The Bible says that God uses Satan to punish and to chasten people, and to test the faith of his followers.
1 Corinthians chapter 5 (Amplified)
1 IT IS actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, impurity of a sort that is condemned and does not occur even among the heathen; for a man has [his own] father's wife.
2 And you are proud and arrogant! And you ought rather to mourn … until the person who has done this [shameful] thing is removed from your fellowship and your midst!
3 As for my attitude, though I am absent [from you] in body, I am present in spirit, and I have already decided and passed judgment, as if actually present, 4 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, on the man who has committed such a deed. When you … are met together with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5 You are to deliver this man over to Satan for physical discipline [to destroy carnal lusts which prompted him to incest], that [his] spirit may [yet] be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Suffering can make us give up certain sins that we would otherwise be involved in, and later, we can be grateful that it did, if our commitment to leading a good life is strong enough.
2 Corinthians chapter 2 (NIV)
6 The punishment inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. 7 Now instead, you ought to forgive and comfort him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. 8 I urge you, therefore, to reaffirm your love for him.
Another Bible passage about Satan's role as a chastener, or perhaps a punisher, was written by Paul to one of his fellow spreaders of the Christian gospel and refers to people who were teaching things about Jesus that were upsetting others.
1 Timothy chapter 1 (TEV)
19 Keep your faith and a clear conscience. Some people have not listened to their conscience and have made a ruin of their faith. 20 Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have punished by handing them over to the power of Satan; this will teach them to stop their blasphemy.
New Testament writers say that suffering is sometimes a means of testing the faith of Christians, so that the genuine ones can be distinguished from the ones who aren't really committed, who will fall away from the faith.
Luke chapter 22 (GWT)
31 [Then the Lord said,] "Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to have you apostles for himself. He wants to separate you from me as a farmer separates wheat from husks. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. So when you recover, strengthen the other disciples."
Satan is referred to a few times in the New Testament as the tempter, and is described as having tempted Jesus when he was on earth and other people. Temptation can be another means of chastening God's people and dividing genuine Christians from false ones. Having given into temptation, we Christians become more aware of our weaknesses, which teaches us to be more conscious in the future of the warning signs that we may be becoming enticed to do something bad so we can avoid it before the temptation becomes too strong, and we can counsel/advise others who are being tempted to do things they shouldn't, where the temptation won't necessarily have come from Satan. We can help them escape it by giving them advice based on what we learned from our experiences of how we escaped such temptation. If the advice works for them, they can then help others by passing it on to people in a similar predicament. That's not to say that we can justify our sins because they can teach us lessons we can use to help others. The Bible is very clear that people shouldn't deliberately sin. But if we've been tempted and then found a way of escaping the temptation, whether we sinned before we did so or not, we can at least know that we can use the experience for the benefit of others.
Having come through an experience like that ourselves also makes us more able to sympathise with the weaknesses of others.
Hebrews chapter 4 (TEV)
13 There is nothing that can be hid from God; everything in all creation is exposed and lies open before his eyes. And it is to him that we must all give an account of ourselves. 14 Let us, then, hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we have a great High Priest who has gone into the very presence of God - Jesus, the Son of God. 15 Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. 16 Let us have confidence, then, and approach God's throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.
On the subject of God's grace helping people who are tempted, once, someone asked me for advice, because they said they knew an occultist and they'd recently been feeling strong temptations to go and be with him, but they didn't want to. I advised them to pray that any spiritual influences that might be causing the temptation would be lifted. a little while afterwards, they said they did, and the feelings just disappeared, and the next day they felt really refreshed.
Having said that, temptation with a primarily spiritual cause won't necessarily have anything to do with a particular occultist. When tempted in any type of situation, it may well help to pray that God will remove any spiritual influence that may be causing the temptation.
I say may, because it's easy for people to attribute temptation to a spiritual influence, when in reality, the cause is purely psychological, and totally understandable given things that have been happening, for instance if someone's feeling tempted to say something nasty to someone else, and it turns out they didn't think there was anything wrong with fantasising about saying cruel things to them. Of course the more they fantasise about doing something they think they'd enjoy, the more they'll want to do it for real.
For Christians who aren't genuine, for Satan to entice them to give into temptation may serve the purpose of making them fall away from the faith, so they can be distinguished as insincere.
One important thing is that humans aren't given the duty of helping Satan!
Luke chapter 17 (NLT)
1 One day Jesus said to his disciples, "There will always be temptations to sin, but how terrible it will be for the person who does the tempting. 2 It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck than to face the punishment in store for harming one of these little ones.
All that being said, there is a viewpoint on the Bible called preterism, which may very well be correct, which teaches that much of the Bible prophecy thought by many to be about the future was actually about things that happened in the first century AD, such as the Jewish war with the Romans that led to the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70. It teaches that that was the end of the age of Old Testament Law, and the beginning of the age of grace. It teaches that Satan is not currently active, but that since AD 70, we have been living in the time spoken of in Revelation that says Satan would be bound for a long time so he wouldn't be able to do a thing on the earth during that time. To read about this view on the devil, see an article called HOW PARTIAL PRETERISM REGARDS SATAN...
For more information about preterism, see An Introduction to Preterism.
Incidentally, a myth has grown up that Satan was originally a good angel called Lucifer and he fell out of favour because of his pride. This is based on interpretations of two Old Testament Bible passages by third and fourth century theologians, which are actually about earthly kings but were taken to be allegory about the devil. The Bible itself does not hint that that belief is true. See: Lucifer/Satan in the Old Testament?
The main Bible pages on this site:
|Bible Part 1: Bible Quotations, The Holy Spirit, People And Their Stories|
|Bible Part 2: The Lives and Suffering of the Ancient Israelites|
|Bible Part 3: The Bible, Articles About Alleged Inaccuracies in it, And Stories of People who Became Christians.|
|Or go directly to the next in the series: What the Bible Says About the Types Of Suffering The Devil And Demons Can Cause.|
The selections of Bible quotations have been put together by Diana Holbourn.
Throughout this series, wherever the initials TEV appear, they stand for Today's English Version (The Good News Bible).Other initials:
Don't be afraid to question the truth of what a religious authority figure tells you, or even the Bible or other holy books themselves, or certain people's interpretation of them. Nothing to do with religion or the supernatural is so well established in fact it shouldn't be questioned. To find out why caution is a good idea, visit:
Are you up to trying the challenges of the New Testament's moral guidelines, and would you like to know more of what it says about the love of Jesus? Here are some links to Bible quotes about the beautiful ideals the New Testament encourages Christians to try to live up to:
There are a lot of pages on this website with quotations from the Old Testament on them. Many of these are unfortunately rather gruesome, since the main theme of the Old Testament is warnings and stories about how it says societies were punished for mass lawless and hurtful behaviour, even to the extent of having war brought on them by God, that seem to have been designed to scare societies where crime and violence were rampant into behaving more ethically. In case there is any misunderstanding, it should be understood that this website does not endorse war as anything other than a last resort. The position of the website owner can be gleaned from the articles:
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