"We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places" (Ephesians 6:11-12).
He is God's devil.
"The earth is the LORD's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein" (Psalm 24:1).
Satan's domain is the earth. He is "the god of this world" (II Corinthians 4:4). Thus, he belongs to God since the Psalmist declares that "they that dwell therein" belong to the Lord. This is the first truth we must know about the devil and all of the rebellious angels who follow him. They can do nothing that God does not allow. Nor can they do anything that catches him by surprise or off guard. According to His perfect foreknowledge, God foresees every moment of the devil's eternal existence, including his future residency not on the earth, but in "everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).
Only upon this basis can we begin to rightly think about our spiritual enemies. Of course, many questions arise in the light of this Biblical truth, and not all can or will be fully answered in this present life. We must nevertheless view Satan through the prism of God and His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus. As mentioned previously, God is loving enough, wise enough, and powerful enough to justifiably and accurately declare through the Apostle Paul, "He worketh all things after the counsel of His own will... All things work together for good to them that love God, and who are the called according to His purpose" (Ephesians 1:11; 8:28). Our Heavenly Father's ultimate purposes are sure, and nothing the devil and his followers do in space and time threatens the Divine intention of a Christ-centered and saturated creation.
"He hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself: that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him" (Ephesians 1:8-10).
This being true, we must nevertheless also take care to avoid blaming God for Satan's evil. We must also accept that real consequences accompany his nefarious involvement with humanity. The latter point we will address in a future consideration. Presently, let us remember that "God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all" (I John 1:5). While the existence of evil in the universe was foreknown by our Lord from eternity past, and while He allowed it to be, the Bible unequivocally teaches that God is in no way responsible for wickedness. Indeed, of all the errors or miscalculations we can commit concerning spiritual truth, the fact of perfect Divine righteousness must never be misunderstood or misrepresented. There is no graver error than to in any manner assign evil intentions or actions to God. "As for God, His way is perfect" declared David, and in our thinking, our doctrine, our testimony, our teaching, and in every aspect of understanding and representation of Truth, we must affirm our Lord's moral perfection (II Samuel 22:31).
He is God's devil, and a Divine leash, as it were, tethers the scope and measure of devilish influence. Sometimes the leash is short and binding. Sometimes it seems far longer than seems to be in our best interests (although it never actually is). Great consequence accompanies our response to Satan's involvement in our lives. Ignorance or misunderstanding of his wiles inevitably leads to unnecessary loss and damage to ourselves and to those for whom we have spiritual responsibility. Adequate understanding and response fosters great opportunity to see the power of God as our enemies fall into their own traps, set for us, but instead used by us to trust and submit ourselves in greater measure to the Lord Jesus. Indeed, recognizing who Satan is through the prism of his Creator and Lord enables us to "fight the good fight of faith" against a foe who is inherently far stronger than we are, but who suffers much defeat when we war in close formation with "the Captain of our salvation" (Hebrews 2:10).
Viewing the devil and his followers' existence and involvement by focusing on God and His truth is the only way to accurately and safely respond to the fact that our present lives involve much conflict with many adversaries. The Christian life is not simply a matter of God, ourselves, and other human beings. We also live amid a host of both supportive and malevolent angelic beings far more influential than we realize. Greater understanding of the Bible's teaching in this vital matter leads to greater response, and most importantly, to greater glory directed toward the Lord Jesus.
"The Lord reigneth."
Tomorrow: The nature of our enemies' temptations and attacks