Friday, December 25, 2020

Covid-19 Christmas: Grappling with Satan’s Successes and Our Conquering

So, it’s Covid-19 Christmas morning and the issue staring me in the face is, why was Satan permitted to sift Peter like wheat?[1] 

Which also raises the question, why was he permitted to torment Job? Why does God continue to allow Satan to have success in our lives whenever we refuse to submit to the Triune? Is it all the same thing of showing us our true soul-condition (a Deeper) in order to convince us to humble ourselves and get right with God (a Higher)? 

My thoughts went from considering what we are like as an embarrassment to God as our Father every time we give in to Satan’s schemes to what God shows Satan about himself every time we repent and come home.[2] 

Which brought me to consider why the pattern God gives is so effective: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you”,[3] and, “Resist him, firm in your faith…”[4] 

“Submit yourselves therefore to God” and “firm in your faith” come first. “Resist the devil” and “resist him” come second. And “he will flee from you” is the result of this change. 

We do not win over our pet sins and demoralizing strongholds so that we can submit to God in faith. We are always told to submit to God in our hearts, right where we are, even in the middle of any sin whatsoever,[5] and in that faith-attachment to God, finding our strength restored in genuine attachment to Jesus, we can then resist the devil.[6] 

Why does Satan flee from the Christian he has had so much success with but who is now submitting again to God? Isn’t it, at least in part, because he sees this thing that is so wonderfully good, and so gloriously gracious, that he cannot bear to see God once again glorified in his erring child? 

The Psalm-writer declared, “For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.”[7] When the child of God who has just been caught committing adultery with the world repents (changes their mind) about what they are doing, draws near to the God they have sinned against, submitting again to their Father in heaven,[8] Satan sees the most remarkable expressions of the glory of God in his goodness expressed to his naughty children, his forgiveness magnifying the victorious work of salvation Jesus purchased on the cross, and the super-abounding steadfast love poured into the hearts of these disobedient, ungrateful and unruly children. 

Satan absolutely despises what God has done to gain victory over his successful scheme against Adam.[9] He is furious that his days of tormenting mankind are coming to an end[10] and that Jesus has redeemed every one of the people God has loved with an everlasting love. Even when Satan succeeds at getting the Christian to commit adultery with the world, he cannot take away the nature of God as good, forgiving and loving. He cannot do anything to diminish the gracious work of God expressed in forgiving sinful children because Jesus has borne the wrath of God expressed on every sin of every child of God to the fullest possible degree.[11] 

What Satan cannot get away from is Jesus’ pronouncement over his sinning brothers, “’It is finished!’ Their sin is paid for!”[12] Where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more,[13] and Satan has to see that glorification of grace every time he leads any of God’s children into sin. The loving, gracious and forgiving Father simply expresses kindness to his child, leading them to repentance,[14] and then forgives whatever they had done and continues his work of purifying them from all that unrighteousness.[15] 

At the same time, hanging over the whole scene is the picture of our coming glorification.[16] What Satan sees all the time is that God will carry on to completion the good work he has started in us.[17] God will make us fully like Jesus in his image and likeness as intended before the creation of Adam and Eve.[18] No matter what Satan does, and no matter how many times he causes a child of God to stumble, “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”[19] 

Every time a Christian confesses their sins to our heavenly Father, Jesus Christ is glorified as our advocate, our one and only mediator between us and God, always working to perfection those who come to him in repentance and faith. 

What does this have to do with Christmas? 

Simply this: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners,”[20] and, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”[21] He was given the name “Jesus” for the declared reason that “he will save his people from their sins,”[22] and Satan must watch that happen kazillions of times a day as God’s erring children keep submitting themselves to their heavenly Father, confessing their sins, glorifying God for their forgiveness, and renewing their walk with God to continue growing up to be like Jesus. 

The other day, while shovelling snow in front of our driveway, I saw a drug-addict acquaintance of mine walking by and greeted him by name. He hasn’t seen me for a long time so was initially surprised that I knew him. As soon as I reminded him of the circumstances of how we had met he immediately knew who I was. When he admitted that his struggle with addiction was as hopeless as ever, I urged him to call on Jesus to save him rather than try to get free in his own strength because, “‘everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’”[23] 

We all need that same invitation all the time. It doesn’t matter if we are still dead in our trespasses and sins and need to call on Jesus for salvation,[24] or are already his brothers by faith and need to call on him for deliverance from a specific sin. “Everyone” means everyone; “calls” means calls; “the name of the Lord” means the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, and “be saved” is the one and the same gift of salvation and deliverance given to everyone who receives Jesus Christ by faith. 

Satan was given his day in court, so to speak, to prove that Peter was not the man he boasted to be. Jesus already knew that. And when Jesus had finished with his death by crucifixion, his burial, and his resurrection from the grave, he restored Peter to a love-relationship with his Savior that was now based on grace instead of works,[25] and empowered Peter to proclaim the good news of great joy one particular day to such great effect that three thousand people repented and received Jesus as Lord and Savior right then and there.[26] And Satan had to watch it happen! 

It doesn’t matter how many times or ways Satan has lured you into sin. Jesus is glorified in saving you from your sins and leading you to be like him one day because, “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.[27] 

So, let us “confess our sins” to God because, “he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”[28] And, every time he does that, Satan will flee from us because he hates to see God receiving such glory for treating us so good.


© 2020 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8


Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.)





[1] Luke 22:31-34

[2] The fact that God’s work in us is on display to the whole spiritual realm is stated in Ephesians 3:10 in the immediate context of Ephesians 3:7-13 and the larger context of Ephesians 3:1-21

[3] James 4:7

[4] I Peter 5:9

[5] Deuteronomy 4:29

[6] This is expressed in greater detail in Ephesians 6:10-20 where Paul talks about the success we can have against the devil’s schemes when we put on the whole armor of God together and devote ourselves to prayer.

[7] Psalm 86:5

[8] As James describes in James 4:1-10

[9] Genesis 3 describes how Satan lured Adam and Eve into sin, thinking he had destroyed God’s hope of having a people in his own image and likeness. God told Satan right then and there that his Son would come and crush his head (authority) through a means that would allow Satan to strike his heel (Genesis 3:15). In the crucifixion of Jesus (partially about what Satan conspired against him), Jesus was attacked, tortured and put to death in what appeared to be a lethal strike against the work of God. However, in this Jesus fully propitiated God’s justice (bore God’s wrath that belonged to our sins on himself) so that he could save completely all who trust in him.

[10] Revelation 12:12 in context of Revelation 12:1-17

[11] The word “propitiation” in the better English translations means just that (Romans 3:21-26; Hebrews 2:17; I John 2:2; I John 4:10)

[12] John 19:30; compare with Isaiah 6:7

[13] Romans 5:18-21; 6:1-4

[14] Romans 2:4

[15] I John 1:9; compare this with Psalm 130:3 ~ “If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?” (NIV)

[16] Romans 8:28-30

[17] Philippians 1:6

[18] I John 3:1-2

[19] I John 2:1

[20] I Timothy 1:15

[21] Like 19:10

[22] Matthew 1:21

[23] Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13

[24] Ephesians 2:1-10 shows the remarkable transformation of sinners dead in their trespasses and sins becoming alive in our Lord Jesus Christ by grace through faith.

[25] John 21:15-19

[26] Acts 2:1-47

[27] Hebrews 7:25

[28] I John 1:9

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