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What the Bible says about Satan's power Limited by God
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Job 1:6-12

Notice that God Himself takes the initiative in setting this up, choosing the antagonist (Satan) and defining the parameters of what could be done. Can we say in the face of accounts like this that God only permits difficult trials to occur? Can we say He is not actively testing His children to see what is in them? Can we say He is not actively directing Satan to carry out the calamities He designs?

John W. Ritenbaugh
God's Sovereignty and the Church's Condition (Part One)

Job 1:6-7

Was he just telling another lie? He was traveling back and forth on the earth, and he described it as walking. When he came before God, it was some other place than the earth. Where does God reside? The Bible names heaven as the only place of God's abode. So Satan must have left the earth and traveled to be in God's presence because this conversation did not take place on the earth.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Image and Likeness of God (Part 3)

Job 1:6-12

This clearly illustrates that, despite having far greater natural powers than a man, Satan can do nothing against any of God's children that God does not permit. God is overseeing our preparation for His Kingdom, and the Devil is, in reality, a dupe in God's hands to that end. Verse 10 shows that God puts, as it were, a protective wall around us, commanding Satan, "This far and no farther."

John W. Ritenbaugh
Power Belongs to God (Part Two)

Jeremiah 15:1-4

The church has been purposely scattered by God. Nothing of this magnitude occurs without His permission! If He has given Satan His permission to be the actual "instrument of scattering, it still would never have happened if God did not agree that it needed to be done. Some think, "Satan came up with this idea, got into the flock, and scattered it." Could Satan do anything like this without God giving His permission? Impossible! And, if God gave His permission, then it was His will that it occur. Satan became merely an instrument of God's sovereign judgment.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Avoiding Superficiality

1 Peter 5:8-9

Satan is a formidable enemy, to be sure, but in a personal sense, he is not as directly dangerous to us as the world or our own human nature. The chances of his confronting us individually are small in comparison to the influences of our ever-present hearts and the world in which we conduct our lives. Certainly, as our Adversary, he "walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" (I Peter 5:8), but unlike God, he is not omniscient. While he can be only at one place at one time, he has many assistants.

We are far more likely to be confronted by one of his demon assistants than the Adversary himself, which is bad enough. However, he and his demons have constructed attitudes, institutions, systems, and entertainments into the course of this world, which they effectively use against us, even when they are absent from the scene. Most of their evil influence comes from the system.

We need to remember, though, that God has put a wall of protection around us, so demons can go only so far in their attempts to corrupt us and destroy our loyalty to God and His truth (Job 1:6-10). Their major responsibility before God at this time appears to be to provide tests for us to meet and overcome, in the same way God used Satan to test Job and to tempt Christ (Matthew 4; Luke 4). In this respect, they play a large role in helping us to recognize evil.

God gives us advice regarding them in I Peter 5:8-9: "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world." In essence, His advice is, "Be self-controlled, be alert, and resist him!" Peter's first term, "be sober," urges us not to let fear of him fluster us to the point that we cannot think clearly. The second term, "be vigilant," charges us to be fully awake, to set ourselves in a state of watchfulness and readiness. The third term, "resist him," is a command not to turn and run but to stand firm.

This instruction lets us know that Satan is not all-powerful. With the protections God provides, including His continuous presence and alert regard for His children, Satan can be beaten. The same Jesus who has already defeated Satan is on His throne, overseeing our well-being. His protection is not something we flaunt, but is power we can rely on.

James 4:7 adds additional advice: "Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you." Again, the charge is to resist, but it is directly coupled with submission to God. Submission is the voluntarily act of placing oneself under the authority of another to show respect and give obedience. If we submit to God, Satan will flee.

Ephesians 6:11 parallels the other two instructions. "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." "Stand against" is yet another way of saying "resist him." "Stand" in the Greek indicates that one must hold fast a critical position as an army must do in warfare. However, it is not a passive term, describing something like an unmoving brick wall, but an aggressive, attacking term. In other words, we are to hold the ground we have already gained by going forward.

How, then, do we resist? How do we hold our ground by going on the offensive? We must return in thought to I Peter 5:9, where the first phrase is better translated as, "Resist him, standing firm [or solid] in the faith." Putting this into military terms, a soldier would be likely commanded, "Do not surrender! Do not give up any ground! Do not back down! Move forward with all you've got! Reinforcements are right behind you."

We have the God-backed promise that Satan will flee! Who can resist God's will? The key words here are "standing firm" and "faith." "Standing firm" or "solid" is used in the sense of "unmovable." When linked with faith in practical terms, it means we are absolutely sure or immovably convicted in the face of a strong test.

Overall, the apostles' instruction suggests that what we experience vis-à-vis Satan is common to this way of life. Their advice does not say that he will flee immediately, but flee he will. As used here, "faith" can be understood as either a personal trust in God or confidence in Christian doctrine, as either one fits the context. Ultimately, if we use our relationship with God properly, the confidence in Christian doctrine becomes trust in God Himself.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Christian Fight (Part Two)

Revelation 20:1-3

Like everybody else, Satan has only the power God created in him and the latitude to use it only as He permits and no more. The power given to him is meted out for what God wants him to accomplish for His purposes. Seeing all of the horrible things happening on earth, we may suppose that his power is unlimited, but it most assuredly is not.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Power Belongs to God (Part Two)


 




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