Know Your Enemy: What Satan Can and Cannot Do
‘Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.'
These were Jesus’ words prior to his imminent death on the cross at Calvary which would bring salvation to His people and also defeat the enemy, Satan. From the moment of Jesus’ death, Satan was judged, defeated and radically limited in his power. Satan came to steal, kill and destroy God’s creation and Jesus’ perfect obedience to God even to His death on the cross saved mankind from extinction and ultimately eternal annihilation.
Satan has certain “rights” to territory. Satan is the “god of this world (system).” He is the “prince of the power of the air.” (Eph 2:2) Satan is the “ruler of this [fallen] world.” (John 12:31) These titles suggest that Satan has been permitted by God to exercise his power in certain domains. Now, don’t get it twisted – God is sovereign over everything. Satan does not have reign or rule over everything, only the unbeliever who will remain “caught in the snare of the devil” (2 Tim 2:26). Unbelievers are not only subjects under Satan’s rule but lie in the “power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). God has given Satan the right to this territory, for a time, but the landscape has boundaries.
Believers are not under the rule and reign of Satan (Col 1:13) because of Christ’s blood, shed triumphantly on the cross at Calvary. When the Bible states that Satan is “god of this world” it does not mean he has ultimate authority over the world. It means that Satan has authority over the unbelieving world, period. The word “world” here is another word for “system” or a constellation of people following the godless, Satanic agenda (2 Cor 4:4). Satan’s manifesto is to imprison the unbeliever in false philosophies that blind them from the truth of Christ and block them from the light of the gospel.
Prior to Jesus’ accomplishment and victory on the cross, possession by demons was prevalent in biblical times. We know this because Jesus cast out many demons during his ministry. Demons could occupy a human soul at will as there were no limits to their liberty. Demons knew what Jesus’ purpose was, they knew exactly what He was here to do and how He was going to do it. Jesus’ victory on the cross removed their liberty to possess a human soul and Satan, nor his demons can no longer occupy a human soul unless invited to do so through intense involvement in the occult. This is one of the reasons the Charismatic movement is false, because through scripture it is revealed that Satan and demons no longer hold this right to move uninvited in and out of possessing human souls at will, believer or no.
Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. ~Colossians 2:14-15
Satan now is very limited in the length and breadth of his power. So, what exactly is it that Satan can and cannot do? Keep in mind that while Satan, who is a viscous and insidious enemy to humans, has power and with him a vast legion of fallen angels at his command, he cannot accomplish anything without co-operation from a human subject.
What Satan Cannot Do
He cannot snatch the redeemed away from God.
The moment we are saved and put our faith in Jesus Christ and His redemptive work on the cross, we enter into a covenant relationship with God that is sealed with God’s bond (Heb 6:17; 8:6; 9:15). This covenant promise is secured in the shed blood of Jesus and no other being has the spiritual authority to override or cancel it in any way. There is no distance away from God that Satan can lead a person through sin that can cancel or erase his salvation (John 3:16; 10:27-29; 1 John 4:4; 5:13).
He cannot make a person sin.
Satan can bring us in front of sin, but he cannot make us commit sin. He can tempt and seduce us to sin, but he has no power or ability to make us actually commit the act of sin. With every temptation that Satan brings to the table, God provides a way of escape (1 Cor 10:13). If we choose to cave to the temptation, our sin is the result of our own fleshly lusts and desires.
He cannot overpower the free-will of any person.
Free-will is a gift from God that cannot be removed (Rom 11:29). Satan cannot overtake a person’s will without they enter into a covenant relationship with him or other false god. A person would have to voluntarily permit Satan to control them.
He cannot create.
God alone is the author and the finisher of all things. He alone is the Creator. There is no other creator beyond God, and apart from God nothing else has ever come into being (John 1:3; Rom 11:36, 1 Cor 8:6, Col 1:16). God’s creation includes everything in existence in both the earthly and spiritual realm (Col 1:16). The only thing Satan can create is deception and illusion.
Satan will try to convince you that he can create and he does this through a variety of means. I have articles here that talk about transhumanism and other scientific and technological antichrist endeavors that Satan is utilizing in order to facilitate the idea that not only can he offer sight to the blind, healing to the sick, and eternal life through science and technology, but that Christ is not necessary to obtain these things.
He cannot bring any good, positive reward to his followers.
There is not one thing that Satan can offer that is authentic, substantive, satisfying or lasting. He cannot offer peace, joy or eternal life in any way (John 10:9-10; 16-33; Rom 15:13). He can seduce a person into thinking that carnal, fleshly pleasures hold some value and can be obtained through allegiance. But, ultimately, these are empty, fruitless promises that lead to despair and death (both physically and spiritually).
He cannot bring any assault against one of God’s people for which he has no legal right to do so without direct permission from God.
Satan can prowl around looking for someone to “devour” (1 Pet 5:8). He can bring a storm of catastrophic magnitude, he can harass and instill seeming chaos into a person’s life. But, he cannot do any of that without God’s permission of which God must know that some good will come of it to allow it to happen.
Satan may use a wide variety of tactics or weapons in his arsenal to bring a full-frontal assault to your doorstep. But, he must first seek God’s permission before he can make any move against you. And, even if God permits it, He is with you, His hand is on it, and Satan can only move in the parameters that God has set. Your destruction is not part of it, by any means whatsoever. It is only permitted to bring about some character, strength, perserverance or other quality that God wants fortified in you for the kingdom. (See my article The Devil Demands to Sift You Like Wheat)
He cannot touch the “new creation” or “new person” begotten and consecrated by God.
Once we are saved, we are spiritually reborn as children of the Most High God. From that instant, we are embedded with the holy, imperishable seed of God (1 Pet 1:23). While we are still fully human, we are now also children of God, consecrated to Him, and a new creation, being made into the likeness of Christ through a spiritual transformation. Just as Satan cannot touch God, he cannot touch the “new person” we become as saved Christians.
The only part of a believer that Satan can influence is our human part (our flesh). Satan holds dominion over that carnality which he gained through Adam and Eve’s sin (Rom 6:16; Col 1:13). Satan can tempt and influence the flesh, wage war against it, and pull out every stop to get you to sin, but he cannot make you sin. The battlefield is the mind, and this is where we need to be vigilant to discern from where our thoughts and actions are motivated.
Without God’s permission, Satan has no power or authority to do a single thing. He cannot search or know the human heart. Satan is a created being who is subservient to God.
Without God’s permission, Satan has no power or authority to do a single thing. He cannot search or know the human heart. Satan is a created being who is subservient to God. His power and his time are limited and he is condemned to hell. Know your enemy so you are able to withstand anything that he might throw at you. The battle is not ours, but God’s, and He has given us everything we need to withstand the enemy’s attacks.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints…. ~Ephesians 6:11-18
What Satan Does Not Want You to Know
Satan DOES NOT want you to know that he exists. Satan DOES NOT want you to know how he operates. Satan DOES NOT want you to know that he can’t be everywhere at once. Satan DOES NOT want you to know that his time is short. Satan DOES NOT want you to know he was defeated. Satan DOES NOT want you to know that you have authority over him through Christ Jesus.
Satan DOES NOT want you to know that he can't read your mind or search your heart.
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