There are two major perspective changes that need to happen in our culture today. The first is: The Devil did NOT make you do it.
Too often we equate Satan with Sin, but nowhere in scripture does it say that they are one in the same. Before he fell, Satan was called Lucifer. There was no “devil” to make him sin. He was the only sinner, to ever take responsibility for his actions because he could not pass blame to anyone but himself.
But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death. Do not be misled, my beloved brethren. (James 1:14-16)
Scripture tells us that evil desire comes from our deceitful hearts. Satan merely uses what is already in each of us to entice us to sin. He wields death and temptation, but sin exists outside of him. So don’t be deceived into thinking that our powerful enemy is the one forcing you to sin. If that were the case, all those who lived on earth before the Holy Spirit came to dwell within us, would have disobeyed God with every last breath.
We need to also remember that our enemy has no authority of his own. He is not more powerful than God nor does he even come close.
And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns all evil [because it is wrong]? And still he holds fast his integrity, although you moved Me against him to destroy him without cause. Then Satan answered the Lord, Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has will he give for his life. But put forth Your hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse and renounce You to Your face. And the Lord said to Satan, Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord and smote Job with loathsome and painful sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. (Job 2:3-7)
Satan could not touch Job nor could he convince God to put forth his hand to harm him. It was God who allowed Satan to attack Job, but notice that God said “spare his life.” Satan was only allowed to do whatever God allowed. God is in control and Satan is not.
The second thing we need to understand is: Satan isn’t the only one that can stop us from doing God’s work. Many people read through scripture and come across passages like this:
Because it was our will to come to you. [I mean that] I, Paul, again and again [wanted to come], but Satan hindered and impeded us. (1 Thessalonians 2:18)
…and they stop there. Yes Satan impedes and hinders us from doing the good works that God wants us to do, but there are a few things in verse 18 we need to recognize. Even Paul was blaming Satan. The first part of the verse says “it was our will to come to you” and then “I, Paul, again and again” yet nowhere in the verse do we see “God sent us to you, but Satan hindered that.” The reason being, Satan cannot hinder God. So let’s look at Acts and understand what God is doing.
And Paul and Silas passed through the territory of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Word in [the province of] Asia. (Acts 16:6)
It was the Holy Spirit, in this case, that kept Paul and Silas from proclaiming the Word. Initially this sounds counter intuitive of God. Why would he hinder anyone from proclaiming the Word? Well, that’s simple. He knows the best person, the best timing, and the best way to move His Word forward and it wasn’t time yet. God sent Isaiah in chapter 6 to preach the Word until everyone rejected it and brought destruction down upon themselves. So what is the lesson that we are supposed to learn from these two examples? We don’t decide how God’s plan is going to work. We just participate in it.
God is perfect. We are not. Nothing we come up with would ever trump God’s plans. All that to say, when it comes to proclaiming the Word, preaching the Gospel, and making disciples of all nations, it is not necessarily a bad thing if we are rejected or not allowed into a country. That could mean one of two things: they are not ready for the Word yet and God’s plans have dictated a different time or different people to do the work
God is done with that country. Maybe the full number of people in that country have been reached. This doesn’t mean we stop offering the gospel, but it does mean that we can look at a “closed” nation with joy and not with frustration and our own selfish perspectives. God’s plan is always working. It is always moving forward.
Nothing can hinder it. Satan can’t impede it. Sin can’t stop it. Death couldn’t hold it.