What About Satan? (part two)
It is in the book of Job that we learn very important things about the nature of Satan and the role he plays in the world. In my previous article on this topic I made these observations:
- Satan is accountable to God.
- Satan is constantly prowling across the earth.
- He is allowed in the presence of God.
- Satan talks to God about us.
- He asks God’s permission to have us in his grasp.
- He teases, tests, and tempts God.
Another thing we learn about Satan in the first two chapters of Job is he is not all-powerful. He is limited by God. Verse twelve of chapter one says, “The LORD said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.’”
This truth is especially comforting to me. In spite of the fact that Satan is a lion on the loose, he is also a lion with a noose around his neck and God holding the other end of the leash. God puts limits on Satan.
Therefore if I trust God to supply all the good in my life and to care for me, then I must trust Him to know how much trouble to allow into my life. This is a difficult truth to accept. We think we know what is best for us; when enough is enough. But God is in charge and he is a father who always knows best.
On the heels of the truth that Satan is not all-powerful, it is important to note that Satan is powerful. Once Satan is given permission to attack Job, all the forces of hell are turned loose. “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword.” (1:14-15.) Then fire rained down from the sky and destroyed all his sheep and the shepherds watching them. (1:16.) At the same time, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on (Job’s) camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword.”(1:17.) In his feverish dance of destruction Satan then sent a hurricane force wind that killed Job’s children. (1:19.) Later, as Job sat in his grave of grief, Satan “afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.” (2:7.)
As we look at all the devastation Satan caused in the life of Job, we learn another thing about him. In trying to destroy us, Satan will often destroy the things that we hold most dear. He knows our weaknesses. At this point in my life I don’t so much fear what Satan can do to me. But I do fear what he can do to what I hold most dear – family and friends.
Think about this truth – Satan is a sociopath. He has no regard for anyone. He has no respect for life. He has no conscience. Adolph Hitler, Saddam Housein, John Wayne Gacy, Ted Bundy, Son of Sam, the Green River Slayer are all names synonymous with evil. But none of them hold a candle to the author of their evil deeds – Satan.
As if all these previous traits weren’t bad enough, there is another trait that makes them much worse – Satan does not give up easily. Satan is tenacious. If one tactic doesn’t work, he will try another and another and another. Even against Jesus Christ, Satan didn’t give up. He met Jesus in the desert and tempted him to give up on his heavenly mission. But even though Jesus defeated Satan in that setting, Luke 4:13 tells us that when the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time. Satan never gave up looking for an opening, a weakness, in Jesus that would allow him to bring him to his knees.
One of the common questions that people ask when tragedies come to their life is, “What have I done wrong?” In this battle over Job, God helps us to see the truth, that is, Satan is most eager to have us when we are living a life devoted to God. The first thing we are told about Job is, “This man was blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil.” (1:1) Later, in the second chapter, God says to Satan, “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.”
Sometimes, when bad things happen to us it is not because we have done anything wrong, but rather because we are doing everything right.
Let me share one final thought about the character of Satan and the evil he causes. Oftentimes Satan is the source of the calamity and resultant chaos in our life, not God. Don’t blame God, blame Satan. Don’t be angry with God, be angry with Satan.