“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom.” (2 Timothy 4:18) I have recently been fascinated by this passage, some of the last words Paul wrote before being martyred. Paul knew his execution was imminent. When he wrote these words, he wasn’t saying he expected God to take him out of this life gently. He knew he was about to be beheaded. Reading between the lines here, I strongly believe he wrote these words because he knew the Adversary well. He knew Satan was going to try and snag his soul somehow, but he also had the assurance from God that Satan was going to fail. Paul was shielded.
1 Peter 1:4b-5 says, “…you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” Since the recipients of Peter’s letter were not free from persecution and physical death, from what were they shielded? I believe Satan had some plan to attack their souls, but he couldn’t carry it out, since they were shielded by the Father.
Referring to Satan, the Bible tells us, “…woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (Revelation 12:12) He would love nothing better than to destroy every person on earth right now, but he can’t. God limits what Satan can do. He can cause us to be hated and persecuted, and he can afflict our bodies with pain and disease to some degree, but he can only go so far. We get a hint of what he’d like to do, if he had the power, in Jude 9 where it tells us, “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” We don’t know anything more about this episode than what that verse tells us, but evidently Satan wanted the body of Moses after he died. He didn’t get it. His power was limited by God.
Satan wanted to torment Simon Peter, but he had to ask God for permission first. Jesus told him, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32 NASB) Satan was evidently allowed to proceed with the attack on Peter, but Jesus had prayed to the Father for him, so he would stay strong in the trial.
“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.” (2 Thessalonians 3:3) Since the Thessalonians were persecuted and killed, obviously it was their souls which were protected, not their bodies. They are shielded by God’s power until the end of time.
“We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.” (1 John 5:18)
Satan has to ask permission because… we are shielded.
© 2018 Darvis McCoy
About the Picture: Donna McCoy took this picture in 2003. It is of the fortification around San Marino, a small Republic (just over 24 square miles in size), nestled in the Apennine Mountains of Italy.
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Scripture quotations marked NASB taken from the NASB.