by Luke Wayne
Some people struggle with why God, being all-powerful, does not judge or destroy Satan immediately. If Satan is evil, deceiving the nations and tempting people to sin, why not take Him out right away? The simple answer is that God has a purpose even in Satan's existence and activity. God has promised that He will, indeed, rightly judge and condemn Satan, but on the future day of judgment, not yet. God is not obligated to use His power in the manner we demand nor to act on our timetable. Indeed, we ought to be grateful that God does not immediately destroy and cast into hell all evil persons the moment they deserve it. If He did, we all would be condemned as well! The only reason we have the chance to hear the gospel and come to God's grace in Jesus Christ to find forgiveness is that God delays His judgment for the sake of a greater good. God is wiser than we are. He will do all that is right in its good and proper timing. In the meantime, we walk by faith.
The Promise of Satan's Destruction
From the very beginning, we are told that Satan will, indeed, be crushed. After Satan tempted Adam and Eve as the serpent in Eden leading to the fall of man, God promises to him:
"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel," (Genesis 3:15).
Thus we see that the destruction of Satan was part of a redemptive plan, to be fulfilled in the promised seed to come, the Messiah. It was not to come about right away, but rather through the death, burial, resurrection, and return of Jesus Christ. The New Testament echoes:
"The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet," (Romans 16:20).
And the book of Revelation notes:
"And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him," (Revelation 12:9).
"And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever," (Revelation 20:10).
So God will, indeed, destroy Satan, but He has a perfect timing in doing so. It is part of a larger redemptive plan for human history.
What Purpose Could There Be?
But some might ask how God could possibly have a good purpose for the evil deeds of Satan. God, however, frequently uses the sins and evil intentions of the wicked to bring about an unexpected good. Take, for example, in Genesis, when Joseph's brothers jealously sold him into slavery. Their intentions were purely evil, and so was their deed. Yet God, in His infinite wisdom, had a grand purpose in it to bring about an incredible good. Afterword, Joseph testified to his brothers:
"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive," (Genesis 50:20).
Even more, when Jesus was betrayed, falsely accused, and unjustly tortured and executed on the cross, those who carried it out were not trying to accomplish God's plan. Their intentions were selfish, evil, and short-sighted. God, again, had bigger plans of which these evil men had no idea they were a part.
"For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur," (Acts 4:27-28).
This is also true with the devil. Satan's intentions and actions are evil. He is not trying to serve or please God. Nevertheless, God uses Satan to carry out His own redemptive purposes. When Satan came to tempt Jesus, it was actually part of God's plan. As the Scriptures tell us:
"Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil," (Matthew 4).
God actually led Jesus into the wilderness for the purpose of Satan tempting Him! Christ endured Satan's assaults on our behalf and arose victorious over them for us. So, while Satan's intentions were evil, God used it for the ultimate good. This is how great our sovereign God is!
Likewise, the New Testament shows us that God can use the assaults of Satan on to bring a hardened sinner to true repentance, thus actually saving them from Satan's grasp! For this reason, Paul writes things like:
"I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus," (1 Corinthians 5:5).
"Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan, so that they will be taught not to blaspheme," (1 Timothy 1:20).
Satan, of course, is not trying to bring people to repentance or teach them not to blaspheme. Quite the opposite! His intention is only to lie, kill, steal, and destroy! Satan's intentions are evil, but God presently uses them to bring about good. We cannot, of course, understand all or even most of what God is doing and why He allows Satan to do every particular thing he does, but we have enough evidence from Scripture to trust that God has good reasons to allow Satan to be in the world for a time and also that God will judge and destroy Satan in the age to come. Indeed, that judgment is already sealed through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.