Please Visit Our Sponsor
God and Satan, Good and Evil, Test and Temptation
The following are a few events in the Bible that can help us understand the relationship between God and Satan. Job 1:6-12 tells us that
One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. The LORD said to Satan, "Where have you come from?" Satan answered the LORD, "From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it." Then the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." "Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face." The LORD said to Satan, "Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger." Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.
From this, we see that Satan roams through the earth and goes back and forth between heaven and earth. He presents himself to God among the angels, and Satan can tempt us if God allows him to do so.
Another passage that can add to our understanding is that of 1 Kings 22. Ahab, king of Israel asked Jehoshaphat, king of Judah to fight against Ramoth Gilead. Jehoshaphat asked Ahab to seek counsel of the LORD. Four hundred "prophets" said that the Lord will give Ramoth Gilead to the king's hand. On the other hand, Micaiah, son of Imlah painted a very different picture of defeat and Israelites scattered without a leader. The LORD spoke through Micaiah in the following passages1King 22:19-23, regarding the false prophesies.
The LORD sitting on his throne with all the host of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. And the LORD said, 'Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?' "One suggested this, and another that. Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, 'I will entice him.' " 'By what means?' the LORD asked. " 'I will go out and be a lying spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,' he said. " 'You will succeed in enticing him,' said the LORD. 'Go and do it.'
The situation in the above passage is very similar to that of Job 1. Satan (a spirit) was among the host of heaven, in front of the LORD. The LORD asked who will tempt Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead so that judgment will be upon this wicked king? There are two main differences between this story and that of Job. First of all, the person being tempted is a wicked king (Ahab) instead of a righteous man (Job). Secondly, it was the LORD who suggested to tempt Ahab, in Job's case, it was Satan who suggested the temptation. However the end result is the same, the LORD allowed Satan to tempt someone, who can be either righteous or evil. This point is also reflected in King David's numbering of Israelites
2 Samuel 24 says that "the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah". On the other hand, 1 Chronicles 1:1 says that "Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel". So, who initiated the numbering of the Israelites, Satan or God? Gauging from the story of Job and Ahab, it does not matter who started it, but the bottom line is that God allowed the temptation. So should we say that God tempts us? Let's take a look at James 1:12-17.
Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. When tempted, no-one should say, God is tempting me. For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Note that James tells us that God is the author of all good and perfect gift from above and He cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone (James 1:13). In the example given above, we see indeed that it was Satan who tempted us with God's permission.
If we persevere under the trial then we pass the test, receiving the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him. On the other hand, if we fail, then we actually were tempted by our own evil desire. After the desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin and eventually to death.
Conclusions: From this, we can conclude that it was Satan who tempts us to sin with God's permission. Without God's permission, Satan cannot touch us, for God is in ultimate control. Why does God allow Satan to tempt us. For those who've sinned, the temptation will eventually lead to judgment, as in the case of Ahab and king David. For the righteous (like Job), the temptation gives us a opportunity to display our faith and obedience and pass the test, obtaining the crown of life. Either case brings glory to the LORD, with sin being judged / punished and righteousness rewarded.