Satan. The devil. Beelzebul. Lucifer. He goes by many names, but the most powerful force of evil in the universe has already been defeated. The timer on the end of his evil activities was set when the Son of God walked out of the tomb (Matthew 28:7). Jesus defeated sin and death, and Satan was put on notice. Therefore, his time is short (see Revelation 12:12).
Satan’s downfall began the moment he, as the angel Lucifer, challenged God and tried to redirect heaven’s worship to himself (Isaiah 14:13–14). From the moment of his rebellion, Satan’s doom was sure. God cast him from heaven to earth (Luke 10:18) where he gained dominion when Adam followed his example and rebelled against God (Genesis 3:6-7, 17–19; Romans 5:12). Satan is now called “the prince of the power of the air” (John 12:31; Ephesians 2:2), “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), “the accuser” of Christians (Revelation 12:10), and “the deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12:9). God prepared hell as a place of punishment for Satan (Matthew 25:41).
One common misconception is that Satan and God are equal foes, battling for prominence. This is completely false. God has no equal. He created all things, including the angel Lucifer, who became the being we call “Satan.” As a created being, Satan only has the power and authority God gives him. We see this truth in the book of Job, where Satan has to ask permission to torment one of God’s servants (Job 1:6—2:8). Jesus also alluded to Satan’s short leash when He told Peter that Satan had asked to test Peter (Luke 22:31–32). Satan’s minions, the demons, must also ask the Lord’s permission before they act (Mark 5:9–13). For reasons known only to God, Satan is allowed to wreak havoc on the earth until the time God will forever banish him.
First Corinthians 15:24–26 says, “Then the end will come, when [Jesus] hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he ‘has put everything under his feet.’” Satan’s time of freedom is nearing the end. When Jesus returns, He will be victorious in a battle we call “Armageddon” (Revelation 16:6). It won’t be much of a fight because Jesus annihilates Satan’s forces with the word of his mouth (2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 19:21).
After his defeat at Armageddon, Satan will be bound for a thousand years “to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time” (Revelation 20:3). At the end of that time, Satan is released; true to form, he leads one more rebellion against Christ and His kingdom (verses 7–9). Again, Satan’s forces are defeated, and Satan himself is “thrown into the lake of burning sulfur” to “be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (verse 10).
There is then one final judgment of all those who have rejected Christ (Revelation 20:11–15). The last act before eternal paradise begins for the children of God is the eternal banishment of sin and of Satan.
In one sense, Satan is already defeated. Jesus won the victory over him through the cross and the resurrection (Colossians 2:15). It is now possible to defeat Satan every day in our own lives. The Holy Spirit empowers God’s children to say “no” to Satan’s agenda and walk in the Spirit, living a life pleasing to God (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:16, 25). The ultimate defeat of Satan is yet to come, when he will be condemned to the lake of fire forever, unable to propagate his evil ever again. Though Satan still reigns as the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), Christians can live in light of the truth that he is a defeated foe.