Across a span of time and on spiritual battlefields our human minds can only struggle to comprehend, an epic battle has been raging between God and a powerful, evil spirit—Satan the devil. This battle has impacted the course of history in powerful ways (and continues to do so)—but in order to fully understand the battle of God vs. Satan, we have to step back to the earliest pages of human history.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Although we are only given small glimpses of the world prior to man, the Scriptures tell us that during this time Lucifer, one of the high-ranking angels serving before God’s throne, convinced a third of the angels to follow him in rebellion against God (Isaiah 14:12-15; Ezekiel 28:13-16; Revelation 12:7-9).
Apparently, because of this great battle, the beautiful earth God had created (Isaiah 45:18) became “without form, and void” (Genesis 1:2). Because of Lucifer’s rebellion, his name was changed to Satan, meaning “adversary.” His followers, fallen angels, became known as demons.
(To learn what the Bible reveals to us about these fallen angels, read our article “Are Demons Real?”)
After refashioning the earth so it could sustain human life, God created the first man, Adam. Eve, the first woman, was created a short time later. In addition to placing them in the Garden of Eden, where they could live and multiply, God gave them instruction in the way of life that would lead to happiness and eternal life.
But this couple was also given the choice of whether they would obey their Creator or choose their own path. God gave Adam and Eve the first opportunity to rule when He put all things under the feet of man, giving him dominion over the works of God’s hand (Psalm 8:4-8).
Satan the deceiver attacks mankind
Though largely banished to earth (Luke 10:18) with only a few exceptions when he could appear before God’s throne (Job 1:6), Satan and his demons were not ready to concede in their fight against God. Satan the devil soon brought the battle to the Garden of Eden.
Satan convinced the first man and his wife to disregard the instruction and commandments of God. They bought the lie that man can choose for himself what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is evil. As a result of this tragic decision, sin entered the world and death entered by sin. Man cut himself off from the guidance, direction and blessings of God.
From mankind’s perspective, this began the battle of light vs. darkness, right vs. wrong, evil vs. good. Sides were drawn. Camps and philosophies were developed.
The result is that we now live in a world where we face a clash of values having to do with the questions of what is sin and who is in charge of this earth. Until mankind comes to terms with God’s ageless law, he will forever struggle in the battle of the ages with Satan’s philosophy that humans can decide for themselves what is good and what is evil.
Speaking of the confusion that this way of thinking has brought about, Isaiah 5:20 says, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness.” Mankind has lost the ability to think and reason soundly. He has lost sight of the way to peace and happiness. The subsequent history of humankind is a record of people struggling to obtain these things their own way.
What began in the garden all those years ago was a deception that has survived through the ages—a deception that still affects us today.
Satan’s deception proves deadly
Shortly after creating them, God instructed Adam and Eve to look to Him for the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:15-17). Satan came along and portrayed God as a liar and an oppressor (Genesis 3:4-5). Eve was deceived (2 Corinthians 11:3), and Adam willingly ate of the wrong tree (1 Timothy 2:14). Satan convinced mankind that he should and could decide for himself good and evil.
This is the great deception. The deceiver and his agents brought darkness and oppression disguised as light and liberty. As a result of Adam’s choice, mankind was cut off from God—the only true source of light, life and liberty.
What a deception! The author of darkness and death posed as an angel of light and sold the most fatal lie anyone has ever bought. God said, “In the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Satan, in effect, said, “God knows better—He’s been lying to you.” Through the ages, Satan and his agents have designed various systems to disguise the same old package of death.
God vs. Satan: the longest-running Bible prophecy
As a result of Adam’s sin, God dealt with each one of the players in the deception of Eden. In Genesis 3:15 we see the oldest and longest-running prophecy of the Bible. God told the serpent, Satan the devil, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed [Christ].”
The battle lines for thousands of years—until the return of Jesus Christ and the removal of the devil—had been drawn. There would be enmity or hostility between the woman, representing the true Church with God’s servants, and those of Satan’s world. Thus began the division between those who choose light and truth and those who choose darkness and lies.
Continuing His address to Satan, God went on to say, “He [Christ] shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His [Christ’s] heel,” referring to the fact that Satan would orchestrate the hatred of Jewish leaders to have Christ crucified. As Christ said to these leaders, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do” (John 8:44).
This battle—the battle of God vs. Satan—has been going on for over 6,000 years. We are told in 2 Corinthians 4:4 that Satan is the “god of this age.” In God’s sovereign purpose, Satan has been permitted to exercise a great measure of authority and power through the duration of this age.
While man remains a free moral agent and is answerable and responsible for his actions, evil is more than human. Evil has its source in a powerful being that has blinded the minds of those God is not yet working with. (To understand why God is not yet working with the majority of the world, read our article “Are Most People Eternally Lost?”)
One of the primary manifestations of satanic influence and of the evil of this age is religious deception. It is blindness in reference to the laws of God’s coming Kingdom. It is obvious from many passages in the Bible that the Kingdom of God in its permanence does not belong to this age—for Satan is indeed the god of this age.
There is still hope for the world
But God has not gone off to heaven and left this world under the complete control of this evil spirit being called Satan the devil. God has not been dethroned. It remains eternally true that “the LORD has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). God is still king of all the ages. It is simply a matter of understanding that the fullness of God’s Kingdom will not come about until this present evil age comes to an end.
Jesus Christ established a beachhead for the Kingdom of God through His Church, though this world remains largely the kingdom of Satan.We also need to understand that the Kingdom of God is not only future. Jesus Christ established a beachhead for the Kingdom of God through His Church, though this world remains largely the kingdom of Satan. The author of the book of Hebrews speaks of faithful people living during the time of the early New Testament Church who “have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come” (Hebrews 6:5).
The powers of the world to come have thus penetrated this age. The defeat of Satan by God and the establishment of His Kingdom are not solely in the future. God has already acted in His kingly power to break the power of Satan. This present evil world—the domain of Satan—has been breached by God.
Satan’s kingdom is doomed to fall
The Scriptures make it clear that Satan’s evil influence over mankind is destined to end. Speaking of Christ, Hebrews 2:14-15 says, “Through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.” The word destroy in this passage means to ruin, put out of action or render inoperative. (Read more about this in our article “Satan Destroyed? How?”)
The destruction of Satan’s stronghold has already been guaranteed through Christ’s death, burial and resurrection from the dead. It was a defeat for Satan in that his activity—his power in some real way—was and is curtailed towards God’s people. As Revelation 12:11 says regarding faithful Christians, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”
Christ’s ministry was also an invasion of Satan’s realm. Christ came “preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23). Christ preached the Kingdom of God and then demonstrated its power. He told the people of His day that casting out demons was clearly the work of God’s Kingdom (Matthew 12:24-29).
The power of the Kingdom of God is already on the earth
The gospel—the good news—of the Kingdom of God, which Jesus brought, includes the fact that the power and the authority of the Kingdom of God has come to earth and that it is at work in and among humanity.
John the Baptist and Jesus Christ began to proclaim the reality that the power of God’s Kingdom was and is already at work on this earth. It has come near, and the opportunity to be a part of that Kingdom is being offered through the Spirit of God to those whom God is calling (John 6:44). This calling from God includes instruction on how to live. It has immediate relevance and urgency.
The Jews of the first century were expecting God to send them a leader who would overthrow Roman rule. But the hope of such a leader did not happen. The Jewish state was not restored, the temple was destroyed, and the Jewish people were scattered.
But Jesus was not wrong in His prediction. The fullness of His Kingdom had simply not yet come.
Even though the Kingdom of God is not yet a reality on earth, Jesus instructed the members of His Church, which is the spiritual body of people representing that Kingdom, to preach this message to the world. The teachings of Jesus, including many Kingdom parables, explain that while the Kingdom has not yet replaced “the kingdoms of this world” (Revelation 11:15), the seeds of this future government have been planted and are growing.
What we must do to enter the Kingdom of God
In order to enter the Kingdom of God and be part of God’s eternal family, we have to repent of our sins, be baptized and start living by the laws of the Kingdom. We have to choose to be on God’s side in this great battle of God vs. Satan. When we make this decision and begin living as God says, God rescues us from the “power of darkness” and considers us to be part of “the kingdom of the Son of His love” (Colossians 1:13).
We are also instructed to pray for God’s Kingdom to come (Matthew 6:9-10). As we experience the limited aspects of God’s Kingdom now, we gain confidence that the future Kingdom will be a full reality. When this occurs, faithful saints will assist Christ in teaching those who have never known God’s truth.
After every human has had the opportunity to hear God’s truth and choose whether to respond to it, the great battle of God vs. Satan over mankind will finally come to a close. God is destined to win that battle, but there’s still a question only you can answer:
Whose side are you on?
Read more about the enemy Satan in the article “Satan: A Profile.”