The last time I preached a sermon for our church, it was on the topic of Satan’s attacks against the believers. The two main areas I covered were:
- Satan’s role in deceiving those who would otherwise believe the gospel
- Satan’s accusations against the saints
Interestingly, this week I was listening to the Solid Joys devotional while riding my bike into work, and I got a clearer picture of one of the accusations that Satan uses against believers. In the devotional, John Piper examined martyrdom and explained how it silences Satan and one of his common accusations:
[Martyrs] have a special role to play in shutting the mouth of Satan, who constantly says that the people of God serve him only because life goes better. That’s the point of Job 1:9–11.
This is very helpful observation, especially when looking at the claims of the “prosperity gospel”, which essentially promises health, wealth, and well-being if you just follow God’s ways and choose positive living. However, the story of Job makes it clear that Satan uses this kind of living and thinking as one of his primary accusations against God’s people.
Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” (Job 1:9-11 ESV)
God’s willingness to allow suffering, hardship, and even death in the life of a believer can be seen as a means displaying His own glory in the face of Satan’s accusations. Not only that, this passage clarifies how the shallowness of faith1 produced by prosperity gospel teaching can result in a confirmation of Satan’s specific accusations in this area.
While pondering this over the past few days, I have begun to evaluate my personal theology regarding suffering and my dependence/expectations of God’s blessings and protection. It is easy for me to assume that I simply will always have God’s blessings and protection, that nothing bad will happen to me or my family, and that (like Job’s friends surmised) suffering is primarily a result of sin in my life. However, this insight from the book of Job has opened my eyes to see that God uses suffering, hardship, and even the death of his saints to refute the accusations of the enemy, for His glory.
- This ties directly to the parable of the seed, where Jesus describes shallow-rooted people who fall away when hard times come (Mark 4:16-17) ↩