A common plot in TV courtroom dramas is for an innocent person to be on trail because they were framed by a clever criminal. Incredibly, this plotline is currently playing itself out in the COVID-19 pandemic! Scared and worried people â€“ and even some Christians – are blaming an innocent person by asking, â€œIf God is love and all-powerful why is he killing people with this virus?â€
The straightforward answer is â€œHeâ€™s not. Satan is.â€, but like a well written drama this solution might not be obvious. The clever criminal has crafted a shrewd strategy to divert attention from what he is doing by blaming God. Fortunately, we have the benefit of hindsight because the Bible has already been written. Looking into Godâ€™s word shows us the details of Satanâ€™s scheme.
A Bold Approach
Before we start to describe this strategy itâ€™s important to remember that Satan does not make small plans. Keep in mind that his original idea was to take over as God (Isaiah 14:14), so it should not be a surprise that anything coming from him would be done on a grand scale. His so-called greatest trick – convincing people he does not even exist – certainly falls into this category.
2 Corinthians 4:4 perfectly describes Satanâ€™s strategy in a nutshell. It says that he blinds unbelievers to the glory of God so they wonâ€™t be saved. Later in this same epistle (11:3) Paul writes that he was concerned about how Satan could use this approach and trick followers of Jesus so that their â€œthoughts would be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.â€
Paulâ€™s concerns proved to be well founded, because that is exactly what has happened. Many Christians think they have to prove to God that they love Him by enduring the terrible things God does to them. This comes from a mistaken understanding of verses such as Philippians 1:30 and Hebrews 12:1 that encourage us to endure hardship. It is important to note that these verses do not say that God is causing the havoc.
Discrediting A Key Witness
Blaming God for their troubles too often causes Christians to be angry with God instead of loving Him. â€œWhy is God doing this to me?â€ is a common lament and echoes the words of Job. In fact, Job is the primary example people cite when they fall for Satanâ€™s scheme of blaming God. But using Job as proof that God causes misfortune is wrong for a variety of reasons.
The fist mistake is thinking that God protected Job and then lifted this â€œhedgeâ€. But this understanding comes from believing what Satan says in Job 1:10. To quote C.S. Lewis, â€œReaders are advised to remember the devil is a liar.â€ Jesus taught us this in 1 John 2:4. To paraphrase His words, Jesus said that Satan is not even capable to telling the truth (â€œthe truth is not in himâ€).
Second, Job himself recants what he said about God causing his troubles! Sadly, few readers wade through the accusations of Jobâ€™s friends (and Jobâ€™s insistence on his righteousness) to get to the core of the book when Elihu begins speaking in chapter 32. They never get to Job 42:3 where Job admits he didnâ€™t know what he was talking about! This comes after Job has an encounter with God and experiences His true nature.
A Perfect Strategy
Misleading Christians and others into blaming God provides a variety of benefits for Satan. First of all, we donâ€™t blame Satan for whatâ€™s going wrong and so we donâ€™t resist him (James 4:7). This allows Satan to continue hurting us. We submit to Satan and allow ourselves to be blinded to the glory of God and away from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. In other words, we behave in a manner directly contrary to Scripture.
But thereâ€™s something even worse than this. When we blame God for the problems in our lives and get angry at Him we are not about to turn to Him for solutions. We alienate ourselves from the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). Of course, no one in this frame of mind is going to tell others how much God loves them, or how He wants what is best for them like Jesus taught in Matthew 7:11.
This is a perfect triple play for Satan! Christians forget how much God loves them, get angry at Him and stop turning to Him to solve the problem. It is such an effective strategy that you almost have to admire how brilliant it is. Of course, nothing about Satan is admirable, and looking at what he is doing gets me pretty angry at Satan for hurting so many people in this way.
Satan Hurts, God Heals
The entirety of Scripture points to the simple truth that God is good and that He does good things. However, there is a particular instance in the Bible that has direct relevance to the current situation we face with the COVID-19 pandemic. This incident demonstrates the absolute truth of Hebrews 4:15 which says that Jesus knows and has experienced all of our fears and weaknesses.
The incident is recorded in Matthew 8:3 where Jesus touches a leper and cures him of the disease. Keep in mind that lepers had to keep themselves away from others in order to avoid spreading the illness. This was so important that even touching a leper made you ceremoniously unclean (Leviticus 5:3). Jesus knew the fear of infectious disease and yet He touched a leper.
Itâ€™s important to remember that Jesus was fully God and fully human. Itâ€™s easy to dismiss this incident in light of His Divinity, but think about it for a minute in terms of His humanity. Itâ€™s also important to keep in mind that the leper in this incident came to Jesus, knelt before Him, and stated clearly that he believed in Jesusâ€™ ability to heal him. This is a great example of how we can approach God!
â€œYou are not alone.â€
In fact, the actions of the leper in Matthew 8:3 are a perfect example of the instruction given to us in Hebrews 11:6. We are to approach God in faith. This means believing He is who He says He is instead of believing what Satan says. We are to believe He rewards those who come to Him in this way, rather than thinking He wants to give us a disease. Remember that Isaiah 5:20 very clearly says that evil is not good and that good is not evil.
God is with us and is for us. This is an enduring truth that runs throughout Scripture. God helped Adam and Eve after they sinned (Genesis 3:21). He became man and died for our sins, restoring our relationship to Him when we could not do that by ourselves. Jesus is the perfect representation of God (Colossians 1:15), and we are well advised to look at how He healed those oppressed by the devil (Acts 10:38.)
This overwhelming preponderance of evidence overwhelms the scheme of Satan which is intended to keep us away from the love of God. Fortunately, we have Romans 8:38-39 “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”