Why Does The Devil Persist?
January 29, 2019
The grace of God is a big deal. Many people consider the favor that God provides as something that we as people are entitled to. Often times we as people can become so accustomed to God’s favor that we take simple things for granted. For example, the Bible teaches that the very breath we take and the means by which our heart beats is by God’s own ability. He gives us life daily. The scriptures also teach that this is the day that the Lord has made. In other words, each day belongs to the Lord. They are His that He gives for His purposes. Any day that we are able to live, we get such a privilege to go about our business because God permits it. Then, when you consider all that God provides within the scope of a single day – food, clothing, shelter, employment, family, friends, and opportunity – it is important to remember that it all comes from God! The Apostle Paul simply wrote:
“For who makes you differ [from another]? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive [it], why do you boast as if you had not received [it]?”
The point is, whether we believe or don’t believe in God and His Word, everything belongs to God because He is the means by which all things happen. Everything we receive is God’s and we are merely stewarding His possessions. He can give according to His pleasure. He can take away according to His purposes. If God gives, it is by His grace since no one can please God by their own ability. We get life, not because we deserve it, but because God is gracious. We possess that which we have in our lives, not because we’ve earned it, but because God is good that way. Therefore, should God elect to take certain things away – even life itself – God is right to do so since that which He gave to begin with was contrary to that which we actually deserved. Our sinful nature proves that we deserve God’s judgment so that our possession of any good thing from God is reflective of God showing us favor well beyond what we have earned.
This is an important principle to consider, especially when undergoing trials. When life gets hard, there can be a tendency to despise our circumstances, and sometimes criticize God. The Bible teaches that this is an inappropriate response. The scriptures also show that this sort of response is the way that the devil wants people to respond. When we complain about the difficulties of life to the point where we disagree with God’s work and purposes, the devil is proud. We should never respond in ways that are offensive to God and exciting to the devil. When life gets hard, it is critical that we remember who God is, the extent of favor that He’s given us so far (especially in salvation), and how our physical circumstances have no effect on our relationship with God Himself. These are the things that give us hope and endurance through the trials of life.
This principle is explained through the testimony of Job. In Job 2:1-10 the Bible shows that God enabled Satan to levy a second attack against Job. This can be unsettling to people. It can be unnerving to see that God not only suggested Job as Satan’s target the first time, but then offered Job up to Satan a second time. Here, it is important to remember God’s original purpose. God was using Job as His instrument of righteousness to prove several things about Himself. God was seeking to use Job to show His superiority against Satan. God was seeking to use Job to show His sovereign control over darkness. God was using Job to show His transcendence over life’s difficulties. God was using Job to show His restorative and redemptive power. God was using Job to show His faithfulness to provide grace in spite of weakness. God was showing that He is God and there is no other, and that those who believe upon Him will receive the benefits of His goodness, no matter what!
The testimony of Job 2:1-10 explains that the angels and demons of heaven were again reporting to God. We see that God’s control over the spiritual matters that affect the physical world is continuous. There is never a moment where God is not engaged and aware. There is never an instance where God loses control. When the devil approached God, the scriptures again state that the devil responded to God in shame. He confessed that he was simply “walking back and forth” on the earth. The language here suggests that the devil was walking aimlessly in discontentment. His efforts to find satisfaction through his objective to rebel against God provided no success or joy. This shows that those who seek to live contrary to God have no hope. There is no success. There is no satisfaction for those who seek to go their own way. They are like the devil, aimlessly wandering about with no fulfillment and purpose. Seeing this, the Lord sought to make a further example of the devil and offered Job up to the devil again.
When God offered Job up to the devil the second time, it is important to recognize how God referred to Job. It is important to notice that God described Job in the exact same manner as He did the first time. Again, God referred to Job as blameless and upright. Again, God explained to the devil that Job was a man that feared God and shunned evil. Again, God reminded the devil that there was not another man like Job in the world. This means that, though the devil threw everything he had at Job the first time (under the parameters that God gave), the devil’s attack had no effect on Job’s spiritual well-being. Though the devil absolutely obliterated Job’s riches and family, Job’s spiritual integrity remained intact. It didn’t matter to God whether Job was rich or poor. It didn’t matter to God whether Job had a large family or none. The Bible teaches throughout the scriptures that, “the just shall live by faith.” In other words, Job’s physical circumstances played no role in whether he was accepted by God or not. God would accept Job based on the faith Job possessed. Job’s possession of faith was dependent on God’s provision of faith. Thus, no matter how violent or destructive the attack of the enemy seemed, it was not effective to sway God from providing Job salvation in an eternal sense. This is what matters most to God!
When God described Job to Satan again, He was sure to remind the devil that his attacks had no effect. God was sure to explain that Job “still held fast to his integrity.” In other words, the devil figured that he could get Job to curse God and depart from the Lord. The Lord proved that there isn’t anything the devil can do to cause God to give up those who are called to be His. Though the devil accused Job of being weak in faith, God held tight to Job. Though the devil tried to destroy Job by destroying his family and wealth, God held tight to Job. Job was still God’s possession and instrument of righteousness. God’s power and faithfulness to His people is so great, that not even such an attack from the devil himself is able to sway God, weaken His grip on His people, and turn the hearts of God’s people into condemnation. The Apostle Paul wrote:
“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 created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The testimony of Job 2:1-10 provides historical documentation that Paul was absolutely right!
Still, the devil was not satisfied. He proposed to God that Job would relent in his faith and curse God if God were to allow him to cause physical harm to Job. Satan argued that if Job’s health were afflicted, he would do anything to have full health, including curse God. The Lord was confident in His provision of enduring faith and so He let the devil take another shot. Once again, God was not seeking to cause harm to Job just for the sake of it. God was not using Job as a pawn piece in a chess game against the devil. God was using Job as an instrument of righteousness to prove His faithfulness to His people is sufficient to preserve the spiritual integrity of those called to be His. God’s aim was to prove that His eternally superior power transcends our physical circumstances. God was seeking to teach that our physical circumstances do not affect His consideration of us. God is not concerned with our wealth, our family condition, or our physical well-being when it comes to making the determination of who inherits eternal life and His kingdom. None of that stuff impresses God. Thus, whether we abound in these areas or are abased in these areas, God is not captivated. Whether we live in a pitiful condition or an envious position, God is not impressed. Our approval with God is based on how we deal with our sinful nature. Will we confess our sin, acknowledge God’s greatness and glory, repent, and trust in His provision for righteousness? Job was rich and had an envious position in life before and was considered blameless by God. When Job was poor, destitute, and ill, He was STILL considered blameless by God. The devil’s manipulation of physical circumstances had no effect on those God called to be His from before the foundations of the world.
Satan took his best shot. He covered Job with boils from head to toe so that Job had to spend his time scraping the goo from his body. The devil even worked through those close to Job to instigate complaints, negativity, and bitterness. Job’s wife took sharp jabs at Job, pointing out his physical condition. She tried to make it seem as if Job had lost favor with God and that he should just curse God and die. Notice that the devil will often influence those closest to us to stray in our faith. It is often those who are closest to us, who know us best, that know how to push our buttons, and get the worse out of us. The faithful grace of God enabled Job to persevere. His response to his wife, and even to the devil himself was profound. Job replied, “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”
It is easy for people to receive things from God that we consider “good.” Yet, if God is good by nature, isn’t everything that comes from Him good too? If we really believe that “all things” work together for good, is it right to despise the adversity He administrates? Clearly Job was not being punished for a particular act or sinful attitude. Clearly Job had not lost favor with God. The Lord enabled the devil to produce adversity in Job’s life to accentuate the true goodness of God – His gracious faithfulness. Jesus once said, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?” This is how God thinks. He is eternal in nature. He is spiritual in nature. He sees the depravity of mankind and knows that we cannot please Him by our own merits. He knows that our nature disqualifies us from being with Him. Thus, God took the form of flesh to deal with the issues to keep us separated from Him because He desires to be one with those called to be His. Job was one of those people called to be one with God. It was painful for Job to live in the manner that he did, but it was a minor issue for God since God was able to preserve the spiritual integrity of Job unto eternal life.
Job knew God and so he understood these things about God. Job continued to profess the goodness and grace of God because he understood that the good things he had before were on account of God’s grace. Job didn’t earn favor from God to have wealth and a large family. God is holy and righteous. We can’t please God by the efforts of our own hands. Job knew that his position in life prior to Satan’s attacks was undeserved, so why should he spite God because of the loss of stuff? Job knew the circumstances of his life were never his to possess as his own. If God decided to take back that which was His, why should Job contend with God? Job knew the sovereignty of God, the transcendence of God, the eternal nature of God, the spiritual nature of God, the grace of God, the mercy of God, and the goodness and glory of God. It was this understanding of God that enabled Job to persevere through his trials in a way that glorified the God who would soon bless Him again.