We often hear Christians say that some terrible event in their life was an attack of the devil. Have you ever heard someone say "I was really attacked by the devil yesterday" or even describe adverse events or "accidents" as "attacks of the devil." Is this a scriptural way of thinking? Can the devil actually attack us physically? If so, how can we protect ourselves?
Let's take a look at some examples in the Bible of people that have faced events that we might describe as attacks of the devil. The most obvious example is that of Job for we are told explicitly that his problems were brought about by Satan.
From this story we can come to several very interesting conclusions:
The devil has the power to harm mankind but this power can only be applied to certain people; those who are not protected.
He must ask God's permission before touching one of His people.
God permits him to do us harm for our benefit.
We must always see God in everything. (Romans 8:28 tells us that all things work together for good to those that are called according to the purposes of God
In Job's case the devil was only given power to fulfill God's purpose! So we can rightly ask : who was doing the attacking--the devil, or God? If I give a child permission to do something that is normally forbidden who is ultimately responsible for the consequences?
We are told to fear God -- not the devil! (Matthew 10:28) The fear of man brings a snare (Proverbs 29:25) but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10). The Bible tells us not to give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27) and to resist temptation (James 4:7). We also know that God does not--indeed cannot tempt mankind (James 1:13 tells us "Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.")
When misfortune strikes our lives we should never credit the devil--he's got no place in our lives. The scriptures give us many examples of reasons why trials afflict our lives :
-- spiritual hurdles that are meant for our spiritual growth and the purification of our spirits. We are told that even Jesus "learned obedience through the things which he suffered" (Hebrews 5:8).
-- chastisement that we be not judged with the world. God cares about what we do and say and is quick to correct those that He loves. Hebrews 12:7 says "If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons."
-- to manifest God's glory : as Jesus himself said of the man blind from birth "Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents : but that the works of God should be made manifest in him." (John 9:3)
The whole concept of blaming the devil for every disagreeable event in our life shows a fundamental sense of spiritual immaturity! When troubles plague us or "accidents" happen the first thing to do is to seek a cause. (Proverbs 26:2 reminds us that "the curse causeless shall not come.) If we have willfully sinned we need not look further. At its ultimate blaming the devil for our troubles is a lack of faith because we miss seeing how great and powerful God is. We elevate the enemy of God to Hislevel by attributing far more importance and influence to him than is due. We demonstrate a lack of belief in the promises of God towards His people.
Germane to this discussion is the whole subject of curses. Can a Christian be cursed and have to bear that all his life and "to the seventh generation?" In fact the Bible teaches us that curses and blessings are the direct result of our actions but explicitly teaches that "the son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son" for "the soul that sinneth it shall die" (Ezekiel 18:20).
It is well to remember that it is those that are under the law that are cursed (Galatians 3:10) and that "Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us" (Galatians 3:13).
To sum up, we are not to feel under any supposed attack from the enemy. On the contrary, we should be on the attack by attacking the devil's own strongholds. "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the mulling down of strong holds." (II Corinthians 10:4)
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