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Why did Satan think he could defeat God?

Satan defeataudio
Question: "Why did Satan think he could defeat God?"

It is hard to imagine a being like Lucifer (Satan) believing he could even do battle with God, much less defeat Him. Even the most depraved mind should be able to see that a creature cannot possibly contend with the Creator. Yet Satan attempted to dethrone God and strives to this day to defy God’s authority, thwart His plans, and harass His people.

Perhaps part of the explanation is that pride has blinded Satan to reality. Two Old Testament passages (Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-19) discuss Satan’s original position and the reasons for his loss of that position. They tell of an exalted angelic being, one of God’s creatures, who became proud. He determined to take the throne of God for himself. But God removed him from his position.

Satan’s influence in worldly affairs is clearly revealed (John 12:31). Satan is extremely intelligent. Through his intelligence he deceived Adam and Eve and took over their rule of the world for himself (Genesis 1:26; 3:1-7; 2 Corinthians 11:3). His cleverness enables him to carry out his deceptive work almost at will, although his power is subject to God’s restrictions (Job 1:12; Luke 4:6; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8). He does have certain victories—although within the boundaries God has set for him—and perhaps these victories allow him to continue the illusion that he can have victory over God Himself.

The reins of God on Satan’s activities are illustrated by Satan’s request to God for permission to afflict Job (Job 1:7-12). Satan is permitted to afflict God’s people (Luke 13:16; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; Hebrews 2:14), but he is never permitted to win an ultimate victory over them (John 14:30-31; 16:33). A part of Satan’s continuing ambition to replace God is his passionate yearning to have others worship him (Matthew 4:8-9; Revelation 13:4, 12). Satan is "the wicked one" (Matthew 13:19, 38), while God is "the Holy One" (Isaiah 1:4).

Satan’s nature is malicious. His efforts in opposing God, His people, and His truth are tireless (Job 1:7; 2:2; Matthew 13:28). He is always opposed to man’s best interests (1 Chronicles 21:1; Zechariah 3:1-2). Through his role in introducing sin into the human family (Genesis 3), Satan has gained the power of death—a power which Christ has broken through His crucifixion and resurrection (Hebrews 2:14-15). Satan tempted Christ directly, trying to lead Him into compromise by promising Him worldly authority and power (Luke 4:5-8).

Despite Satan’s self-delusion that he can defeat God, Satan is destined to fail. His final defeat is predicted in John 12:31, Revelation 12:9, and 20:10. The death of Christ on the cross is the basis for Satan’s final defeat (Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 Peter 3:18, 22). That event was the grand climax to a sinless life during which Jesus triumphed over the enemy repeatedly (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13). Satan probably rejoiced in the death of Christ, believing it to be a victory for him, but like all his victories, that one, too, was short-lived. When Jesus rose from the grave, Satan was once again defeated. The final victory will come when Jesus returns and Satan is cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:1-15).

The death and resurrection of Christ provide the believer strength for victory over sin. We have assurance that "the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet" (Romans 16:20). But such personal victory depends on God’s grace and power in our lives and our will to offer resistance to Satan’s temptations (Ephesians 4:25-27; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8-9). To help Christians win this battle against Satan, God has provided the power of Christ’s blood (Revelation 12:11), the continuing prayer of Christ in heaven for believers (Hebrews 7:25), the leading of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:16), and various weapons for spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:10–18).

Recommended Resource: God’s Devil: The Incredible Story of How Satan’s Rebellion Serves God’s Purposes by Erwin Lutzer

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Who/what is Satan?

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