Wednesday, January 03, 2018

The Ministry of Satan as Caused or Allowed by God

Scripture has everything anyone needs to know about Satan.  Whatever we can know about Satan, we get from scripture and there is no other source.  Satanology is a subcategory of angelology, the doctrine of angels, which has far less biblical source material as a basis than, for instance, the doctrine of God and the doctrine of salvation.

In 1 Thessalonians 2, in answer to false teachers and his critics at Thessalonica, Paul explains why he had not been back there yet.  Men were using that against him and his teaching with the saints in Thessalonica.  One of the points he makes in his defense is in verse 18:
Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and again; but Satan hindered us.
Paul writes, "Satan hindered us."  Paul said, I would have arrived there already at some point, but Satan hindered us.  Satan can hinder us.  Other places in scripture teach this.

What we should say in light of Job (chapters 1-2) and the doctrine of the sovereignty of God is that God allows or causes Satan to hinder us.  God uses Satan.  When He used Satan with Job to try Job, God was trying Job.  Consider 1 Corinthians 5:5, also Paul writing:
To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus
Satan's destruction of the flesh is used by God so that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.  Satan does something that results in someone being saved.

I'm calling the work God allows Satan to do, the ministry of Satan.  Job was tried and purified by the ministry of Satan.  The member of the church at Corinth was delivered by the ministry of Satan.  Scripture says this.  What good could have come to Thessalonica by Satan hindering Paul?  A lot.

In the next chapter (3), Timothy is sent.  Timothy gets to be used.  The work of Paul and Timothy is divided and, therefore, multiplied.  The church at Thessalonica must trust the Word of God that Paul had preached (2:13).  This is good, relying on the Word of God.  They can't lean on Paul, so they have to stand on their own.  That's also good.  In so many cases, I've seen Christians lean so much on others, they don't stand on their own to the degree they should.  Of course, every believer stands on his own, but not to the degree that he should.  He needs to grow and having to stand on his own can help in this.  It's the spiritual equivalent of being pushed out of the boat, so he has to swim on his own.

God doesn't take away every opposition for the believer in His Christian life.  Sometimes God sends it or allows it.  This is the later "thorn in the flesh" of 2 Corinthians 12:7:
And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.
Again, "the messenger of Satan" is the thorn in the flesh.  Sometimes we might want all the problems taken away, but that's why we're here still in part -- to deal with problems.  It's how we grow and how the people grow to whom we minister.

In Thessalonians, Paul doesn't pray that he would not be hindered.  He was being hindered.  What does he do?  He trusts the sovereignty of God.  During times of hindrance, we should apply scripture.  Paul didn't do that in 2 Corinthians 12.  Instead, he prayed that God would take away the thorn in the flesh.  He didn't want hindrance.  God said that His grace was sufficient.  God's grace is sufficient.  That is both a popular and unpopular message.

The messenger of Satan would strengthen Paul.  His strength would be made perfect through weakness.  This is the ministry of Satan again.


[By the way, if God uses Satan, He can also use Donald Trump, whom some readers think is Satan.]

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