That is an excellent question that deserves a scriptural answer. Scripture is very clear that Satan WAS defeated on the cross. Hebrews 2:14 says, “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might DESTROY HIM WHO HAD THE POWER OF DEATH, THAT IS, THE DEVIL” (NJKV). Shortly before His death, Jesus declared: “Now is the judgment of this world; now THE RULER OF THIS WORLD WILL BE CAST OUT…if I am lifted up from the earth…this He said, signifying by what death He would die” (John 12:31-33). These verses clearly teach us that the Son of God became a Man in order to defeat Satan by His death on the cross. Yet we know, as the inquirer states, that Satan is still active in the world today. He is allowed freedom to tempt mankind (see 2nd Corinthians 11:1-4, 13-5) with the desire to blind men to the gospel of Jesus Christ. We see this in 2nd Corinthians 4:3-4: “In whose case the GOD OF THIS WORLD HAS BLINDED THE MINDS OF THE UNBELIEVING, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (NASB). He is also the archenemy of believers as taught by the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-11, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand AGAINST THE WILES OF THE DEVIL” (NKJV).

So, how do we reconcile the scriptures that declare Jesus’ victory over Satan on the cross with the scriptures that teach us that Satan is still allowed to exert his influence for evil over mankind? I believe the answer is: The basis for Satan’s ULTIMATE DEFEAT was accomplished on the cross, but in God’s purposes He still gives Satan a position of power in order to test Mankind. In other words, Satan truly was judged on the cross, but God’s sentence against Satan hasn’t been carried out yet. We read in John 12:31-33, “the ruler of this world will be cast out,” yet the casting out of Satan is actually a future event that will take place in three phases. First he will cast from heaven to earth (Revelation 12:7-9), then from earth to the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-3), and finally from the earth to the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10). Let us rest assured that this WILL HAPPEN, for Paul promised us in Romans 16:20, “And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly.”

We have a picture of what we’ve been considering in King Saul, the first king of Israel. God gave him a position of power and yet Saul was a wicked tyrant who ruled the people of Israel with an iron hand. Because of Saul’s wickedness and disobedience to Him, God chose David to be king and Samuel anointed him, yet God allowed Saul to remain on the throne until his death. After Saul’s death, David took his rightful place on the throne as the King of Israel. You can read all about this in 1st Samuel 9:1-2nd Samuel 5:3. Saul is a picture of Satan and David of the Lord Jesus. While Saul reigned over Israel, David acknowledged the position God gave to him and called him “the Lord’s anointed.” Yet David knew that God would eventually judge Saul and that he would reign over Israel. Listen to David’s words in 1st Samuel 26:9-10, “Do not destroy him; for who can stretch out his hand against the LORD’S anointed, and be guiltless? David said furthermore, ‘As the LORD lives the LORD shall strike him, or his day shall come to die, or he shall go to battle and perish’.” David knew Saul’s Day of Judgment would come, just as the Lord Jesus knows that God’s sentence against Satan will be fulfilled. Until Saul’s death, God’s was testing Israel to see if they would follow Saul or David. Likewise, God is allowing Satan to stay in power to test Mankind to see if men will follow Satan or the Lord Jesus Christ.

I trust we have seen that God DOES HAVE HIS REASONS for allowing Satan to remain in power. We may not be able to comprehend all of His purposes, but we trust that our all-wise, heavenly Father knows what He’s doing and that all things are going according to His Divine plan. (269.7) (DO)