A good number of passage in the Scripture tells us that an evil spirit was sent by God to torment or harm a person. We all know these are tough verses that freezes every believer and non-believer alike.
Unfortunately, these verses are also being put forth by many atheists to challenge the unity of the Scripture in the area of God’s goodness. Therefore, it is but right to face these passages squarely without wincing. There are many passages in the Old Testament that tells us about God sending an evil spirit like lying spirit, tormenting spirit, a strong delusion, and even treacherous spirit that results to calamity, disaster, and destruction. You will see that in the following verses:
Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the LORD tormented him. – 1 Samuel 16:14, ESV
And God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the leaders of Shechem, and the leaders of Shechem dealt treacherously with Abimelech, – Judges 9:23, ESV
Now therefore behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the LORD has declared disaster for you.” – 1 Kings 22:23, ESV
With him are strength and sound wisdom; the deceived and the deceiver are his. – Job 12:16, ESV
I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the LORD, who does all these things. – Isaiah 45:7, ESV
And if the prophet is deceived and speaks a word, I, the LORD, have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. – Ezekiel 14:9, ESV
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. – Matthew 6:13, ESV
Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, – 2 Thessalonians 2:11, ESV
It is important to note that eventhough Satan and the demons possess freewill they can still be used by the Lord at His disposal. They are under God’s command whether they like it or not. Satan and the demons (evil spirits) both deceive and deceiver are at His ordering to be used for His divine glory. If a believer is sinning, God can send demonic spirits for that person to experience the consequence of what he is doing that could make him call unto God. The Lord can create disaster or calamity allowing the works of Satan and the demons but for a greater purpose. The Lord can even send to Satan allowing him to directly inflict pain and suffering to test a person’s faith. On the other hand, this could also be a direct consequence of the evil things a person does a reason why God allowed Satan to inflict disease and pain on that sinning person. You will surely see the difference between Job who is righteous and the sexually immoral believer in the Corinthian church.
Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. – Job 2:4-7, ESV
you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord. – 1 Corinthians 5:5, ESV
An analogy of this is a mother allowing the doctor to inflict pain on her child for the purpose of vaccination. The crying and resisting child might be thinking why her mom is allowing the doctor to “hurt” him. But he has no idea that her mom sent the doctor to allow him to do this for his own good in the future. Having said all of these, the question must be answered directly. Can a holy and righteous God send an evil spirit to exercise their wickedness in the lives of a believer or unbeliever for His very purpose and glory? The answer is a resounding yes!
After all, He is the Creator of all things who knows what is good for everyone. Everything that Satan and the demons does is under the surveillance of God because He knows the past, the present, and the future exhaustively. As Dr. Erwin Lutzer wrote,
“Because Satan is the ‘god of this world,’ they think this means the he can be free to make his own decisions, inlficting havoc wherever and whenever he wishes. I respectfully disagree.”
Erwin W. Lutzer, “God’s Devil: The Incredible Story of How Satan’s Rebellion Serves God’s Purposes.”
Other Biblical References:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. – Isaiah 55:8-9, ESV
From the beginning I predicted the outcome; long ago I foretold what would happen. I said that my plans would never fail, that I would do everything I intended to do. – Isaiah 46:10, GNB