(This is a picture of Zack Follett)
Earlier this week the media bombarded Zack Follett, a linebacker for the Detroit Lions, for some comments he made towards the Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. Basically, Follett chose his words very poorly and the media used it against him. Instead of letting things blow over or owning up to it, Follett went a different rout. He put out a homemade video where he tried to defend himself. He did not stop there though. He even took a shot back by claiming that Satan was attacking him through the media.
Was Satan really attacking Zack Follett specifically? Zack obviously believed so. Overall, people seem to have a greatly elevated and misunderstood view of Satan. We develop several assumptions about him and his power that are not biblical. So, just how powerful is Satan really? In order to answer this question, let’s take a look at what the book of Job says.
Satan is Not Omnipresent (In All Places). In Job 1:7, we see that God asks Satan where he came from. This question would not make sense if Satan was omnipresent. Notice that both God and Satan refer to places in the singular tense. Too often we have the impression that Satan is everywhere and is able to tempt almost everyone. This is simply not true. Zack Follet, and many people today, believe the devil attacks them specially. Honestly, it is a bit self-centered to believe Satan is spending his fleeting time on us personally. Nowhere in Scripture do we see Satan tempting many different people in many different locations. So, if Satan can only attack one person at a time, who is he going to spend his time on? It will be on the largest and most significant people he can influence. In the end, Satan is not God. He can only be at one place at a time, tempting one person at a time. He is not omnipresent.
Satan is Not Omniscient (All-Knowing). In the discussion between Satan and God, we see that Satan had come to know, through experience, that God had placed a “hedge” around Job (Job 1:8-10). See, we can assume that Satan had tried to tempt Job earlier and failed. He came to know, through experience, that God was blessing Job’s life and that his influence was limited. Once again, people today seem to have this conception that Satan knows everything about them. He knows specifically what they are thinking and what their struggles are. Satan is not a mind-reader. Now, Satan has about 10,000 years of experience. He knows what buttons to press and what people typically struggle with, but this does not make him omniscient. The only way he can know what we personally struggle with is by experience and observation. Again, Satan is not God. He can only know what he learns from time, observation, and experience. He is not omniscient.
Satan is Not Omnipotent (All-Powerful). During Satan’s discussion with God, it is interesting to see some of Satan’s limitations. First, he had to check in with God (1:6). He did not have the right go and do whatever he pleased. Second, he was not able to get to Job (1:10). Even though he tried, God was not allowing him to. Third, God only allowed Satan to control things to a point (1:11-12). God did not allow Satan to influence Job’s health. What we just saw in these three points was that Satan’s power is limited. He does not have power over everything in this world. Only God has this. Too often people believe a battle against Satan is impossible to win. The Bible indicates that we can win against Satan (James 4:7). From what we have seen in job, the old phrase, “The devil made me do it,” is something out of Satan’s realm of power. Need we say it again? Satan is not God. Whatever power he has, God has allowed him to have it. In the end, Satan is no match for God’s power, and he knows it. Satan is not Omnipotent.
Satan is most definitely a fearsome enemy (1 Peter 5:8), but too often we think he has much more power than he really does. When we believe Satan is more powerful that he actually is, it can make him harder to beat and resist in our minds. Let’s not give Satan any more power. Yes, Satan is a formidable adversary, but not an unbeatable one. As we have said over and over, Satan is not God. Unlike Satan, God IS omnipresent (in all-places), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipotent (all-powerful).
Let’s remember what God has said about battling sin and Satan:
- We can resist and beat Satan (1 Peter 5:8-9; James 4:7).
- God will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).
- “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:1).
- “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
So, how powerful is Satan? His power is nothing compared to God’s. As we go through this life battling Satan and sin, let’s not exaggerate Satan’s power, but remember the tremendous power we have in our corner; God.