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Bible Q

Does satan have to ask for God’s permission to come into our lives?

Nothing happens to us without God permitting it, so whoever is in our lives is there because God has allowed it. But there is no evidence that anyone has to explicitly ask God’s permission to come into our lives.

The Hebrew word Satan simply means opponent or adversary. It is applied to many different people in the Bible. For example:

  • in 1 Kings 11:23, David’s enemy Rezon is called a satan (in English versions, the Hebrew word satan is translated as “adversary”);
  • in 1 Chronicles 21:1, God himself is called satan because he is opposing David (compare 2 Samuel 24:1 to see that God is called satan here);
  • in Matthew 16:23, the apostle Peter is called satan because he is trying to stop Jesus from fulfilling his role as a sacrifice for sins;
  • in 1 Thessalonians 2:18, some Jews in Thessalonica are called satan because they were preventing Paul from preaching there.

One of the few places in scripture where a satan interacts with God in any direct way is in Job. There, Satan (Job’s opponent) comes before God to discuss the man Job. Satan complains that Job is only righteous because God protects and blesses him. He says that if Job were made to suffer, he would not be so righteous. God responds by giving Satan the power to make Job suffer. Then Job suffers a series of disasters including the loss of all his possessions, the death of his ten children and a severe skin disease. We are told that it was God who brought about the series of disasters (see Job 2:3; 19:21; 30:21; 42:11; etc.); Satan himself did not have the power to do it on his own—God gave him the power.

Job is clearly a drama — it largely consists of a series of speeches by Job and his companions. No doubt it was based on real events, but it has been stylised in a particular dramatic form. Possibly, Satan in Job is a personification of human pride; specifically the jealous pride of Job’s companions.

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4 Replies to “Does satan have to ask for God’s permission to come into our lives?”

  1. 1chronicals 21:1 is calling God satan? perhaps there is a real supernatural being call satan that this is referring to and this citation is blaspheming the Word of God. As well, adversary and ‘the adversary’ are not always interchangeable. There are human adversaries as well as ‘the adversary’ called satan.

    • You’re making a lot of assumptions here, and I don’t think they are valid. Firstly, the reason why the answer says 1 Chronicles 21:1 is referring to God as Satan is that the parallel account in 2 Samuel 24:1 says it was God, and that he was angry with Israel — he was an adversary to them. It does not seem to me blaspheming the Word of God to compare two different records of the same event to determine what actually happened.

      It is certainly true that there are human adversaries as well as references to a particular, special adversary. Judging from the context, I would usually attribute it to either a personification of the sin within us or the authorities who are enemies of the spread of the gospel.

  2. Thank you for your reply Jon. I have done some research since my last post as to the specific beliefs expressed on this site regarding multiple topics. I had never before heard of the Christadelphian church and was therefore completely unfamiliar with its doctrines on these issues. As I am sure you can tell, I come from a mainstream protestant denomination and at first read these perceived errors where shocking. And to cut a long debate short, agreeing to disagree would appear to be a suitable outcome for this difference in beliefs. Again, I appreciate your response. God bless.

    • Obviously you are welcome to do whatever you like, but I can’t help feeling that “agreeing to disagree” is not always the best solution (though it is often the easiest). Anyway, if you have other queries don’t hesitate to raise them – we are human too and don’t claim to be always perfect.