YOU ASKED FOR IT: Satan’s presence and power…

What kind of power does Satan have over me and in this world?  Can Satan make me do bad things?

Here’s the foundation that this response will be based on: Satan does currently roam the Earth, and he and his forces are in a constant battle against God for our souls. Where our eternity is spent all depends on our decision to follow, or walk away from, Christ.

The foundation for Satan having dominion over the Earth comes from a number of places, but here are 3 main points in scripture that point to this being the case:

1) Satan (as the serpent) was present in the garden of Eden, working to tempt Eve into sin.

2) Revelation 12:9-11 describes satan being cast out of heaven:  [9] And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. [10] And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. [11] And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.  (Revelation 12:9-11 ESV)

3) The story of Job, which is where we will focus on the question “can Satan make me do bad things”?

The beginning of the story of Job:

[6] Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. [7] The LORD said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the LORD and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” [8] And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” [9] Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? [10] Have you not put a hedge around 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. [11] But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” [12] And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, all that he 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 1:6-12 ESV)

In the beginning of this story we find that satan is in fact roaming the Earth. To think that he is here in Job’s time, and not the present day, would be extra-biblical. We also see that satan has NO power of his own to force us to do bad things. Satan has to go to God to ask about testing Job. Some would argue that since God allows this, God is the one responsible for all the bad things about to happen to Job. The differentiation that needs to be made is this: God tests, satan tempts. Satan HAS NO POWER OF HIS OWN, except to tempt people into sin. We can make a free-will choice to give into that temptation (much like Eve had every opportunity to say “no” to the serpent in the garden of Eden), and Satan can choose to tempt us however and whenever he likes. Testing, on the other hand, is something that God allows in our lives to build faith and character. The story of Job illustrates how God is willing to allow tests/trials in our lives in order for our character, strength, and faith to be strengthened. Job was not tempted by God, but God did allow him to be tested.

Satan lures people into sin- he cannot actually force us into it. Likewise, God would never tempt someone to sin (it is completely against his nature) but will put people through tests to strengthen character or faith.

One final thought to remember is that Satan is referred to as the “angel of light,” and the “great deceiver.” He is relentless in his efforts to make sin appear good, in hopes that we will choose his path instead of God’s. One phrase I use often with our youth group is this: Satan does not come as all the things we hate (or that are ugly- things we know must be sinful), but as all the things that look good, but aren’t of God.

Jason Reynolds
Illumination Church | Youth Pastor

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