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Jesus said "Get behind me, Satan!" in Matt 16:23 and Mark 8:33, but throughout the whole chapters of Matthew 16 and Mark 8, there are no details given if the devil is literally present at this scene or of him taking any action or starting a dialogue. It just says Jesus mentioned the word "Satan." A buddy tells me that Peter is possessed by the devil, but I'm not so sure about that because he doesn't act like a demoniac, and also Peter seems so concerned about Jesus after Christ telling him about His suffering and death. Another buddy suggests that since Matt 16:23 says "Jesus turned and said to Peter...", Christ is calling Peter a "Satan" or, more literally, an adversary, but how do you explain this?
A Little Help Please
Dear A Little Help Please,
The word 'satan' literally just means 'adversary'. Context decides whether or not 'satan' is referring to the great adversary or just a normal adversary or opponent. The latter part of Matt 16:23 makes it clear that Jesus is telling Peter that he is opposing God's will and being an adversary to God's plans. There is no reason to believe Peter was possessed – Peter just wasn't respecting God's wishes.
Are 1 John 5:19, John 12:31, and John 16:11 all referring to Satan?
The Devil Is In The Details
Dear The Devil Is In The Details,
Yes, all three of those verses are referring to Satan. Satan is called the ‘father of lies’ (Jhn 8:44), the evil one (1 Jn 5:19), the devil (Matt 4:1), the prince of this world (Jhn 12:31), and the prince of the power of air (Eph 2:2). All of those names refer to the same wicked being.
What all does Satan do to us throughout our lives? What kind of stuff does he cause us to do?
Dear Feeling Forced,
Satan will do to us as much as he possibly can, but the devil’s power is only strong enough to devour us if we want him to. Satan is a roaring lion (1 Pet 5:8), and he has princely power on this planet (Eph 2:2), but God has chained this lion. In the book of Job, we see that Satan is restrained by God (Job 1:12). 1 Cor 10:13 says that we cannot be tempted beyond what we are able to overcome. Satan may be strong, but he cannot attack us unless we let him. Like a rabid dog on a chain, he can only harm us if we get within the chain’s radius. Satan doesn’t have total authority on this planet; in the end, Jesus is the king of all (Php 2:9-11). Satan can’t force you to commit any sin, but he is happy to tempt you to commit as many as possible.
Temptation and trials – what is the different between the two? Who gives us trials or do we put ourselves in them? Who gives us temptations or do we put ourselves in them? Why do we go through both? Is it a test for us to pass or to build us up spiritually?
The Bible says that God never tempts us to do evil (Jas 1:13). God never purposefully puts us in a situation with a desire for us to sin. The devil wants to devour you with sin, but God never does (1 Pet 5:8). However, God does put us in situations in order to find out what we are made of. God tested Abraham when He asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac (Gen 22:1). God put Abraham in a position where he could succeed or fail – but the key is that God wanted him to succeed (Gen 22:14-18). Abraham was tried by God (Heb 11:17), so God could bless him. God may put us in circumstances that are difficult, but His desire is always to benefit us.
On the other hand, the devil tempts us for the purpose of destroying us – just like he did with Jesus in the wilderness (Matt 4:1). That is why God promises us that He will never allow the devil to tempt us beyond what we are able to handle (1 Cor 10:13). The devil tries to set us up for failure, and the Lord tries to set us up for success.
If God is so powerful and mighty, can't He just destroy the devil and evil? Why doesn't He just be, like, “BAM!”… and the devil and the evil in the world be gone?
God does have the power to destroy the devil and all evil, and eventually, that is exactly what He will do (Matt 25:41). God tells us that the reason He hasn’t destroyed all evil is because that would involve destroying all sinful people as well. After all, sin is what causes evil. God, in His abundant patience, is waiting to give as many people as possible the chance to repent and turn to Him, so they can be forgiven (2 Pet 3:5-9). God promises that one day He will destroy all evil; the really question is: whose side will we be on in that day?