The Devil’s Limited Power

We should never underestimate the devil. He is a sly and skillful foe, with many years of experience in dealing with humankind. Yet, he does have some serious limitations—especially in the life of the believer.

In the Old Testament book of Job, we get some clear insights into Satan’s power and limitations, an inside look at how the devil operates:

Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. And the LORD said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it.’ Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil?’ So Satan answered the LORD and said, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land'” (Job 1:6–10).

Even after his fall, Satan still has access to the throne of God. Though Satan lost his once high-ranking position, he still can personally see God. In spite of his power and wicked agenda, Satan has to seek God’s permission before he does anything to the child of God because of the “hedge of protection” God has put around his children.

While God did allow Satan to test Job through various tragedies (death of servants, stolen goods, deadly storms, loss of children, and sickness), God gave Satan this restriction: “Do not lay a hand on his person” (Job 1:12). The devil’s demon forces must also receive God’s permission to do certain things. In Mark 5:1–20, when Jesus cast out a group of demons named “Legion,” the demons asked Jesus for permission to enter a herd of pigs.

In another interesting incident, we read that Satan specifically asked to test the disciple Simon Peter by name. Jesus told Peter, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you” (Luke 22:31–32). What an encouragement it is to know that Jesus intercedes for us during our times of testing! God also knows our breaking point, and He will never give us more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13).

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