Tag Archive: Satan


Greetings fellow time-travelers! Here’s the continuation of my post on suffering caused by malevolent spirits, and my series on suffering in general. If you missed the first half of part 7, published a couple of days ago, you might want to read that before this

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HOW DOES SATAN OPPOSE US AND CAUSE SUFFERING?

From the start I want to stress again that I don’t believe all or even most suffering is inflicted by demons, but that some is. All the other causes I’ve written about before are in action, and they’re mostly related to human nature and the Curse.

Satan not only hates God, he also hates those made in the image of God: humans. There are several ways in which the enemy of our souls can cause suffering:

THE DEVIL’S WORK 1: SIN

The Bible says that the world we live in-the world of men, of society and culture, the plethora of religions and philosophies, the way of life which ignores our Creator-is governed and directed by the ways of Satan. In fact Jesus called Satan “the prince of this world” (John 14:30). Paul called him “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Consequently not only are we vulnerable to temptation directly from Satan and his servants just as Adam and Eve were, but the entire ungodly world system we live in-shaped and directed by “the prince of this world”-presents all kinds of ways for us to turn away from God. We tend to think that the ways of the world are more attractive and more “fun” than the ways of God. The reality is otherwise, because ungodly motives and actions always end in trouble and loss for ourselves and for others. As one example, children lose stability, love, happiness and faith in mankind when a father leaves home for another woman.

It’s more common for us to be led into sin by our own attraction to the ways of this world than by the direct work of malevolent angels (James 1:14). The “devil made me do it” theology among some Christians is nothing more than an excuse for their own failures. The devil cannot make the believer who is walking in faith do anything: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). In contrast the devil and his angels can lead unbelievers into all kinds of things, because apart from the Spirit of God they have no power to resist and no motivation to do what’s right:

“The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” 1 John 5:19).

THE DEVIL’S WORK 2/ DECEPTION

“…the god of this world has blinded the minds of unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ…”  (2 Corinthians 4:4).

Of course, temptation as in point 1 is deception. The kind of deception I’m speaking of in point 2 is that passed on in the philosophies of men, and of fallen angels who are in rebellion against God. These include false religion and false gods which lead millions away from our Creator; immoral and ungodly lifestyles which cause broken families, disease, rejected children, abortion and loneliness; false belief systems such as evolution and the idea the we’re all here because of random processes, chance, natural selection and multiplied millions of fortuitous mutations which have never been observed. Such philosophies have fueled all kinds of dark political systems such as Communism-responsible in the 20th century for well over a hundred million deaths around the world. See my post series on communism:

https://nickyfisher.com/2012/06/15/war-religion-and-atheism-part-3-lenin/

Most deception is much more subtle than communism.

THE DEVIL’S WORK 3/ PERSECUTION

Christians around the world face persecution because of their faith in and association with Jesus Christ. This persecution comes from the hatred of men for the faith, but ultimately from the devil and his angels who are in constant opposition to God and all his people. Persecution in recent years in the Middle East against the Church has been of such an intensity and of such unspeakable horror that it cannot have had anything but a spiritual origin. Media people in the West largely ignored what has essentially been attempted genocide against a Church which has existed in some of these ancient nations since the beginning.

THE DEVIL’S WORK 4/ OTHER PEOPLE

This point is related to the above discussion on “Deception”, but really needs to be noted separately.

Demons are unseen, but they are able and willing to extend their wishes into the physical world through people, either verbally, or through their actions or their teachings. People who are open to lies and falsehood; people who are not governed or guided by the truth of God; people in the right position of influence and power are good candidates to fulfill demonic wills. It’s hard to imagine, for example, that Adolph Hitler and his accomplices were not prompted to unleash war on the whole of Europe, slaughtering indiscriminately and without remorse, attempting to wipe out an entire nation of people-God’s chosen. On a much smaller scale, one person can be led into an illicit relationship by another persons help, perhaps (not always) by demonic prompting.

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War, poverty, disease, ignorance, and so many other maladies can be the result of the sinful actions of man, sometimes caused by spiritual entities.

We could look at several examples from the Bible. One of the better known ones is where Jesus reproved Satan who was speaking though Peter, who was suggesting that he avoid going to Jerusalem and so the cross:

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns (Matthew 16:23 NIV).

THE DEVIL’S WORK 5/ THE CURSE

This particular subject is perhaps my own idea. It may or may not be correct, so please question what I’m saying, and give me any thoughts if you wish.

It’s my personal conviction that the devil and his fallen angels help to administer the Curse, which I discussed in an earlier part of my series. Again, I’m not talking about any  “Yin-Yang” type of belief here as discussed in the Dao De Jing. What I mean is that God employs-nay conscripts-the devil and his fallen followers in the out working of the Curse. How does this play out in life, you may wonder? My answer is that while God has subjected all of nature to frustration (ROMANS 8) through the Curse, the frustration works in our lives and in our bodies in many ways other than ageing, sickness and death. Our intentions, our dreams, our efforts are frequently frustrated and come to nothing. Surely a loving God would not want us to be frustrated, you may think. Well, he did arrange for us to live fairly short life, to age and to die, didn’t he? I can only think that his motivation is to prevent us from living in long-term opposition to his ways, and to use the specter of mortality to sober us up quickly.

I believe that one out working of this frustration in our lives is in what we call in the US “Murphy’s Law”, or in the UK “Sod’s Law”. It has many other synonyms. Search for my post on the subject, published a few years ago, soon to be re-written and improved.

CAN SATAN CAUSE PHYSICAL SUFFERING?

We’ve considered Hitler’s war on mankind, but can the devil and his demons directly cause hurt?

We’ve seen that demons can lead people to physically hurt other people in many ways. In Peter’s warning of the “roaring lion”, mentioned earlier, he said that as a result of the devil’s efforts “the same kind of sufferings are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world”. This suffering was clearly tangible: a physical, material suffering.

However, it’s possible for physical suffering to be directly imposed on us by our unseen enemy. You only have to look at what happened to poor Job as a result of Satan’s attention. He lost most of his family and his home and he lost his own health not only as a result of Satan’s prompting of people around Job, but also directly from the will of Satan, in conjunction with God’s approval (Job 1:12-19).

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Most tellingly, it was Satan who directly inflicted physical suffering on Job:

So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (Job 2:7).

Paul suffered physically as a result of the work of a demon, though under God’s direction. He was sent a “messenger” of Satan to torment him and to keep him humble. Notice that this was a problem in his flesh (verse 7).

Elsewhere in the New Testament, we read of the woman who was crippled- bent over- for eighteen years of her life, until Jesus healed her. Jesus said that this physical harm was inflicted by Satan (Luke 13:11-16). .

In Revelation 2:10 we read how Christ warned some believers that the devil was going to put them into prison and they would be persecuted to death. This is about as physical as suffering can be! It seems clear from scripture that while trouble can be inflicted by Satan directly-if he has permission-he can also influence people to do the job for him. Refer to Nazi Germany as a prime example.

VICTORY IS OURS

The most important point in this entire subject is that God is supreme, and he loves us. We have problems in life now, but ultimately believers are on the winning side, and we cannot possibly lose. Don’t forget that Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul” (Matthew 10:28). Our bodies are temporal: our souls are eternal. Jesus Christ is the shepherd of our souls. Paul said:

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit…For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us… Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 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 (Romans chapter 8, verses 1, 8, 35, 37, 39).

 

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The traditional view of Satan’s work on earth has depicted him whispering over our shoulders and talking us into doing bad things that we really want to do anyway. He’s the CEO of hell, and causes havoc on the earth. Meanwhile God wrings his hands as he runs around frantically trying to minimize the devil’s work, and trying to patch up the damage.

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Welcome to the most unpopular subject in the world: suffering. This part (7) of my series may be a little more popular than the rest, since even in our “enlightened” age people are fascinated with the devil. On one occasion I was witnessing in the street when one young woman hissed in my face, “I don’t believe in God-I believe in the devil!”. She was perhaps speaking for many other people who prefer the darker side of life.

Part 7-itself divided in two-is necessarily devilishly long: I’m sorry. Please scroll down to get the gist of it if you wish.

In this part of my edited and re-written series, based on Biblical scriptures, I consider whether and to what extent the devil and his angels contribute to our problems in life. Unbelievers and also some believers will find the subject difficult to take seriously: I say ignore spiritual opposition at your own peril.

There’s no question, Biblically speaking, that our most threatening enemy in life is the devil, along with his accomplices:

“Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

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BIG-PICTURE REALITY

In contrast to that age-old image I noted above, when you really get stuck into relevant Bible passages, and when you look around and use a little logic, you see that there are no battles directly between God and Satan. The very few battles between Satan and his angels and God’s faithful angels are brief and have an unavoidable outcome of defeat for Satan. However, the fascinating and provocative reality is that God not only spares Satan and the other fallen angels but actually uses them. I’m not teaching a Yin-Yang type of theology here, in which good and evil are two sides of the same coin: they are not.

What I’m saying is that God is the almighty ruler and sustainer of all things, so that he can even find a use for those who rebel against Him. There’s no waste with God. Satan is on a chain , and one day that chain will be pulled in. You discover In Scripture-if you’re honest-that God is totally supreme and indisputably in control. Here are three illustrations from scripture of God’s total supremacy over Satan:

1: When God judged the earth by Flood because humanity had become so corrupt and violent (Genesis chapters 6 and 7) there was no attempt by Satan to stop the Lord from sending judgment: in fact he was nowhere to be seen.

2: When Jesus dealt with demons during his earthly ministry his power over them was unhindered, so that they feared that their time was up:

“What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” (Matthew 8:29 NIV).

3: The fate of the devil and his followers is already sealed, and it’s one of eternal punishment (Matthew 25:41).

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GOD USES SATAN AND HIS FALLEN ANGELS

Contrary to our culture’s centuries-old belief that Satan causes trouble on earth while God fights back and attempts to minimize it, and that he’s down there in hell overseeing the punishment of the lost, the Bible makes clear that God uses Satan to send testing and suffering, and that Satan’s independent desire to see us suffer (and be sure that it is intense) is allowed or encouraged within God’s plan to test, discipline, shape, punish or judge unbelievers and believers. Here are some examples:

When the Spirit of God left Saul because as king he was serving himself and not God, we’re told that “an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him” (1 Samuel 16:14).

God searched for a spirit to entice Ahab into defeat and death. Micah said:

I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him…and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab….?’ “Then a spirit came  forward…I will go out and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets…’ And he (the Lord) said ‘You are to entice him, and you will succeed; go out and do so’ (1 Kings 22:19-23).

In the New Testament, we see that at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry he was tempted by the devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4: 1-11). It’s important to see that “Jesus was led by the Spirit…to be tempted by the devil”: It was the will of God that Jesus be tested.

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Paul realized that in order to keep him from becoming conceited by his close experiences with God a physical ailment was given to him by God (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). God sent “a messenger of Satan” with the ailment. Paul prayed three times for healing and God refused.

The work of Jesus Christ on the earth reveals God’s supremacy. As noted above, the demons he dealt with were well aware that they were destined for torment at his hands. However, we can easily see that they were not being tormented then: they were released to continue their existence and their activities on the earth. They will not be dealt with permanently until after the coming Millennium (Revelation 20:10-14).

Perhaps the absolute clincher in the argument that God gives permission to Satan to cause suffering is found in Revelation. Apart from the fact that God allows the devil to persecute believers to the death (Revelation 6:11) we also read that Satan will be released from his future prison, for a brief time, in order to deceive the nations:

“And when the thousand years were ended, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth…” (Revelation 20:7,8).

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Wow-is God helping the devil to do evil? No, God is using the devil to do the Lord’s work. Is God really the ultimate “baddy” and the ultimate trouble maker? No, God wants to test our hearts: do we love God, or are we in opposition to him? Satan is a tool that God uses to do the testing.

GOD PUTS A LIMIT ON OUR SUFFERINGS

When Satan wanted to put Job’s faith to the test, he had to first get the Lord’s permission to do so (Job 1:9-12, and 2:4-6). God put a limit on what Satan was allowed to do in order to test Job, and he said to Satan “Very well then, he is in your hands, but you must spare his life” (2:6).

We naturally think that God should have put a much greater limit on Job’s sufferings and on our own: take that up with the Lord. However, even if we die at the hands of evil men through persecution, there’s an end to suffering:

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul (Matthew 10:28 KJV).

Thanks to all of you who’ve read this far. You did well, and I didn’t ask for any money, did I! The rest of part 7 on spiritual opposition will appear on Wednesday at 4:30AM PST Don’t miss it!

 

For many, this will be perhaps the most difficult part of my series to accept. The notion that there is really a ‘devil’ is nothing less than ridiculous to even a big percentage of those who claim to be followers of Christ. I can only say that if you are among those who wish to allegorize the scriptures away, you have no authority to base your beliefs on, except the wavering, wobbling opinions of mankind. I would encourage you to consider the possibility that if there really is a God, he is quite capable of preserving his message as it is recorded in the Bible, and he is quite capable of saying what he means, and meaning what he says.

If you have been following my series on the origins and causes of suffering in our world, you will know that I am not one of those who believes that all suffering comes from the devil. I would say that most of our sufferings and problems are due to human nature- often our own. If this were not true, the God of the Bible would not be planning to judge humanity: he would simply have to deal with Satan, and the problems of suffering and evil would be gone.

However, that being said, the Bible is clear that Satan does cause huge amounts of devastation in the lives of people around the world. He brings out the worst that is already in human nature, and entices people into violence, immorality which causes family breakups, diseases and ultimately loneliness and bitterness, deceit in the affairs of men, and a whole host of other troubles. He is capable of causing physical suffering, as I will show. Paul called Satan “the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:2). John said that “the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19).

Remember from part 6 of my series that the original Greek and Hebrew words translated “tempt”, “test” and “trial” have almost the same meaning, and these three words and other related ones are chosen on the basis of the motives of the one doing the testing.

            I never heard this from any Christian minister, and it’s something that took me many years to discover and then come to terms with: God uses Satan. People traditionally think of Satan (in his tight red suit) slogging it out with God, and the Lord running around frantically trying to minimize the devil’s work. But when you really get into some of those difficult scripture passages, and face up to what they are truly saying, there’s no escaping the fact that God not only spares Satan and his demons, (for now) but uses them to bring about His will on the earth. Now, I’m not teaching a Yin-Yang type theology here, in which good and evil are two sides of the same coin: they are not. What I am saying is that God is so supreme and almighty that he can even find a use for those who rebel against Him. Satan is on a rope, and one day that rope will be pulled in, and there will be no more use for the deceiver: he will go to the place where he belongs. Let me give you a few examples of scripture to illustrate what I’m saying, beginning with the Old Testament.

When God judged the earth by Flood because humanity had become so corrupt and violent, as recorded in Genesis chapters 6 and 7, we see a God who is in total control. There is no attempt by Satan to stop the Lord from sending judgment: he’s nowhere to be seen. God’s actions were decisive and unimpeded: He has complete power over the forces of nature and of Creation.

When the Sprit of God left Saul because as king he was serving himself and not the Lord, we are told that “an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him” (1 Samuel 16:14). God had actually sent the evil spirit himself.

When wicked king Ahab wanted to attack one of his enemies, the Lord employed a lying spirit to lead Ahab to his death (2 Chronicles 18, especially verse 19).

When Satan wanted to put poor Job’s faith to the test, he had to first get the Lord’s permission to do so, and God gave it (Job 1:9-12, and 2:4-6). Notice in these verses that the Lord put a limit on what Satan was allowed to do in order to test Job. For example, God said to Satan “Very well then, he is in your hands, but you must spare his life” (2:6).

            In the New Testament, we see that at the beginning of the ministry of Jesus he was tempted by the devil in the wilderness (Matthew 4: 1-11). However, it’s important to note that “Jesus was led by the Spirit…to be tempted by the devil”. This is astonishing! This goes totally against all those old die-hard beliefs about God and Satan just having endless battles to see who would come out on top. Here we see God Himself sending his Son intentionally to be tempted by Satan. Why? If you have read my notes on free will, you saw that we are in fact all tested continuously to reveal the condition of our hearts. However, Christ is a very special case. While sin entered the world by the disobedience of Adam when he failed his test (Romans 5:12), Jesus was to bring salvation from the effects of Adam’s failure (Romans 5:18, 19). God the Father sent his Son, knowing that he would pass the test of obedience with flying colors. It was a demonstration to all of Creation that Jesus was going to be the savior of mankind, and deserved to be.

As a second example, think of “the Lord’s prayer”. When Jesus was teaching his disciples how to pray, he told them to say “Lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13). He did not say “do not let the evil one lead us into temptation”. This is a request that God would spare us the ordeal of temptation in which we might fail and face trouble in our lives. Paul indicated that the Lord allows us to be tempted, but that He will put a limit on our trial, just as he put a limit on Job’s trial. He said that God “will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). We could say “Why does he let us be tempted or tested at all? But as I have pointed out in Part (), the Lord desires to test us, to see what is really inside us.

Satan and his companion fallen angels are well aware that God is in ultimate control of all things. Satan will know when his time is short (Revelation 12:12). His demons were afraid that Christ would attack them during his ministry in Israel. They said to him, “What do you want with us, Son of God? Have you come to torture us before the appointed time?” (Matthew 8:29). It is interesting to realize that he did not torture them, but allows them a certain amount of freedom until the “appointed time”.
Here is another fascinating example. Paul said that in order to prevent him from becoming conceited, the Lord sent “a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

Wnen we read about future things in Revelation, out of the many mind-boggling passages there stands a remarkable one relating to God’s use of Satan. We find in chapter 20 that Satan will be captured and thrown into the abyss-but only for a thousand years (Revelation 20: 1-3). Why, we might ask, is he not kept there for ever? Verse three says that after the thousand years “he must be set free for a short time”. “Satan will be released from his prison!” (verse 7). Immediately, ” he will go out to deceive the nations….” (verse 8).

There is no getting away from the fact that God is using Satan here to once again test people, to find out and display to all Creation where their loyalties and preferences are: do they love God and the ways of God, or do they prefer to rebel against God and to do wrong? It’s God’s universe-he has the right to make the rules, and He knows what is right and what is wrong for a healthy, happy universe. He cannot tolerate evil. A heaven full of rebellious people would be no heaven at all- it would be hell, or at best, it would be as the earth is now, with all its murder, war violence, hatred, immorality, rejection, snobbery, theft, disease, and more.

After Satan has been used like a sniffer dog to deceive those who prefer sin to obedience, he will be swiftly and finally punished for his own rebellion (Revelation 20:10).

CAN SATAN CAUSE PHYSICAL SUFFERING?

We just read about the example of Paul being sent a messenger of Satan. Notice that this was a problem in his flesh (verse 7). Elsewhere in the New Testament, we read of the woman who was crippled- bent over- for eighteen years of her life, until Jesus healed her. Jesus said that this physical harm was inflicted by Satan (Luke 13:11-16). Again, I want to stress that I do not believe that all, or even most suffering is inflicted by the devil, but the Bible shows that some of it is.

In Revelation 2:10 we read that Christ warned some believers that the devil was going to put them into prison and they would be persecuted to death. This is about as physical as suffering can be! Of course, Satan did not appear in his little red suit to personally lock the door, but he led people who were open to his evil to do his work. Again, we see that free will comes into play here. If our hearts are right with God, we are able to withstand the tests that are given us. If they are not, we are open to the leading of the devil and his human helpers: we then either become one of his helpers, or just one of his victims.

In the Old Testament we find that Job was inflicted with all kinds of suffering at the will of Satan. His cattle were killed, his children killed, and his house was destroyed (Job 1:12-19). To make things even worse, Satan “afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head” (2:7).

So we see that the Bible clearly teaches that Satan is able to cause us to suffer in any way. So what is the solution-what can we do? There are many answers to this question. Most importantly, I would say that “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” (Psalm 34:7). There are conditions to this protection: a reverential fear of God is one of them. You can find others scattered around the Bible. That’s one reason why we need to read it as though it’s actually true.  This is not to say that we can be trouble free, but that once we are within God’s will, any suffering which does come our way is for a purpose, and allowed by a God who loves us and ultimately wants his best for us, though it may not seem like it at the time. Secondly, remember the prayer that Jesus taught as an example in Matthew chapter 6. He said “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil”. It is when we are humbly and truthfully seeking his mercy that we can be within his will and his protection.

Finally, remember that “the one who is in you (if you are a true follower of Jesus Christ) is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).”Who is it that overcomes the world (and its troubles)? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5). Jesus himself said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33).

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