Who’s in Control: God or Satan?
In my opinion, Satan gets way too much credit. Too often professing Christians will put the blame on Satan for just about anything they believe is negative. They treat him as if he’s in control of this world; indeed, as if he is more powerful than his Creator, God the Father. I believe this is a tragic and non-biblical practice that can lead to despair and a lack of joy. For Christians, our emphasis needs to be on the sovereignty of our God, not the ordained works of evil. It is here that we will be victorious over the wiles of the Devil.
Satan is a created being. He is not like God. He is not all-powerful, he is not everywhere at the same time, and he is not all-knowing. He is not free to do anything he wants; he is under God’s authority.
The story of Job gives us some biblical insight as to Satan’s domain (see Job 1.6-2.7). Satan was unable to do anything negative to Job and was unhappy that he was being prevented from doing so. When speaking to God, Satan said these revealing words, ‘But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!’ (1.11). Notice something peculiar? Satan recognized Who was in control. He knew that God alone could remove the ‘hedge’ from around Job so that Satan could attack him. Satan attacked Job, but it was because God “allowed” him to do so. It was not Satan acting outside of God’s sovereignty; it was Satan acting according to God’s sovereignty. Is it possible that Satan has a better view of God than you do? He knew his limits; he knew he couldn’t act outside of God’s power and control over all events. He knew he couldn’t attack Job without God’s consent. So even the Devil recognizes Who is sovereign. Indeed, so did Job. He never gave Satan credit for the attacks. When his wife told him to turn his back on God, Job simply asked this rhetorical question, ‘Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?’
What about Peter? Jesus came to Peter and said to him, ‘Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat’ (Luke 22.31). Satan ‘asked’ to attack Peter. Why did he have to ask? Because Satan is not in control, he is under authority. Jesus then said, ‘But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren’ (22.32). Do you see what’s happening? Satan has been given permission to attack Peter and Peter should expect it. But notice also that Jesus has prayed that the attack will not result in Peter’s utter failure. (Note: Jesus always prays according to God’s will and therefore His prayers are always answered: 1 John 5.14). Did Peter eventually deny Christ under the influence of Satan’s attack? Yes he did! But Satan was not allowed to utterly destroy Peter because God protected him. Can we not agree that if allowed, Satan would have utterly destroyed Peter? Satan couldn’t do all he would have because he is not in control! He is on a leash. He can only do what God lets him do and nothing more.
If God is not in charge, then how can we have any hope that He will be victorious in the end? Professing Christians will agree that Christ was victorious when He overcame death and the grave at the Cross, but then they will live as if He is not victorious over the present schemes of the Devil. How can God be victorious in the end if He is not being victorious now?! Maybe your perspective is wrong. Maybe you are giving the Devil more credit than he deserves. Maybe you are, by default, denying God’s sovereignty. If the Devil is in control, we are without hope. But the Bible clearly teaches us that he is not in control. It clearly teaches us that God, our Creator, Sustainer, Savior and Lord is in sovereign control over His creation. All things that happen have a reason and purpose. ‘And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose’ (Rom 8.28).
If you find yourself under Satan’s attack, then God must have a purpose for it. He had a purpose for Job and Peter. But know this, Satan can only go so far; he is not free to utterly destroy you. God has promised His children that we will be victorious with Him! He will not allow Satan to triumph over us! He has triumphed over Satan! Soli Deo Gloria!