Q:In your last newsletter, you cited II Corinthians 12:7 as proof that God uses demons to teach believers spiritual lessons. But Jesus said that the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth, and II Timothy 3:16 says that Scripture is for instruction, reproof, etc. Isn't saying that our Heavenly Father uses Satan's messenger service tantamount to saying that a good American father would use the Mafia to teach his children?

A:While I certainly believe that God uses both the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures to teach believers, I still maintain that God will sometimes use other means for believers to learn spiritual lessons. The main difference would be that the teaching is done more on the basis of God's permissive will than His directive will. Obviously, God permitted the messenger of Satan to cause a thorn in Paul's flesh. Paul prayed three times for it to be removed, but God said “no” in order that Paul would learn that His grace was sufficient. There is no question that the learning of this lesson was based upon Paul receiving a negative answer to his request to have the thorn removed. This would not have been possible outside of God's permissive will.

The same is true concerning Job. Certainly, it was Satan who caused Job's afflictions. But, again, it would not have been possible if not for God's permissive will. In the same way, regarding David, the Scriptures tell us that it was God who moved him to number the people, while elsewhere the Word says that it was Satan. Do we have a contradiction? Absolutely not, as the Bible is the inspired Word of God: It was Satan who directly caused David to number the people, and it was allowed by God's permissive will. Both statements, then, are true, but one is directive and the other permissive. The recipients of Satan's activities and God's permissive will were to learn certain lessons. This they did and still do today, as God uses Satan and demons to teach believers.