Help a conflicted pastor

Discussion in 'Theological Forum' started by God's in Charge, Dec 29, 2016.

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  1. God's in Charge

    God's in Charge Puritan Board Freshman

    I think I understand and agree with reformed teaching concerning oppression, Satan, and his activity. It all makes sense when reading a book or article by a reformed author. Job's boils and the Church in Smyrna seem to answer EVERY question.
    I honestly hope they do answer all - but after all these years I've yet to read an explanation of New Testament healing ministry that closed the book for me. Do all these (and many more) fit into the same category as Job's boils? Are these all God ordained "oppression". And Jesus and the Apostles were God's instruments at his appointed time to deliver them just like Job was eventually healed.

    I assure you I'm not trying to pick a fight. Reformed theology is the only thing that makes sense to me but hopefully someone will be able to see through my eyes how challenging these are to fit into Job's box. Is there another category of oppression? And what is God's role in it? When we walk in darkness does God "permit" oppression that he has no redemptive purpose in? When the Israelites refused their land, was there a redemptive strategy behind every demon in that wilderness they all died in?

    I can go on but need to stop before opening too many doors.

    how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. Acts 10:38 ESV Were these people who Jesus healed experiencing the same level of God's will while oppressed by the devil as they were after encountering Jesus?

    And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” Luke 13:16 ESV No one believes Job's boils remained 18 years. And the redemptive purpose for this woman's infirmity just happened to be fulfilled at the same time she meets Jesus?

    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, Luke 4:18 ESV

    The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed Acts 5:16 ESV

    so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Acts 19:12 ESV

    Thanks for any help you can be
  2. johnny

    johnny Puritan Board Sophomore

    Hi Pastor Undlin.
    Welcome to the new look Puritanboard :)

    I'm not sure I fully understand where your questions are heading.
    Do you have a view on this yourself ?
  3. God's in Charge

    God's in Charge Puritan Board Freshman

    I want to understand all of this as part of God's plan.
    It seems I can fit everything else into that framework.
    But every day for 18 years crippled is God’s hand & will
    When Jesus shows up Gods will happens to be healing and his hand heals.
    Rather than referring to Gods testing or purifying plan (or God at all) Jesus only mentions Satan.

    I'm hoping for someone who can help me fit this into part of God's plan similar to Jobs boils. It doesn't easily fit. At face value it appears God's only work was healing and Satan’s oppression wasn’t as God's agent.
  4. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    The ministry of Jesus and the Apostles were during the time of His First Coming, asthat was the time when God permitted Satan and his demons to fully manifest themselves among mankind, and Jesus showed His power and authority over them!
  5. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Rev. Undlin,

    Let me start by saying that some of the language you are accustomed to using may be very familiar for folks with a Pentecostal background like yours, but it is a little bit difficult to pick through for those of us who come from different backgrounds. For instance, I had read pretty large portion of your post before I understood that oppression was being used to mean Satanic/demonic oppression or attacks. Also, I am not sure what you mean by "experiencing levels of God's will." In Reformed theology, God's will is understood to be an objective reality that encompasses all of God's decrees--thus, we are all experiencing God's will all the time; alternatively, it is sometimes used to refer to the commands of God. What do you mean by "experiencing God's will?"

    That being said, to the heart of your question--Satan is God's servant. He can do nothing without God's allowing him authority in some area or another. He is an unwilling servant, but he is a servant nonetheless. God has purposes and use for Satan in all of Satan's works, even in the particularly difficult ones, and even when God uses Satan to chasten his own people.

    I like to think of Satan as a particularly mean pitt-bull. Such a dog will hate everyone, perhaps even his owner. But the owner keeps it around for his own purposes. He has control over the pitt-bull, and the pitt-bull cannot hurt anyone or anything that the owner does not give him access to.
  6. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    This should probably be understood in terms of John 9. Why was the man born blind? So Christ could give him sight. Why was the woman oppressed for 18 years? So Christ could deliver her. Both of these people were fulfilling a great function: to reveal the glory of Christ. Naturally as that purpose came to its expression, they also reaped the benefits.
  7. God's in Charge

    God's in Charge Puritan Board Freshman

    thank you for your thoughts.

    John 9 & Job are clear that those infirmities had a redemptive purpose, but with several "healed them all" comments there are manifold more healings with no such mention of purpose. In fact Satan and his oppression is mentioned.

    how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil,

    If God's trying to communicate his purpose - why highlight Satan's oppression? Why not just like John 9 and Job speak clearly of your hand. I want to fit everything into that box but God's not helping me here. Maybe he's not saying the same thing here...because it's not the same.

    When John Piper tells of a fever vanishing under his hand at prayer - was that fever automatically just as much God's agent as the healing was God's agent? I wonder if putting every act of Satan into the same box as Job is a mistake.
    I don't know and I'm not introducing a new doctrine but it's a big Bible. I am as big a fan of our proof texts as anyone but surely we can see that we're stretching to assume it all neatly fits.
  8. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

  9. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    It sounds to me like perhaps there are two different questions here. One is a theological question, and one is a hermeneutical question.

    The theological question has to do with God's universal providence. On that point, Reformed theology affirms, with Scripture, that God works all things after the counsel of his own will, and that it is his sovereignty that establishes both the liberty and the contingency of second causes.

    On the hermeneutical matter, why would the purpose need to be mentioned every time? It's not like there's really a question as to whether or not the Gospels record what they do in order to teach about the glory of Christ. The real mistake would be taking that to mean something reductionistic. The glory of Christ includes, among manifold other facets, the fact that he destroys the work of the devil. One way that took place was in healing those whom the devil had oppressed. But neither Peter nor the Gospel writers are preaching Satan; they are proclaiming Christ
  10. God's in Charge

    God's in Charge Puritan Board Freshman

    Just so I'm clear,
    reformed theology places EVERY act of Satan as the same as Job.

    Satan was earlier described as God's Pit-Bull.
    I can follow this but while the dog needed special permission to bite because of Job’s hedge. Does every sinner have the same hedge?
    How does it defeat the reformed view of God’s rule if the dog bites some simply because they have no hedge.
    If the wages of sin is death and unbelievers choose such... aren't they under God's judgment already.
    I'm seeing no diminishing of God's rule for the devourer to devour without a redemptive commission from God.
    All our proof texts involve Job (the most righteous man on earth) and similar.

    Still uncertain that EVERY nip of the pit bull is the same as Job. Yes, he's always on God's leash, but a lot of damage can be done within the range of that leash.

    In Noah's day every inclination was only evil.
    Certainly Satan had a party, and I'm not seeing all his activities here as doing God's bidding.
    But why doesn't he destroy Noah? Simple, He's not allowed to.

    There's actually not that many texts referring to sickness as God's agent yet those few are the standard that all others must pass through.
    Acts 10:38 actually sounds more authoritative to me concerning Jesus commission.
    What if it's the lens others are read through?

    I guess I'm hoping for something new here
    Rather than the same basic arguments we use.

    I'm respectful of those arguments I just need a new thought to help me fit this all into reformed thought. (At least new to me)

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  11. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    It depends on what you mean. It's still not entirely clear to me what the crux of your concern is - for instance, I'm not sure what it is about Acts 10:38 that strikes you as making a difference if we were to read other texts in its light (which I hope we do). In any case, viewing texts from the lens of another is often quite legitimate, since that's one of the ways in which Scripture is its own interpreter. For instance, we interpret the whole Bible in the light of Genesis 1:1, because God expects us to remember the first thing he said.

    Believers are reminded of the patience of Job, and told to consider the Lord's end (James 5:11). It is natural, then, that Job plays a prominent part in their thinking when they come to reflect on the afflictions they endure. Believers are also assured that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). So it's not the case that they can find something that was meaningless or just "how things happened to be." In the case of believers, all things are working together for the good of their conformity to Christ.

    The devil's purpose is never redemptive (1 Peter 5:8). With regard to his own people, God's purpose is always redemptive. Whose purpose stands?
  12. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Forgive me, but I still cannot tell the nature of your inquiry. Others with more background in your previous tradition seem to be closer to understanding, but there still seems to be a communication lag.

    Do you believe that all sickness is demonic in origin? In your theological outlook, can there be some issues that--though disturbing--are simply providential according to the nature of a fallen creation?

    Jesus said to his disciples that the man born blind (Jn.9) was not subjected to that ailment either on account of his own sin, or his parents'. There is no other cause adduced beside that this lifetime of trial and suffering was "so the works of God would be revealed in him." In his case, one of those works was his healing and his conversion to faith in Christ Jesus (though I suppose he was already a faithful believer in God as formerly revealed to OT saints).

    When the devil is hinted at in the story, he is falsely associated with Christ the Healer (allegedly a great sinner) and again, this time by Pharisees, as if the once-blind man deserved his trouble (steeped in sin at birth). However, if anyone was open to Christ, it was not the able-bodied Pharisees in the story though they were surely the ones most victimized (morally blinded) by Satan, vv39-41. If the beggar's physical blindness accomplished nothing else, it taught him illustratively of the helpless nature of every sinner, who must look to God for grace and salvation. By the grace of God he saw better than the Pharisees before he even met Jesus.

    The wider application of the passage recognizes that every trial and suffering of God's elect, regardless of the proximate cause, is "so the works of God would be revealed" in them. That work may not include effectual healing of the body in this life. But those works will include effectual calling, justification, adoption, etc., all the way unto the final revelation of this one man in a glorified resurrection body. We might even go so far as to recognize that even among the reprobate, there is a kind of revelation of the justice-work of God both anticipatory (misery in this life) and ultimate (the pains of hell forever) in them.

    Satan may, and probably often does, employ natural afflictions as opportunities to attack believer's faith; or to harden reprobates against the message of the gospel. And it is possible (though we are not privy to the knowledge) that he has singled out some soul for special antagonism. Perhaps he thinks this one might be useful to God, if he is left alone; but not so if harassed.

    The devil doesn't know infallibly who God's elect are (even if he can guess accurately). The whole world lieth in the wicked one, 1Jn.5:19; but we know ourselves if we are of God. And God knows his own. So the methods of Satan are common to mankind generally, and mainly opportunistic. As a defeated foe, a roaring and dangerous lion, a dragon cast down, he looks for saints on which to vent his wrath (not that he cares for the reprobate).

    I don't think Satan is constantly flooding God's inbox with requests to attack millions of no-name and big-name believers. The book of Job is not a "paradigm" of that kind. But his attempts at harming believers, body and soul, are constrained by divine limits and prevention. He cannot do all he would like, nor use any means he might like.
  13. God's in Charge

    God's in Charge Puritan Board Freshman

    Obviously my elaboration is confusing my question.

    I have no trouble seeing Job's and the blind man of John 9's affliction as providential.

    I'm trying to fit all activity of Satan into that box.

    I want it to be simple - every act of Satan has a redemptive purpose of God behind it.

    I'm bumping into scriptures that are challenging my simplicity.

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  14. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Are you asking us if every time God allows Satan to do something, such as keeping lost sinners spiritual blinded, that is for a redeeming purpose?
    Do yo think sickness is caused directly by satan unto people then?
  15. TylerRay

    TylerRay Puritan Board Senior

    Reformed theology sees everything that happens as providential. Westminster Confession V.i.:
  16. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    Every act of Satan does have God's redemptive purpose behind it, ultimately. So does everything. None of us would be here if God had not purposed to create, to exercise patience in delaying judgment for the Fall, and to redeem a people to himself. God's purpose is the universal context of everything in creation.

    But that doesn't mean you will always be able to see the connections in a straightforward way. It's perhaps not so much that the connections aren't there, as just as that they aren't obvious enough for us to pick up on right now.
  17. God's in Charge

    God's in Charge Puritan Board Freshman

    how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. Acts 10:38 ESV

    And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” Luke 13:16 ESV

    “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, Luke 4:18 ESV

    The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed Acts 5:16 ESV

    so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. Acts 19:12 ESV

    I have no problems accepting that there are connections to anything God allows and a redemptive purpose. I don't need to see it.
    When Peter tells his readers that the persecution they are experiencing is God's grace for them It feeds my soul.

    I'm simply asking for help making connections where Scripture doesn't make them for me.

    We will only help more people come to the light of reformed theology if we 1st understand the strength of their argument.

    Not everyone who isn't reformed is Biblically illiterate. I think I'm 90% there but I'm repeating the same questions and Noone has attempted an answer yet.

    I think it's obvious that the above scriptures at face value make a stronger case for activities of Satan that aren't God's will and God's only activity mentioned is delivering from Satan.

    I'm keenly aware that you see God on both sides (and I have 0 problem seeing God on both sides when the Bible says so, like Job) but not everyone does. And simply repeating that God is sovereign doesn't help.

    I'm hoping for someone who comprehends my difficulty understanding why God chose to highlight Satan's activity here on one side of an equation and put his activity on the other.

    He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. Acts 10:38 ESV

    God knows that in any other context of human experience he has just described 2 opposing teams. And the MANY who don't see God controlling both sides of this aren't idiots who have a lower opinion of scripture.

    If you can't understand why these scriptures (and many similar) present a difficulty to me... I have no agenda against you. And I'm not challenging your position so I hope you don't feel insulted.

    I'm honestly looking for help with the final 10% of my mind that already sees reformed theology as the answer to most of my questions.

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  18. God's in Charge

    God's in Charge Puritan Board Freshman

    I realize how challenging it is for written communication to translate emotion.
    I have nothing but respect for all of your position...and I think I share it.
    I'm not feeling insulted by your responses and I hope you aren't by mine.
    I'm only trying to be more clear about what my question actually is - fearing that up to now my lack of answers is more because I'm not clear with my questions.

    Hopefully I'm clear now -without being rude. Because I feel nothing but respect for all of your positions and the fact your taking your valuable time to try and help me.


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  19. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    This helps substantially to explain what your concern actually is. Sometimes it can feel like no one is answering because they're still guessing at the meaning. And certainly no offense was given -- there's nothing rude about trying to find some answers. So a few points.

    1. Methodologically, we shouldn't accept as being at face value what isn't asserted. The verses you quote aren't speaking about God's will, so bringing God's will into the picture is already a theological move. I don't think it's an illegitimate theological move, but once you make that move Ephesians 1:11 is also on the table.

    2. Yes, certainly, there is an opposition between God and Satan that is very clear in those texts. That opposition is enacted in the whole of redemptive history, from Genesis 3:15 onwards. Christ is destroying the works of the devil. And that means that those works are bad and oppressive. The idea of two opposing teams is a perfectly legitimate way for Scripture to speak, and for people to look at the world.

    3. That being said, everyone has to live with the consequences of their answer to the question about the relationship between the two teams. Ultimately if the devil isn't God's devil, then the door is opened for a sort of dualism. We can speak about two opposing teams, but when you ask about how they came to be, it turns out that one created the other; therefore their relationship is necessarily asymmetrical.

    4. The difference you're getting at is real. People speak about it in different ways, so the terminology can sometimes be confusing. Perhaps the clearest labels would be God's decree and its historical outworking. We are only given a sketch of an outline of God's decree. Its full detail will become manifest only when all of history is over. So for navigating the challenges and experiences of this life the perspective that God is sovereign is necessary and not sufficient. In other words, we need to know about sovereignty; but we need to know also that the way of transgressors is hard, that we must resist the devil so he will flee from us, that God gives grace to the humble, and so forth. Scripture (and preachers) sometimes focus on one, sometimes on the other; but the change of what's in the foreground doesn't eliminate the truth of what's in the background, in either direction. A very clear example of this is the different way that 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles speak about David numbering the people. The same work is attributed in one case to God in his anger, and in the other to Satan in his malice (cf. 2 Samuel 24:1 with 1 Chronicles 21:1).

    5. Another way to think about this is that Satan isn't God's willing tool. God overrules him, to be sure, but that very concept of overruling implies already that Satan was not cooperating and was aiming at something different. That's the joke of Psalm 2; people accomplished Messiah's enthronement precisely by opposing him.

    So if someone says, "the devil oppressed many and Christ healed them all" we can certainly say amen. If someone draws from that to say that the kingdom of Satan is a kingdom of misery and the kingdom of Christ one of salvation, again there is total agreement. Job and John 9 and so forth aren't contradicting anything in other parts of Scripture; but they are answering a related question that will almost certainly come up at one point or another.
  20. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    Help me out. What is "their argument?" I'll judge for myself of the "strength" of it.

    Who are they, and what specifically is their religious claim? A string of Bible verses is meaningless. There is no obvious thread to the pearls, for the uninitiated. There's no prima facie case there at all, until you spell it out. Moreover, you will never persuade anyone in your old camp he has a wrong case, when he has never built his case in the first place, but merely piles up verses that seem to suit his ad hoc commitments.

    I'm also concerned, as Ruben above also seems to be, that you have some hope that within our approach to Scripture is a "silver bullet" that will knock the blinders off people: all it takes is sweet aim. "What do you have that you did not receive?" 1Cor.4:7. Neither you nor I know one single spiritual truth on the basis of our keen intellects. So, when (I sincerely hope) you have obtained your potent arsenal, do not (I sincerely beg) march forth anticipating a glorious rout.

    Many such soldiers conclude, after seeing no effect of our alchemy on the opposition, the defect is in the theology! And so they go searching for another spell having greater charm. What if those subjected are harder in heart than we ever dreamed, and the only power to make any argument effective is the Spirit, who blows where he wills, and not necessarily upon our passionate labors, as we judge them?

    The truth of Reformed theology is not measured by "effects," nor by counting noses. Reformed theology is true, like it's true the earth is round regardless of how many are convinced this is so. Reformed theology is truth, like the truth of a doctor's diagnosis that may only make a patient angry; so he runs off to find a doctor more amenable to his taste. The facts of Reformed theological truth won't even make its practitioners decent people, or good physicians of souls, merely because it's most conformable (we think) to the mind of God revealed in Scripture. Graduates of top medical schools still commit malpractice.

    Here's something you seem to say with reference to one of those texts: Act.10:38 describes a Manichean world, with God (one side) contending with Satan (the other side) in a cosmic contest. Really? Even using your own literal words, "God knows that in any other context of human experience he has just described 2 opposing teams," your read is overloaded with layers-on-layers of unstated assumptions brought TO the text, not read FROM it. We call that eisegesis, rather than exegesis.

    Strictly speaking, the quoted text says that Jesus' ministry brought relief to all afflicted by the devil. Widen the context a bit, and we find Jesus' empowerment is of God by the Holy Spirit. Now, even with that information we do not have any data from the verse that tells us (for instance) if God had previously empowered (by any means) the devil. Or if, in a face-to-face meeting, if Jesus' empowerment or the devil's (whatever the source) would overcome the other. Our opinions about those matters are drawn from other places (hopefully the Bible, but who knows about other people?) and are brought TO this text.

    What is meant by "all" oppressed by the devil? Does this mean everyone on earth was oppressed by the devil? This text doesn't clarify that. Was Jesus at the epicenter of the devil's activity in the world, i.e all the oppressed were in the places Jesus ended up going about? Again, this text alone will not supply the answer. Does the text imply he managed to meet every one of the world's oppressed people, and heal them? If not, why not? I thought "all" always meant ALL (an anti-Calvinist trope). Did the devil, whom Jesus apparently confronted indirectly, have minions; and did Jesus have his own army of exorcists? Or was this a personal attack on "all" whom Jesus then personally treated? Any disparity of personal engagement is not explained in this text.

    The point is: the facts this text can establish are limited to the words contained in the text; the meaning is constrained by the context. And it is improper to load the text with disputed notions, dependent on (supposedly) other passages, without any defense.

    Now, I'm anticipating that at any moment in a conversation with a typical charismatic, he's not going to say "OK, let's go establish some basic preliminaries from an array of clear didactic texts, so we can come to this text with some agreement, or at least clarity." No, I suspect he'll say, "The answers to your questions are already obvious to anyone who's a REAL Spirit-filled Christian," meaning he's a priori convinced about this and that ahead of time, and isn't actually prepared to bring his deeper assumptions into question.

    But let's allow ourselves some hope the charismatic will patiently appeal to the coherence of Scripture, that he might attempt a simple proof of one contention and another, thereby to try justifying his treatment of Act.10:38. This might permit us to introduce at least a God-centered perspective on creation.

    A common charismatic contention is that the world of Jesus and the Apostles is basically the same world that is today. Wait... what if Jesus' work, and then his Apostles' work, effected great changes in the world's conditions, such that even now after well over 19 centuries the effects of the alterations they made are still rippling through the fabric of time and space that we inhabit? I've heard charismatics contend (along with Romanists) that without ongoing miracles, our Faith is weakened. All such assertions simply deny that Jesus' miracles and those of his prime ministers have such staying power that they ROCK with power like they were just performed 5 minutes ago. Jesus himself criticized those who demanded additional signs than what he gave already.

    The issue isn't: we don't have enough signs and wonders. Jesus kicked the devil and his minions to the fringes of his empire. His Apostles did a fine mopping up operation, largely completing that work (as he said they would). Everywhere missionaries have gone in the last 19 centuries, the Word and Spirit have been sufficient to roust out demonic squatters. We don't deny miracles continue, and God works extraordinarily; for those we rejoice! But the foundation was laid in the first generation of the NT church, and there's no requirement it be re-laid. We only expect God to do as he promised, and he never promised anyone a sensible miracle.

    What opens up doors for devilish tricks anymore (the return of those spirit-invaders) is when the gospel is muted, and when true doctrine is sidelined--including when it is sidelined for the sake of new dramatics. What opens people up for "lying wonders" is not believing the true wonders recorded for us in the Bible, and being content with that witness. Anything else we might see, and attribute to God's good divine intervention on behalf of his people, is pure bonus.

    Act.10:38 is about Jesus, and about 3yrs of human history in one tiny corner of the world. The implications of his ministry are much more than that, of course; but Act.10:38 all by itself won't explain them to us.
  21. God's in Charge

    God's in Charge Puritan Board Freshman

    Thank you both for Scriptural answers to my questions.

    I hope I'm letting Scripture speak and not preconceived notions I bring to it...but how can I prove that? I can only pray and trust God to guide me into all truth.
    I feel that if I do have an emotional bias would be to doubt ANY charasmatic theology since it's clear to me how much has already been proven wrong to me. I assume everything else is wrong too.

    I'll ponder long on your answers, too soon to come back with more bullets because my goal is truth and clarity, not to win an argument.

    Maybe this is a side issue but it's connected in my head. Please give me the reformed view of this thought.
    No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability,...
    1 Cor 10:13a ESV
    the weight of scripture leaves me feeling as God's redeemed I have 0 fear Satan can do anything beyond what God allows. Even my temptations are filtered much less my trials or...
    I can rejoice in everything because everything is redemptive in my life whether it's the devil or not.


    Does God exert that exact same "control" over Satan concerning those in darkness? None will debate he can, but does he? Was he filtering the temptations the men of Sodom faced on their final day exactly as he does for me?
    Since God allows Satan to "blind" them I don't see how it's the same.

    Not sure if you're following my thought but this may be part of my earlier answer.
    In trying to fit EVERY activity of Satan into the same box as Job’s I'm inevitably putting the lost into that box.
    I'm guessing the reformed answer is that God exerts equal control over the devil in EVERY life.
    But I'm here to ask questions, not answer them.

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  22. lynnie

    lynnie Puritan Board Senior

    I think you would find great help in a book by Erwin Lutzer called The Serpent in Paradise. Top rating from RC Sproul.
  23. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    The quantity of the Lord's sovereignty never varies, of course. But his purpose is clearly not the same with regard to the elect and the reprobate, and so the outworking of that same sovereignty is different.
  24. God's in Charge

    God's in Charge Puritan Board Freshman

    Are you willing to elaborate a bit more?
    If the different "outworking" ends up in God allowing freedom to Satan (among children of darkness) that he doesn't allow in his elect than that probably answers my question.

    Job had a "hedge" (the same one every elect has I presume) if not everyone has that hedge then Satan is not being "governed" the same it would seem.

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  25. God's in Charge

    God's in Charge Puritan Board Freshman

    Thanks for the recommendation, I'll get that book

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  26. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Jesus did say that Satan asked permission to sift Peter, but that Peter would come back to Lord due to the Lord praying for him...
    Do see that for the saved of the Lord, Jesus Cross/resurrection destroyed/disarmed poer of Satan over them, as we now have been sealed by the Spirit of promise, and greater is He than he that is in the world.
    Jesus also seemed to imply that if not a child of God, than child of Satan, as still under spiritual blindnessa and stuck in his lingdom.
  27. God's in Charge

    God's in Charge Puritan Board Freshman

    I think that's all clear, but I would put Peter in the same category with Job (the elect). The only ? Is if God is governing Satan's activity to the same degree amongst the lost.

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  28. py3ak

    py3ak They're stalling and plotting against me Staff Member

    The framing of a question is quite important. We should be careful not to talk about the devil's activity in any sphere in a way which throws doubt on whether or not God is in charge. God is always in charge, exhaustively.

    So if you ask, Can Satan give Judas Iscariot a dreadful disease like Job experienced, the answer is still going to be, "Not without God's permission." The fact that Judas was the son of perdition doesn't mean God's sovereignty doesn't apply to him.

    I think once that is clear we can certainly notice that unbelievers are in the kingdom of darkness in a way that believers are not. Texts like John 8:44 or 2 Timothy 2:26 do highlight that unbelievers don't have the wherewithal to resist the devil.

    It's not that the devil is "more free" if by that is meant that he is not under God's control in that area. But clearly God is not overruling Satan's permitted activity to ultimately foster the salvation of the reprobate (that is true of the elect).
  29. ThomasT

    ThomasT Puritan Board Freshman

    I think it’s a mistake to assume that sickness is always explicable. We aren't necessarily going to know if a particular ailment is primarily redemptive, primarily punitive, or simply another part of God’s hidden script. And we certainly don't know -- in every case -- if Satan is involved.

    When a man of 90 dies peacefully in his sleep, we usually (and rightly) don’t insist on blaming Satan. Why should we look for the hand of Satan in the death or suffering of a six-year old?

    It is completely beyond the scope of the religion that has been revealed to us to identify the specific cause, purpose, and agency (if any) behind every illness. Pentecostals and other denominations that emphasize healing (nothing wrong with that, by the way; maybe we don’t do enough of it) are looking for answers God hasn't given us.
  30. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Professor

    Even in the Gospels, te author made a clear distiction between sickness/possession from Satan, and just"regular" diseases and sickness, as some can come from Him, but most due to the Fall and this is a cursed land.
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