Satan as a Tool of God’s Judgment

It is clear from a number of scriptures that God may use Satan for His disciplinary purposes. For example, in the parable of the unforgiving servant found in Matthew 18, Jesus said that the servant’s master was “moved with anger” when he learned that his forgiven servant had not in turn forgiven his fellow servant. Consequently, he handed his unforgiving servant “over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him” (Matt. 18:34). Jesus ended this parable with the solemn words:

So shall my heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart (Matt. 18:35).

Who are “the torturers”? It would seem likely that they would be the devil and his demons. God may turn one of His disobedient children over to the devil in order to bring him to repentance. Hardship and calamity have a way of bringing people to repentance—as the prodigal son learned (see Luke 15:14-19).

In the Old Testament, we find examples of God’s using Satan or evil spirits to bring about His discipline or judgment in the lives of deserving people. One example is found in the ninth chapter of Judges, where we read that “God sent an evil spirit between Abimelech and the men of Shechem” (Judg. 9:23) in order to bring judgment upon them for their wicked deeds against the sons of Gideon.

The Bible also says that “an evil spirit from the Lord” afflicted King Saul in order to bring him to repentance (1 Sam 16:14). Saul never did repent, however, and he eventually died in battle because of his rebellion.

In both of these Old Testament examples, the Scripture says that the evil spirits were “sent from God.” This is not to say that God has evil spirits in heaven who are waiting there to serve Him. More likely, God simply allows Satan’s evil spirits to limitedly work their ill in hopes that sinners will repent under their affliction.