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Lots of people seem to think the devil is the equal and opposite of God, like the dark side of The Force.

And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that (Job) has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. Job 1:12

Satan afflicts believers. Don’t underestimate him. He’s not an imp in red tights with a pitchfork. But don’t give him more credit than he’s due.

In 2 Corinthians 12:7 Paul said a messenger of Satan was given him to afflict him. Satan was behind Jobs’ suffering. The enemy can afflict us physically. He tempts us to sin. But his greatest weapons are his fiery darts—his lies about God that he launches against our faith. We are in a serious conflict with the powers of darkness.

Yet sometimes I hear Christians talk as if Satan were all-powerful.

“The devil has really been having a field day in my life lately.”

“Satan’s really been kicking me around this week.”

When I first became a Christian, I thought demons were everywhere. (I’d definitely watched too many episodes of Twilight Zone and Outer Limits.) In my early Christian years, I spent lots of time rebuking and binding demons of lust, demons of fear and demons of unbelief, anger, self- pity and sickness.

Pretty much everything bad in life was caused by a demon. I probably rebuked demons of bad coffee.

Then I found out just how limited Satan’s power really is.

He’s powerful, but not all-powerful.

He is the god of this world. Unbelievers are significantly under his power, though they don’t realize it. He has blinded their eyes.

But once Jesus opens our eyes to his glory and saves us, we come under his ownership. We’re no longer slaves of Satan. We’re new creations in Christ and share his victory over the enemy that he won on the cross.

When Satan afflicts believers he must get permission to do so, even as he did with Job. God determined the parameters of what Satan could do to Job. Each time Satan requested, God said, “You may do this and this, but not this.” He could only do what God allowed.

Lots of people seem to think the devil is the equal and opposite of God, like the dark side of The Force. 

But Satan is a created being. God is infinite. Satan is less than a speck compared to the infinite One.

If anything, Satan might be compared to Michael the Archangel, another created being.

A.W. Tozer said we tend to think of created beings in a hierarchy, for example on the bottom are amoebas, then above them garden slugs and above them fish, then dogs. Above dogs are monkeys, then humans and slightly above them are angels and then slightly above angels is God. But God is infinitely exalted over his creation. The most glorious Seraphim in heaven is closer to a caterpillar in its being than it is to God.

Satan is a tool of God, and when he allows him to afflict a believer, it’s for God’s glorious purposes—to make that believer rely on Christ, become like Christ and display the power of Christ in him (see Stephen’s post yesterday).

So remember you have an enemy, but fix your gaze on Jesus, King of kings and Lord of lords. 

Mark Altrogge Mark Altrogge is the original triple threat: singer, songwriter, pastor. He has been the senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, PA for over 25 years, and is the author of many well known worship songs such as “I Stand In Awe”, and “In The Presence”. When not pastoring or writing songs, Mark can be found consuming vast quantities of coffee. Unfortunately, Mark is not particularly gifted in the area of athletics.

More from Mark Altrogge or visit Mark at http://www.theblazingcenter.com

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  • Brian

    And yet, if you go by that theology, you are severely limiting God. Because if God is truely, omnicient, omnipresent, and all-powerful (He is!), He could stop all these things in the blink of an eye, couldn’t He? Then why does He allow them?
    For that matter…why did He create satan in the first place? He, in His omnicience, KNEW satan would rebel and cause all this evil, right? SO God is like an accessory to the crime! He knew about it, could have stopped it, but chose not to. Either that, or He didn’t know satan would rebel and satan blindsided Him, which would make God less…God.
    MAybe, in the end, we ALL need to realize that fully comprehending all this is something we’re never going to be able to do in this lifetime…

    • juliemango

      We just have to wait and see.

    • Todd Reeder

      John Piper says God will get more glory taking out the devil later than he would have taking him out in the beginning. So according to John Piper God allows the devil so God gets more glory.

  • Brian

    Satan is truely defeated!!
    Can’t argue with anything! I wonder though what your thoughts are on the book of Acts where demons are specifically cast out of people. That is most definitely AFTER Christ’s death and ressurection, yet clearly shows a satanic influence still active in the world around us.

  • Xed

    “Satan is a tool of God”? I have trouble understanding that one.

    • juliemango

      How so? It means God is in control of him.

    • Todd Reeder

      I heard a Rabbi say that Satan can only do what God tells him to do. That angels don’t have free will like people. People use the rebellion of Satan to prove angels have free will.

  • juliemango

    How can God be in control, giving Jesus full authority over His creation if satan can do what he wants?

  • Todd Reeder

    I read the works of the devil are the power of sin, sickness, poverty, and fear.

  • Todd Reeder

    I John 3 is all about sin. That says to me the works of the devil is sin. So why is there still sin if Jesus destroyed the works of the devil?

  • what ?

    Rev 7It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. 8All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.… Eph4 the war is on and these signs shall follow those who believe. Rick renner teaches on eph 4 according to the original language and culture of the day. Violent and life threatening perhaps this is why the Paul says run the race in such a way as to win and it is written to those who overcome go the crown. we know that Jesus is now seated at the Right hand of the Father until His enemies are made a footstool. Funny thing about love true love must have freewill and that freewill given freely to God will bring the enablement of the Holy Spirit to overcome. There are many tenses to salvation scriptures in the original language of the bible and scripture groupings fall into just very basic past continuing present and future. Hence Pauls statement work out your salvation in fear and trembling and the Work is in walking according to the Spirit our choice.