If God is all-powerful and in control of everything, how can Satan have any control Earth? Does the Bible really say that Satan has ruling power?
Yes, it does. But only for a time. Let’s check out what the Bible says about Satan’s rule.
“We know that we are from God and that the whole world lies under the control of the evil one.”
– 1 John 5:19
The Bible tells us that Satan was originally created as a powerful angel. But he rebelled against God. As his punishment, he was cast down to the Earth. According to the Bible, Satan has been given dominion to exert a certain amount of influence upon mankind. Mainly, Satan’s power is limited to influencing human beings through temptation and suggestion. We know this from the book of Job in which we see Satan asking permission of God to tempt Job. God grants permission and tells Satan what his limits are.
“The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.”
– Job 1:12
This verse implies that the only power Satan has is that which God allows and only comes by permission.
Jesus acknowledged Satan’s dominion on Earth. He referred to Satan as “the ruler [or Prince] of this world.”
“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me.”
– John 14:30
In this verse, before his crucifixion, Jesus acknowledges Satan’s earthly dominion, but also points out that because of His own holiness, Satan has no claim on him.
Another telling moment in Scripture is when Jesus is being tempted by Satan in the wilderness.
“And the devil took him up and showed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time, and said to him, “To you I will give all this authority and their glory, for it has been delivered to me, and I give it to whom I will. If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours.” And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’””
– Luke 4:5-8
There are several important points to be extracted from these verses. Satan confirms that authority for the dominion of Earth has been given to him. He will transfer rule to Jesus if Christ will worship him. Jesus replies with the first commandment from Scripture which says we are only to worship and serve the one true God with no other gods before him.
But what is most telling here is the unsaid. Jesus does not argue with Satan over his authority. He doesn’t contest that Satan does not have dominion over the kingdoms of the Earth. Why? Because obviously Jesus knows Satan does. Jesus only objects to worshiping anyone other than God the Father.
In terms of God’s view of the universe and time, Satan’s rule will be relatively short according to the timetable of all existence.
“Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.”
– Revelation 12:12
This verse appears to reference Satan’s fall from heaven and his subsequent dominion over the inhabitants of Earth. Yet, it also offers solace that the time of his rule will be a “short season.”
“The angel threw him into the bottomless pit, which he then shut and locked so Satan could not deceive the nations anymore until the thousand years were finished. Afterward he must be released for a little while.”
– Revelation 20:3
This verse further reiterates the admonition that God is in control and has ordained a plan from the very beginning according to His will.
When the Satan’s time is up, he will pay for his wrongdoing along with his accomplices.
“and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
– Revelation 20:10