‘And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job,’
Suggested Further Reading: Luke 22:31–34
It strikes me if Satan could be absolutely certain that any one soul was chosen of God, he would scarcely waste his time in attempting to destroy it, although he might seek to worry and to dishonour it. It is however more likely that he no more knows who God’s elect are than we do, for he can only judge as we do by outward actions, though he can form a more accurate judgement than we can through longer experience, and being able to see persons in private where we cannot intrude. By their fruits he knows them, and we know them in the same manner. Since, however, we are often mistaken in our judgment, he too may be so; and it seems to me that he therefore makes it his policy to endeavour to destroy them all—not knowing in which case he may succeed. He goes about seeking whom he may devour, and, as he knows not whom he may be permitted to swallow up, he attacks all the people of God with vehemence. Someone may say, ‘How can one devil do this?’ He does not do it by himself alone. I do not know that many of us have ever been tempted directly by Satan: we may not be notable enough among men to be worth his trouble; but he has a whole host of inferior spirits under his supremacy and control, and as the centurion said of himself, so he might have said of Satan—‘he saith to this spirit, ‘Do this’, and he doeth it, and to his servant, ‘Go’, and he goeth.’ Thus all the servants of God will more or less come under the direct or indirect assaults of the great enemy of souls, and that with a view of destroying them; for he would, if it were possible, deceive the very elect.
For meditation: Judas Iscariot, described by Jesus himself as ‘a devil’ (John 6:70–71) was the only apostle Satan could devour (Luke 22:3); that didn’t stop him trying to seize the other eleven (Luke 22:31—‘you’ is plural), whom the Father had entrusted to his Son’s safe keeping (John 17:12) and for whose protection from Satan the Saviour prayed (John 17:15).
Sermon no. 623
9 April (1865)