By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
Why would God send an evil spirit upon anyone? God does no evil (1 John 1:5). However, God has sent evil spirits to accomplish His purposes. How does the believer accept God’s actions of justice and harmonize these with His sinless and holy nature?
Because of Saul’s rebellion, Samuel anointed David to be king. The Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David and departed from King Saul (1 Sam 16:13–14). When the Spirit of the LORD departed Saul, an evil Spirit came from the LORD and tormented Saul (1 Sam 16:14). Saul’s servants recommended that a man come and play the harp to make Saul well (1 Sam 16:16). The evil spirit came and went as David played the harp (1 Sam 16:23). However, David’s playing of the harp did not stop the evil spirit, and Saul took a spear in his hand twice to kill David (1 Sam 18:10; 19:9; cf. 19:20–23).
In the time of the divided kingdom, Jehoshaphat King of Judah advised Ahab King of Israel to inquire of the word of the LORD. After listening to 400 prophets encouraging them to go battle against Syria, the prophet Micaiah revealed his heavenly vision of the LORD sending a lying spirit in the mouth of Ahab’s prophets to entice Ahab. However, the LORD declared disaster for Ahab through Micaiah despite Ahab’s prophets. When the kings went to battle, a random arrow struck King Ahab, and he died that evening in his chariot (1 Kgs 22).
Why would God send an evil spirit upon anyone even someone like Ahab or Saul? God does no evil. God has allowed free will, evil, and suffering to exist for its ultimate destruction in Jesus Christ and thus for God’s glory before all. God was just to remove the Spirit from King Saul for his disobedience and give him another spirit — an evil spirit. God was just to send a lying spirit among Ahab’s prophets and reveal this occurrence to lead that wicked king to his death. God was just to allow Satan to take Job’s possessions, children, and health from him (Job 1–2). Sometimes, God uses an evil agent to accomplish his purposes. God has sent evil nations to overcome others including Israel and Judah (Jer 20:4–6). Jesus prophesied that the nations would besiege and destroy Jerusalem (Luke 19:41–44). Furthermore, God uses events that some intend as evil for good (Gen 50:18–21; Rom 8:28). All of these events brought glory to God demonstrating both His mercy and His justice (Rom 9:6–24). Paul concluded, “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God's part? By no means!” (Rom 9:14).
By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate,” Paul reflected (Rom 7:15). Does a person’s lack of self-control mean that the Devil is controlling you? Can the Devil control or read your mind?
The Bible never states or depicts an account where the Devil, Satan, can read your mind or plant thoughts in one’s mind. However, demons are evil spirits who could possess people in Jesus’s time (Luke 8:2; Rev 16:13–14). Demons spoke from those whom they possessed (Mark 1:21–28). The possession of demons implies the ability to cast out these demons and casting out was an act and power of Christ given to His apostles (Mark 6:7–13). Casting out demons was also a sign confirming the message from believers (Mark 16:17–20; Acts 19:13–17).
Satan’s power is limited against Christians. Christ bound Satan to cast out demons by the Spirit (Matt 12:28–29). The unclean spirits obey Christ’s commands (Mark 1:23–28). By partaking of flesh and blood, Jesus destroys the one who has the power of death — the Devil (Heb 2:14). After Christ ascended to God, Satan and His angels were cast from heaven to the earth where Satan made war against Jews and Christians (Rev 12:7–17; cf. 1 Pet 5:8–9). However, Christians conquer Satan by the testimony of Jesus and the Word of God (Rev 12:9–11; 20:4). Revelation 19–20 revealed that Satan would be bound for a thousand years no longer to deceive the nations (cf. Rev 16:13–14).
The Devil is controlling minds today when people accept the doctrines of demons (1 Tim 4:1–2). The Bible reveals that those who worship false gods are following demons (Deut 32:17; 1 Cor 10:20–21). However, people’s desires tempt them (Jas 1:13–15; cf. 1 John 2:15–17). Out of the heart of man comes evil thoughts (Matt 15:18–20; Mark 7:20–23). However, God is faithful not to let Christians be tempted beyond their ability (1 Cor 10:13).
When baptized in Jesus’s name, the Holy Spirit dwells within the repentant believer (Acts 2:38; 1 Cor 6:11–20). The indwelling of the Holy Spirit is contrary to any unclean spirit (cf. Matt 12:43–45). The indwelling of the Spirit is opposed to the indwelling of an evil spirit, a demon. To have control over oneself, the Scriptures teach that those who walk by the Spirit will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal 5:16–17; cf. Rom 13:13–14; 1 Cor 9:27).
By: Scott Shifferd, Jr.
This week, an online commenter, Andrew, expressed his views and identified himself as an evangelist while denying that Jesus is God. In short, Andrew asserted that God and His Word are “two separate things in the bible,” and that the Word was God in the past tense but not in the present. Andrew said that people call Jesus “God” because people do not want to acknowledge Jesus’s carnality. Many people question that Jesus is God. Here is my response to Andrew’s comment:
We should not think of God as so transcendent neither to speak to man, nor call to His prophet from a fiery bush, nor come wrestle with man in angelic form. God can come in the flesh as He desires, yet remain transcendent as the Creator and omnipresent by His Spirit. The LORD the Redeemer said, “Draw near to Me, hear this: from the beginning I have not spoken in secret, from the time it came to be I have been there. And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit” (Isa 48:16).
We should not think that God could not descend to man by coming in the flesh. The Word “was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1–2). In the beginning, “the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Throughout John 1:1–18, the Word is referenced in the past tense, so that the Word “became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father” is in the past tense too (John 1:14).
We cannot think that Jesus lost immortality in His glorified resurrected body when He ascended to God. Jesus remains “all the fullness of Deity bodily” (Col 2:9). Jesus ascended to the right hand of God as a priest forever (Ps 110:4). As the Spirit revealed, “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.'” (Ps 110:1). We cannot deny what God said about His Son, “Let all the angels of God worship Him” (Heb 1:6). God said to His Son, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Heb 1:8).
We cannot think that God’s Word can be separate from the essence of God. God is not three separate beings or gods, but three persons inseparable as one God.
We cannot deny what Jesus revealed. Christ proclaimed, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am you will die in your sins” (John 8:24). Jesus declared, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). Jesus is fully God and fully man.
By: Scott Shifferd
On whom can you rely? The days of “My word is my bond” have passed. Today, if you see a guarantee on a box, that note does not mean much. What happened to keeping one’s word? What happened to genuine sincerity of our words?
Where is devotion and commitment? People agree to marriage and do not keep it. However, when the marriage turns from better to worse or from richer to poorer, they depart each other before marriage. Few people agree to a contract and keep it. At some time in life, we say that we will do something and do not follow through with action.
What about commitments to God? Many of us drift from God sometimes quickly and sometimes gradually. Ministers, deacons, and even elders can disconnect. Many think little of being in the assembly, participating in Bible studies, and being a part of the church as a community. Many Christians grow lukewarm and begin a habit of forsaking the assembly, which is a sin (Heb 10:24–25). Some change churches to attend somewhere that is not biblical or edifying for the sake of personal preference and amusement. They blend a faith in Christ with “new age” paganism and atheistic thinking. “What fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?” (2 Cor 6:14b–15).
God owes us nothing, but God gives grace us because He loves us even while sinners (Rom 5:6–8, 15–17). God keeps His promises. As long as we walk in the light, the blood Christ cleanses us from all sins (1 John 1:5–10). We cannot continue in sin that grace may abound (Rom 6:1). We can thank God that He does not change His mind, keep holding sins against us, and remind us of what we have done (Heb 8:12).
Many find being dead to sin and alive for righteousness to be a burden (Rom 6). However, God’s commands are not burdensome (1 John 5:3). We will offer ourselves as living sacrifices when we realize Christ’s love in the gospel message. Then, the love of Christ controls and compels us to die to self and live for Christ. Paul revealed, “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Cor 5:14–15 ESV).
The fruit of walking in the Spirit is love, joy, peace, and so much more. All the things that really matter make enjoying God so wonderful. We have every reason to live like the first repentant believers on Pentecost who were devoted to the apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayers (Acts 2:38, 42). No better life exists than living a life devoted to God with hope in the resurrection of Christ.