Church of God, New World Ministries

Why God Permits Satan To Tempt Us

God calls Satan the prince, the ruler of this world. Satan is the invisible ruler over the nations over our entire civilization! Why does God allow this condition to exist?

Civilization commenced at the tower of Babel. Its human founders, Nimrod, the world’s first despot (Gen. 10:8-10) and his licentious wife, Semiramis, the self-styled “Queen of Heaven” (Jer.44:18-19) formed a new, a different way of life than that which God revealed at creation. That Babylonish way of life has spread through the nations and engulfed this entire world its society, its economics, its politics, its religions! It is the way of greed, of taking, of reliance on self rather than reliance on God.

But Nimrod and Semiramis were only the human tools in the hand of a superior ruler, Satan the Devil!

Always there is one great question which arises in our minds when we understand the origin of the confusion that engulfs this world. Why does God, the Ruler over all, the Supreme Being (Isa. 40:18), allow Satan’s rule to continue? Why does He allow such a state of confusion to exist on earth between His Supreme Rule and that of Satan?

Lucifer, one of the angels that God created (John 1:3), an angel of high rank, an archangel, had been given Rule on this earth, a throne in Eden (Ezk. 28:12-16).God gave him this rule! But Lucifer was not content; he wanted to be equal to God! He and one third of the angels ascended into the air to take God’s place from Him, but they were cast back to earth for their rebellion (Rev. 12:3, 4, 9). Lucifer, a created being having free choice, willed to go against his Creator, God. He deliberately set out to take the place of his Master! For that rebellion, Lucifer became known as Satan, the adversary, the rebeller against God.

Lucifer would not recognize his weaknesses, he would not learn to hold his own will in check and submit it to the will of God! Despite all of Lucifer’s perfection and knowledge, he was weak in this, the most important point of all.

God did not create Lucifer with perfect character, incapable of sinning. Lucifer was only “perfect in his ways till” till he exercised his will against God! There is one thing that the Creator will always reserve for Himself, His Throne, His Rule.

God created angels as His servants (Heb. 1:14).As servants they were meant to have authority over God’s begotten sons. Some of the angels rebelled, they refused to administer God’s authority faithfully.

When the angels proved whether or not they would be faithful servants, God began the next step in His great Plan. Before the creation of the world God purposed to bring forth Sons whom He could trust to carry out the responsibilities of Rulership under Him. What did He do?

Notice! God said, “Let us make man (you and me and all other people on earth) in our image” (Gen. 1:26). Almost everyone misses the real meaning of these words. Certainly man was made physically in the image of God having the same kind of ears, hands, and other bodily parts. But God is composed of Spirit, whereas man is composed of matter. Man is only an image of his Maker! But this is the least important meaning of these seven words. Around these seven words the whole Bible is fashioned! Let us understand!

Though God created us to resemble Him materially, His ultimate intention is that we become like Him spiritually, that we be composed of Spirit as He is, and, is most important, that we will think as He does! God is thus in the process of creating from mankind many members in the Family of God over whom and through whom He will rule. It will be the Kingdom of God. This is the objective to which all other steps in God’s great plan lead!

Just as God previously created the kingdom of angels, the mineral kingdom and other kingdoms, He is now creating the Kingdom of God, His greatest Creation! Those in it will be His sons, capable of ruling with Him. Isaiah summed up God’s Plan when he wrote, “We are the clay, and thou (Lord) our potter” (Isa. 64:8). God says we will ultimately be fashioned to be higher and stronger than the angels: “Know ye not that we shall judge angels?” (I Cor. 6:3).We will be elevated so high, if we humble ourselves here and now, that we can judge them. We will thus be better prepared to rule than they.

As members of God family, we will exercise great power. But we must first be steeled and tempered here in this life for that responsibility. Being a member of the Kingdom of God would be too important a position for us unless we had many experiences in this life to strengthen us for it. To be elevated to the Kingdom of God we must first learn right from wrong, that is why Satan is allowed to deceive! After we once learn the truth, he can’t deceive us unless we deliberately yield to believe error. Thereafter we must learn to practice what is right. That is why Satan is allowed to tempt us, to test us!

Observe what happened to Adam and Eve. Like Satan, when he conceived the idea of arising to take God’s throne (Ezk. 28:13), they also were in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8).Satan possessed all he surveyed upon the earth, but he could not have God’s throne. Adam and Eve likewise were given the right to eat of all the fruit in the garden except that of one tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17).This was a command to them from God. In a sense it represented His rule, His throne. So the position of Adam and Eve, when they were first put in the Garden of Eden, was very similar to that of Lucifer before he endeavored to seize God’s throne. What happened? They ate of the forbidden tree (Gen. 3:6), they usurped the prerogative of God, they would not come under His rule. They defied the Creator who was seeking to fashion them into Rulers under Him! By this act of insubordination they disqualified themselves from becoming the agents through which God would rule the earth. They failed to replace Satan.

They were not tempered enough to stand the test when Satan tempted them. Eve saw that the tree was a “tree to be desired” (Gen. 3:6) – she had not learned to overcome the “desires of the flesh” (Eph. 2:3) which all who seek to be in the Kingdom of God must do.

Our first parents were not, of themselves, strong enough to overcome the nature God had put in them. God had not yet come to the time in His plan when He would give His own Holy Spirit to those whom He calls. The Holy Spirit was sent to mankind, for the first time on Pentecost, 50 days after Jesus Christ appeared to the disciples (Acts 2:4). The Holy Spirit provides us with the needed power we lack, the very power of God. With its aid we can master our impulses which are contrary to the will of God, if we ourselves desire to do so strongly enough! “By the spirit you put the actions of the body to death” (Rom. 8:13). God is letting us learn of our own weaknesses our need for dependence upon a higher power than ourselves. God has made us so that we must exercise our own choice of right and wrong, remember this. God says, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life (Deut. 30:19). God is the Supreme Ruler. He sets before us life and death. We must choose to obey Him. Without the aid of God’s Spirit within us, we lack the spiritual strength to obey the rules of life.

God did not create man spiritually perfect! He created him lowly so he could “come up through the school of hard knocks” and be tempered by experiences. The Bible tells us so. “The creature (the thing created –mankind) was made subject to vanity” (Rom. 8:20). We are made or created by God to desire vain things, things of no value made to desire wrong things.

Notice what else the Bible says about the nature that God put into Adam and Eve, the nature He put into you and me, the nature that all have at birth. “The carnal mind (the mind which is given us at birth) is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be” (Rom. 8:7).

There must be a reason for God giving us such perverse minds! God exhorts us to “put off the old man (human nature) with (its) deeds and put on the new man (a godly nature) which is (being created) after the image of him (God) that created him”! (Col. 3:10.) We are thus to overcome our natures with which we are born. The Bible tells us, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you but rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s suffering” (I Peter 4:12). Note that trials are put upon us to try or strengthen us. We learn to submit our will to that of God’s in following His commands though we may be tempted to do otherwise. It is for our own ultimate good.

Even Jesus Christ went through sufferings and temptations so that He could be made perfect by them. Paul wrote that Christ was made “perfect through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10; Matt. 26:39).

God calls Satan the Temper (Matt. 4:3) this is where Satan fits into God’s Plan! Satan, having a very brilliant and active, though perverted mind, suggests to us through supernatural means great numbers of improper actions which we would not think of. We learn the lessons of life more deeply than if Satan were not here, for we are penalized more often when we heed Satan’s suggestions! We are all learning the results of disobedience to God and God’s laws whether we realize it or not! God says, “We (you and I) wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities (Satan is the prince of this world) and powers (spirit beings of the first rank), against the rulers of darkness of this world” (Eph. 6:12). If we learn to understand the issues clearly here, and fight against and resist our natures, we will not go astray when we are later put in places of great authority!

Now we come to the greatest battle of self-mastery that has ever been fought! All the battles between mortal men are nothing compared to it. This battle was to determine whether another who would obey God who would not try to usurp authority would qualify to replace Satan as the ruler of this earth! Unlike Adam and Eve, he would have to be one who had learned to surrender his own natural desires to the will of God.

Who was this? Jesus Christ! He was human just the same as you and I (Heb. 2:14).He had our kind of flesh and blood and could be tempted as we are. He could have given in to the desires of the flesh. But He also had the Holy Spirit of God the same as those who are called today can have (Acts 2:38). He had been supernaturally begotten of God by the Holy Spirit implanted within Him from conception (Matt. 1:20).

Knowing that He would be subjected to the same kind of temptation that Adam and Eve were, Jesus withdrew into the wilderness and fasted and prayed 40days and nights (Matt. 4:1-2). He knew that temptations by Satan require all the power man can muster! He had the power of the Holy Spirit but He knew that He must draw even closer to God for increased power, by fasting and prayer.

Satan then appeared before Christ to disqualify Him from the possibility of ruling this earth just as he had done in the Garden of Eden to God’s first created human beings. Did Satan now use on Christ the same method of temptation which he had used so successfully on them? Yes! He tried to tempt Christ to commit four acts which are forbidden by God! In each case Christ refused and quoted to the devil the scripture which forbade His doing so (Matt. 4:3-9). Christ was obeying God not Satan! Satan even offered Christ the kingdoms of this world then if He would only disobey God. Christ could have begun His rule here then! It was a temptation. What did Christ answer? “God only shalt thou serve” (v. 10).Contrast this with the way Adam and Eve and all who lived before Christ’s time had withstood Satan’s temptations to disobey God! God says all have sinned (Rom. 3:23).

Jesus did not deny that these kingdoms were Satan’s to give, He knew Satan is the prince of this world, this age (John 14:30). Adam and Eve could not resist the temptation of Satan to be “as gods” then ruling themselves and doing what they willed to do. Christ knew that it was not God’s will that He rule the nations now. Christ knew that He must first die, for the sins of others who are misled. But even when confronted with this terrible ordeal, and desiring greatly to escape it, Christ said to His Father, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). He had completely mastered self. Christ was “in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15)! God had found a man who was qualified to rule the earth, one who was obedient to Him in all respects.

Later Jesus, speaking in a dual sense of His victory over Satan, said, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18).Satan the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2) had been disqualified. When the time comes in God’s plan, Christ will come to claim His rulership and will rule the earth for a thousand years (Rev. 20:4). Having never committed any sin, He will be the Ruler under the Father over all others (Rev. 17:14). He will be Kings of kings

Because we can’t see spirit beings, we are very apt to forget they even exist. It is time we should concern ourselves with their reality! After all, they are more real than we are in the sense that they existed long before we did. God says that soon the prince of the power of the air, the devil, is going to be cast down onto the earth again.

What does God say conditions on our earth will be then? You had better heed, for it concerns you! “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knows he has but a short time” (Rev. 12:9, 12). Satan is coming soon with great wrath to deceive the people and lead them into all sorts of violence!

You will not be able to understand what world events are all about unless you have been studying your Bible and recognize Satan’s control over this world. You will not be able to protect yourself from the devil’s deceptions for you will not be able to recognize them. The more you know of Satan’s organization, the better off you will be. (Send for our eye-opening DVD “Christ or Antichrist”?)

Remember, this world is run by men who are created by God to desire vain things (Rom. 8:20), and are led of the devil to exercise these desires. All its systems, including the religious system, are run by these men! No wonder God says, “Whosever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4). He warns us of the soon coming climactic period “temptations which shall come upon all the world (Satan’s world) to try them” (Rev. 3:10).

Satan has a vast number of fallen angels under his command. At the time of his rebellion, it will be remembered that one third of the angels that God created followed Satan and became demons. They go about sowing rebellion among the inhabitants of the earth. Matthew 13:25 describes this. Satan is described in this parable as sowing tares . We need to resist him; we need to strengthen ourselves, to strengthen our character by withstanding his seductions as Christ did! (Matt. 10:28.)

Through his demons, Satan seeks to control the human leaders of the earth. In my lifetime, he undoubtedly used Hitler, Mussolini and other power-mad dictators have been under Satan’s sway and the sway of his demons. It was he who influenced the rulers of the various governments just after Christ’s time to stamp out Christianity (Rev. 12:6). Notice the word “woman” in this verse. In scripture, the church of God is spoken of as a woman. By influencing the world’s leaders, the devil can influence the world’s masses against the people of God.

The Devil uses all his efforts to oppose the Creator in His formation of the kingdom or Family of God which will replace Satan and His fallen angels as rulers of the earth. He especially uses human ministers, whom he has deceived, for this purpose. God says these ministers appear as messengers of light (II Cor. 11:13-14). They appear to be God’s ministers, acknowledging Christ, but are actually the ministers of Satan. Satan’s visible organization takes part of the truth of the Bible and combines it with error to deceive the people who become spiritually lukewarm.

If you will study these Bible truths, you will begin to understand what is going on in this world today. You need not be in darkness! You can become a child of light (Eph. 5:8). (Enroll today in our new series, “Traditional Christian Doctrines”). Now you are beginning to understand the scope of Satan’s power. His ministers and demons are everywhere and they are active! The tempo of his activity is increasing as the end of this age draws nearer.

But has God nothing to say about this world? God has not gone off and left us to the mercy of Satan. Satan is working within the bounds of God’s plan.

Remember that it was God who created Lucifer, who, because of his own willful rebellion against God, became the devil. A creator must be inherently more powerful than the thing be creates. God is more powerful than Satan! He always was and He always will be! Read the first two chapters of Job and see who is more powerful.

Jesus Christ, looking forward to our day, warned, “There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect” (Matt. 24:24)!

Remember that Satan is to come with great wrath. He is going to come to tempt and deceive you as most others who have lived on this earth have never been tempted or tested before. He is going to try you for the same purpose that he tried Adam and Eve, to cause you to disobey God and thereby disqualify yourself! Disqualify yourself from what?

Here is the conditional promise that Jesus Christ makes to you! “He that overcomes and keeps my works unto the end will I give power over the nations” (Rev. 2:26). If you overcome your own nature and the temptations of Satan, this will be your reward! Again He repeats in the closing passages of the Bible, “He that overcomes will I grant to sit with me on my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father on His throne” (Rev. 3:21).You can sit upon a throne and rule. It is a challenge! Christ asks no more of you than He did of Himself. He had to be an overcomer to qualify.

The saints, those who qualify, shall “take away his (the devil’s) dominion” and the “greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven shall be given to the saints of the most High” (Dan. 7:26-27).This is the very thing that God is now training you for. You can, if you master yourself, rule with Christ a thousand years here and then for all eternity (Rev. 20:4).

But we must give evidence to God, now, that you will not fall for the devil’s temptation to seize God’s holy time, His Sabbaths, or His tithe, which He has declared to be His own. You must not usurp His authority. Don’t be like Adam and Eve. God has allowed you many things. Don’t try to seize everything! If you do, you will not qualify any more than they did!

If you strive to overcome Satan’s temptations and your own evil desires, strive to be an overcomer. God has promised to make you immortal, and to make you a ruler. But what else has He promised? Something very important! He promises that for all these efforts of yours in overcoming temptation, He will see to it that when you are finally, actually “born of God” and have your Spirit body instead of this fleshy body you now have, you will be unable to sin (I John 3:9)! “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin: for His seed (God’s Holy Spirit) remains in him and he cannot sin.”

The overcomers are going to rule under God and Jesus Christ forever and ever! Isn’t this gloriously great future worth all the trials and tribulations which are placed upon us to test and strengthen our wills so that we may be able to properly carry on this marvelous work? You can turn Satan’s temptations into assets of character if you will oppose him now!

 
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