why does god allow the devil to exist
The following is an edited transcript of the audio. Why does God allow Satan to live? This is one of the questions that I try to answer in. And it is not just something on top of what is already said in the book, but it is right at the heart of it. But before I answer it, let s make sure that we agree that it is true that God
could take Satan out anytime he chose. Because I think there are some who would say, He really can t, because of some rights (or authority, independence, free will, etc. ) that Satan has. But the reason I know God can take Satan out without turning me into an automaton or breaking any rules is because he is going to take him out. He is going to throw him in the lake of fire. And the question is, Why didn t he do it yesterday? If he had done it yesterday I wouldn t be tempted the way I am today. The Bible says, Lead me not into temptation. Well, the best way not to be led into temptation is to take the Tempter away! Isn t it? Take him out! I ve got sin in my life plenty enough to make me struggle. I don t need Satan on top of my sin making my life more miserable. So God, take him out! You have the right and the power to take him out. You re doing nobody wrong when you take him out. Take him out! And he doesn t do it. Why? The Bible doesn t answer why directly, so we have to go on inferences. But here is my best shot: God has ordained that Satan have a long leash with God holding onto it because he knows that when we walk in and out of those temptations, struggling both with the physical and moral effects that they bring, more of God s glory will shine in that battle than if he took Satan out yesterday. There will be evidences of God s patience with us and of his mercy towards us as we struggle with sin. And there will be evidences of his sustaining grace as we go through horrific physical suffering that Satan was the immediate cause of (as it says in the Bible: This woman. whom Satan bound for eighteen years [Luke 13:16].
She had this bent-over back, and Satan was doing it, and God was ordaining that he be allowed to do it). God ordains all of these things so that his glory his mercy, justice, grace, wisdom would shine more brightly. Now we can argue with that and say, I don t agree. I don t think God should run the world this way. And if we ultimately disagree then we will reject God, we will reject the biblical testimony, and we will perish forever in hell. But I choose to trust him that his way of managing the devil and managing evil that comes at me is wiser than the way I might choose to manage it. Perhaps the other thing I should say is that he sent his Son right into the middle of this satanic warfare. It was Satan that put it into the heart of Judas to betray him. So Jesus exposes himself to the horrors of Satan s deceit and lies and murder He was a murderer from the beginning. [and] a liar (John 8:44) and dies, in order to make a public display of the principalities and powers in his defeat of them (Colossians 2:15). There is more glory that will come to Jesus Christ by his suffering to destroy Satan than by powerfully shooting Satan in the head. And there is more glory that will come to Jesus Christ by our sharing in the sufferings of Christ holding onto his supreme value than if we had been able to say, Satan, Depart! and never have another problem. And I think the reason for that this is my ultimate final answer is that the glory of God and Christ shines more brightly when we are seen to be supremely satisfied in Christ in spite of Satan s torments, rather than if we had his torments removed and liked Jesus because of it.
It s when you love Jesus in spite of Satan s torments and through them that his glory shines most brightly, rather than when we have life made easier for us by Satan s removal and we like Jesus because of it. The Bible never directly addresses this question - I guess that s largely because the Bible is fundamentally a book about rescue - it tells us how we ve gone wrong with God, and how Jesus came to put us right with God. The urgency of this message (and how we respond to it) means that a number of abstract, perplexing, philosophical-type questions are left unanswered. The serpent turns up enigmatically in Genesis chapter 3 without any introduction. I m going to approach the question at a fairly abstract level, but I don t want to give the impression that this is a passionless issue. It cuts right to the centre of all the evil, pain and suffering we see in our world. And this is not something that leaves God unmoved. He cares so much that he was prepared to come to earth in the person of his son, Jesus, and be put to death so that all this evil could be dealt with. The question raises the issue of why God let any of this happen. We may not be able to answer that fully, but we can know one thing for sure: its not because he doesn t care. Having said all of that, let me give some thoughts. Your question, Why did God let the Devil exist is related to other questions like Why did God allow sin to ever happen? I think both of these tap into an important issue often described in terms of God s sovereignty and our responsibility. Bear with me for a moment, I m going to come at your question in a roundabout way. God being sovereign means that God is completely and utterly in control of everything. Nothing happens outside his plans. Us being responsible means that when we do things wrong, we are responsible for them.
We are responsible because we do want we want to do. When we sin, no one has forced us to do something that we were totally opposed to. Joseph speaking to his brothers about them selling him as a slave, Genesis 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. The brothers did evil (and were responsible for it) and yet at the same time God was in control and using this event to bring good. Most profoundly of all, Jesus s death on the cross, Acts 2:23 - This man was handed over to you by God s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. The chief priests wanted to kill Jesus, and they did so, and they are responsible. But at the same time God was bringing his purposes about - He had always intended that Jesus would die, an innocent man giving his life to accomplish the saving of many lives. God had always intended that the chief priests would put Jesus to death - God is sovereign AND they are responsible. It is important to hold sovereignty and responsibility together. Deny Gods sovereignty and he is no longer God. Deny our responsibility and we are no longer human (more like robots). With the devil, the issues will be similar. God created humans and angels with the ability and responsibility to worship and serve Him. In the beginning, God created everything good. God did not create robots which were unable to do anything but follow their programs - God created responsible agents who were free to worship him willingly. The devil was not evil to start with, but chose to rebel against God. God is still in control, and the devil is responsible for what he has done.
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