Can illnesses be attributable to the devil?
Psalms 91:1 - 16
ESV - 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.
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Consider the story of Job. In chapter one, Satan is talking to God about Job. He says that Job only worships God, because he is prosperous. And Satan says that God has made a hedge around him. So God grants permission to everything to Satan to "toy" with Job. However, He even attacks Job's health. See Job chapter 2. Therefore, I would say that a true believers trust in God will offer protection from God. However, it it also true that God allows us to suffer, in order to keep us from falling away or to test our faith. I believe that illness is caused by the curse that is on the world because of the fall in Genesis..
Good question, John! I do not think that the devil has power to make us sick. He definitely has the power, though, to tempt us into living a lifestyle that neglects our own health perhaps by exposing ourselves needlessly or recklessly to sickness. Yes, Jesus said to visit the sick. So we should. I think He implied this in Matthew 25:36: "’I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’" But other than this, I think the Bible is failrly silent. "Only a small portion of these illnesses [in the New Testament] were actually attributed to Satan or demonic causes. The same can be said of the writings of the Apostle Paul. He spoke of Trophimus who was sick, but he never even suggested this was the product of direct Satanic attack. Timothy may have been experiencing some kind of stomach difficulty, but Paul’s advice was simply to take a little wine for his problem. No mention of Satan or demons." bible.org The above to me is an argument from silence. Maybe not the strongest of arguments, but an argument, nonetheless.
The Bible describes an end to all crying and tears, hunger, thirst, sickness, toil, mourning, pain or death, even 'uncomfortable temperatures and conditions,' when we are in GOD's direct presence, (Revelation 7:15-17, Revelation 21:3-4). These 'bad' things are what scripture calls the 'first things,' (Revelation 21:4). The Holy Spirit repeatedly refers to them as 'old,' passing away,' 'abolished,' 'insufficient,' 'antiquated,' 'weak,' etc... Scripture also describes Satan this way: "And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world. He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him." (Revelation 12:9). The word 'old' there is the Greek word 'archaios' from which we derived English words like 'archaic' and archaeology.' Satan is an old dinosaur. His time is passed and we are just 'catching up' to this realization. GOD describes our moments of sickness, weakness or other 'outdated viewpoints' as a type of 'temporary blindness' or 'forgetfulness' (2 Peter 1:9). GOD refers to Himself as the 'Ancient of Days,' but this is the word 'palaios' which implies an 'old treasure' like its use in Matthew 13:52. Great treasures can even 'improve' with age. Satan is not an 'old treasure.' He is just 'old.' The one thing that Satan has going for him is the ability to deceive us into seeing things in a false way. It may not have even occurred to you to ask, 'Am I REALLY sick at all right now?' We immediately jump to asking, 'How should I 'fix' this?' Jesus addresses 'the evil one' in the 'Our Father' prayer because Satan is representative of everything 'old' and untrue that we get tempted into sometimes experiencing for a time. Even being 'dead' is just an elaborate trick that GOD sees as a form of 'sleep,' since scripture tells us that everyone 'remains alive' from His perspective, (Luke 20:38). So when we are 'weak,' (that is, unable to accomplish tasks we intend to do), 'sick,' (chronically 'weak'), or see others 'fall asleep' (that is, physically die), we SHOULD recognize Satan at work in some way. However, this really isn't helpful beyond reminding us that the 'way out' is always Christ. In particular, renewed obedience to Christ, since those three phenomena are clearly mentioned as 'divine discipline' arriving from GOD when we start to 'blaspheme' Him, (whether we do it intentionally or not, 1 Corinthians 11:30-32). Scripture even plainly states that we ourselves can 'deliver over to Satan for instruction' those among us who repeatedly blaspheme GOD with their words or actions, (1 Timothy 1:20). Satan as an 'instructor?' In reality, Satan isn't the 'instructor,' he is a tool of discipline used by GOD because GOD Himself doesn't abide tears, pain, hunger, thirst, sickness, toil, or even discomfort in His presence anymore. Why should He? He personally 'paid' for all of this Himself in Jesus Christ! He is done with it all RIGHT NOW. He is waiting for us to 'catch up' to Him through obedience to His words. Not just obedience to SOME of His words, but to ALL of them. Only then can He truly 'punish' and end evil forever, (2 Corinthians 10:6). Even Job who was TRULY righteous experienced Satanic 'attacks.' His actions and even his words were perfectly justified, but his ATTITUDE was wrong. He never 'blasphemed' GOD by cursing Him for his bad situation, even after his own wife told him too! (Job 2:9). However, GOD has incredibly high standards for His 'good friends.' He knew that Job was harboring a hidden 'attitude problem' because his own intimacy with GOD had caused him to 'forget' who GOD actually is and take Him for granted: “Who is this that darkens counsel By words without knowledge?... “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you know understanding..." (Job 38:2,4). After being 'thoroughly schooled,' (for four more chapters), Job said: "I have heard You...but now I SEE You" (Job 42:5).
My opinion is that He has the power but not the permission. God did not take the power of the devil when he denied his creation. But he has set bounds over him so that he can do nothing passing these bounds. So, if God wants to test your faith and put you through these things to later reward you and to teach you the biggest lesson, he can do it through Satan. Just as many people mentioned the story of Job. You can have many encounters straight out of the enemy, he may also try to mislead you through all the things that you can not even imagine; friends, pastors and even by imitating the voice of God. But if you have a lifestyle of Christ and the sword of the word, you will pass through all these things. Remember that Satan tried to tempt Jesus.
We are made in God’s own image, the apple of Gods eye and satan hates that and us and he uses 100 % of his power and authority to destroy us. If he had the power and authority to kill us or make us sick he would have already done it. Deuteronomy 30:19 says we have a choice, blessings and curses (sickness and disease). This is where the deceiver satan comes in and convinces us to give up our health and receive sickness and disease, by fear and doubt instead of faith in God‘s word. So no, satan can not just sprinkle sickness on us, he needs our cooperation.
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