"Adversity Must Produce Apostasy"
From Satan's Ten Most Believable Lies
Satans fifth doctrine is stated in the devils continuing speech before God as he contemptuously discusses the situation of Job, that righteous servant of God. Hast not thou made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face (Job 1:10-11). In other words, no man will face human adversity without crumbling into bitterness and cursing his God.
What an insult to humanity!
Here, our enemy goes a step beyond his fourth doctrine, that no one will serve God except for human rewards. He is now insisting that no one will stay true to his presumed allegiance to a heavenly Father if he must face adverse and distressing circumstances as he lives his life. The absence of gain is one thing: real loss is quite another.
This implies that a man who is overtaken by intolerable reverses and divested of his human resources will forsake the Lord. He will blame God for his problems. The satanic assertion is that no one will believe in the goodness and love of God no matter what happens to him. God must always prove His love with sunshine and flowers. He must embody it in material substance for it to be real. He must never allow a person to suffer who serves Him, for suffering will produce infidelity.
The subtle suggestion is, therefore, that the love of God, His grace, and mercy are not real attributes of His being but are only Gods patronizing activities. They are real only when visible and when producing pleasing and benign circumstances. There is no person, Satan insists, who will remain confident in the love of God because it is an intrinsic part of the nature of God. Rather, he will believe only when that love produces profitable things for him. The evil one insists that the evidence of the love of God is sight, not faith.
This satanic doctrine denies sound Christian doctrine. The basis of Gods working with men in all ages is that the just shall live by faith (Romans 1:17). The Bible declares that faith is itself the substance of things hoped for; it is itself the evidence of things that we do not see (Hebrews 11:1). It follows that faith is not faith merely when it is confirmed by our cooperating circumstances. Indeed, the Scripture teaches that faith is faith only when it is operating in contrast to our circumstances. The moment that there is a change in our untoward circumstances and the results of faith become apparent, then faith is no longer operative. For what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? (Romans 8:24). Satan denies all this, suggesting that there is really no such thing as faith; confidence is built on sight alone. He does not merely redefine faith; he denies its very existence.
So important was it that this satanic doctrine be refuted that the Lord gave Satan every opportunity to oppress Job to the breaking point, if he could.
And the Lord said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord. And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brothers house: and there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: and the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. (Job 1:12-16)
These frightening reverses continue.
While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brothers house: and, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshiped. (Job 1:17-20)
Here is the story of a string of personal tragedies that fell upon the life of a servant of God, the equal of which will rarely befall any man. If ever there was a person who would be able to prove from the evidence of his external circumstances that he was the object of divine hatred, it was the patriarch Job. His world had fallen apart, and he had nothing left but a heap of ashes, a nagging wife, and three philosopher friends to complicate matters.
What was Jobs response to all of this? Did he throw up his hands and deny the Lord? The answer is, of course, that he did not. Being absolutely sure of the love and the providence of God, he made another one of his great statements of faith, Naked came I out of my mothers womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly (Job 1:21-22). It is beautiful to see the satanic theology that adversity must bring spiritual denial devastatingly repudiated in the life and testimony of Job. Job became the classic illustration of the truth that alone can help the individual to say in the midst of changing time, The just shall live by faith.
Few of us will be able to resist the temptation to believe Satans non-faith theology unless we understand the real nature of faith in a Christian sense. The faith of the Christian, his belief in the existence and goodness of God, is not a temporary attitude that he musters from time to time in this life. Ones view is childish if he believes that faith is something that he exercises all weekend, knowing he will see the glad fulfillment of his faith on Monday morning. Our faith is not like that. Faith, to the Christian, is a much higher thing, far above the level of ordinary human understanding.
It is higher because it believes totally in the existence and goodness of God who is above and beyond nature and therefore by the very nature of things, must not reveal Himself in nature any more than He does. To manifest Himself through nature more, God would have to destroy it. So long, then, as we are in a natural world, it is not possible for us to prove empirically that our faith is true. Only beyond this life, when we step from nature into supernature, will we move beyond the need for faith. Until then, faith must be the basis for our very life. In saying, The just shall live by faith, God means faith will be the very basis of our existence and that will be the case for all of our natural lives. Again, we must insist that this is how things are in the natural realm. For God to prove Himself to be as big and as powerful as our faith tells us He is, He would have to destroy the universe.
Within the order of creation, there are no eyes that can truly behold Gods face; there is no heart that can truly appreciate Gods love; there is no mind that can comprehend the breadth of Gods wisdom. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). Paul declares, Who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (Romans 11:34). Not while we are in this life will we move beyond the necessity of living by faith. Therefore, so long as we live, we will be vulnerable to the satanic argument that our only course is to despair, that faith in an unseen God is foolish. There is no way that it can ever be different, for there is no way that the supernatural can fully reveal itself within the natural. God has so constituted nature that it is almost impossible to see the supernatural in it at all, except through the eyes of faith.
Almost, but not quite. The not quite is what Christianity is all about. The fact is that God in His wisdom did find a way to reveal a measure of the glory of His Person within the natural world. He did find a way to bring before the eyes of faith some factual evidence of His existence and His love.
How do we know that God loves us? Is it because of health and strength and wealth and plentiful supply? What is the real evidence of the love of God? On what basis can we still believe in the love of our heavenly Father when we live in the midst of war, poverty, privation, and a multitude of human reverses? What minister of the gospel has not been asked the question, If God is love, why is there so much suffering in the world?
Really now, how do we know that God loves us? The answer is that He reached into nature and made Himself and His love an observable thing in the lives of men. We know that God loves us because Christ came into the world. He lived and died on the cross to save us from our sins. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins? (1 John 4:10). Again, God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). So it is that the Christian, having accepted the love of God in Jesus Christ as being the final evidence of the tender care of our heavenly Father, is refuting this doctrine of the devil.
The proof of the love of God in our lives is not sunshine and flowers. It is the historical fact of the death of Jesus Christ and the present indwelling of His spirit in our lives. The reality of Jesus Christ is what makes it possible to trust God when we are facing the storms of life. Circumstances, to the Christian, having nothing to do with the question of the reality of the love of God. Prosperity, of itself, does not prove that God is for us, and adversity is no final indication that God has forsaken us.
The testimony of Job should forever settle the fact that our physical happenings are not of themselves spiritually significant. He sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45).
Dont doubt in the darkness what God has told you in the light is good advice indeed! The events of our lives certainly will not always cooperate for our pleasure. There must inevitably be times when we pass through darkness in which there seems to be no light whatsoever. Prayers are not always answered in the precise shape of our expectations. Needs are not always supplied with the specifications that we demand of God. Things do not always work together for good in an empirically provable sense. An old Arab proverb says, God writes straight with crooked lines. One of the most obvious facts of life is that God does not run His rivers like arrows down to the sea. The evidence of the love and tender care of our heavenly Father cannot be based upon our cooperating and rewarding environment.
A moments reflection, however, will quickly remind us that only a fool would believe the satanic doctrine that momentary events prove faith foolish. We all know that too much sunshine will create a desert. Rain is also needed to cool the earth, irrigate the fields, and even to furnish a bit of rewarding variation from the sameness of eternal sunshine. We also know that many times, a ship has traveled faster through the storm than it had through the calm seas.
Therefore, most people would do well to change their attitudes about this whole question of adversity and problems, lest they become very weak-minded in their whole outlook on life. Many of us are too soon discouraged, too easily crushed. We burst into tears when faced with the slightest difficulties. Our weak sunshine faith is much too readily demolished. We need to heed again the stern admonition of Scripture:
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children. My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. (Hebrews 12:3-8)
If we would take a moment for reflection and firm up our attitudes, we may move to a whole new and exciting level of life. Indeed, a man is a fool if when in trouble, he neglects to stop, think, and remind himself that problems are themselves the price of progress. We must remember that the word problem is simply a description of our reaction to an event; it is not a denotation of the event itself. A wrinkled fender may be a problem to the person who is driving the automobile, but for the person who operates the body shop, it is an opportunity. Many of our words are really descriptions of our own personal attitudes, rather than objective definitions of our environment.
What may be a storm to one person is simply a refreshing rain to another. It therefore follows that a hateful and bitter reaction to ones circumstances is quite stupid. A second, considered, and analytical look at a pile of rubble may suggest many golden possibilities to the creative mind, if that mind will take a moment for reflection rather than reacting in despair.
Contemplation or reaction, what a difference there is between the two! Indeed, one may be divine and the other satanic. Satan, in his fifth doctrine, implies that man, as a mere human animal, will only react to his circumstances. He suggests that mans response to difficulty, will be instantaneous and negative rather than rational, considerate, and reflective. Satan hopes that all of us will live our lives on the basis of action and reaction rather than reflective thinking. Hoping for an emotional response, he will constantly push us to panic rather than allow us to take a moment for reflection. Satan would have us believe that we react rather than think, attributing to man a violent, animalistic stupidity in saying, Touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
Who of us has not seen this satanic drive work in our lives? What man has not, in the heat of anger, fear, and disappointment, been tempted to say or do something for which he was soon sorry? Most of the sins of our lives would have been avoided with just a moments reflection. Has not the experience of life taught us that our instant reaction to our circumstances has almost always been wrong? I am not speaking, of course, about leaping away from a speeding automobile or reflexively avoiding a collision when driving. Rather, I am suggesting that it is almost impossible to analyze instantly a complex set of circumstances and to make the correct moral decision in a flash. Job himself is an illustration of this. He did not react to the loss of his wealth by cursing God. He took time to think, to consider, and even to discuss at length all of these things with his philosopher friends. Even though their advice was not the most encouraging, nevertheless, the fact of the discussion surely helped Job to spread his emotions over a longer period of days. He did not curse God to His face, as Satan said he would. He was saved from this by taking time to think about it.
A moments reflection may also change our view of our circumstances. Who has not discovered that, when carefully analyzed, practically any problem is not really so disastrous as it appeared to be at first?
With this in mind, I spoke recently to a friend of mine and asked, Have the problems of life that you have faced through the years usually turned out to be greater or less than what you originally expected them to be? He answered, smiling in knowing fashion, as if appreciating the relevance of the question, Practically without exception, my problems have been less of a difficulty than initially I expected them to be.
For many of us, a moments contemplation on the love of God plus an extra moment to think through our circumstances would prevent us from falling into an agreement with Satan that personal loss is grounds to curse the Lord.
To help develop the right attitude, let sink deeply into your firmest convictions the beautiful definition of God found in Scripture, God is love (1 John 4:8). How reassuring it is to the soul to remember that I have loved thee with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3); his banner over me was love (Song of Solomon 2:4); greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13); and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge (Ephesians 3:19). We need to be moved again by the blessed recollection that Jesus Christ, having loved his own. . . he loved them unto the end (John 13:1). On the basis of this marvelous data, we are confident that the promise of God is true, that since God be for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)
A proper understanding of the love of God will assure us that He is for us no matter what may be our momentary circumstances. Our faith that God is for us is based on a proper estimate of His goodness and the consequent confidence that His promises do not fail. Out with circumstances; up with Scripture!
The devil would bend all of his powers to destroy this faith. He knows that every person who loves God no matter what is confirming the basic fact of the universe, namely, that God is just and He is also love. It is utterly important that we remain true to the Lord despite any degree of pain and problems that we may face. Life will, for most of us, be characterized by temporary periods of prosperity and adversity. In good times, we probably can impress an onlooking world with our prosperity as being an evidence of the blessing of God. But our faith will impress people even more if we are strong in the Lord when we are passing through a time of want or even the valley of the shadow of death.
The person who, because of the temporary dislocation of his affairs, denies that a gracious God is working on his behalf, is committing himself to the satanic doctrine of a loveless, unjust God. The Christian whose circumstances produce the cry that God has forsaken me has slipped into dangerous, sub-Christian thinking. About the early heroes of the faith, the hymn writer said,
They climbed the steep ascent of heaven,
God is just. God is love, Job never doubted it. Satanic subversion is constantly at work to deny individuals the glorious freedom that comes from faith in these blessed certainties.
Satan's Ten Most Believable Lies