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Don Stewart :: Can Satan Cause Physical Harm to Believers?

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Don Stewart
Though Satan does not have the power to work miracles, and has no power over nature, he can employ physical forces against believers, if God allows it. These forces can cause harm to the believer - both physically and emotionally.

Job

We find five different examples in the life of Job of Satan being able to touch a believer. Scripture tells us that God allowed Satan to cause both physical and emotional harm to this man of God.

a messenger came to Job and said, "The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell on them and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was still speaking, another came and said, "The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants, and consumed them; I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was still speaking, another came and said, "The Chaldeans formed three columns, made a raid on the camels and carried them off, and killed the servants with the edge of the sword; I alone have escaped to tell you." While he was still speaking, another came and said, "Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house, and suddenly a great wind came across the desert, struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they are dead; I alone have escaped to tell you" (Job 1:14-19).

His children were killed, his property was destroyed, his livelihood was stolen, and his servants were killed. Scripture tells us that Satan was behind these losses (Job 1:1-13). After these things, Job suffered physically with painful boils.

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and inflicted loathsome sores on Job from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head (Job 2:7).

God allowed Satan, within certain limits, to bring these problems to Job.

The Woman With The Infirmity

Another such case is the woman whom Jesus healed of a difficult physical ailment.

And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight (Luke 13:11).

Jesus explained why He was going to heal her on the sabbath day.

And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this on the sabbath day?" (Luke 13:16).

This woman, who is called a daughter of Abraham, was attending a place of worship. Scripture indicates that she was a believer, not someone demon-possessed. There is nothing in this account suggests that she was an evil person, or someone engaged in immorality. She was a believer who had a physical problem that had an evil origin.

Set Free

Jesus came to set her, and others like her, free from this . The Bible says of His ministry.

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the Devil, for God was with Him (Acts 10:38).

Paul's Thorn In The Flesh

Finally, we have the case of the Apostle Paul. He had what he called a "thorn in the flesh."

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:7-9).

The "thorn in the flesh" was some type of unexplained physical ailment. We must not overlook the origin of the "thorn in the flesh." Paul called it a "messenger of Satan" We also note that three times he asked the Lord to take it away. Each time God said no.

Never Too Much

The Bible promises that God will provide a way to endure any testing that a believer may experience.

No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13).

No testing will be beyond the ability of the believer to cope.

God's Glory

As was the case in all three instances, each situation ultimately resulted in God being glorified. Though we might not understand why we go through these times of physical and emotional distress, believers can be confident that God has a plan behind all of it. Ultimately it will glorify Himself and further His program for this world.

Summary

From the accounts of Job, the woman with the physical infirmity, and Paul, we find that God, at times, does allow Satan to physically harm believers. As we have stressed, it is always within limits - God will never test believers beyond what they can endure.
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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