1 John 5:18—Can Satan injure God’s children or not?
Problem: Even Jesus admitted to Peter, “Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat” (Luke 22:31). However, John insists here that “he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him.” These passages appear to conflict with each other.
Solution: There is an apparent conflict here, but no contradiction for several reasons. First of all, it does not really say that Satan actually injured Peter. Jesus simply states that Satan “asked” for permission to do so.
Second, just as was the case with Job, Satan cannot do anything to a believer that God does not permit him to do, because God has “made a hedge around him” (Job. 1:10).
Third, technically speaking, there is a difference between “sifting” wheat (believers) and destroying them. God may allow the former, but He will never permit Satan to do the latter to one of His children (cf. Rom. 8:38–39).
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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.