Satan desired to sift Peter like wheat (Luke 22:31) and Satan tempted Job, so according to John, can a Christian be harmed by Satan? - 1 John 5:18, Luke 22:31


1 John 5:18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.

This is a unique and exciting verse. Since I have already covered the first phrase elsewhere, I will comment here upon the second sentence and your question.

Jesus was born of the Spirit (Matt. 1:20). In John 3:3-5 we see the Christian is also born of the Spirit of God. This parallelism is exciting. Think of it - both Jesus and the believer are born of the everlasting Spirit. Born of God!!! We are in the same family. We have the same heavenly Father. God is our Father. We are members of the same race, the same kingdom, and the same army.

In 1 John 5:18, the one born of God is Jesus Christ. John, by the Holy Spirit, places Jesus "who was born of God" over against "the evil one." Ultimately, the great Shepherd keeps his sheep safe and protects them from the evil one (Matt. 6:13; Luke 22:31; John 17:12, 15, 1 Pet. 1:5; Jude 24, etc.).

Notice that John describes Satan as the "evil one" (2:13, 14; 3:12; 5:19; cf. John 10:10, etc.). In this world, there is kingdom conflict (Matt. 12:26-28). The evil one seeks to steal, kill, and destroy the life of the believer (John 10:10). Satan desires to lead the Christian into sin and to manipulate and control him. He seeks to: (1) blind the mind of the believer (2 Cor. 4:3-4); (2) take away the Word of God sown in the heart (Matt. 13:3-7, 18-22); (3) hinder mission efforts (1 Thess. 2:17-18). As one may see, he prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Pet. 5:8) using a variety means.

But we are children of God! Christ gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age (Gal. 1:4; cg. 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 2:2; 5:16; Col. 1:13). Though we will go through many trials (consider Joseph, Job, Paul, etc.), the believer will ultimately win in Christ (Rom. 8:35-39). "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). "Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil. 1:6).

John is looking with eternal eyes and seeing that 'ultimately' Satan cannot fully and completely destroy the true saint. However, John is not saying the saint will never have any problems, trials, or temptations. Make no mistake about it - in this world one will have tribulation (John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Rom. 5:3f; 2 Cor. 1:4; 1 Thess. 3:4; Rev. 1:9, etc.). But even death is a temporary state for the believer! Eternal life is on the other side of this journey (John 3:15, 3:36; 4:14; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 10:28; chapter 17; Acts 13:48, etc.). Though at times it may appear and feel otherwise, we have ALREADY won!

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).