Sunday, April 8, 2012

A Poignant Query by Satan, "Why Does God Love Me?"

An apt question considering their history, and not one I readily had an answer for. The more I pondered it and debated it, the more it seemed like I needed help answering the question. So I turned to my friends Mark and Stephan, students of theology; I asked them whether God does love Satan, and if so what does that love mean for us. Below are their responses:

'To delve into the depths of this question would take a more considerable amount of time than is allotted here, however, understanding some basic truth before application is necessary. It certainly is valid to wrestle with this idea. How could God love Satan? Satan was full of pride and wished to overthrow the throne (Isaiah 14:12-14). Satan had every intention to establish himself over the sovereign Jehovah God. Scripture chronicles for us the extreme attempts by Satan to deter the Messiah from ever coming to offer a permanent avenue for salvation. In the Old Testament there are numerous attempts to have Israel destroyed. On two separate occasions Israel (also Judah) was taken into captivity. Time after time, as kings took the throne for Israel, who “did that which was right in their own eyes,” or “did not follow in the paths of their father,” or a “generation grew up which knew not the Lord.” Satan was very crafty to deceive and manipulate, attempting to prevent Jesus from coming and fulfilling the prophecy in Genesis 3:15 in which God promises to “crush his head.” This was in reference to Jesus coming to die on the cross to offer eternal life to all mankind. In the New Testament, Herod ordered the slaying of all male babies from birth to two years. So, in light of the attempts of Satan, and the fact that he is the embodiment of evil and the enemy of God, how could God love him?
            'In order to understand the fact that God loves Satan, we need to get a closer look at who God is. In our mere mortal minds, we could easily conclude that God could never love His enemy. However, God is love (1 John 4:8). It’s not just that God can love, or is capable of loving. He IS love. Since He is love, all of His relations and interactions are driven out of love. What about the Justice of God? Since God is a just God, He has to deliver the punishment to Satan (Revelation 20). It would be easy to argue that God acts out of His justice in spite of His love; however, the two are married and not separate. I have three daughters, and when I discipline them, I am doing so because out of love. I want to protect them and instruct them. God’s love is not dependant on any merit. Neither we nor Satan, for that matter, could ever do enough to earn God’s love. God is love and He does love us. We also need to understand that God is under no obligation to explain anything to us. So while we may wrestle with the fact that God loves His enemy, we need to accept that and move on. God is all-powerful and capable of anything. See Psalm 115:3 and Daniel 4:35

         'What about us? We would conclude that God is love and loves us. Do we live in that love? What does the love of God say and/or do for me? Here are a few truths to embrace and live in.
  • God loves us (the world) enough to offer us life. Ephesians 2:1-10 describes us as dead but made alive through the rich mercy of God to send Christ to die for us. John 3:16 also describes this. 
  • Even knowing that we would be the natural enemy of God (born into sin- Psalm 51:7) Romans 5:8 describes that He loved us despite our sin and came to die for us. 
  • The Apostle Paul, in describing our call to be Christ’s ambassadors on this earth, said in 2 Corinthians 5:14 that we are controlled by the love of God.
'Another passage that can bring great comfort to the Christian is Romans 8:37-39. It states, “ No, in all these things were are more than conquerors through Him that loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, not 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.” Often in life we fall to the lie that we aren’t loved. Maybe we made a mess of things- our finances, our marriage, our friendships, or we’ve driven our kids away. Still, God loves us. He knew ahead of time that we were sinners and yet he died for us. If we fail, God is not taken by surprise and loves us because He is love.
'We all desire and want acceptance and intimacy. We will search until we find it, regardless of the venue. We all want to be loved. God waits with opens arms to offer us that love. He does not love us because we are loveable; in fact we are quite the opposite. Don’t we often hurt the ones we love the most? Don’t we as followers of Christ stray from God? Romans 3:11-12 explains that we turn to our own way rather than God’s.
'Jesus told the story in the Gospel of Luke of the prodigal son. The son wanted his inheritance and the Father gave it to him before the appointed time. The son left and lived a hellish lifestyle and sped through the treasure. The Bible says he came to himself in the pig slop. (Interesting, sometimes we have to get down in the filth to realize it doesn’t have to be this way.) The son remembered how good he had it at the Father’s house. So he ran home. The father ran to him, kissed him, and placed on him the love and the honor that he chose to. We have a loving heavenly Father that will run to us as we run to Him, and embrace us and give us all the riches of heaven, namely love. The apostle Paul said it this way in I Corinthians 13:1-3, 13, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
          'God is Love, and He loves you.'

        'First the specifics.  Satan was an angel, and not just any angel, he is an Archangel.  He was cast out of heaven along with the other angels he convinced of his dream.  His offense, to be like the most High as Isaiah states; simply put, he wanted to be God, he desired the position and respect God commanded.  His rebellion failed.  So what became of him? He became the Archenemy of God, referred to as the murderer and numerous other such titles in Scripture.  He is not the opposite of God, he is simply opposed to Him, in every way.  He walks about seeking whom he may devour, while God is good, but not safe as C.S Lewis put it in describing Aslan.  God wills that all people come to know His love, while Satan is the keeper and leader of eternal torment.

         God in His infinite wisdom, justice, holiness and righteousness could never allow a blasphemer like Satan to occupy the heavens and the earth forever. Satan’s crime was infinite and so much his punishment be.  One might ask, so why not simply destroy him immediately? I don’t know.  I conjecture that Yahweh in His infinite grace allows Satan to exist for some reason that my finite mind cannot conceive.  God allows Satan to exist because He has a plan to seek and to save the lost, and Satan has a role.

        I’ve read both sides of arguments for and against God’s love for Satan, I do not believe an honest theologian can give a definitive answer.  I admit that for myself, the whole Satan issue is somewhat problematic for me, in that if I were God, I might simply rid us all of his devastating presence; alas, I am not God, and am confident that we are all better for it.

        The Angels inhabit a different reality than humans; while both being formed in the image of God, one being created to serve God, the other (us) being created to bring about His glory forever.  The scriptures even mention that the angels wonder about the workings of our salvation (1 Peter 1:12).  So I cannot definitively say about Angels what I can say about us, which is that He loved us so much that He sent His one and only Son to die for us so that we might be in a right relationship with Him, so that we can boldly enter the throne of grace, so that we who know Christ know the Father.  I can also definitively say that when a bell rings an angel gets his wings….

         The important thing is this, God loves us and he gave us 66 books to tell us this story.'

So if you want to try to take those incredible answers and consolidate them into one brief thought, I think it has to be this: God is such a superabundance of love that His love for us cannot be doubted and cannot be otherwise; everything else is secondary in importance.

Please, feel free to share you own thoughts on the matter.

1 comment:

  1. I my self have never really given this much thought always just viewed it as a struggle between "good" and "evil" . A good reminder that God is love.