Understanding Satan, Part 4

"Paul specifically identified the redemptive purposes of Satan’s work as a tool to help keep him humble."

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 2 here.

Having looked at the reality of Satan and ways that we can both protect against him and resist him, I want to offer one final encouragement regarding the work of Satan in the Christian’s life.

Usually when we think of the work of Satan in our lives, we view it as completely unredeemable. We try to avoid it at all costs, because if Satan is doing something, there’s no way any good could come out of it. But to think this much of Satan is to think far too little of Christ.

When Paul wrote that, “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28) he didn’t exclude the work of Satan. “All things” literally means “all things.” Just look a few verses further:

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom 8:37-39

Of course Paul didn’t only preach this truth, he lived it. Paul specifically identified the redemptive purposes of Satan’s work as a tool to help keep him humble. He knew Satan was at work in his life, whether it was through the hindrance of his travel plans (1 Thes 2:17-20) or what he called the “thorn in his flesh.” But Paul recognized the telltale fingerprints of God’s redemption even here:

"So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited." 2 Cor 12:7

Paul not only instructed his disciples to combat Satan with humility and trust, but he expressed thankfulness for the ways God took these attacks and redeemed them by using them to produce beautiful, Christ-like virtues in his heart. As Joseph said about his own brothers selling him into slavery: “you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20).

Satan's temptation is far from irredeemable. Satan's temptation is just another opportunity to be reminded of the glorious riches we have in Christ. As the hymn puts so beautifully:

When Satan tempts me to despair and tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there who made an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died my sinful soul is counted free
For God, the Just, is satisfied to look on Him and pardon me