D. L. Moody, a faithful American evangelist from the late 1800s, once said, “I believe Satan exists for two reasons: first, the Bible says so; and second, I’ve done business with him.” I’ve battled him too, and so has every Christian.
Now don’t misunderstand. The powers of hell and the powers of heaven are not on equal footing. It is not a battle between two equally strong forces, and we are biting our nails to see who wins.
God has already won—from eternity past. The devil just doesn’t want to concede without a fight. So, while the war has been won, there are daily skirmishes.
Scripture tells us that Satan is like a lion prowling around the earth, seeking someone to devour, or discredit (1 Peter 5:8). And what Satan despises most of all is a believer who will trust God with his life.
Charles Spurgeon, the famous nineteenth-century pastor in England wrote:
Satan hates to see happy Christians glorifying God. He is well aware that mournful Christians often dishonor God by mistrusting Him, so if he can worry us until we no longer believe in the goodness of God, he will have robbed God of his praise.
Is that really Satan’s chief delight? Well, for the first time in recorded Scripture, the curtain is pulled back in the heavens, and we get to hear a conversation between God and Satan regarding the faithful life of Job.
God is about to give Satan permission to attack everything Job has in life. God is going to turn Job’s life into “Exhibit A”—evidence that it is possible for a believer to worship God through tears and trials. Of course, Job doesn’t know that just yet.
The conversation begins now in Job 1:6:
Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.
This expression “sons of God” can refer to angels, as it does later on in Job chapter 38. Here, the angels are called to give an account of their activity, and Satan is among them.
If you have been led to believe that Satan does not have access to God because God can’t be in the presence of sin, you have been misinformed. First, there is no place that God isn’t present—He is omnipresent. Second, Revelation 12:10 informs us that Satan actually accuses the believers before God, day and night.
So, here’s what Satan is doing to this day:
- He goes to God and accuses you before God. Then he comes to you and accuses God before you.
- Satan tells God you are not worth keeping. And Satan tells you that God is not worth following.
- Satan reminds God that you are sinful, and then he reminds you that God is silent.
- He whispers, as it were, in God’s ear that you are unfaithful to Him. And he whispers in your ear that God is unfaithful to you.
The name Satan is actually a reference to this kind of activity. It means “adversary”—you could even render it “prosecutor.” His chief objective is to accuse and prosecute. Let me tell you, he is not make-believe. He is not a funny little cartoon character in a red suit with a pointy tail and a pitchfork.
He was created by God as a member of the cherubim class of angels—the highest order. He is both beautiful and evil, stunning and destructive. He hates you, and he hates the God you belong to through Jesus Christ, who conquered him at the cross.
Now back to this conversation here in verse 7:
The Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
By the way, God is not asking Satan where he has been because God has lost sight of him; God knows exactly where Satan has been, but Satan doesn’t want to admit it. The Hebrew verbs here inform us that Satan has been analyzing someone. He’s been watching someone, probing around for weaknesses.
So, the Lord asks Satan a more direct question in verse 8: “Have you considered my servant Job?” Literally, “Have you set your heart on My servant Job?” God effectively says, “I know you have been watching Job, my faithful servant; you would love an opportunity to destroy his testimony, wouldn’t you?”
Notice here that Satan cannot touch Job without God’s permission. He cannot touch you either, apart from God’s plans for your life. Well, Satan the prosecutor now smarts off, saying:
“Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? . . . But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” (verses 9, 11)
Satan’s argument is, “Of course he follows you because it’s paying off.” If Satan were making this accusation against you today—that the only reason you love God is because Christianity has been a good deal for you—would he be right? You say, “I’m not that way!”
Well, what happens when Christianity doesn’t seem to pay off? What happens to your trust when you’re in the hospital? What happens to your prayer life in the emergency room, in bankruptcy court, or out there beside a grave marker?
Job has no idea this conversation is taking place in heaven. And don’t miss that this is really an attack on God. As Warren Wiersbe notes, Satan is saying, “You are not a God worthy of worship! You have to pay people to honor You.” That’s bribery!
So, God responds in verse 12:
“Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.
Now maybe you’re thinking, Oh my, look what God is going to risk here. What if Job fails? This is quite a reckless move on God’s part!
Beloved, contrary to what you might read today, God is not reckless; He has never risked anything. How do you risk something when you know the future? God already has planned this out moment by moment.
But Satan is not omniscient (all-knowing). He doesn’t know what Job will do—maybe God will lose.
Well, I can assure you, God is going to play Satan like a puppet on a string to fulfill His purposes. And understand this: God isn’t entering Job into untold suffering just for Job’s growth and trust; beloved, God is doing this for you. He is going to give human history an inspired record of one man who will become Exhibit A—evidence that it is possible to worship God in the midst of suffering.
Do you want to make Satan back down? Remind him of Job and how he was defeated by this one man who refused to dishonor God.
Now let me summarize what we have learned about our enemy from this conversation:
1. Satan is loose, but he is on a leash held by God.
2. Satan is brilliant, but he is not omniscient, like God.
3. Satan is unable to act without permission from God.
4. Satan’s power is limited by the purposes of God.
5. And Satan suffers a crushing defeat when a believer continues to worship God, even through tears.
I’m praying that will be your story today.
 Steven J. Lawson, Holman Old Testament Commentary: Job (Holman Reference, 2004), 23.