When man sinned in the garden, Satan won a significant victory. Sin entered the world. Man was separated from his God. The world, fashioned by the Creator, was spoiled. The struggle for men’s hearts became apparent.
Yes, Satan won a victory, but it would not be lasting. The God who declares the end from the beginning showed us the ending, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
God would be victorious over sin, over sin’s effects, and over sin’s greatest proponent. But that victory would not always be evident. At times, in the struggle with sin, Satan would appear to have the upper hand.
God, in his love, has always given us the freedom to choose. The Almighty does not force our fealty, rather he asks for our allegiance. It is this allowance of love that gives the appearance of a triumphant Satan.
This choice, which we can style as between sin and God, is truly binary. Jesus plainly states that “no servant can serve two masters” (Luke 16:13). Our Lord rejected Satan’s enticement by quoting the Law, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10).
If we are a friend to the world, we are spiritual adulterers and we make ourselves an enemy of God (James 4:4). If we love the world or the things of the world, then the love of the Father is not in us (1 John 2:15, 16).
When God in the garden foreshadowed the defeat of Satan, he presaged the cross. As the cross drew near Jesus forcefully foretold the defeat of Satan, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:31, 32).
In Jesus’ death, the ruler of this world is defeated!
The ruler of this world has “no claim” on Jesus (John 14:30), and is judged by the words of the Holy Spirit (John 16:11). While it appeared he gained a great victory at the cross, Jesus did what man failed to do in the garden, he rendered Satan powerless.
Yet we must still contend with our enemy. Our “adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We would not stroll the savanna without means of defense or escape from a hungry carnivore. Neither should we move through life without consideration of our great accuser.
Even in expectant defeat, Satan is still called the “god of this world.” Just as with other false gods, the power he possesses is really only that which we grant him. If we resist him, he will “flee” (James 4:7).
Satan has no divine right to an earthly throne. The Creator claims the only crown. “The world and its fulness are mine” (Psalm 50:12), and, “All that are in the heavens and in the earth are yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:11).
In fact, Satan is himself a victim of sin. Though he tries to claim authority, he will suffer the punishment of his submission to sin. Hell is prepared “for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). Pride brings about downfall even in angelic beings (Jude 1:6).
Yes, Satan is dangerous, like a powerful hungry lion. But he is only the “god” or “ruler” of this world when we submit to his desires. The blow has already landed. Like a staggering boxer, Satan is defeated. We only await the celebration of the triumph.
Knowing who he really is, why would anyone want anything he has to offer?