Handed Over to Satan

Something unthinkable was happening at the Church in Corinth, something ‘that does not occur even among pagans’ (1 Corinthians 5:1). Paul gets reports that ‘there is sexual immorality among you’ (v1), and one of an advanced kind. ‘A man has his father’s wife’ (v1) and to top it all, ‘you are proud!’ (v2). So Paul asks, ‘Shouldn’t you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this?’ (v2). Instead of confessing and turning away from such depravity, Paul notes that ‘Some of you have become arrogant’ (4:v18). Probably because they managed to put up such acts as Believers and nothing happened to them. Paul then writes, ‘I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power’ (v19-20).

So Paul suggests a remedy, ‘When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature (flesh) may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord Jesus’ (5:v4-5). Paul implies use of two Spiritual laws. First, ‘if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven’ (Matthew 18:19). This was Jesus speaking about a brother (Believer) who sins against another and ‘If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a publican’ (v17). The second Spiritual law was that a Believer’s life is ‘hidden with Christ in God’ (Colossians 3:3) and ‘the evil one touches him not’ (1 John 5:18). Even when one veers off, the grace and mercies of God protects them, and they are brought to the right path. But if they become arrogant and refuse to turn back to God, another method can be implied; they are handed over to Satan on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

When a Believer is handed over to Satan, their body is brought under his subjection, but their Spirit is preserved by God. Jesus says, ‘Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell’ (Matthew 10:28). Jesus was addressing His disciples and not non-believers, meaning that Satan and his minions can be given authority over one’s body, but not soul (unless one willingly gives it up). Although Jesus was speaking in the context of persecution and testing, and not necessarily hard-heartedness, either way, the works of Satan are to ‘steal, kill, and destroy’ (John 10:10) regardless of the reason one finds themselves under his radar. From Job’s account, Satan could access ‘everything he has (physical possessions)’ (Job 1:12) and ‘his flesh’ (v5). The exact words Satan used was ‘Skin for skin!’ . . . A man will give all he has for his own life’ (v4). Little did he know that it was Job’s spirit that sustained him when he ‘afflicted Job with painful sores from the soles of his feet to the top of his head’ (v7). Afflicting his possessions and body was the furthest he could go. Satan could not touch his spirit because he cannot touch the spirit of a Believer.

That’s why Job in the midst of bodily affliction could say, ‘I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes – I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!’ (19:v25-27). When an arrogant Believer is handed over to Satan, Paul states that the end goal is so that the sinful nature (flesh) may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord. Unlike Job who was being tested, those who harbour sin in their flesh even though they were quickened in their spirit, are handed over to Satan so that while their flesh is destroyed, their spirit may be saved. Those who refuse to heed to God, take the harder route because Satan does not have mercy when he lays hold of a person, especially a Believer. So when Satan takes over a Believer’s body, only one’s quickened spirit can sustain them. It is then that they recognize the power at work in them is greater than what they had previously believed. Solomon writes, ‘A man’s spirit sustains him in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?’ (Proverbs 18:14).

‘Your enemy the devil roams around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour’ (1 Peter 5:8), especially Believers whose defences are torn down by arrogant sin, laxity, or whatever other reason. The devil cares less for those in the world because they are already knowingly or unknowingly on his side, for Jesus says, ‘He who is not with me is against me’ (Matthew 12:30). When the devil gets a hold of his main target (Believers), he wastes away their body and/or steals their physical possessions (wealth, family, etc.) in hopes that they will denounce their faith in God, since he cannot directly access their souls. Jesus says to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, Simon, Satan has desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers’ (Luke 22:31-32).

When a Believer whose faith is wavy is handed over to Satan, the experience is to overall strengthen their spirit man. Paul writes to Timothy about two Believers saying, ‘Some have rejected these (holding on to faith and a good conscience) and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme’ (1 Timothy 1:19-20). However, when one is handed over to Satan longer than necessary, ‘he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames’ (1 Corinthians 3:15). A believer should therefore aim to hold fast to the faith and heed to discipline, and not wait to be handed over to Satan for whatever reason. Simon Peter urges, ‘Resist him (the devil), standing firm in the faith’ (1 Peter 5:9).

‘If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters. However, if you suffer as Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God you bear that name’ ~ 1 Peter 4:15-16

18 thoughts on “Handed Over to Satan

  1. Pingback: Handed Over to Satan

  2. Hi Carolyn, there is a third Spiritual principle or law in play here that also involves the power of the Lord Jesus being present as per Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” This correlates with 1 Corinthians 5:4 “In the name of our Lord Jesus, when you are assembled, and I with you in spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus,” and 1 Corinthians 4:19-20 “‘I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power’. It is “the power of God” that is present when two or three are assembled together in the name of the Lord Jesus that enables the first Spiritual law you mentioned of two being in agreement. This is really an excellent post. Blessings Carolyn!

  3. Pingback: Handed Over to Satan — Carolyne Mulyale Mutisya – Reasoned Cases for Christ

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