Monday, May 25, 2015

If It Must Be Done

I found this quote by one of the early church fathers years ago ... "God afflicts not willingly, but if it must be done, let Satan do it."  This thought is taken from Lamentations 3:33, and over time I have come to believe that it is true.

Satan delights in bringing as much misery and affliction as he can to man and will never miss a chance to do so.  Albert Barnes, the old theologian from the mid 1800's made this comment about Satan's role in God's plan for Job ...

"It is to be observed, that Satan, no less than the other fallen spirits, is subject to the government of God, and uses the ministry of this demon to execute punishment, or when from any other cause it seemed good to Him to send evil upon men.  But he, although incensed against the race of mortals, and desirous of injuring, is yet described as bound with a chain, and never dares to touch the pious unless God relaxes the reins.  Satan, in walking round the earth, could certainly attentively
consider Job, but to injure him he could not, unless permission had been given him."

Really?  My question then becomes ... "Does God use Satan to send evil upon men?"  Job certainly thought so with this answer he gave to his wife ...

Job 2:10 ... "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?"

Going back to my opening statement, read what Jeremiah said about God in Lamentations 3:32-33 … "Though He cause grief, yet will He have compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.  For He doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men."

It seems to me ... that in the past, God would send (for lack of a better word) evil, or trouble of some kind to the nation of Israel to bring their hearts back in line when they turned away from Him and entered into sin.  I offer these scriptures as an example of God's sovereignty and authority over them. 

Isaiah 45:7 … "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things."

Isaiah 46:9-11 … "I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning … saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure … yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it."

Amos 3:6 …"Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?"

Notice I said ... in the past.  I don't believe God works that way anymore.  I suppose He could if He wanted too ... but there is no reason for Him to do that now, because God poured out all His wrath upon His Son Jesus while He hung on the cross in our place

May I remind you that the following scripture to Christians is still in the Book though.  It's one that most of us would just as soon forget because it doesn't seem to fit our doctrine of a kind and loving father full of mercy and grace.

Hebrews 12:5-6 … "And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, (disciplines) and scourgeth (flogs) every son whom He receiveth."

So, whatever a man's lot in life is, it is God that orders it.  But does that include discipline?  And ... if it must be done ... does God still give Satan permission today to afflict His children for their spiritual good? 

I give you the Apostle Paul's instruction to the church concerning two men in 1st Timothy 1:20 ... "whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme."

And then we have Paul, because of the sin of fornication in this church saying to them in 1st Corinthians 5:5 ... "to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved." 

I'm not going to pretend to know the reason why or how that the Apostle Paul was directed by the Holy Spirit to recommend this type of action against these men.  Evidently they refused to repent of their actions, so ... if it must be done, let Satan do it.  God can use any and all means, including the devil himself to fulfill His plans.

The Apostle Peter writes of something similar, though not because of sin ... his words are of testing or the trying of faith ...

1st Peter 1:6-7 ... "greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be ... through various temptations (discipline by adversity) that the trial of your faith ... be tried with fire ..." 

So, be assured that God, as the Creator of all things, upholds, directs, disposes, and governs … all … creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest event to the least.  All things come to pass according to the decree of God.  He is the cause of all things and has sovereign dominion over them.

What else will God do ... if it must be done?  Amos 9:9  … "I will sift the house of Israel …"

May I quote Albert Barnes again?  He wrote ...

"What is said here of Israel, God does in each of His elect.  God sifts them by afflictions and troubles, in youth, middle age, old age, whoever they are, and proves them again and again."   

In Luke 22:31 ... "Jesus said to Peter, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat …"  

Satan desired to have Peter under his power and in his hand … just as he got permission to have Job in his hand, and would have taken Job's life and soul too, if he could have obtained God's permission.

Satan desired, and asked God for Peter … for he can do nothing without permission … not even tempt man.  Satan desires to do all the evil he can; but he is only permitted to do some.

From this we need to know and understand that God has a purpose for what He does and what He allows to be performed.  Yes, God governs the world, but we cannot always see … the reasons for His conduct.

If there is one thing I have learned about God … His conduct … should never be called into question.

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