That is an excellent question! We know that ultimately Satan will be “cast…into the bottomless pit” for 1,000 years and then, after he is released for a very brief period, he will be “cast into the lake of fire and brimstone” to be “tormented day and night forever and ever” (see Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10…NKJV). But presently he is indeed free to exert his influence over mankind. Yet it is a comfort to know that everything God does or allows, is PERFECT and according to His PURPOSE. This is borne out in Psalm 18:30 and Isaiah 14:24, “As for God His way is PERFECT…The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, ‘Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, and as I have PURPOSED, so it shall stand.’”

A good example of Satan’s power used to further God’s purposes in seen in Satan’s testing of Job. Satan was convinced that if God allowed him to afflict Job he would “curse God to His face” (see Job 1:8-11). God’s answer to Satan was, “Behold, all that he has is in your power; only do not lay a hand on his person” (verse 12). As we see in this verse, God has NOT stripped Satan of his power, yet his power was limited. In the rest of the chapter we see Satan stripping job of all his possessions AND of his ten children! How did Job react to such a heavy loss by Satan’s hand? Ah, we read of his unrelenting faith in God in verses 21-22, “And he said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.’ In all this Job did not sin nor charge God with wrong.” Instead of “cursing God to His face,” Job praised and glorified God! This is but one example of how God USES SATAN TO TEST HIS PEOPLE’S FAITH and surely Job also grew closer to the Lord through this heavy trial. This reminds of us of Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” The “all things” in this verse includes things that Satan brings into our lives, but God will sovereignly use these things “for good” (for our spiritual growth and to glorify God in our lives).

You may be thinking, “God also allows Satan to blind people to the gospel of Jesus Christ, so how can that be good and according to God’s purposes?” It is true that Satan does seek to blind souls to the gospel, for 2nd Corinthians 4:3-4 says, “But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds THE GOD OF THIS AGE HAS BLINDED, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” This may sound as if Satan has the power to blind ALL MEN to the gospel, but the truth is his power is limited to those “who are perishing” and “who do not believe.” In other words, these men are already rejecting the gospel of their own free will. We read of this in John 3:19-20, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and MEN LOVED DARKNESS RATHER THAN LIGHT, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light, and DOES NOT COME TO THE LIGHT, lest his deeds should be exposed.” So, men willfully reject the light of the gospel because THEY LOVE DARKNESS (i.e. SIN). Because of their willful unbelief they are easily BLINDED FURTHER by Satan, the god of this age. Satan wants to “keep them in the dark” and they are easy victims because of their rejection of Jesus Christ and their love of sin. God’s purpose here is to allow Satan to test men to see who they will choose. Will they choose Christ and be saved, or will they choose Satan and his lies and remain lost?

In closing, I want to emphasize that through Christ the believer can be delivered from all of Satan’s power, whether it comes in the form of temptations or false doctrines. I would encourage you to read and meditate upon John 8:30-36; Ephesians 6:10-17; Hebrews 2:14-15; and 1st John 2:13-14; 3:4-8. (324.1) (DO)