Search by Topic
Subscribe

Good vs. Evil, a Lopsided Battle

Christian, tell me why are you so sure that Good will ultimately win? There is an awful lot of Bad in the world!

Because…God is so much more powerful than Satan, there’s really no contest.

I was impressed and influenced when I first read Erwin Lutzer’s book “God’s Devil“. I highly recommend it. Lutzer reminds us that the battle between Good and Evil is not evenly matched. All the weight is on God’s side. He is guaranteed to win, and Satan has already lost!

How can I be so sure, especially with all the evil that is evident in the world today? Let’s compare God and Satan.

I’ll start with the scary part…


Satan’s Power

Without doubt, Satan is more powerful than humans are. After all, he was once among the highest angels God created (Ezekiel 28:11-19, Isaiah 14:12-15). When he rebelled, he brought down a third of all angels to fall with him and become his minions (Revelation 12:3-4). The Bible refers to him as the current ruler of our broken world. For instance:

  • in John 14:30, Jesus says that He won’t have much longer with His disciples because the “ruler of the world” is coming (but has no hold over Him!).
  • 2 Corinthians 4:4 says that the “god of this world” has blinded unbelievers from seeing the truth of Jesus.
  • Ephesians 2:2 describes Christians as those who formerly walked “according to the prince of the power of the air“.
  • Ephesians 6:12 tells us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”
  • Colossians 1:13 says that Jesus has rescued Christians from “the domain of darkness“.
  • Hebrews 2:14 says that Satan has the “power of death“.

When tempting Jesus, in Matthew 4:8-9, Satan showed Him “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” and offered to give them to Him…for a price. Jesus refused the price, but did not dispute Satan’s claim of authority to give those kingdoms.

Then the less scary…..


Satan’s Limits

For all his power, though, Satan is not all-powerful. He has limits beyond which his power does not extend.

He Must Ask Permission

The book of Job describes a conversation between God and Satan. God is proud of Job as a faithful and righteous man. Satan says that is only because Job has been blessed, and that if the blessings were taken away, it would cause Job to reject God. God allows the test, but strictly limits how far Satan can go. The end result is that, although Satan makes Job’s life miserable for a while, he ultimately fails: Job continues to hold onto God despite his trials, and God restores and multiplies the blessings.

In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus tells Peter that “Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat“. Peter did go through a terrible test, and failed (Luke 22:34, John 18:15-17, 25-27). But with Jesus’ help, he recovered to become a leader of the church (John 21:15-17).

God Can Kick Him Out

Jesus easily drove out demons whenever He chose. None could stand against Him. (Matthew 8:16, Matthew 8:31-32, Mark 1:34, Mark 5:13, Luke 4:35-36, Luke 8:27-33)

He Can’t Do Anything on His Own

I can’t imagine anything that Satan would have wanted more than to destroy Jesus. But the Gospels show him resorting to roundabout attacks: Matthew 4:1-10 and Mark 1:12-13 describe temptations when Jesus had been fasting and praying in the wilderness, while Luke 22:3-4 and John 13:21-27 say that Satan “entered into” Judas to betray Him. Satan didn’t just strike Jesus down himself. Don’t you think he would have…if he could? His leash wasn’t long enough to allow it! 😀

Now, the good stuff…


God vs. Satan

  • God is self-existent; Satan is not.
    • Rather, Satan was created by God.
  • God is omnipotent, all-powerful. Satan is not.
    • Rather, Satan has only the power that God allows, for His own reasons, fulfilling His own ultimate purpose.
  • God is omniscient, all-knowing. Satan is not.
    • Rather, Satan knows only what he has experienced himself, or learned from his observation.
      • Of course, he has had a LONG time to observe, and has whatever capacity to learn that God gave him. But he is not unlimited as God is.
  • God is omnipresent, always everywhere. Satan is not.
    • Rather, Satan (and his minions) can only be in one place at a time.
  • God is the Creator, the source of everything. Satan is not.
    • Satan is the source of nothing new. He can only distort and try to ruin someone else’s work.
  • If humans don’t cooperate, God’s will happens anyway (Esther 4:14, Jonah 1-2).
    • If humans didn’t cooperate, Satan could do nothing.
      • Sadly, humans do constantly cooperate with Satan, knowingly or not. 🙁 Everything he says is a lie (John 8:44), but we all continue to fall for it.

In contrast to Satan, when God wants to kill someone, He doesn’t have to ask permission or use proxies. Just ask the Pharaoh of Egypt (Exodus 11, Exodus 12:29-30, Exodus 14), or the rebels Korah, Dathan and Abiram (Numbers 16), or Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10).

Satan may be “the ruler of the world”, but John 16:11 tells us that he will be judged, and John 12:31 tells us that he will be cast out. And about that “power of death” in Hebrews 2:14? The full quote is

Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself [Jesus] likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

Hebrews 2:14-15 (emphasis added)

Not only is Satan rendered powerless, but even death is also:

But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:54-57

When Jesus was crucified, it seemed as if Satan had won: He had gotten the religious leaders, the crowds, and the Romans to kill the Messiah. But “No!” Jesus chose to give up his life… and then to take it back again! (John 10:17-18, Luke 24:6-7) Jesus’ crucifixion, which initially looked like a victory for Satan, was really his most complete loss. The humans that he hates so much now have a rescuer who will put them forever out of his reach (John 10:29, Romans 8:38-39) 1.


Victory!

1 Peter 5:8 says that Satan prowls around like a lion, looking for someone to devour. But James 4:7 tells us that he is really just a bully who can’t stand to be resisted. And Ephesians 6:13-17 teaches us how to resist, using the tools that God provides. Finally, Revelation 20 foretells how the story will end for Satan: In verses 1-3, he is locked away for a thousand years; in verses 7-10, he is released, rebels yet again, and is permanently thrown into the lake of fire.

If Satan had never existed, Adam and Eve had not fallen, and sin had never entered the world, God’s creation would have been amazing. His glory would have shone brilliantly in an undamaged world. But…

Since Satan and sin have caused so much harm, God is showing even MORE of His glory. He is also showing His justice, and grace, and mercy…which would have no reason to be displayed in a perfect world that didn’t need them. He is redeeming His creation, using Satan’s damage as a springboard for even greater wonders, as He planned even before time began (1 Peter 1:20-21, Ephesians 1:3-4, Ephesians 1:10, Ephesians 3:8-11, 1 Corinthians 2:7).

I’d say that counts as Good winning the war over Evil!


P.S. I had finished this post and had it ready to publish when I was reminded of the old hymn “This is My Father’s World”. It seems appropriate to quote the last verse here.

This is my Father’s world,
O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the Ruler yet.

This is my Father’s world,
The battle is not done;
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and heav’n be one.

This is My Father’s World by Maltbie D. Babcock (Watch video here.)

Footnotes and Scripture References

  1. Providing they choose to be rescued. Each individual still has a choice: Accept rescue, or continue to cooperate with Satan.

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org

Scripture reference links go to biblestudytools.com, which defaults to another good translation, the New International Version (NIV).  The site has 20 or more translations available for reference.