This is Part 2 of 7 parts answering the question, “Are there unseen forces and other reasons God allows suffering?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 3-7 will be posted on succeeding days.
Satan Argues with God that Man Has Wrong Motives
Satan had (and still has) a running argument with God and he didn’t seem to understand that he couldn’t (and still can’t) win! Satan went before Almighty God after having been “to and fro” on the earth (Job 1: 7). He sought a way to accuse man against the Lord. He is as his name is defined – “the accuser.” He accused Job of being loyal to God only because of blessings received. Satan also accused God, “Have you not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.” (Job 1:10) So if that is removed, then Job won’t be loyal to God. Satan implied that greed was really Job’s motive – “loyalty for greater prosperity.” Larry Waters writes that this accusation that Job adhered to was a pragmatic religion, rather than merely a pure, intimate relationship of trust,
Satan wrongly assumed that since God protected and blessed Job, greed was the foundation of his righteousness rather than Job’s personal intimate relationship based on love, trust, and fear of God (1:8–10; 2:3). Traditional wisdom reasoned that since God is in control of the world and because He is just, the only way wise people can maintain faith in Him is to see all blessing as evidence of goodness and righteousness and all suffering as evidence of unrighteousness and sin. Johnson correctly calls this viewpoint “pragmatic religion” and an “insidious heresy.” Belief in God and subsequent service to Him would then be reduced to a prosperity/pragmatic religious formula or system of works.1
Certainly man often has wrong motives! Through dependency on the Lord, however, he can exercise simple faith (trust) in the Lord, even in the agonies of life as Job did. Until the barrage of condemnation and false theologies from his friends wore him down, Job humbled himself and his words were godly (Job 1:21; 2:9-10). Yet, Satan did not (and does not) give up! If you listen to conversations between people, you will hear them making accusations, often blaming others for a variety of reasons. Could this be Satan influencing both good and bad people ( the righteous and the unrighteous) to do his work?
1Waters, Larry. “Reflections on Suffering From the Book of Job” Bibliotheca Sacra 154 (October – December 197): 442.
Part 3 will be posted tomorrow.