When Satan deceives Adam and Eve in Genesis 3, obviously he is already evil. So where did he come from? How could a perfect being have ever sinned? And why does God tolerate him? The biblical answer to these questions actually creates more questions.
What does the Bible say about God's power over Satan?
- Satan is the "ruler of this world," but God is in ultimate control. (Daniel 4:17, Psalm 33:10)
- Satan does what Jesus tells him to. (Mark 1:27)
- The suffering that Satan causes is willed by God. (1 Peter 5:8-9, 3:17)
- Even though Satan is a murderer, God is still in charge of life and death. (Deuteronomy 32:39, James 4:15, Job 1:21)
- Satan causes suffering with God's permission. (Job 1:12)
- Satan tempts with God's permission. (Luke 22:31-32)
- Satan blinds, but God has ultimate power to give sight. (2 Corinthians 4:4-6)
The whole Bible shows that God is sovereign over Satan. Whatever Satan does, God has a purpose for. So even though we don't have details on the event itself, we can safely conclude that God had a reason for permitting Satan's fall. Everything that Satan has done from his first sin until now is part of God's perfect plan. And this is true without God being a sinner.
How could the devil and all the terrible things he does be a part of a perfect plan? The answer is that the glory of Christ is seen more magnificently in this world than if Satan had been destroyed 30 seconds after he first sinned.
So then, how should we relate to evil?
8 things to do with evil:
- Expect evil. “Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).
- Endure evil. “Love bears all thing, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7; cf. Mark 13:13).
- Give thanks for the refining effect of evil that comes against you. “Give thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20; cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Romans 5:3-5).
- Hate evil. “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good” (Romans 12:9).
- Pray for escape from evil. “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13).
- Expose evil. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them” (Ephesians 5:11).
- Overcome evil with good. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21).
- Resist evil. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
4 things to never do:
- Never despair that this evil world is out of God’s control. “[He] works all things according to the counsel of his will” (Ephesians 1:11).
- Never give in to the sense that because of random evil life is absurd and meaningless. “How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! . . . For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever” (Romans 11:33, 36).
- Never yield to the thought that God sins, or is ever unjust or unrighteous in the way he governs the universe. “The Lord is righteous in all his ways.” (Psalm 145:17).
- Never doubt that God is totally for you in Christ. If you trust him with your life, you are in Christ. Never doubt that all the evil that befalls you—even if it takes your life—is God’s loving, purifying, saving, fatherly discipline. It is not an expression of his punishment in wrath. That fell on Jesus Christ our substitute. “The Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Hebrews 12:6).