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Recently our minister preached a sermon based on Luke 9:42:

Even while the boy was coming [to Jesus to be healed], the demon threw him to the ground in a convulsion. But Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, healed the boy and gave him back to his father.

The minister drew a parallel with people who are in the process of coming to saving faith in Christ Jesus, or new Christians, and who then experience "spiritual attacks" that prevent them from continuing on the path to salvation.

Then I found a sermon preached by Baptist minister Charles H. Spurgeon sermon # 1746, Volume 29 – The Devil’s Last Throw

which said, in part:

When a person had almost believed in Christ, but not quite, Satan seemed to multiply his temptations around him, and to bring his whole force to bear upon him. It is amazing how the ungodly will lay all kinds of traps for one who is escaping from his sins. They are fearfully set on keeping him from Christ.

Toward the end of his sermon he said:

I never dare to preach to anybody a temporary salvation. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved,” not for merely tonight, but forever. When God saves a man, he is saved, not for weeks and years, but eternally. If Christ turns the devil out of him, he shall enter into that man no more, forever. Now this is a salvation that is worth your having, and worth my preaching.

To prevent asking a question that will attract only opinion-based answers, is there any biblical basis for believing that Satan will do his uttermost to prevent a sinner from coming to saving faith in Christ Jesus?

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  • Arguably the better question (but maybe not for this site) is whether we have good reason to believe this is something that literally happens. Even if the book says it, it may still be metaphoric or figurative (which is how many people interpret many parts of the Bible). If one were to consider the "temptations" to be evidence of Satan causing them, one would need to establish whether that was indeed Satan, or whether it may have been legitimate rational concerns or normal human desires.
    – NotThatGuy
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 10:37
  • @NotThatGuy - The reason I asked for the biblical basis for believing Satan tries to prevent people from coming to saving faith in Christ Jesus was to avoid personal opinions. Mind you, I've heard testimonies from a lot of new Christians who faced obstacles and challenges before and after they gave their lives to Christ. Sometimes we give Satan too much credit for events, but the Bible is clear - we face opposition from spiritual forces and the Bible tells us to be on our guard and to wear the spiritual armour that God provides.
    – Lesley
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 13:25

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I would first draw attention to the Parable of the Sower in Matthew, where Jesus equates the bird that snatches the seed (the gospel) to the evil one, which is Satan.

When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the path. (Matthew 13:19)

Within a day of accepting Jesus, I suddenly had thoughts that the person who led me to Christ meant me harm. After a few days of wrestling, I rejected those ideas. I can affirm that what Jesus taught was true for me personally.

Mark adds an important detail in his telling of this same parable:

13 And he said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? 14 The sower sows the word. 15 And these are the ones along the path, where the word is sown: when they hear, Satan immediately comes and takes away the word that is sown in them. (Mark 4:13-15)

The NIV phrases it a little differently, saying "How then will you understand any parable?"

The conclusion that may be drawn is that this is the most important of all the parables and the foundation to understanding all the rest. And the first thing we are told about in the parable is the evil one's attempt to steal the seed as soon as it is first planted. That makes this idea that Satan is out to get you personally Scriptural.

The Apostle Peter also emphasizes this:

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. (1 Peter 1:5)

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    NIV is misleading. In the original Greek (both BYZ and WHNU), it is "πως πασας τας παραβολας γνωσεσθε" exactly as in standard English versions (e.g. ASV, ESV, KJV).
    – David
    Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 7:54
  • @David - 14 of 62 English translations use "any" according to Biblegateway.com so "any" is not the majority reading. Good point. Commented Oct 19, 2023 at 17:09
  • (1) You say "good point" but you still keep the misleading translation in your answer. (2) You seem to think that reading the original Greek text is insufficient, despite it being the only way to be sure what was said. There was no point at all to check how many 'English translations' get it wrong, unless you're saying that you would rather believe the crowd than the original text... Colour me surprised.
    – David
    Commented Jun 14 at 10:36
  • @David - An important pattern in software modeling of medical diagnoses is to record the observation that led to the decision, like the patient's temperature. If later the observation was found to be in error (the thermometer was damaged), the old record must stay in place to explain why the prior decisions were made as they were, and the revised observation is inserted into the record at the later date. What you call the "misleading" translation was the translation that nudged me to look at the parables more closely. It led me to new insights about several parables. Commented Jun 17 at 15:25
  • The "correct" translation might have had that effect on me or not had I been reading such a translation, but that is not what happened. Commented Jun 17 at 15:25
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Is there any biblical basis for believing that Satan will do his uttermost to prevent a sinner from coming to saving faith in Christ Jesus?

The short answer is yes. It is all too clear that the spiritual warfare of Christians is no limited to our enemies of this world but also to those of the demonic.

For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. - Ephesians 6:12

Scriptures infer that Satan is the prince of the power of the air and thus our enemy here below.

What does it mean that Satan is prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2)?

“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:1–2, emphasis added). In this text the apostle Paul describes Satan first as a “prince” with power, because he has authentic power in the world (1 John 5:19). This power has been given him by God (Luke 4:6). Satan has power over some illnesses (Luke 13:16; see also 2 Corinthians 12:7—it’s unknown if Paul’s “thorn” was an illness or something else). In some sense, Satan has power over death (Hebrews 2:14). The reason Satan is called a prince rather than a king is that there is only one King—Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 6:15).

It is in the Book of Revelation that we see this more clearly. The women in chapter 12 is seeen as resembling the Church.

The Catholic Church recognizes the "woman" as part of the polyvalent symbolism that is found in the book in four referents: Israel, the Church, Eve, and Mary.

Commentators who adhere to Protestant eschatology sometimes identify the woman as the Church, and the man-child she gives birth to are the saints. According to this interpretation, Revelation 12:17 describes the remnant of the seed of the woman as those who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ. The offspring of the Woman, the Woman's seed, then refers to the saints. The man child "who shall rule the nations with a rod of iron" is a symbol of the faithful members of the Church.

12 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. 2 She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. 3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. 4 Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. 5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. 6 The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days. - Revelation 12:1-6

Last but not least, the Glorious Apostle St. Peter puts us on guard against Satan himself.

Be sober, be vigilant, because your adversary the devil walketh about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. 1 Peter 5:8

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There are many statements and points in the Bible that warn those with faith in God to beware of this invisible entity, known by various epithets such as Satan the devil, the great red dragon, the serpent, the deceiver. But those are people who have already come to Jesus for salvation! You enquire about the efforts of Satan to prevent people coming to saving faith in Christ. That narrows the selection down a bit.

Further, biblical sections that are parables or prophecies, and so require interpretation, are not as straight-forward for different people might understand them differently. The best biblical proof you seek comes directly from the lips of Jesus himself, addressed to those who had not been saved. Read what he said to them about how Satan was deceiving them:

"I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

Then they said to him, Who art thou? And Jesus said unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father...

As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free.

They answered him, we be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin... but ye seek to kill me because my word hath no place in you... Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it, and because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not." John 8:24-45 A.V.

There we see an example in the Bible of some religious Jewish people in Jesus' day claiming to have believed on him, but Jesus said that they had not yet been truly set free. Free from what? From the grip of sin and satanic deception designed to keep them remaining in a state of not understanding what Jesus was saying. They did not understand that Messiah had come from God the Father, and that they had to remain in his word to know the truth.

This shows that they had heard so much of the truth from Jesus and wanted to identify themselves with that, but their sin remained - it had to be faced up to, which would only happen if they remained in Jesus' words. As it was, their pride in being children of Abraham had to be replaced with humility in becoming spiritually born of God (as Jesus explained to Nicodemus in chapter 3.) Satan could continue having a field-day with them, working on their pride. After all, Jesus said that such people were children of the devil - they belonged to him! And Satan will do everything he can to keep them in his diabolical 'family'. Only the spiritual 'new birth' can get sinners transferred into the family of God. Whatever seed of Kingdom truth had landed on their particular "soil", this had happened:

"When anyone heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart." Matthew 13:19 A.V.

Those people had not understood, and very quickly it became clear that Satan had snatched away what little they had heard - within minutes they were raging against the one they claimed to have believed in! No, they had not, and Jesus knew it, for he knew the hearts of men, even before they proved that his kingdom seed had been swiftly snatched away by Satan.

This is an example where it's safe to apply the parable to an actual encounter between Jesus and those interested in following him. There are other Bible examples of Satan acting in a persistent, long-term manner to keep people deceived and unsaved, but this one might suffice.

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Allow me to share with you a brief extract from a (lengthy) sermon by Charles Spurgeon, The Devil's Last Throw, referred to in my question above.

... when a person had almost believed in Christ, but not quite, Satan seemed to multiply his temptations around him, and to bring his whole force to bear upon him. It is amazing how the ungodly will lay all kinds of traps for one who is escaping from his sins. They are fearfully set on keeping him from Christ. ...

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... Many a man who has been on the brink of eternal life has been thrown down and torn with this, “It is of no use. Give it up. You have prayed, and you have not been answered, never pray again. You have attended the house of God, and you have become more miserable than ever, never go again. Ever since you have been a thinking man and a sober man, you have had more trouble than you ever had. See,” says the devil, “what comes of your religion?” Thus he tries to induce the newly awakened to give it up. But oh, in God’s name let me implore you do not turn from it, for you are on the brink of the grand discovery. Another turf turned and there is the golden treasure. After all your striving—your long striving—never give up the search until you have found your Saviour, for your Saviour is to be found. Trust in Him this night and He is yours forever.

...

... Did you notice, when I was reading in the ninth chapter of Mark, how Jesus healed this poor child? He did heal him, He healed him of all those complications, healed him of the devil’s domination, healed him of the epilepsy, healed him of being deaf and dumb, healed him of being a lunatic, healed him of pining away, and in one moment that young man was completely saved from all his ills. He could speak, he could hear, he was cured of his epilepsy, and was no more a lunatic, but a happy rational being. The whole thing was done at once. ...

...

... God can take away the heart of stone and give a heart of flesh. The child of darkness can be translated into the kingdom of light. The dead heart can be quickened into a spiritual existence and that in a single moment, by faith in Jesus Christ. ...

Conclusion: The devil comes to lie, rob, steal and kill, and prevent people from coming to Christ to be saved. But thanks to God, He who is for us is greater than any who come against us, including that adversary.

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