Question:

Greeting,

Recently I read about this topic from "Summarizing the Book of Acts - Miracles Confirm God's Word" by Roy H. Lanier, Jr and want to ask your opinion about the material.

"Many “Spirit-filled” claimers today contradict plain Bible teachings. Some of their doctrines violate the clear teachings of the Lord. God would not empower false teachers who contradict His divine Word. One easy way to know whether or not “miracle workers” today are actually working signs and wonders from God is simply to test their teachings. If their teachings are not from the Bible, not “in the Book,” then they are not working miracles by the power of God. It is that simple. If what these claimants are doing is supernatural, or cannot be explained by natural concepts, then the conclusion follows that these incidents can only be from Satan  (2 Thessalonians  2:8–10). Satan  is the only one who can delude people with such “signs and false wonders.” God does not confirm error. That is the work of the devil, who is a liar from the very  beginning  and the father  of all lies (John 8:44)."

  1. Can II Thessalonians 2:8-10 be used as the basis for a claim that Satan can perform supernatural actions or that Satan can be a source of supernatural actions?
  2. Can Satan do supernatural actions even though they are fake?
  3. Can you explain false signs, false wonders, or false miracles?
  4. Did Jannes and Jambres do a fake miracle? (II Timothy 3:8 )
  5. Did Balaam have true or fake power? If Balaam had a fake power then why did God prevent him from placing a curse upon Israel?
  6. If Satan has limited power (restrain for 1000 years), why was he still able to inflict illness on Paul? (II Corinthians 12:7)

I will really appreciate it if you reply to this email.

Answer:

Moses told the Israelites:

"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, 'Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,' you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has counseled rebellion against the LORD your God who brought you from the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery, to seduce you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from among you" (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).

Even if a so-called prophet does what appears to be a miracle if he teaches a doctrine different from what God teaches (the example given is teaching people to follow an idol) then God is not behind the apparent miracle. God may allow the deception to go unchallenged to see if His people will remain faithful to Him. "For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness" (II Thessalonians 2:11-12).

Please note that these passages are not claiming that a false prophet can actually do a true miracle. They only indicate that we might have trouble detecting the difference between a true miracle and a deception. Paul told the Thessalonians a few verses earlier, "Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved" (II Thessalonians 2:8-10). Satan's language is lies (John 8:44). Those who follow him speak and perform lies.

"Supernatural" means something that goes beyond nature or that violates the laws of nature that God set for this universe. Satan has power, but I do not know of a passage that states that Satan is able to supersede God's laws. However, I'm positive Satan is able to convince people that he is able to do miraculous things.

There is nothing in "Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes' and Jambres' folly was also" (II Timothy 3:8-9) that indicates that Jannes or Jambres did anything that appeared to be a miracle. They opposed Moses, but that only means they refused to follow Moses.

Balaam was known to be a prophet of God. When he gave a prophecy, it came true (Numbers 22:6). But that was because God gave him the answers. That is why the Balak, the king of Moab, wanted Balaam to come and curse the Israelites. Even though God told Balaam in advance that he would not be allowed to say anything that God did not approve (Numbers 22:10), and Balaam admitted the same to Balak (Numbers 22:38), he still tried because he wanted the money. God allowed his attempts because God wanted to prove His power and that He was behind the Israelites' success.

Satan is restrained in regards to controlling the nations. "And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time" (Revelation 20:2-3). After his full imprisonment (represented by a thousand years), Satan will for a short time be allowed to control the nations again. "When the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore" (Revelation 20:7-8). However, none of this means that Satan is restrained from causing individual problems or prevented from deceiving national leaders with sin.

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