Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Give God the glory... or the devil his due?

I'm home today with a bug of some kind. But I've had two conversations (one by phone, one on the internet) with folks asking the same basic question,

"How do you know if adverse circumstances are God redirecting you, or the devil sabotaging you?"

"I don't know", is my honest answer. In the New Testament, the first Christian missionaries gave both answers, without explaining how they discerned the difference:

"And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them."

"For we wanted to come to you--certainly I, Paul, did, again and again--but Satan stopped us."

Any Christians out there have some thoughts? Folks of other faiths that posit a good God and a genius of evil in opposition? Sorry, atheists, to exclude you but by definition you would not assign any supernatural agency to such events.


Joy said...

I think, it's a combination of both. God lets satan put us through things, though all the while watching out for us.
hmmm... complicated question lol

TLF+ said...

CBS, I think you are right, Biblically speaking, that God allows Satan to mess with us, up to a point. And I suppose that some of my frustration, if I'm honest, is that I want to define the point!

Thanks for posting, and may God keep watch over you.

The Archer of the Forest said...

I would say it is a matter of discerning the self in relation to the community. I always think of the greatest commandment in the Satanic Bible: "To thine own self be true."

Are the circumstances you are discerning leading you ultimately toward or away from the community of God. In other words, do they orient you toward or away from the Kingdom? I don't believe Satan would ever attempt to purposely lead you toward God or God's purposes, whereas I think the Spirit actually does.

Sometimes you get knocked about, and its the Spirit that doesn't want you doing something because its not productive to your soul's health or for the health of the community. Sometimes it is impossible to know these things at the moment of the bad circumstances. It may seem like Satan, but its actually God not wanting you to do some ministry (or whatever) because you are really seeking such things for your own glory or personal benefit.

It takes time to discern. God's time is not our time, and His ways are not our ways. To quote a cliche, sometimes God answers prayer but the answer is, "No." Sometimes you have to look back on things years after the event and realize God was (or perhaps wasn't in the case of something bad) at work.

Ultimately, I do believe enough time will pass and God will give us enough wisdom where we can put these things in context and discern whether the bad circumstance was of God or not. That's not always (indeed usually self evident in the midst of a crisis.