The Jewish apostle Paul [formerly Saul] was saved in dramatic fashion on the road to Damascus. [Acts 9] He had previously been an extremely religious Pharisee, and an absolute terror to any Christian who might have stumbled onto his path. In the passage below Paul gives us a glimpse into the message that he was given from the Lord on the day that he got saved:
But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the POWER OF SATAN UNTO GOD, that they may receive FORGIVENESS OF SINS, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. (Acts 26:16-18)
Keep in mind that Paul was a super religious person, who was lost and dead in his own sins, before he came to salvation in Jesus Christ. This same man was then called to preach the Gospel of salvation unto others, and he suffered much for the cause of the Gospel. You see the Devil absolutely LOVES religion. The Devil LOVES any religious activity that is void of the soul saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. That includes any type of religion that does not believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, the Messiah, the one who died on the Cross for the sin of mankind. That includes any religion that does not believe that a person ” . . .must be born again” [John 3:1-8] as Jesus Himself declared.
If you have ever watched a hockey game you know that the main purpose of the teams is to score more goals than their opponents. The job of the “goalie” [goaltender] is to defend, and block, any attempt of the opposing team from getting that hockey puck into the net. His teammates are also doing their best to get that puck, and go in the opposite direction, so that they might score a goal.
When it comes to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there are many people who will seek to discourage the Christian from preaching the Gospel, not only to them but to others. They seek to prevent the “Gospel puck” from entering the net of the lost soul who so desperately need it. I think of them as “goaltenders for the Devil.” Many of these “goaltenders” have no idea that they are being used by the enemy of their souls for the purpose of stopping the Gospel message from going forth. The Lord’s mercy is still available to them, but until they turn to the Lord, they are under the devil’s hand. The apostle Paul and Barnabas had an encounter with a Jewish man who was one of the “Devil’s goaltenders”. His name was Barjesus [Elymas the sorcerer] and he sought to turn a man away from the soul saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, A FALSE PROPHET, a Jew, whose name was Barjesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and DESIRED TO HEAR THE WORD OF GOD. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, SEEKING TO TURN AWAY THE DEPUTY FROM THE FAITH. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou CHILD OF THE DEVIL, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to PERVERT the right ways of the LORD? And now, behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the DOCTRINE OF THE LORD . (Acts 13:6-12)
This is a clear cut case of the battle that goes on for each and every soul in the universe. We have a situation here where a man named Sergius Paulus called for Barnabas and Saul [Paul] and truly desired to hear the word of God. This is the desire of any true evangelist. But then the Devil raised his ugly head and commissioned one of his “goaltenders” in the person of a man named Elymas, who is described as a sorcerer [witchcraft]. The scripture passage tells us that Elymas withstood them and sought to turn the deputy from the faith. This is exactly the way the Devil works, because he knew that the Satanic chains, which had Sergius Paulus [the Deputy] bound, were about to be broken. He was not happy with that. Paul addressed Elymas the sorcerer as a “child of the Devil” before the Lord sent a temporary judgment on him.
I have seen the “Devil’s goaltenders” at work many times as I would attempt to evangelize at certain times in my walk with the Lord. I can remember entering a subway car at the Archer Avenue station in Jamaica, Queens, and as I started to share the Gospel a man got in my face [nose to nose] and said:
“How can you be so brainwashed?”
Immediately after that man spoke a young lady sitting directly in front of me screamed at me, in a rage, and said: “Keep it to yourself!” with such a venom that it shocked me. But I have seen this happen before, and I knew the Devil was not happy with the soul saving Gospel being preached. I continued to share the Word of God with the people, and as I looked down the end of the subway car I saw two people sitting opposite each other with their eyes glued upon me. As I reached that end of the car both of them reached their hands out to receive a Gospel tract, and then thanked me for preaching the Word of God.
At another time [and a different year] in a different part of New York City, I had just entered a subway car. I do not want to sound spooky, but I just felt a subtle darkness and I almost anticipated some opposition. I noticed a lady who was reading a Bible, sitting to the left of me, and she had a glow upon her countenance. As I started to preach, a man at the end of the car who was sitting in the two seaters, went ballistic and started to scream at me to be quiet. He held up a newspaper and said “Here, if you want something to preach, then preach this!”
The woman to the left of me, who was reading the Bible, pointed her arm out at me so fast that she did not even look up. She said:
“Preach the Word brother!”
There was a little old lady [probably in her 80’s] sitting right next to the man who rose up against me. She stood up slowly, pointed her cane at me, and said: “Preach the word!”
There was a man speaking Spanish, standing next to the doors to the right of me, now shouting at the man who rose up against me. His arm action indicated that he was on my side. There was so much shouting at this point that I used the opportunity to preach on the subject of Spiritual warfare. I told them that the Devil did not want them to have my testimony tract, that was in my hand, which they could have for free. I can tell you that many hands went out to receive the Gospel tracts that day, and I do give God all glory and thanks!
I tell you these stories so that you may be reminded that this gospel of Jesus Christ can really save souls from an eternal Hell, and the Devil is not happy with that. The Devil is not worried about those who preach a sugarcoated gospel, or a watered down version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? Because that type of message is one that he encourages his own “goaltenders” to share. There is no reason for him to hinder or stop a message that will not deliver a soul from his kingdom! But if you sincerely desire to see souls saved you must preach the full counsel of God, which is rarely heard in the modern day church.
When I experience the opposition from the “Devil’s goaltenders” they act as a humbling reminder to myself [for the good] that we are in an absolute battle for the souls of people. The scripture passage below makes it ever so clear, that there will always be people who seek to FORBID YOU from speaking and preaching the Gospel to lost souls, so that they might be SAVED!
For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the WORD OF GOD which ye heard of us, ye received it NOTas the WORD OF MEN, but as it is in TRUTH the WORD OF GOD, which effectually worketh also in you that believe. For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in CHRIST JESUS: for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the JEWS: Who both KILLED THE LORD JESUS, and THEIR OWN PROPHETS, and have persecuted us; and they PLEASE NOT GOD, and are contrary to all men: FORBIDDING US to speak to the GENTILES that they might be SAVED, to fill up their sins alway: for the WRATH is come UPON THEM to the uttermost. (1 Thessalonians 2:13-16)