Why Does God Allow Satan to Exist?

large_why-satan-existsThis POST was originally published at DesiringGOD.org. It is based on my book, Good News About Satan: A Gospel Look at Spiritual Warfare.

In a very real sense, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). All humans, including those who compose the church, are subject to the evil god of this world. So here’s a question for you: True or false?

God could have cast Satan into the lake of fire immediately after he rebelled, or immediately after the deception in the Garden, or at any point from then until now, thus sparing his people and the world untold misery and suffering.

Answer: True.

By [Jesus] 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. (Colossians 1:16)

Christ spun forth galaxies with a word. He could just as easily have removed the entire kingdom of darkness with one little word. Wouldn’t the Bride of Christ have been better off? Why didn’t the Divine Bridegroom care for us in that way?

All this is just one way to pose one of the most knotty questions in all of theology.

Why Does Christ Allow the Enemy to Exist?

The short answer is this: for our joy and his glory.

Jesus Christ came “to proclaim liberty to the captives” (Luke 4:18). Through his death, “he destroyed the one who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14–15). What a Savior! What a Deliverer! Every liberated POW story shares a common climax — triumphant jubilation. If there were no enemy to free us from, we would never experience this extraordinary magnitude of joy.

Light is all the more glorious in contrast to darkness. Freedom is enhanced by the experience of captivity. Holiness is more beautiful when we have been shocked by the gargoyle face of evil.

Remembering how our Divine Rescuer irreversibly saved us from the jaws of the enemy maximizes our delight, admiration, and reverence for him. Thus the very existence of Satan ultimately magnifies the glory of Christ. And this type of glory would not be possible were Satan not allowed to range throughout the earth. And we have at least three more ways to see these truths in the Bible.

1. Satan and Demons Obey Christ

Consider Christ’s forty-day battle with the devil in the wilderness. Not only did Jesus win, but when the ordeal was over he said, “Be gone Satan,” and the evil one immediately obeyed (Matthew 4:10¬–11).

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