Why Should Satan Exist?
Question: Why would God, knowing all the evil that would follow, create a being that would become Satan? What could be the purpose of Satan’s existence? The biblical devil, in fact, is presented as so powerful that he seems to be God’s equal. If not, why has it taken God so long to conquer him?
Response: No one reading much of the Bible could come to the conclusion that Satan is God’s equal. Moreover, the reason for his existence and why he has not already been locked away becomes clear as we understand the issues involved. God’s desire is to capture the hearts of those whom He created in His image. He wants to have them in His presence for eternity, where He will fully demonstrate “the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians:2:7).
For God to genuinely win man’s heart, there must be no coercion. Man must have complete freedom to reject God and to choose to worship another being or object. Satan presents man with the ultimate alternative to God, and he convinces billions of people to reject God and to give their allegiance to him. Such an alternative is essential in determining man’s true desire. To have in heaven those who really didn’t want to be there is hardly God’s intention and would counterproductive to His eternal purpose.
Satan as the Competitive Suitor
We can illustrate the point like this. Suppose a king wants to marry the most beautiful woman in his realm. In order to be certain of winning her heart, he expels from his kingdom all men who might be his rivals for her affection. Obviously, that is not the way to be assured of her sincere love; she must have the freedom to choose someone else. Only when she has that freedom and, having rejected all others, consents to marry the king, can he be assured that he has indeed captured her heart.
For the same reason, God has not locked Satan away but allows him to continue to entice mankind with his false promises. As the most powerful and brilliant being next to God, Satan provides the ultimate alternative. The battle between God and Satan for the soul of man is very real. It would hardly be any credit to the world’s heavyweight boxing champion to defeat a four-year-old in the ring; the opponent must be worthy. Satan is the strongest opponent, God’s ultimate competition in the battle for the hearts and minds of mankind.
Yes, as far as raw power is concerned, God could immediately throw Satan into the “bottomless pit” (Revelation:20:1-3) so that he could no longer deceive mankind. In fact, that will be the case during the millennial reign of Christ upon earth, when it will be fully proved that man is an evil rebel in his own right without any influence from Satan. In the meantime, however, the battle for the souls of mankind is not to be fought with raw power, for the issues involved are not of that nature. It is a contest for the heart’s affection and loyalty; and to that end Satan must be allowed full freedom to tempt mankind with every ploy he can devise.
Satan is not only the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians:4:4), but its kingdoms belong to him (Matthew:4:8-10). He is able to reward those who follow him with great riches and success in this world. However, Satan is doomed, and those who give their allegiance to him will share in that doom eternally.
In the battle for man’s soul and destiny, God is completely open and honest, while Satan misrepresents and deceives. Thus the battle is presented in the Bible as between the truth of God and the lie of Satan. God wants those who choose to receive Christ as Savior and Lord to do so on the basis of the facts. If Satan has more to offer, if his way is best, then let mankind follow him.