The other day I was talking with a friend when he told me he was being “messed with” by the Devil. I told him that was impossible and that Satan (the Devil), probably didn't even know who he was. This led us into a fascinating conversation about the spiritual realm and supernatural phenomena.
What stuck with me most was his belief that Satan had been personally tempting him. A lot of people have a misunderstanding about who Satan is, and how much power he has. Truth be known, Satan is far less powerful than you think.
People falsely assume that the Devil is the archnemesis of God— that somehow God and Satan are equal in power. As if God is the ultimate good guy and Satan is the ultimate bad guy. This is not true.
Here are four things you should know about the Devil.
God Created The Devil
When God made the angels, he also made Satan. That's because the Devil is an angel. In Colossians 1:16 Paul reminds us,
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.”
If the devil was created by God it is not possible for him to be equals with God. Instead, he is subject to God in every way, just as the rest of creation is subject to God. That means that the Devil has many weak points and is not as powerful as you may think.
The Devil is not Omnipresent
Omnipresent means “being everywhere at one time.” While God is all-powerful and can exist at all times and places simultaneously, angels can not. The angels in the Bible can only be in one place at one time so therefore this must be true of the Devil too. For example, in the book of Daniel, there is a battle between Michael, the Archangel, and a demonic entity known as the Prince of Persia. The account contains several mentions of angels traveling back and forth to help each other during the battle (Daniel 10).
Also, angels are usually sent as a messenger and diplomatic representatives of God. If they could be everywhere at one time they wouldn't need to be sent—they would just be.
Since Satan can only be in one place at one time, it stands to reason that you would have to be pretty important for him to be messing with you.
The Devil is not Omniscient
Omniscient means “to know everything.” While God is all-powerful and able to know all things at all times, the Devil's understanding of world events and the future are limited.
In the Bible, there are several examples of angels being uninformed of situations and circumstances. For example, in Acts 19, when the “sons of Sceva” were attempting to perform exorcisms on some demon-possessed people, they were confronted by the demons directly. They said,
“Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you? (Acts 19:15). It's clear the demons didn't know the sons of Sceva, although they had heard of Paul and obviously Jesus.
Remember, demons are angels too, albeit fallen. So, if Satan is a fallen angel, he does not have knowledge of everything and everyone. This means that the Devil does not know of you personally. How could he? There are 7 billion people in the world!
The Devil Must Ask for Permission
This may be one of the most assuring points to consider when it comes to Satan. Because he is a created being, he is completely at the mercy of God's will. There are many examples of the Devil inflicting evil or tempting a human being, but in many of those cases, he was given permission.
The most famous case is definitely the story of Job. When Satan persecutes Job it is only because God recommended it (Job 1:6-12). The Devil would not have been allowed to harm a single strand of Job's hair if God had not allowed it.
In Luke 22, Jesus is talking with his disciples just after they had an argument about who was the greatest disciple. He says to Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31). It's difficult to say whether or not permission was granted to Satan, although later in chapter 22 Peter denies even knowing Jesus.
The important thing to remember is that nothing happens to believers outside of God's knowledge. He is in control of all things, including the actions of angels, demons, and Satan.
But, be careful…
Now that I've said all that, let me express some additional caution. Just because the Devil isn't all-powerful doesn't mean that he isn't dangerous. For the time, he has been given a significant amount of control over the earth. 1 John 5:19 says, “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” We are also reminded in Ephesians 6:12 that, “…we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
Peter says that Satan is like a fierce lion (1 Peter 5:8), and while he may not know of you personally he is in control of the spiritual forces of darkness and evil in this world. This evil has been allowed certain access into our lives for the purpose of testing our faith and resolve.
And remember, the One who lives in you is greater than the one who lives in the world (1 John 4:4)
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