Satan and the Sifting
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your trust may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers." But Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.” (Luke 22:31-34)
Most think Satan demanded permission from God, that God is in cahoots with Satan. But that is not true! This plays out a little like a hostage situation. Satan is making a demand of Peter and Jesus has passed the message along to help prepare Peter. Even though Jesus said Satan would succeed Peter denies that he will let Satan sift him. Then Jesus confirms exactly what will happen & that Peter will let Satan sift him by denying Christ three times.
Some say that Satan is on God's leash and can only do as much & go as far as God lets Him. If you believe that then you believe God uses "the adversary" as a weapon to steal from you, kill you, or destroy you. If Satan is God's dog then God is not loving, He's a maniac! Satan is "the enemy" not the knife God uses to massacre His own children. Neither is God standing at the front door to your house saying, "Ok Satan come on in and take all you want." What kind of father lets a thief, not break into, but walk into their house and steal from their children? A terrible father who has no love for his children whatsoever! Yet some of you may believe that very thing about your heavenly Father.
Satan in Job
"Satan came before God. The Lord said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” The Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.” Then Satan answered the Lord, “Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about 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 put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.” Then the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.” So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord." (Job 1:6-12)
When God asks Satan, "Have you considered Job?" most think this means God is offering Satan someone to torture, that God is suggesting Job to Satan as someone to attempt to devour. But our knowing God was saying something more like this, "You've considered my servant Job haven't you? There is no one like him, you will have a hard time getting him to reject me." God wasn't proposing an offer to Satan but instead knowingly addressing Satan's intentions.
God then says to Satan, "Behold, all that he has is in your power." Most again think this means God is giving over Job to Satan perhaps even to test Job's trust in God. But that is not the case! Scripture is clear that Satan already has jurisdiction over unregenerate mankind. 1 John 5:19 says, "The whole world lies in the power of the evil one." In 2 Corinthians 4:3 Satan is called "the god of this world" who blinds minds. Most telling of all is the fact that Hebrews 2:14 says, "Satan holds the power of death."
Satan actually challenges God to "touch all that Job has & ruin it." God refuses to accept the challenge & reminds Satan, "All that he has is in your power." The first time God says, "only do not put forth your hand on him." The second time Satan comes God says, "Only spare his life." Satan could already do whatever he wanted to Job but God limited Satan's jurisdiction, He didn't increase it! The enemy seeks to kill, God seeks to save.
The second time Satan approaches God, God says, "Are you still considering Job? He still holds fast his integrity, yet you still are inciting Me against him to ruin him without cause.” Satan is so wicked and clueless that he is attempting to get God to do his dirty work for him! God again refused to attack Job. Sad that most see the story of Job as God wanting to test Job so He challenges Satan to do His dirty work for Him, but it is in fact the opposite! Satan could have killed & ruined whoever he wanted but here Satan is extra-bold & challenges God to do evil for Him, tempting God to test Job's faith (not much different from how Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness). God essentially says no & sends Satan away to do what he was going to do anyway except God limits Satan's power over Job. For whatever reason God does remove some restriction on what Satan does to Job next, only preventing him from killing Job. Satan never appears again in the book of Job after giving Job boils all over his body. Satan didn't come back to propose death for Job.
Satan's powers are lies, shame, & fear. Satan rules this world but he rules it only through cooperation with mankind. He is "the god of this world" because he "blinds minds." Minds are blinded by lies, shame, & fear. Satan influenced the Sabeans & Chaldeans to take Job's animals & kill his servants. Ezekiel 28:13 says Satan was "created with pipes" & Ephesians 2:2 calls him "the prince of the power of the air." So Satan was able to create "a great wind" to kill Job's children. Scientifically wind can create lightning thus the mistakenly labeled "fire of God" that "fell from heaven" was lightning created by Satan. Just like mankind was created with all of their physical abilities, Satan was created with "pipes" that he chose to do wicked things with.
It is likely Satan caused the storm Jesus & the disciples went through. I believe most bad weather is a result of the fallen creation but I certainly see Satan being able to manipulate wind by the evidence here. Otherwise we would have to believe:
A. God aided Satan (as an accessory to the crime) in persecuting Job by allowing Satan to command wind & lightning when at other times Satan would not be able to do so (ie God "allowed" Satan to have this power because God was testing Job).
B. God did the murdering Himself even though He said the ruining of Job's life was "without cause."
If Satan can't control wind God must be a murderous maniac with Satan as His attack dog who kills without cause. Many are willing to destroy God's character in the name of making Him "totally in control." The truth is we all (God, humans, Satan) have various extents of control as exercised by our freewill. When one's freewill collides with another's there is conflict. Cooperating with Satan brings death. Cooperating with God brings life. God doesn't override freewill. Instead He goes to every extent to offer life to whoever wants it. God created the universe to be a place of freedom. There are consequences & conflicts because of this. Usually God is offering the positive consequences of choosing life by trusting Him. At certain times in history God will deliver the negative consequences Himself. Here, Job, by God's own admission, had earned no consequences.
Job lived long before the cross & while he was credited with righteousness he did not have a reborn righteous spirit. Satan has no power over Christians because Christians are born again, perfect in spirit. 1 John 5:18 says, "Whoever is born of God is kept safe, the evil one cannot harm him." However Satan can still influence other people to harm us. Satan also still comes & tries to deceive us. Resisting Satan causes him to flee. If Satan were on God's team God wouldn't want us to resist him. God would want us to embrace Satan. Remember "flee" is a cowardly word. Lies flee when confronted by truth. We have The Truth living in us.