica. He had heard nothing of them for a long time; so, he feared they may have been ensnared by the enemy in some way, and become unfruitful.
Who is the Enemy?
This seems pretty self-explanatory, but God spells out for us that our enemies do not include other humans, even when they are acting like enemies. Ephesians 6:12 states that our enemies are not “flesh and blood.” He names several categories of demonic creatures (which I can’t define, because the scripture does not define them.) And, in 1st Peter 5:8, we are admonished to “be sober, be vigilant, for your enemy the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” That leaves no question as to the identity of our ultimate enemy and his desire regarding us..
So, What are the Enemy’s Plans for You?
Remember: You are Secure Forever:
Just as a preliminary word of encouragement, let me assure you: Satan cannot take you away from Jesus! But he will try to make you think he can do so.
In John 6:37, Jesus said, “he that cometh unto Me I will in no wise cast out.” And, in John 6:39, he said, “This is the Father’s will, which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”
In John 10:27-29 He said, “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one.”
No Created Being Can Separate us from the Love of God.
Also, in Romans 8:38, 39, Paul confirms that “38 … I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Finally, in Hebrews 13:5, God says, “…I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” So, when you feel fear of “losing your salvation,” or fear that God may abandon you, remember these things:
- Jesus will never “kick you out.”
- God the Father has willed that Jesus will not lose a single one who has trusted in Him.
- No one can “pluck you out of His hand.”
That includes all the fallen angelic hosts, including Satan himself.
That includes you! You are a created being: you cannot separate yourself from His Love.
- God will never leave you, nor forsake you!
Do remember that you can ignore God and fail to experience His peace and His Joy, and the confidence of knowing that you are “still on His team.” 1st John 5:13 says He wants you to know that you have eternal life.
Because You are “on God’s Team,” Satan desires to cripple or destroy you!
Just as an army, retreating before a powerful enemy, will seek to destroy anything they have left behind, so their enemy cannot use it, Satan desires to render you useless to God.
He cannot do anything to you without God’s permission, but he can entice you to walk out from under God’s protection, and thus you may become a target for his attacks.
If he can cause you to doubt God’s Character and Grace, then he can make you live as though you were not “on God’s team.” He will attempt to lure you into immorality, or fear, or pride, or any other manifestation of your old Sin Nature. Then other people will see you as being “no different than any other sinner” (or worse, because you claim to belong to Jesus, but are living as though you never knew Him.) If he can do that, then he has succeeded in destroying your testimony, and it will no longer matter “what you say:” everyone around you has already read the “testimony of your life,” in your behavior.
We have already been warned of this, and in Philippians 1:29, it is spelled out, “for unto you it is given, in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for His sake.” Jesus did not promise an “easy life” to believers: He said, “these things I have spoken unto you that in Me you might have Peace. In the World, ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the World.” (John 16:33)
What about Fear?
Does Satan use fear against us? Absolutely, he does! We can be so overwhelmed with fear that we are completely unable to function. Where does the fear come from? It is not coming from God: In 2nd Timothy 1:7, He says, “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
We can be distracted by (and dwell on) the Internet News, and be drawn into the countless conspiracy theories that abound there, and we will be ensnared by fear. Even if some of the “scary things” on the news are true, there is nothing we can do about any of them, as a rule.
But what God says, we can obey. I do not need to know all the horrible plans Satan has for the World. All I need to know is who my true Master is, and all I need to do, is walk where He says to walk. That is why the Psalmist says, “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul.” The News can’t do any of those things! Satan will use it (or any of a thousand other distractions) to do exactly the opposite.
What about Anger?
There were plenty of things for the Thessalonian believers to feel angry about. They had been grossly mistreated by the unbelieving World. They had lost their belongings in some cases, and had been physically attacked, in others. There were false teachers there, insisting that, without becoming Jews and following the Mosaic Law, they could not be saved.
Those things probably engendered both fear and anger. But both reactions are fruitless. Only Light dispels darkness. Anger from believers will not prevent the anger of others around them. God says for us to drop it. Love has a better hope of dispelling anger. And forgiveness has a better chance of producing internal healing than does resentment. In James 1:20, God says, “The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.”
What about Pride?
In the sense of “arrogance,” we truly have nothing to feel “proud” about, Our birthplace, from a human perspective, is strictly an accident. Whatever family we were born to, again, was not of our choosing. We can enjoy all those things and be grateful that we had good upbringing, or that we have been brought up in an environment where the Bible is honored and taught. But, once again, we had nothing to do with that fact. We either embraced it and valued it or we did not, but we had no part in making it happen.
Our gifts are just that: gifts. Perhaps we have worked hard to build upon the talents we have been given, but that talent was inborn, not earned. If I was born color-blind, or even completely blind, I have nothing to be ashamed of: but as a sighted person, I cannot feel “proud” that my eyes are functional, and even that function is diminishing, as I age.
Some people have music going inside all the time, without thinking of it. I’m one of those people, but it isn’t something I chose. And it isn’t always good. A “bad song” can get stuck in my head just as easily as a “good song.” But when I wake up in the morning, there is already a song cycling through my mind, for better or worse. It is nothing to engender pride at all: it is just there. Same for most other things.
Can I feel “proud of my children” or “proud of a worker” whom I trained? Sure, but the clean “pride” of grateful, joyful satisfaction with the results of one’s labor is not the same as an “arrogant attitude” that says, “because my kid is a champion wrestler, I must be somehow better than you.” That kind of pride is always offensive, and always destructive: Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
What about Unbelief?
Unbelief among believers? That sounds like a contradiction in terms, but it is very common. Think of Peter: He believed God enough to “get out of the boat!” But moments later, unbelief kicked in, and he instantly sank. We suffer from the same malady!
Unbelief is the cause of our not having the confidence to just go ahead and do what God has commanded us to do. Unbelief is what makes us fear the future, and fear abandonment by God, even when we know His promise that He will never leave us.
Satan attacked the simple faith of Eve, by first questioning God’s Word, then denying it entirely and accusing God of dishonesty…claiming that God had a hidden agenda and that He had lied to her and Adam. Satan still does that today. If he can cause you to weaken in your trust of The Savior, then all of his weapons are empowered to draw you away into abject failure and defeat.
What about the Desire for Fleshly Gratification?
We always have a choice: we can believe God …or not. We can obey God …or not. We can trust Him …or not. And our old Sin nature, one of our other enemies, is in league with the Evil One. Jeremiah said, regarding our old Sin Nature, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” Our old nature clamors for attention and demands pleasure. But it is completely corrupt: Romans 8:7 says that even God can’t fix it! So, He gave us a new nature!
The World, (Our third enemy) says, “Follow your heart! Your heart will never lead you astray!’ But God says my heart is the most likely agent to deceive me! I have had my whole life to practice listening to the three enemies of my soul. I’m an expert at sin and unbelief. It takes practice to learn to listen to God instead of my old sinful heart.
So, when the World, in popular music, says, “How can something so wrong feel so right?” We should recognize the faulty reasoning it offers. Who engineered that flawed logic? And, ultimately, who is attempting to lure us away to sin? Satan is the Spirit at work in the World, and our old sin nature agrees with both our other enemies. They all work to convince us that if it feels good, it must be good. God gives the answer in Galatians 5:16 “… walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh.”
We always have a choice.
How you respond to God’s Written Word is a choice you make daily. Remember that since Jesus is repeatedly identified as being the Living Word of God, the way we respond to the Written Word is truly how we are responding to the Living Word. When we ignore the written Word, we are also ignoring the Living Word.
We have choices to make every moment. If we continue to make bad choices, then the enemy can draw us away and make us unfruitful in the service of Jesus.
Lord Jesus, please grant that we will be aware of the choices we are making and choose to walk in the light as You are in the Light. Enable each of us to serve You in the way You want us to serve. Help us to remember that we are Your Ambassadors.