And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one [consent] began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. Luke 14:17-20 (KJV)
Earlier, we listed six classic excuses that Jesus identified in the Gospels. In this passage, we find three, the man who had to prove his new oxen (work), the man who had to go check out his new land venture (business), and the man who just got married and could not attend the banquet (family). Let’s take another look at the passage, but this time, I want us to focus on the puzzling phrase: “And they all with one consent began to make excuse.”
How did three different people with three different situations become unified in their excuses? I first thought there had to be some collaboration among parties A, B, and C to achieve this kind of unity. There seems to have been some type of back-channel or instant messaging between them. That type of behind the scenes collaboration is easy for us to imagine in today’s world, but the messaging of Bible times would not have been so ‘instant’ to say the least! Or was it? No, they did not hold a meeting or collaborate with each other, but they did all receive their priorities from the master of excuses, the devil. (In case you think that to be a bit too extreme, it is helpful here to recall how Jesus drew the line in the sand when it comes to serving God. He reduced it to only two choices: God or mammon (money) (Matt. 6:24).)
Demon spirits have been described as disembodied spirits with the power of thought suggestion. The devil by no means possesses the same omni-present powers as God, but he has a large number of fallen angels in his army! They can suggest to multiple people simultaneously. That is the reason the Bible tells us that we must cast down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and take captive every thought, bringing it into the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).
The Bible also tells us that the steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord (Ps. 37:23). If all of us received our marching orders from God, our priorities from the King of kings, instead of the prince of the power of the air, what level of agreement could we achieve today? The reason Satan fights us, the Church, so hard is because he knows that one believer can put a 1000 to flight, and two can put 10,000 to flight. That is why the devil works so hard to keep us divided because he knows that united we would defeat him with no problem. Without a doubt, this is where the gates of hell focuses its resistance! The problem is not with brother or sister-so-and-so with a ton of excuses so much as it is with the gates of hell working in the un-renewed minds of saints who grant him entrance into their thought life.
Once, after I had preached so hard on Sunday, the faces of the congregation seemed to taunt me all day long the following day. I prayed and prayed, but I couldn’t seem to shake the attack. Then the Lord opened my eyes to see that there was a demon of stubbornness responsible for that all too familiar look. Stubbornness is famous for saying, “I will do it, but I will do it my way!” The Spirit of the Lord told me, “Don’t get mad at the people, but get mad at the devil.”
The excuses, given in unison from people who are getting their marching orders from the wrong source, IS THE WORK OF THE GATES OF HELL to stop the Church from moving forward as one. The good news is that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” or the Church (Matt. 16:18). We, knowing the ‘wiles of the devil,’ must not allow him to succeed! We must come together in prayer to shut the works of the kingdom of darkness down!
The Lord reminded me once of all the buses, buildings, blessings, etc. that he had waiting for us as a church, but they were held up, just waiting to be released if we would only come together and cry out to him in prayer as he has told us to do repeatedly! What we as believers in the Body often forget is that if you want cooperation you must sow it. We stubbornly refuse God by making excuse for not getting in alignment with his vision for our church. And then we end up in the prayer line wondering why our blessings are being hindered or held up. It should come as no surprise. If you get still enough and quiet enough for long enough, God will remind you of the last thing he told you to do. Let’s make the necessary adjustments. Let’s allow the Spirit of God to give us an alignment and get us back in align with his plans and purpose today!