Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"A Lengthened Leash" Part 2

   Sometimes, the best thing regarding Satan's involvement in our lives is "Get thee hence!", as at the end of the wilderness temptation of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 4:10).  Sometimes, however, "Get thee here!" comprises God's lengthening, as it were, of the devil's leash.

    "And lest I should be exalted above measure for the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure" (II Corinthians 12:7).

    Note the Apostle Paul's plain language regarding his Job-like experience.  God allowed the devil to "buffet" Paul, but nevertheless wove good purposes into the assault.  Thus, "Get thee here!" seems to have fulfilled the Apostle's need more than "Get thee hence!" would have accomplished.  We often do not know which option is best, a primary reason that James taught us to counter devilish attacks not by direct confrontation, but by trusting and committing ourselves to God: "Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil and he will flee from you" (James 4:7).  Indeed, even angels do not directly confront the devil, perhaps for the same reason that they do not perfectly know what their Lord is doing when He allows Satan to have freer rein.  "Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee" (Jude 1:9).

    Had we lived in the Apostle Paul's day, we might well have been tempted to pray for our brother's deliverance from the "messenger of Satan."   This would have constituted an unwise waste of time and breath on our part.  Paul needed that messenger.  Moreover, believers through the ages sometimes require similar devilish challenges.  Had the Apostle become exalted in his heart "for the abundance of the revelations," much of his ministry (including the epistles) might have been thwarted.  Certainly, compassion for Paul would have been in order, along with the devotion of ourselves to God for our brother's benefit.  Twisting God's arm for Paul's deliverance from devilish involvement, conversely, would not have been in accordance with the Lord's purposes.  

   Satan (then Lucifer) originated sin in God's creation (Ezekiel 28:15).  The Lord was not taken by surprise that such spiritual and moral calamity occurred.  Nor is He taken aback when the devil involves himself malevolently in the world and in our lives.  God never determines Satan's wicked actions.  He does know about them beforehand, of course, and thus works through them to glorify His Son and further the best interests of His trusting children in Christ.  Again, this sometimes involves the removal of the devil from fields of conflict - "Get thee hence!"  Or it may require his continued attacks - "Get thee here!"  We must pray accordingly, humbly acknowledging our limited understanding of God's specific purposes, and thus asking Him to lengthen or shorten the devil's leash according to His wisdom and purpose.

"But as for you, ye thought evil against me, but God meant it unto good to bring to pass as it is this day, to save much people alive."
(Genesis 50:20)

Weekly Memory Verse
    Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be.  But we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.
(I John 3:2)

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