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Evil, Satan, and a contradiction in the Bible

Postby Head William » Sun Mar 20, 2016 3:48 pm

The church teaches that all evil comes from the devil
The church teaches that evil spirits are from the devil
They also teach that sickness and even death is from the devil or his demons

What say you? This will lead into the contradictions, for example contradiction #1. was it the Lord's anger or was it satan?

2Sa_24:1 And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.


1Ch_21:1 And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel.

(don't be too quick to answer , cause I have the revelation of what happened.)
Head William

Re: Evil, Satan, and a contradiction in the Bible

Postby jimwalton » Thu Jan 19, 2017 5:51 pm

Great question. It sounds like it’s out of the Skeptics Annotated Bible, or off of one of those goofy internet “Contradictions in the Bible” websites. But no matter. I’ll answer it in simple language, just as I promised.

“The Church teaches that all evil comes from the devil.” No it doesn’t. The Bible teaches that evil comes from our own hearts. I’ll go first to Luke 6.45, where Jesus says: “A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart.” So also James 1.14: Evil comes from our own evil desires.

“The Church teaches that evil spirits are from the devil.” Not necessarily. We don’t really know where evil spirits are from. We believe that God created everything good, but many beings that he created (both divine and earthly) have free will. Somewhere along the line we believe that some spiritual beings rebelled against God and chose evil, but we know nothing about when, how, why, or anything about it. We believe that the Devil is probably the strongest of said spirits, but we are not told he is the leader, that he sends them, that they are from him, or much of anything about it. Mostly we are told they exist and that they oppose God.

“They also teach that sickness and evil death is from the devil or his demons.” Not necessarily. Most of the time, no, but at least occasionally, possibly. Some sickness in the gospels was attributed to Satan, but not most of it.

Now on to your “Contradiction #1: “Was it the Lord’s anger or Satan’s?” 2 Sam. 24.1 vs. 1 Chr. 21.1.

In the ancient world, God was considered to be the one who controlled the actions of Satan, and even used Satan to accomplish some of his purposes on earth. In the book of Job (1.10 and 2.5), Satan explicitly admits he doesn’t have the ability to act independently of the will of God. He knows that the power he has is delegated to him by God, and while he has freedom to act within boundaries, he can’t go outside of those boundaries. So did God “incite David to take a census of Israel” or did Satan? Suppose your Prime Minister issues an order to one of your Brigadier Generals to order some infantry corps to a trouble spot in Dublin. Who issued the order? Well, one could rightfully say your Prime Minister did, but one could also say the general did. That’s not a contradiction, it’s ranks of power, and they can both easily be true.

The nature of God’s relationship with Satan in the Old Testament was not well known. Satan was perceived as an adversary, but still only able to operate within a particular sphere of action. Suppose there was trouble in Dublin, and your military surrounded the trouble area so it couldn’t spread. Within that radius, the rebels were wreaking havoc, not because your Prime Minister made them do it, but because they were choosing to do that, and he hadn’t moved in the army yet to stop them. That doesn’t make your Prime Minister responsible for the carnage; he has a strategy of how and when he is going to act.

So also with God. Satan moves with certain walls. God has a strategy to stop him, but it involves the appropriate action at the right time. Some people, I’m sure, would say the Prime Minister might as well have been doing it because he wasn’t putting a stop to it. Others would say that it was the rebels themselves causing the problem, and that the army would move when it was ready.

Here in this text, 2 Samuel 24.1 says “the anger of the Lord burned against Israel.” That’s true. Israel had sinned. God knew there was compromise, idolatry, and ungodliness in the nation, and by inciting David to take a census, it would bring out the truth of that, and how corrupt the people were. In the New Testament, Jesus told the woman at the well, “Go get your husband,” knowing full well she didn’t have one. In asking that, he brought out the truth of the sin. So also here. God uses Satan to incite David to take a census. So was it the Lord’s anger, or was it Satan? God uses Satan to accomplish his purposes, just as your Prime Minister might use his General or his army.

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