The Limits God Places Upon Satan-William Gurnall - Sun Dec 08, 2013 12:31 AM
The Limits God Places Upon Satan
When Satan tempts a saint, he is only serving as God's messenger. Paul called his thorn in the flesh "the messenger of Satan" (2 Corinthians 12:7).
The devil may not tempt anyone unless God allows it. When Christ went into the wilderness, He was led, not by an evil spirit, but by the Holy Spirit ( Matthew 4:1). All that transpired was by God's permission. And the same Holy Spirit that led Christ into the field brought Him off with victory. As soon as He had repulsed Satan, we see Him marching into Galilee in the power of the Holy Ghost (Luke 4:14).
When Satan tempts a saint, he is only serving as God's messenger. Paul called his thorn in the flesh "the messenger of Satan" (2 Corinthians 12:7). Another translation reads "the messenger Satan," implying that the messenger was sent by God to Paul. Indeed, the errand he came on was too good to be Satan's own, for Paul himself says it was to keep him humble. This tempter to sin never meant to do Paul such a service, but God let him go to Paul to accomplish His own divine will. The devil and his instruments are both God's instruments. We will be well advised to let God alone to wield the one and handle the other.
Let Lucifer choose his way; God is a match for him at every weapon. If he assaults the saint by persecution, God will oppose him. If he works by a subtlety, God is ready there also. The devil and his whole council are mere fools to God. The more wit and craft in sin, the worse, because it is employed against an all wise God who cannot be outwitted. In Paul's words, "The foolishness of God is wiser than men" (1 Corinthians 1:25). God is wiser in His creatures' weak sermons than Satan is in his deep plots; wiser in His ignorant children than Satan in his Ahithophels and Sanballats. "[God] disappointeth the devices of the crafty" (Job 5:12). By displaying His wisdom in pursuing the saints' enemies, God adds a sweet relish to their ultimate deliverance. After He had hunted Pharaoh out of all his lairs and burrows, He broke the very brains of that wicked ruler's plots and served them up to His people.
-William Gurnall, The Christian in Complete Armour