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Why does God permit Satan to live? (Thoughts from "Spectacular Sins")

In Genesis 1 and 2, everything God created was good. So what is the origin of evil’s appearance in Genesis 3?

Satan slithers in—he is evil personified. If he also was created by God as good (he was), how could this evil happen? Could God not have stopped it?

Did God have no control over Satan at that point? And has he had any control over him ever since?

In chapter 3 of Spectacular Sins, this is how John Piper answers:
God permitted Satan’s fall, not because he was unable to stop it (Piper cites numerous scriptural examples when God DID bind Satan’s power), but because he had a purpose for it. Since God is never taken off guard, his permissions are always purposeful. If he chooses to permit something, he does so for a reason—an infinitely wise reason because he is infinitely wise.

So if God could have stopped it, but didn’t, what is the good reason that God allowed Satan to turn bad, and continue rebelling throughout time? Piper argues that it’s because this is the path leading to the fullest possible display of Christ’s glory.
The Son of God, Jesus Christ, will be more highly honored and more deeply appreciated and loved in the end because he defeats Satan not the moment after Satan fell, but through millennia of long-suffering, patience, humility, servanthood, suffering, and decisively through his own death. [A quick destruction would have been glorious, but not the fullest possible display of glory.]
Evil exists, therefore, for a purpose. Otherwise, God would have already stopped it. We have to live with it around us. How are we to respond to evil? My Piper shorthand is:
  • Expect it
  • Endure it
  • Give thanks for the refining effects it can produce in us
  • Hate it
  • Pray for escape from it
  • Expose it
  • Overcome it with good
  • Resist it
  • Don’t despair about it (God is still in control)
  • Don’t give up on life because of it
  • Don’t think God is unjust because he allows it
  • Don’t doubt that God is totally for you in the midst of it

Never doubt that all the evil that befalls you—even if it takes your life—is God’s loving, purifying, saving, fatherly discipline. It is not an expression of his punishment in wrath. That wrath fell on Jesus Christ our substitute (Galatians 3:13; Romans 8:30). Only mercy comes to us from God, not wrath, if we are his children through faith in Jesus (Hebrews 12:6).

I don’t know if all these answers are correct, but the questions certainly provoke thinking. How would you answer them?

Others' thoughts on Chapter 3 of Spectacular Sins


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