“Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?” (Gal. 5:7).
Sometimes we have seen a great meeting break out in a community and great prospects loomed up as to the outlook of the work of the Lord. And indeed there seemed to be ground for great enthusiasm, as to the great things that were going to be done, and the many souls who were going to stand together, and carry on the work so remarkably begun. And at times it has looked as if whole communities were going to be swept into the Kingdom of God’s saving grace. But just about the time the work gets to moving good, whether on a small scale or large, things begin to transpire in rapid succession to hinder it’s progress. The great work of God as it moves forward seems to encounter a great tidal wave, or current of difficulties. This has always been in one shape or another, since Adam transgressed God’s law and Satan took an active part in the affairs of this world. It is Satan withstanding God, or seeking to hinder the great purpose of the Almighty. It is scarcely conceivable that so many things of a hindering nature could be invented as Satan is using these days to keep the people from the full salvation of God. Here are a few only of the many things of which Satan is the author, or originator, to check the progress of the gospel in the hearts of men.
Neglect of Private Prayer
If Satan can keep our minds occupied, or in any way hinder our private devotions, he has succeeded in cutting off our supply of grace and power to withstand him, and very soon he has found a way to introduce some feeling, disposition or act that will wreck us and make us his captives. How many today have left off private devotion for so long that they are void of spiritual fire and power and, while they are still in the ranks of the Lord professing to fight on in His service, it’s plain to see that the deep, rich experience of the triumphant Christian is not theirs. Emptiness and dryness characterizes all they say or do in the religious services or anywhere else. This being true, Satan has accomplished his purpose in them. It serves Satan better for us to profess much and possess nothing, than that we should profess nothing at all.
Few people realize the danger of walking too close to the world. We are to be “all things to all men,” in a sense, to win sinners to Jesus; but entering into the spirit of the world is the same as rebelling against God and joining with His enemies. For it is said in the sacred Scriptures that “friendship of the world is enmity with God” and that whomever “will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” This being true, it is plain to see on what side we are if we conform to the pride and fashion of the world about us or enter into its ambition for money-making or pleasure-seeking, or even for selfish ease and luxury. The way of the cross is the way of self-denial, crucifixion to the world and its offers. Some think because it’s customary to make money thus and so, they are at liberty to do so too. How far they are missing it! Also those who seek pleasure at resorts, and places of amusement, and deck themselves out in the latest styles. There can scarcely be a greater manifesting of the spirit of the world than that which is shown by the wearing of jewelry, rings, feathers, and artificial flowers, powdering and painting the face, wearing of garments, footware that is so out of harmony with the designs of nature, and so far from the simplicity of the gospel. It’s amazing that women professing godliness are so blind on these things. It’s no wonder in the face of such things that Satan is holding back the revival power and spiritual blessing, when there is so much worldly conformity everywhere among the professed people of God.
This is another thing that Satan uses to good advantage. If he may get up a disagreement and then get us to looking at it and magnifying it, soon we have a split on our hands and the Spirit of God is grieved, while Satan is pleased and delighted. The Lord would fill us with such a love that all the little differences will be overlooked and we just go right on loving each other “as brethren” and no feeling or division need be thought of.
A self-willed leader has often been used by Satan to do more hurt to the work of God and souls of the people than can be overcome in time by a number of good spirit-filled men and women. How hard it is for men to see that they should have the humble submissive spirit of Jesus, and keep self and selfish actions out of God’s way.
Seeking Certain Manifestations
This has often hindered the work of the spirit in us. What does it matter to me how God uses you, if He is using me as He desires? There is something in a lot of people that makes them want to do and act just like some others they see. This does show up so little and narrow. Let us be yielded, perfectly submissive to God. Let Him do as seemeth good to Himself and go on our way rejoicing whether He uses us as He does some others or not. He may have something far better for us than we have seen in any one else.“If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land” (Isa. 1:19). May God help us ever to follow Him and keep Satan and all his works out.
By Sam Perry, first printed in The Church of God Evangel 1900’sImage credit: http://www.cslewisinstitute.org/webfm_send/1767