A just God cannot punish one and yet leave others for a while and today Satan is like a wind-up toy to test us to perfection like Jesus was.
Moses was given “the two tablets of the covenant law, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18) but before Moses could depart from the Holy presence of God, the Israelites sought a visible God and with Aaron created a golden calf. God decided to ‘destroy them and then make Moses into a great nation’. This was a very tempting offer but Moses interceded for his people with the plea that the Egyptians and others will say, “It was with evil intent that He brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth” (Exodus 32:8; 12). The Israelites act of creating an alternate God was a direct rebellion against God, yet He in His judgement did not destroy them immediately. They were made to wander in the wilderness till all adults of that generation perished and the next generation could be led into the Promised Land.
Lucifer renamed Satan was created as the covering cherub and banished from heaven as a punishment for rebellion. Lucifer, through his act, had questioned the ‘way of God’ and His authority to manage the heavens, thus attacking the very character of God. The easiest option for God would be to crush all rebellion by force and destroy the rebelling forces but that would result in fear and not love for God. About one third of the angels, a sizable number, were following Lucifer and their annihilation would cast aspersions on the character of God and His justice system. God had to prove to all His creation that His is the only and the right way and to love Him for Who He is and not for what He can do. This was on display even by our Lord since after being fed by Him to their fill, on the mountain, they wanted to immediately make Him king. “Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to a mountain by Himself alone” (John 6:8-15).
God does not desire that we should love Him for what He has done or can do for us but for what He is- a just and loving God. Pride had filled Satan for being so ‘perfect’ in his beauty and being ‘the messenger of light’. He had forgotten that without the presence of God with/in us we have no light or glory of our own and to show him this, God banished him to the earth, that was then “without form, void and dark’. God is complete in Himself in every way and anything that any of His creation does, adds or subtracts nothing from His glory. God created mankind, probably, as a counter to Satan’s rebellion to prove to all the angelic beings that- it is possible to love Him for Himself and also that His ways are perfect. But for Lucifer’s rebellion, mankind would probably never have come to be created by God.
Satan is a Hebrew word meaning ‘adversary or accuser’ and in Greek the word is ‘diabolos’ translated with the two parts separately- ‘dia’ meaning across and ‘bollo’ meaning to cast or throw. Diabolos is translated as slander, accuse, unjust criticism to malign and condemn with the aim of severing a relationship. Thus Satan is someone who ‘casts through’ or makes charges that destroy and his behavior is entirely predictable and he is used by God as a controlled windup toy to do His will. All actions of Satan are patterned on these two words- in Genesis he accuses God of being unfair to Adam and Eve by not allowing them the fruit of the forbidden tree; he blames God for being unfair in giving special protection to Job. In the New Testament he accuses God of not providing for the mission of the Lord and offers his help, thereby questioning the mission and the capability of Jesus to fulfill the same. God desires that mankind should be able to withstand these falsities perpetrated by Satan and emerge victorious in the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.
“Look up to the heavens and see, gaze at the clouds so high above you. If you sin, how does that affect Him? If your sins are many, what does that do to Him? If you are righteous, what do you give to Him or what does He receive from your hand? Your wickedness only affects humans like yourself and your righteousness only other people” (Job 35:5-8). God was never affected by Lucifer and other angels’ actions but others would have been and God created man, ‘a little lower than the angels’ to show the correct way to them. Man was made in God’s own image and likeness to be like Him and be victorious over Satan but the ‘dominion’ given to man was lost to Satan, giving him rights over the earth, which initially he did not have. Satan’s exile from the heaven was the first part of the judgement process of God and the Scriptures list out four more- on the cross (John 12:31), before the millennial rule (Revelation 20:2) and the final judgement with permanent exile to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
Satan was banished from heaven and from the presence of God but he remains accountable to God and is under Divine authority. For this accountability he was allowed to enter into the presence of the Holy God for temporary periods (Job 1:6; 2:2). Satan never enjoyed unlimited powers and restraint was established by God (Job 2:6). A holy God does not allow sin in His presence nor even looks at it and went to the extent of turning His face from His only Son when sins of the world were heaped on Him on the cross. Satan has temporary access to God till the final judgement by the lord Jesus and this is also only as permitted by God. God would always allow a sinful being to be in His Divine presence to fellowship with Him, Cain and Abel and Moses (Genesis 4 and Exodus 32); restrain/ accountability (Job 1 & 2); to commission him for an assignment, as of prophets in the Old Testament (Isaiah 6 and Jeremiah 1) and finally to pass judgement (Revelation 20:10-15).
Does Satan have authority over man? – No and yes. Our Lord has been vested with all “authority over the heavens and the earth” after having conquered Satan and death after His sacrificial death and resurrection. After His ascension and enthronement at the ‘right hand of God’, Satan lost all control over those who seek and receive the blessings of the ‘blood of the Lamb of God’. For those who believe are given “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12). Before his defeat on the cross, Satan could ask for Simon Peter to ‘sift him as wheat’ but lost the right to the Lord thereafter. Today he is reduced to being “a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He has to seek a target that is ready and willing to be devoured.
How and why does he tempt us? – Sometimes God permits temptation as a test of our faith and our trust in His power and presence in us through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The Lord’s Prayer includes our supplication not to “lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). God does not deliver us into any temptation but only allows this to happen. The trial is of our satisfaction in the Word of God and His Divine presence and provisions rather than in Satan and his lies. God is given glory when we express our joy and thankfulness in Him under all circumstances “for He is My strength” (Habakkuk 3:17-19). Satan’ is defeated by us when we do not succumb to his temptation through lies but rather remain loyal to the Lord Jesus even at the cost of sufferings.
Satan gained control over man through man’s disobedience of God and sin but we have forgiveness for our sins of commission and omission through the washing of the Lamb’s blood. As long as we do not allow access to the devil, he cannot rule us in any way. Sometimes when God allows our testing through Satan, like His own Son was ‘led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted’, the aim is to make us stronger and equip us for far greater opportunities. Our Lord suffered this for this is a necessary step towards perfection of man. Peter was ‘sifted as wheat’ through his denial of the Lord but was saved by the prayer of the same Lord, emerged stronger and was entrusted with the responsibility of ‘Feed My lambs; Tend to My sheep and finally Feed My sheep’ (John 21). Satan is allowed by God to roam around free till the final judgement to help the disciples face trials and emerge stronger to the glory of God. Apostle Paul was severely tested and prayed for the removal of the “thorn in his flesh” but the Lord promised more grace to deal with this. His strength works in us when we are weak and submit to Him and that is where Satan’s trials lead us.
Be victorious- God gave dominion to man over everything on, under and above the earth in the sky at the time of creation. He was well aware of Satan also being on the earth and He wants man to be victorious, especially now that the dominion is back with ‘Man’ who has gained His right to sit on the throne after sufferings. The message of the Lord Jesus from His throne, to the seven churches is straight forward and clear, with the last verse in each message listing out the rewards to the victorious. The rewards are multifarious – ‘right to eat from the tree of life’; ‘not to be hurt by the second death’; ‘hidden manna to eat and on the stone a new name’ concealed from all others; ‘power to rule over the nations with a rod of iron’; ‘being clothed in white garments, name permanently entered in the Book of Life and confessing of name before the Father and His angels’; ‘to become a pillar in the temple of God and go out no more with God’s name and the name of New Jerusalem written on him’ and the final and greatest blessing to ‘sit with ME (the Lord Jesus) on My throne’ (Revelation 2:7; 11; 17; 26-27; and 3:5; 12 and 21).
The listing out of such great blessings to the victorious, God apparently expects and is sure of many emerging triumphant over Satan before the final judgement. The birth of the ‘man child’ and his ‘being caught up to God and His throne’ resulted in a ‘war breaking out in heaven between Michael and his angels and the dragon and his angels. But Satan an d his group did not prevail and as a result the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old (of Genesis), called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him’ (Revelation 12:7-9). Satan and his angels were granted access to God’s throne to report and be restrained and the body of ‘the victorious’ provide a cause to call his lies that man cannot live in truth and love God without any purpose or reward in return. This is the second judgement of Satan.
The forces of evil mustered by Satan and his agent, the anti-Christ will be called by God “into the valley of Jehoshaphat, for there I will sit to judge all the nations on every side” (Joel 3:12). This will be the judgement by the Lord, who will come riding a white horse and at the end of this war “the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence…. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Revelation 19: 11-20). This is his third judgement and he will be bound for one thousand years while Lord Jesus will rule the earth.
Satan will again be given a chance after the millennial rule and ‘released for a short while’ to deceive the nations, Gog and Magog. Thereafter will be the final battle and he will be “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:7-10). This will be the final judgement.
Why does God give Satan various opportunities? – God is merciful and just. He will never condemn anyone, whatever is his sin, without giving him another chance. The Old Testament is replete with the Israelites being given another chance and the books of Prophets are details of the messages from God conveyed to His people to mend their ways and return to God. If God punishes Satan without another chance, the same fate awaits us also, since God cannot have two measures to judge His creation. We desire forgiveness and the Lord also answers this question to forgive the sinner “up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22). Again He says “If your brother sins against you, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him” (Luke 17:3). The Lord Jesus acts exactly as told by the Father “I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things” (John 8:28). Our Lord preaches the will of His and our Father and He will never act in contravention to His teaching. God’s nature is to love, forgive and accept everyone who repents into His Divine embrace and our Lord’s parable of the Prodigal son being forgiven by his father even before speaking a word aptly illustrates the character of God.
We are all sinners forgiven and washed by the blood of Jesus and the indwelling God desires us to be victorious to help Him cast out Satan from heaven and stop his accusations against the believers. God’s righteousness will always prevail over sin and till the final judgement day, Satan and his demons are controlled and regulated under Lord Jesus’ Divine power. The Holy Spirit leads us to victory and to the victorious the greatest reward possible, “to sit with Me (Lord Jesus) on My throne” is assured. This victory is only possible with His grace and in His power, not by self efforts. Seek Him and His guidance to receive the crown of victory!!