Category: How much power does Satan possess?

Satan was an angel created by God who turned against God’s authority (Isaiah 14:13) and became  the head of a kingdom of evil spirits called demons, his “angels” (Matthew 25:41). His power  both in the heavenly realm and on earth is great and should not be  underestimated. However, while Satan and his forces are formidable enemies,  Jesus Christ crushed Satan’s power, fulfilling the prophecy of Genesis 3:15. The cross of  Christ won the victory (John 12:31).   “The prince of this world now stands condemned” (John 16:11),  and Jesus will one day destroy Satan’s power completely and purify creation (2 Peter  3:10).

Satan’s power in the heavenly realm / spirit  world:
Satan’s power has repute in the spiritual realm (Jude 9), where he has access to the presence of God (Job 1:6). The book of Job  provides insight into the relationship between God and Satan. In Job 1:6-12, Satan stands before God and reports that he  has been “walking up and down” on the earth (v. 7). God asks Satan if he has  considered godly Job, and Satan immediately accuses Job of insincerity—he only  loves God for the blessings God gives. “Stretch out your hand,” Satan says, “and  strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face” (v. 11).  God grants Satan permission to affect Job’s possessions and family, but not his  person, and Satan leaves. (The rest of the book is from Job’s perspective,  providing an example of how to deal with suffering.)

This is an  important passage because it shows Satan’s place in the spiritual realm. He is  able to accuse God’s people in His very presence, and Jude 9 shows that even Michael the archangel needs the  Lord’s help in overcoming him. However, Satan is obviously restrained from  enacting his full fury; he is still a created being under God, and his power is  limited.

Satan’s power on the earth:
Job 1 also  reveals that Satan does enact evil and cause direct harm on the earth. The most  well-known and important of his actions on earth occurred in the Garden of Eden.  Genesis 3 tells of Satan’s temptation of Eve, the “mother of all the living” (v.  20), and her subsequent first sin. It was this act, and that of Eve’s husband  Adam, that brought sin into the world, and it is the reason all humankind must  be redeemed from sin in order to be with God.

One day, Jesus met a woman  who had been “crippled by a spirit for eighteen years” (Luke 13:11). Jesus attributes the infirmity to Satan, who  had kept her “bound” (verse 16). Satan’s power was real, but it was easily  overcome by our Lord: “he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened  up and praised God” (v. 13). Jesus’ miracle was a clear demonstration of His  authority over Satan.

Since his instigation of evil on earth, Satan has  been named as the “prince,” “god” or “ruler” of this world (John 14:30; cf. John 12:3116:11; 1 Corinthians 2:6, 8; 2  Corinthians 4:3-4; Ephesians  2:2; Colossians  1:13). He is the enemy of God and truth (Matthew  13:24-30; 2  Thessalonians 2:9-12), and he does everything he can to tempt individuals  (Genesis 3; Luke 22:31Matthew 2:3; 1 Timothy 3:7). and larger  groups of people (1  Thessalonians 3:5; Revelation  2:10). He “leads the whole world astray” (Revelation  12:9). Satan accomplishes this by various means, including appealing to  man’s pride (1 Timothy  3:6; 1  Corinthians 4:6), interfering with the transmission of truth (Matthew 13:18-22, 38-39)  and placing false believers within the church (1 Timothy  4:1-2; 2 Timothy  3:1-9; Revelation  2:9; 3:9). In  John 8:44, Jesus says that  Satan “is a liar and the father of it.”

God still grants Satan some  authority in this world, which means that his power is not yet completely  broken—except in one area: his power of death. Hebrews  2:14-15 says that Jesus came as a man to die in order to “destroy him who  holds the power of death – that is, the devil,” a power Satan had held “from the  beginning” (John 8:44).  The salvation Jesus provides has released us from Satan’s stranglehold. Death  has lost its sting (1  Corinthians 15:55).

Satan’s power – the  conclusion:
The Bible says that “the whole world is under the  control of the evil one” (1 John  5:19), and we must “be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil  prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Yet Christians  have a great hope, for Jesus Christ (John 16:33)  and our faith in Him (1 John 5:4)  have overcome Satan’s evil. “The one who is in you is greater than the one who  is in the world” (1 John  4:4).

It’s hard to imagine a being who was as close to God as Lucifer (Satan) was  coming to believe that he could even do battle with God, much less defeat Him.  Even the most depraved mind should be able to see that the creature cannot possibly contend with the Creator. And yet Satan attempted to dethrone God and strives to this day to defy His authority, thwart His plans and harass His people.

Perhaps part of the explanation is that pride, the worst and  most evil of all sins, has blinded Satan to reality. Two Old Testament passages  (Isaiah  14:12-15 and Ezekiel  28:11-19) furnish a picture of Satan’s original position and the reasons for  his loss of that position. They tell of an exalted angelic being, one of God’s  creatures, who became too proud and ambitious. He determined to take the throne  of God for himself. But God removed him from his position of great dignity and  honor. As a result of his original status and authority, Satan had great power  and dignity. So great is his strength that Michael the archangel viewed him as a foe too powerful to oppose (Jude 9).

Satan’s influence in worldly affairs is also clearly revealed (John 12:31). Satan is also extremely intelligent. Through  his intelligence he deceived Adam and Eve and took over their rule of the world  for himself (Genesis  1:26; 3:1-7; 2  Corinthians 11:3). His cleverness enables him to carry out his deceptive work almost at will, although his power is subject to God’s restrictions (Job 1:12; Luke 4:6; 2  Thessalonians 2:7-8). But he does have certain victories—although within the  boundaries God has set for him—and perhaps these victories allow him to continue  the illusion that he can have victory over God Himself.

The reins of God  on his activities are illustrated by Satan’s request to God for permission to  afflict Job (Job 1:7-12).  Satan is permitted to afflict God’s people (Luke 13:161  Thessalonians 2:18; Hebrews  2:14), but he is never permitted to win an ultimate victory over them (John 14:30-31; 16:33). A part of Satan’s continuing ambition to replace God is his passionate yearning to have others worship him (Matthew 4:8-9; Revelation 13:4,12).  Satan is “the wicked one” (Matthew  13:19,38), while  God is “the Holy One” (Isaiah  1:4).

Satan’s nature is malicious. His efforts in opposing God, His  people, and His truth are tireless (Job 1:7; 2:2; Matthew 13:28). He is  always opposed to man’s best interests (1  Chronicles 21:1; Zechariah  3:1-2). Through his role in introducing sin into the human family (Genesis  3), Satan has gained the power of death—a power which Christ has broken through His crucifixion and resurrection (Hebrews  2:14-15). He tempted Christ directly, trying to lead Him into compromise by  promising Him worldly authority and power (Luke 4:5-8).

Along with his work of tempting mankind, Satan also delights in deception (1 Timothy  3:6-7; 2 Timothy  2:26). His lying nature stands in bold contrast to the truth for which  Christ stands (John 8:32, 44). The great falsehood which  he uses so frequently is that good can be attained by doing wrong. This lie is  apparent in practically all his temptations (Genesis  3:4-5). As the great deceiver, Satan is an expert at falsifying truth (2  Corinthians 11:13-15).

He brings disorder into the physical world by  afflicting human beings (Job 1-2; 2  Corinthians 12:7; Hebrews  2:14). Sometimes God allows him to afflict His people for purposes of  correction (1 Timothy  1:20). Not to worry, Satan is destined to fail in his continuing rebellion  against God. His final defeat is predicted in the New Testament (Luke 10:18; John 12:31Revelation  12:9; 20:10).

The death of Christ on the cross is the  basis for Satan’s final defeat (Hebrews  2:14-15; 1 Peter  3:18,22). This  event was the grand climax to a sinless life during which Jesus triumphed over  the enemy repeatedly (Matthew  4:1-11; Luke  4:1-13). Here again, Satan probably rejoiced in the death of Christ,  believing this to be a victory for him, but like all his victories, this one,  too, was short-lived. When Jesus rose from the grave, Satan was once again  defeated.

The final victory will come when Jesus returns and Satan is  cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:1-15). Strength for a Christian’s victory  over sin has also been provided through the death of Christ. We have assurance  that “the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20). But such  personal victory depends on God’s grace and power in our lives and our will to  offer resistance to Satan’s temptations (Ephesians  4:25-27; 1 Peter  5:8-9). To help Christians win this battle against Satan, God has provided  the power of Christ’s blood (Revelation  12:11), the continuing prayer of Christ in heaven for believers (Hebrews 7:25), the leading  of the Holy Spirit (Galatians  5:16), and various weapons for spiritual warfare (Ephesians  6:13-18).

Some people have trouble admitting the existence of such  an enemy as Satan. But his presence and activity do explain the problems of evil  and suffering. The Bible makes it plain that Satan exists and that his main work  is to oppose the rule of God in the affairs of man. Many wonder why God would  allow Satan, this great embodiment of evil, to exist in His creation. No  completely satisfying answer to this question has been found. Perhaps He allows  it to show that evil and wrongdoing do not provide the key to the ultimate meaning of life which man so desperately desires. Or perhaps He allows it to  spiritually build a Christian’s wisdom and knowledge drawing him or her closer  to God and away from Satan.