Can Satan Affect our Physical health

Hey family. It has been a minute since I’ve posted on here. So I just wanted to greet you all. I have continued to read posts and smash that like button from time to time.

My family has found a new church that we have been attending for the past year. We have been greatly refreshed by the expositional, verse by verse teaching from God’s word. So much so that my wife has dug much deeper into her own Bible study.

The straightforward preaching of the word stands in such stark contrast to the preaching at our former church that when my wife recently watched a sermon from there it prompted quite the discussion. For in this sermon the pastor said, “If you look through the genealogy of Jesus you see that the enemy is always trying to keep women barren.” Now her first reaction, being the Berean she is, was to ask if that was true and then turn to me and asked me to listen. I was pretty shocked by the blatant falseness of the statement and said as much And said that is not true. For a little context he was talking about Sarah who said

Sarai said to Abram, “Since the Lord has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave; perhaps through her I can build a family.” And Abram agreed to what Sarai said. (Genesis 16:2)

He was also talking about Rachel and her struggles to conceive but it’s clear that it is God opening and closing the womb (Genesis 29:31, 30:2,22).

So with the question about how true the statement itself was resolved it prompted a discussion about Satan having the ability to affect our health. One of us said that if Satan can affect our health then that would mean he has dominion over our bodies and that is not true. To which the other replied that there are examples of Satan affecting people health in the Bible but just because he can doesn’t give him dominion.

We have considered Job’s story and how God gave Satan permission to access Job’s life and physical health, but considered it an outlier because there is an explicit granting of permission. So my question is this. Generally speaking, can Satan affect a person’s physical health?

What do you think of the pastor’s statement in his sermon? I have worked with him and have considered emailing him, but not certain if I should or what to say. I suggested that to my wife and considered his possible responses. Half expecting him to say that he was just making a point about spiritual warfare… To which I would want to say, “Did you have to adulterate the scriptures to do it?” But then he may correct himself.

Grateful for you all.


Hi @chris,

It’s great to hear from you! We value reading as much as writing - whatever is helping you to thrive in your walk with Jesus.

I’m also encouraged that you’ve found a church that carefully investigates the meaning of each verse. I would rather accurately understand one verse than misunderstand an entire book of the Bible!

There are passages in the Bible that attribute demonic activity as affecting our health.

We see this idea in Job 2:

“Skin for skin!” Satan answered the LORD. “A man will give up everything he owns in exchange for his life. But stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

"Very well,” the LORD told Satan, “he is in your power; only spare his life.” So Satan left the LORD’s presence and infected Job with terrible boils from the soles of his feet to the top of his head. Then Job took a piece of broken pottery to scrape himself while he sat among the ashes.

However, in this instance, Satan’s ability to harm Job required God’s permission.

Luke 13:10-11

As he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath, a woman was there who had been disabled by a spirit for over eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all.

Mark 9:17ff: (See Matthew 17:14ff)

Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you. He has a spirit that makes him unable to speak. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to drive it out, but they couldn’t.”

In Acts 10, Peter provides an eyewitness account of Jesus’ ministry:

He sent the message to the Israelites, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. You know the events that took place throughout all Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John preached: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were under the tyranny of the devil, because God was with him. We ourselves are witnesses of everything he did in both the Judean country and in Jerusalem, and yet they killed him by hanging him on a tree.

Based on these passages, I think there is Biblical support that Satan’s activity can harm our bodies, and that Jesus can heal us from his oppression.

I think your former pastor’s point might also have some support from Genesis 3:

I will put hostility between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring.
He will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.

There is dramatic tension throughout the storyline of the Bible: will the promised offspring come to save God’s people? And a component of this tension is: will God’s plans prevail? Because right now, it doesn’t look good. The devil seems to have the upper hand.

But as you and your wife noticed, in these particular passages, the opening/closing of the womb is clearly attributed directly to God.

Genesis 16:2

Sarai said to Abram, “Since the LORD has prevented me from bearing children, go to my slave; perhaps through her I can build a family.

Genesis 29:31

When the LORD saw that Leah was neglected, he opened her womb; but Rachel was unable to conceive

One interesting thing about Genesis 30:1-2:

When Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she envied her sister. “Give me sons, or I will die!” she said to Jacob.

Jacob became angry with Rachel and said, “Am I in the place of God? He has withheld offspring from you!”

In the story, Leah has been looking to God for deliverance. But Rachel goes to Jacob.

For all his faults, Jacob recognizes this is out of place. Rachel is asking him to do something only God can do.

What we see from this is that barrenness was not just a physical condition but carried significant social and theological implications. It could lead to social stigmatization and was often seen as a sign of divine disfavor.

To return to your question:

So my question is this. Generally speaking, can Satan affect a person’s physical health?

My suggestion is that if we asked Peter to answer this question, he might say yes, of course he can, but Jesus is Lord. And then he would ask to pray for us if we needed healing!

But it’s important to be nuanced. Giving Satan too much credit could inadvertently shift the focus away from God’s sovereignty and the complex theological and social factors at play in the biblical narrative.

It’s also important to recognize that what God wants for us is what we had in the Garden of Eden and what we will have in the new heavens and the new earth. Consider Revelation 21:3-4:

Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look, God’s dwelling is with humanity, and he will live with them. They will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them and will be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; grief, crying, and pain will be no more, because the previous things have passed away.

Again, we see in the ministry of Jesus an earnest, passionate desire to heal people who physically suffered - whether or not the suffering can be attributed to Satanic activity. God has repeatedly shown that he does not want us to suffer physically - even to suffer death. His good and loving plan is for us to experience eternal life, with perfect physical wholeness. Yet our lives now are obviously disrupted by evil, sin, and the increasing limitations of our bodies.

Also, though the Biblical authors write from a point of view that assumes the supernatural is woven into the course of everyday life, they were conscious of other factors.

For instance, 1 Kings 14:4 reads:

Now Ahijah could not see, for his eyes were dim because of his age.

The bad eyesight isn’t attributed to demonic activity. It’s quite straightforward.

In Philippians 2:27, Paul writes,

Indeed, [Epaphroditus] was so sick that he nearly died.

It seems like an ordinary thing: people get sick, sometimes severely, sometimes fatally.

Finally, I think that it’s worth giving the pastor the benefit of the doubt. What he said while preaching should be carefully spoken and truthful. However, sometimes we say things when preaching or teaching that lack the nuance or care we have when we can read, write, or talk about it conversationally. Possibly, he really is in error, but there are other potential explanations worth considering.

That said, perhaps it’s worth an entirely different conversation to discuss “When and how should we approach pastors to offer them a correction”?

I look forward to learning from your response and what others have to contribute to the conversation!


Thanks @Carson for your thorough consideration of my question. I agree that generally speaking there can be a satanic/demonic cause for physical health challenges. The emphasis thought is on the word “can” as there are many nuanced causes a physical ailments.

Because of the Biblical example, I want to say that barrenness is the exception. Given the general theme of God opening and closing the womb. But then I am still aware that the Bible is not an exhaustive collection of every human’s experience throughout time. So I don’t think it’s a stretch in logic to say that the enemy can’t affect a woman’s ability to bear a child to term or even a man to have healthy seed to fertilize. So I can give my pastor the benefit of the doubt, and allow that it’s possible for the enemy to affect pregnancy and maybe even conception.

However, we were able to see one of his other services and he did reemphasize that point and seem to stress that in order to birth something in your life it will require spiritual warfare. My problem though is that, something clearly attributed to God in the biblical passage he is talking about, he attributes to the enemy.

For additional context. We have noted problematic statements in some of his other sermons and have discussed them privately. We are seeing a concerning trend of less and less Bible usage, and more and more of his “insightful” sayings in their place. I don’t want to fall into a trap of criticizing his preaching style but instead want to discern if what he’s preaching is faithful to the Bible passage that he’s preaching from.

But even if I discern that he is in error my approach would not to be to confront him but to present what I heard him say along with the passages and the ask him to clarify.

I appreciate the time and consideration you’ve already given. Thank you brother.