Job, Jesus, the Devil and Me
- Thursday, August 06, 2009
Almost three quarters of all Australians believe in God. But less than a third believe in the devil. Odd isn't it?
And even when we do believe in both, it can feel as though God and the devil are kind of two equal and opposite forces – God is good, the devil is evil and we’re caught in the middle. It goes something like this - I believe in God and so I want to be good. But no matter how hard I try, I always seem to fail. I feel like the devil’s winning.
But it’s just not like that. Come with me to the story of the Job in the Old Testament (In fact, if you have a Bible, can I suggest you read just Job 1.)
The devil has a conversation with God. And God points the devil to this man Job.
He says “Have you considered my servant Job? A blameless and upright man who fears me and turns away from evil?”
And Satan responds "Is it any wonder? Haven’t you put a fence around him and his house and all that he has? You’ve blessed the work of his hands and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and take what he has and he’ll curse you to your face."
So the Lord says to Satan, "OK, all that he owns is in your power, only do not stretch out your hand against him!"
Do you see what’s happening here? Job is faithful to God so God puts a fence or literally a dense, impenetrable hedge around him, that Satan can’t breach. In fact, the devil can only go in and attack Job and his possessions when God gives him permission.
Does that sound "equal and opposite" to you?
And again we see the sovereign hand of God at play when Jesus is tempted by the devil. Straight after his baptism (a pretty spectacular affair by any measure), Jesus finds himself out in the wilderness being tempted by the devil. Now it's easy to imagine that this was the devil’s doing. That this "equal and opposite" thing was playing itself out again.
Not at all. Luke tells us (Luke 4:1-2) that Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit returned form Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where for forty days he was tempted by the devil.
Who led Jesus into the desert to be tempted? God did!
In fact, God rounds out our understanding further in Mark 1:12 where He tells us that the Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness. Now the word that sits aback of our English translation "drove" literally means "to throw out." God threw Jesus out into the desert to be tempted by the devil. It was a deliberate, sovereign act of God. Just in the same way that God gave the devil permission to attack Job.
Think about it. If indeed all things came into being through Jesus and not one thing that came into being did so without Him (John 1:3) then the devil was created by God. And the devil is subject to the awesome power of God – just like the rest of His creation.
The more I read God’s Word, the more I come to the conclusion that the devil is simply a piece of sandpaper in the sovereign hand of God – a tool that ultimately will be cast into the lake of fire for all eternity.
I think it helps to get things into perspective when it comes to the devil, don’t you?
Now let’s have a listen to what Jesus said about him (John 10:10): The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you have life in all of its abundance! (literally “super-abundance” – we just don't have an English word for that!)
God wants what’s good for our lives. In spades! Abundantly! Superabundantly! And the devil wants to rob us of God’s plan.
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