Why God Permits Satan

We can benefit from understanding the following reasons why God allows Satan’s activities on earth as found in the Bible:

1. To reveal men’s hearts

  • 1 Chron 21:1 Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel – he was to reveal David’s underlying sin of pride – in the parallel verses (2 Sam 24:1) it is seen as God who was behind it (to deal with the sin)

2. To bring judgement on unbelievers

  • Rev 9:11 They had as king over them the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon. (both names mean “Destroyer”)

3. To bring discipline to believers

  • 1 Cor 5:5 by putting this sinful believer out of the church’s protection, it enabled Satan to come against him and humble him and bring him to repentance

4. To subjugate unbelievers

  • 1 Jn 5:19b the whole world is under the control of the evil one
  • Satan is allowed to rule where there is unconfessed sin, i.e. over unbelievers

5. To maintain humility in our lives

  • One of the key things God does with his children is to seek to develop character in them. As pride is always lurking, sometimes God allows us to be attacked so that we maintain our reliance upon Him and realise that of ourselves we are nothing.
  • 2 Cor. 12:7 Because Paul received wonderful revelations from God, to keep him from getting puffed up, he was given a thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment him and keep him from getting proud.

6. To develop faith & righteousness in our lives

  • Faith is one of the key elements God wants to develop in our lives, and so often He does this by allowing us to encounter trying circumstances where our faith is both revealed and developed. Similarly, such testing times are to reveal and bring about greater righteousness within us.
  • 1 Peter 1:7 – trials are testings, and testings reveal our faith – such revelation of our faith brings honour in heaven
  • 1 Peter 5:8-9 – Satan seeks to attack us, but we are to learn to resist.
  • 2 Peter 1:4-8 – the testing of our faith develops our lives in many ways

7. To bring about trials whereby we can be rewarded

  • These trials, that involve Satan, make us rely upon God, His word and His Spirit and so the outcome of the battles we fight is that we appreciate Him, His word and His Spirit more and more.
  • James 1:12 God blesses the people who patiently endure testing – testing develops us and God blesses through it
  • 1 John 2:13,14 – it is a battle with Satan which we can win with God’s word, as we battle we rely on that word more and more
  • 1 John 4:1-6 – our battle is also with Satan’s agents; we are to overcome in the mind and we overcome by the Holy Spirit within us, as we overcome we realise the wonder of who it is within us more and more.
  • Rev. 2:17 – our reward, as we overcome Satan’s attacks, will be intimacy with Christ
  • Rev. 2:26-28 – as we obey Jesus and have the victory so he is preparing us to take authority, both in this world and the next.

8. To teach us how to fight

  • As we face such trials we learn how to overcome.
  • Judges 3:2 God did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites who had not had previous battle experience.
  • Israel grew in their knowledge of the Lord and how to fight as they opposed the enemy. We do the same in the spiritual sphere.

9. To demonstrate God’s power over the enemy

  • We need reminding who is who in the battle. Jesus IS Lord!
  • Eph 3:10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms.
  • As we triumph God is glorified in the heavens.
  • Mk 1:21-27 As Jesus cast out a demon God was glorified.
  • Acts 13:6-12 As Saul triumphs over Elymas God was glorified.


Although Satan was apparently not created for these express purposes, God takes and uses his rebellion for His purposes.

As Joseph once said, (Gen 50:20) “You intended to harm me but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Thus it is that in this fallen world where sin dominates, Satan is allowed access for the sake of God’s overall purposes.

We, therefore, need to maintain a right perspective so that we see:

  • Where the enemy is being allowed activity because of man’s unrighteousness, and therefore the unrighteousness is the thing to be dealt with.
  • Where the enemy should be resisted because he is simply seeking to expand his arena of control, and here we need to look to seek what God is wanting us to learn or develop in resisting the enemy, so we can co-operate with Him.

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