The Bible clearly teaches us that God will destroy Satan. In a vision of the end of this world John sees that “the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever” (Revelation 20:10).
So it is clear that God has the power to destroy Satan; He has the plan to destroy Satan; and He guarantees us that at the end of the world Satan will be destoyed and will be punished for all eternity in hell.
Why does God not destroy Satan right now?
This raises the question why God does not destroy Satan right now. Before I answer that, it is important to stress that though God has not destroyed Satan yet, He has defeated him. Colossians 2:15 says: “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” This verse is about what Jesus accomplished on the cross. The ‘rulers and authorities’ mentioned here are spiritual powers from the demonic realm. We encounter a truth here that we should never forget about Satan and his demons: they are disarmed, they are put to shame, and Jesus triumphed over them.
Yet at the same time it is true that Satan is still very active in this world. Peter says that Satan filled the heart of Ananias (Acts 5:3). It is said that people are in the power of Satan (Acts 26:18). Satan hinders Paul’s plans (1 Thessalonians 2:18). So the question remains: why would God allow so much leeway to an enemy He has already defeated?
God’s plan for this world
The Bible reveals us God’s plan for this world and for his church. We see that Satan has a role to play in that. Satan is just a pawn in God’s great plan! This is the role that God wants to give Satan:
- Satan is allowed some freedom so that the power of the Gospel is made even more glorious in overcoming Satan. Paul says that the Lord called him to preach the Gospel to people “so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God” (Acts 26:18).
- Satan is allowed some freedom so that believers will learn to exercise their authority over Satan. When Jesus sent out the apostles, the demons were subject to them. Jesus said: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you” (Lukas 10:18-19).
- Satan is allowed some freedom so that God judges people by giving them over in the hands of Satan, which might lead to repentance and return to Him. Paul wrote: “you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 5:5).
- Satan is allowed some freedom so that by standing firm against his temptations, it becomes clear who the real believers are. “God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:25-26).
- Satan is allowed some freedom so that believers will grow in their faith by resisting Satan. “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11).
- Satan is allowed some freedom so that God will be made even more glorious on judgment day when Satan will be destroyed (see Revelation 20).
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