The Devil #2
The Power Of The Devil
Last month’s article on the Devil had some bad news: The Devil is real; he’s against God; he’s our enemy.
The good news is that Satan is LESS than God. Though he has impressive powers, God’s powers are superior. Though he is vigorous and resourceful, God has out-maneuvered the Devil every which way, because God’s love for humanity is MORE! Satan lies utterly outclassed and defeated by our Father-Redeemer-Sanctifier.
It may help us in our life of sanctification to dwell on this truth: though Satan is the pit-bull of the underworld, God has chained him up short (Rev. 20:1-3). Though he’s wickedly smart and dangerous, he’s not omnipotent. How smart can it be to oppose God, get expelled from heaven, and become the world’s first and worst loser (Rev. 12:7-9)?
Though Satan is cunning enough to deceive with smoke and mirrors (2 Thess. 2:9), he is not bright enough to read God’s mind, and is ignorant of the date of his demise (Mt. 24:36). He cannot manipulate the life of the child of God, though he would enjoy doing so if he could, for our lives and times are in the hands of our heavenly Father (Ps. 31:15).
Satan is on the short end of a chain that limits his activities, so he cannot change anything that God has pre-set, neither for him and his guerilla brigade, nor for us who are chosen to be on God’s winning side (Rev. 17:14).
Although Scripture is more concerned about presenting God’s workings with sinners than about explaining God’s ways with Satan, Christians are at times faced with the question: Since God is superior, why does He not simply eradicate Satan, so he can no longer rule the hearts and lives of the unregenerate? In answer, it is God’s superior wisdom (Rom. 11:33) to reach out in love to the lost sinner so as to win the sinner’s heart to desert Satan and as a new-born child of God to willingly oppose the old evil foe. Besides, God’s plan of salvation does include limiting Satan’s range of control and through conversion placing individuals under God’s loving guidance and nurturing.
God does intend to finally remove Satan, of course, on the day of Judgment/Glory (Rev. 20:10). But until then and within limits (Rev. 20:3), Satan is allowed to be a Hussein nuisance as he grumbles around at the end of his chain and causes harm to the unwary soul that strays over onto his turf. That’s why we stay away from places and situations where Satan functions best.
Is it remotely possible that God has some use for Satan? Yes, though it is a rather negative value to be God’s agent for punishment upon those who do not appreciate the truth of God’s saving love for humankind (2 Thess. 2:9-12).
More on the positive side, Satan is allowed to afflict God’s children so that they can be exercised and strengthened in their faithlife, as was Job (Job 1:7ff), The child of God thereby learns to rely more completely on God’s grace and the power of Christ in his life, as the apostle Paul was reminded (2 Cor. 12:7-9).
Thanks be to our God for His superior love, grace, and mercy that have freed us from our slavery to the Devil and have brought us to Himself by the superior loving kindness that devoted His own Son to be our Redeemer!
— Prof. em. Paul R. Koch