Daily Devotional By Desiringgod Ministry – John Piper Ministry 2 May 2024 | Topic: Why Does God Allow Satan to Block the Gospel? - Faithwheel.com
John Piper Ministry, desiringGod.org

 Daily Devotional By Desiringgod Ministry – John Piper Ministry  2 May  2024 | Topic: Why Does God Allow Satan to Block the Gospel?  

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Why Does God Allow Satan to Block the Gospel?

Audio Transcript

Today we find our way back to a familiar theme on the podcast, popular in emails that you send to us. It’s a topic that’s generated probably more questions to us than any other topic that I can think of — questions about Satan. You have sent in over three thousand emails now asking about him. Is he real? How and why did he first sin? Why is he not snuffed out but instead allowed to roam around? There are questions about his chief strategies for killing our joy and making us want to give up on life. And can a Christian get handed over to Satan? Can the devil devour us? And there are questions about why Satan has so much authority in this world. Questions like these have been addressed in the past in several different episodes that I’ve attempted to draw together in one place so that you can see the ground we’ve covered. I did that in the new APJ book on pages 331–353.

Today, a listener named Taylor writes in with a specific question for you, Pastor John. He asks this: “Hello, Pastor John! Thank you for your ministry! I know that Satan and demons have tremendous physical power and influence over the world, the material world. My question is about his power over the spiritual world. Why did God give Satan such immense power to blind people to the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4) and to snatch from hearts the very saving gospel so that people are left without any hope of salvation (Luke 8:12)? Why was he given such immense spiritual power to abort the gospel in the lives of sinners?”

When the Bible opens, it doesn’t even pause for a moment to give an account for why Satan is there. Later on, there are hints that he’s a fallen angel and that there was rebellion in heaven. But that’s not a full explanation for where he comes from, because it’s very difficult to explain why a personal, rational being — an angel — who is created perfect, would ever find a motive to rebel in a perfect universe. That’s not easy to explain. I don’t think we have a sufficient explanation for that. That’s one of those things that’s cloaked in mystery for now, I think.

Why the Long Leash?

Nevertheless, even though we may not be able to fully explain why Satan came into being, we know he does exist, and he was there from the beginning of mankind, because he tempts Adam and Eve in the third chapter of Genesis. We also know that Jesus commanded “the unclean spirits, and they obey him” (Mark 1:27). That’s an amazing statement. He said to Satan in the wilderness, “Be gone!” and he was gone (Matthew 4:10). And we know at the end of history, God will throw Satan into the lake of fire so that he can’t influence God’s people anymore or harm us anymore (Revelation 20:10).

So, from all this, we know God could have bound Satan completely the moment he fell or at any point in history in between. We know he doesn’t, because in the end the whole New Testament is telling the story of Satan’s activity in this world and how he deceives, how he tempts, how we need to do warfare against the principalities and powers.

“Seeing and savoring the superior beauty of Christ is the way we defeat the evil one.”

And Taylor, who’s asking us this question, points out that he’s blinding people. He’s blinding people. And he wants to know what is God’s reason — for God does all things in wisdom and for reasons; he doesn’t act whimsically — for not destroying Satan until the end and giving him such a long leash, especially, Taylor says, with regard to his free hand in blinding people, it seems, to the glory of Christ, and stealing the word, snatching it like a bird taking seed off a path.

So, he’s referring to 2 Corinthians 4:4: “In their case [the case of unbelievers] the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” And he’s referring to Luke 8:12, the parable of the four soils, where that first soil is the seed along the path, representing those to whom Satan comes along and snatches the word right out of their hearts so that they don’t believe and are saved.

Taylor wants to know, Why does God allow that blinding, that word-stealing power?

Double Blindness

I think the key lies in the fact that if God had eliminated Satan so that the only enemy to be defeated is our own human depravity, part of the glory of the triumph of salvation would be missing. I’m going to deal with only one aspect of that glory. We could make three or four episodes on this, one with each aspect of glory. I’m only going to deal with one. I’m not going to talk about the glory of the cross in this (Colossians 2:15), or the glory of our ongoing warfare with the principalities and powers (Ephesians 6:11–12). I’m only going to focus for the next couple of minutes on the glory of God’s victory in the moment of conversion itself. What happens at that moment of unblinding?

If there were no Satan to deceive us, we would still be blind to the glory of God in Christ. We would not see Christ as more beautiful, more desirable than anything else. We wouldn’t. Why? Because we are deeply depraved people. Paul describes us like this in Ephesians 4:17–18: “The Gentiles,” which is us before Christ, live “in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”

So, not a word about Satan — not a word. He’s not our main problem; we are our main problem. At root, the blindness is our hardness of heart against God, producing ignorance, producing alienation, producing darkness of understanding. We don’t need Satan to be blind. We are blind by our own depraved nature.

Then the question is this: Why speak of Satan as blinding unbelievers the way 2 Corinthians 4:4 does? Because God is showing us the double prison we are in. We are doubly dark: the darkness of our own shackles around our wrists and ankles, and the darkness of Satan’s locked doors — like Peter in prison, who had to have the hands freed, then he had to have the gates freed and the doors freed. There are layers of bondage: the darkness of our own delusions about God — that’s one level of bondage and blindness — and then the added darkness of Satan’s lies and deceptions all around us.

Double Glory

Therefore, when Christ converts us by the power of the Spirit, he gets double glory because of this double blindness. He conquers Satan’s deceptions, and he conquers human depravity. And here’s the key that I believe is so crucial for why he saves us like this rather than obliterating Satan earlier. If he obliterated Satan earlier, his power would be glorified. But if Satan remains, and we are able to defeat his deceptions by seeing the superior beauties of Christ, then not only is the superior power of Christ glorified, but also the superior beauty of Christ is glorified.

“Let’s take up arms and be glad in the Son of God. Gladness in Christ over sin, over Satan, is the victory.”

We can see this more clearly — if that doesn’t make full sense, let me try to say it again — if we realize that the nature of the blindness of our depravity is that we find other things besides Christ more desirable than Christ, more attractive than Christ, more to be preferred than Christ himself. That’s the essence of our blindness. We are so corrupt, we cannot see that Christ is a superior beauty, a superior worth, a superior greatness, and therefore a superior satisfaction over everything else. In our depravity, we are blind to all of that.

But that’s exactly the same way that Satan blinds us with his deceptions. He’s a liar, and the essence of his lie is that the pleasures of sin that he offers are more to be desired than Christ. Therefore, to be saved, to be converted, to experience the victory, the glorious victory of Christ and the Spirit in our lives, is to have both these blindnesses removed. And that’s described in 2 Corinthians 4:6.

And the way they are removed is that we are granted to see, in one great miracle, both the delusions of depravity and the deceptions of Satan, because they’re the same. We are granted to see Christ, the glory of Christ, as superior to everything that our rebellious hearts ever dreamed of and superior to everything Satan ever offered. That double glorification of Christ triumphing over both of those blindnesses would not have happened if Satan had been snuffed out at the beginning.

So, one huge implication — I close with this — of this for us right now, today, is that seeing and savoring, desiring, preferring the superior beauty of Christ is the way we defeat the evil one. So, I’ve said more than once, let’s take up arms and be glad. Let’s take up arms and be glad in the Son of God. Gladness in Christ over sin, over Satan, is the victory.


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