What Can Satan Do?

Many people believe Satan has the power to do whatever he wants to do on this Earth - he has control. After all he is called the “prince of the power of the air” by Paul isn't he? (Eph.2:2) But, if you read the rest of the verse you see his power is limited to “the children of disobedience” – not to obedient children of God. So, what can he do? Some say he is at war with God. I do not see that in scripture. What I do see is this: “Are not two little sparrows sold for a penny? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's leave (consent) and notice.” Matt.10:29 (AMP) What does that tell you? It tells me that God is in control of every little thing that happens on this Earth down to the smallest sparrow and that He is not at war with Satan at all. Can you see this? No? Well, let me build my case a little more. Read on.

Are you familiar with the Book of Job? I have been told it is the oldest book of the Bible. In that book is a story I wish to relate here:

"Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, 'From where do you come?' Then Satan answered the LORD and said, 'From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.' The LORD said to Satan, 'Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil.' Then Satan answered the LORD, 'Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has; he will surely curse You to Your face.' Then the LORD said to Satan, 'Behold, all that he has is in your power, only do not put forth your hand on him.' So Satan departed from the presence of the LORD." Job 1:6-12 (NASB) (emphasis mine)

Please notice some things of importance. Notice that Satan is still with the sons of God in heaven and that he reports to God what he is doing. There is communication between God and Satan. Also notice he has no control over Job. God gives him the power to touch Job, but, even then, He limits that power. So, what does this tell you? This tells me that God is in control of Satan and that his power here on this Earth is limited by what God gives him.

Another example of Satan’s limitations is in Luke 22:31,32 - “Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain, But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren.”(AMP) And the Weymouth New Testament says, “Satan has obtained permission to have all of you to sift as wheat is sifted.” He persistently asked God for permission. Satan was given permission as the rest of the chapter shows. But Jesus prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail. We have that same Jesus on our side today praying for us! So He tells us, as well as His original disciples, “Even the hairs on your head are counted. So don't be afraid! You are worth much more than many sparrows.” Matt.10: 30,31 (CEV)

Have you read in Scriptures about someone called the destroyer? He is mentioned many times in Scripture. Paul talks about the destroyer in 1 Cor.10:10. I believe he is Satan – another name for him. If that is so, a verse in Scripture that shows Satan’s limited power is in Exodus. Satan is called the destroyer here, as he is in Isaiah 54: 16 - “Behold, I Myself have created the smith who blows the fire of coals And brings out a weapon for its work; And I have created the destroyer to ruin.” (NASB) In Exodus 12:23, Scripture tells the story of the first Passover: “For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you.” (NASB) God went with the destroyer and did not allow him to harm the Israelites. Now look at Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness. Look at what he says to Jesus. The devil said, “I will give all this power and glory to you. It has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. Just worship me, and you can have it all.” Luke 4:6,7 (CEV) I have heard and read teachings that say Satan usurped all this power and glory, but I read here that it has been given to him. Now we know that Satan is limited by God to what he can do on Earth. This is seen in Job and Exodus, so it stands to reason that it also holds true that God gave Satan permission to tempt Adam and Eve. Some teach that Adam gave Satan the right to all the Kingdoms of the Earth mentioned to Jesus during his temptation due to Adam’s fall. The only One Who could give Satan power over Adam is God, just as He gave him the power over Job. Some would ask, “Why would God do that?” I do not have a clear answer for that, other than His ways are not necessarily the way we want things to be.

So, can you see that here are at least four witnesses that Satan is under God’s total control? Satan can do nothing without God’s permission. So what does that mean to the Church? “Surrender to God! Resist the devil, and he will run from you.” James 4:7 (CEV) Peter tells us, “Be on your guard and stay awake. Your enemy, the devil, is like a roaring lion, sneaking around to find someone to attack. But you must resist the devil and stay strong in your faith.” 1Peter 5:8,9a (CEV) These Scriptures show me that the Church has a responsibility to (1) stay strong in our faith, obeying God and (2) to resist the devil. Both are commands. We do not know what God will permit Satan to do, but we do know that Jesus intercedes for us who obey God. That gives us the strength to go through whatever comes our way.

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