So the Spectacular Sins Book Club continues this week with our discussion on Chapter 3, “The Fall of Satan and the Victory of Christ: Why Does God Permit Satan to Live?” You can tell from the title alone that this chapter contains some weighty truth! This week, Missy posted questions over at Lisa’s site to prompt our conversation:
1. On page 40 Piper tells us that the name Satan means “accuser.” Do you ever feel accused? I know I do. Sometimes I lie in bed at night and obsess over all the ways I have failed throughout the day, or I relive all the sins of my past. Turn in your bibles (or click here) to read Romans 8:1-2. What does this verse say? If this is true, from whom are all those accusations of failure? What then should we do when our thoughts go there? What is the difference between condemnation of our sin by the Evil One and conviction of our sin by the Holy Spirit?
I often feel crushed under the weight of the enemy’s accusations, be it all I didn’t do and should’ve done, or all I did and shouldn’t. Rom. 8:1 is the glorious promise of no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus because the Spirit has set us free! Nothing I have done can be held against me because Jesus has paid the penalty! I am justified, declared not guilty and righteous, because of His glorious, amazing grace. I often mistake conviction for condemnation, yet conviction is the Lord’s kindness to me! The Holy Spirit will do His good work of exposing my sin and I can trust that as I confess and repent, He is faithful and just to forgive; what grace!
2. How does God allowing Satan to live bring glory to Christ?
To quote Piper, “The Son of God, Jesus Christ, will be more highly honored and more deeply appreciated and loved in the end because he defeats Satan not the moment after Satan fell, but through millenia of long-suffering, patience, humility, servanthood, suffering, and decisively through his own death. A single, sudden, and infinitely holy display of power to destroy Satan immediately after his fall would have been a glorious display of power and righteousness. But it would not have been the fullest possible display of all the glories in the Son and the Father.”
He goes on to say, “Satan, and all his pain, serves in the end to magnify the power and wisdom and love and grace and mercy and patience and wrath of Jesus Christ. We would not know Christ in the fullness of his glory if he had no defeated Satan in the way that he did.” (page 49)
3. Read the ‘Eight Things to Do with Evil” and “Four Things to Never Do with Evil” lists on pages 50-51. Which of these do you have the most problem with?
“Give thanks for the refining effect of evil that comes against you.” Give thanks? For evil? For suffering? This is counter to my preference for ease and comfort and absence of conflict. But the Word is clear that we are to rejoice in our sufferings, particularly those sufferings that come to us from those who are opposed to us, knowing that suffering produces the good work of endurance in our lives. It is through suffering that Christ because all the more precious to us!
4. Recall Piper’s introduction, specifically pages 13-16 when he speaks of persecution of the Church. Since December I have been praying for Martha Samuel Makkar. She is an Egyptian sister in Christ who converted from Islam, and has faced persecution ever since. In December, she was arrested at the airport when she tried to emigrate to Russia. Martha was placed in prison, tortured, raped, and her two and four year old sons were denied food in an attempt to cause her to renounce Christ. She was recently released on bail and is awaiting trial. You can read her story here and here (and please join me in praying!)How might the truths Piper has conveyed in this chapter regarding evil – the “weighty doctrine” – bring comfort to Martha and her family while she undergoes persecution for Christ?
Surely knowing there is a plan and purpose, as inscrutable as they may be, brings comfort and strength to those suffering for the cause of Christ. I cannot fathom being persecuted for the sake of the gospel (and am correspondingly ashamed of my whining and complaining), but I can’t help but think of the early church that rejoiced that they were counted “worthy” to suffer for Christ. I pray that Martha and other persecuted believers will stand firm in the faith, knowing that these trials are achieving a greater weight of glory. He is worth it! May we trust Him, knowing that our enemy is already defeated and one glorious day we will know our victory in full!
What do you think? Head over to Lisa’s to see what everyone else is saying! Tune in next week as we talk over “The Fatal Disobedience of Adam and the Triumphant Obedience of Christ: How Adam’s Sin Serves the Supremacy of Christ.”