The photo showcases a serene sunset casting a golden glow over a solitary cross, symbolizing the eternal struggle between good and evil, making one question why God tolerates the presence of the devil.

Why Doesn’T God Kill The Devil?

The question of why God allows evil and suffering in the world, especially at the hands of the Devil, has perplexed believers for centuries. This comprehensive article will examine the complex theological and philosophical reasons that God has not destroyed Satan.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: God does not kill the Devil because doing so would undermine human free will and God’s ultimate plan of redemption. Allowing evil and suffering serves a greater purpose.

In this article, we will explore the Biblical origins of Satan, analyze God’s reasons for allowing him to act, discuss philosophical justifications like the free will defense, summarize theories by key theologians like Augustine and Irenaeus, examine spiritual warfare theology, and reflect on how God’s patience with evil fits into His broader plan of salvation.

The Biblical Origins and Role of Satan

Satan’s Creation as an Angel

The Bible indicates that Satan was originally created as an angel named Lucifer. Isaiah 14:12 states, “How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!”

This passage metaphorically addresses the king of Babylon, but also refers to the angel who became Satan. Initially created as a perfect angel, Lucifer rebelled against God due to pride, seeking to put himself above the Lord (1 Timothy 3:6).

The Fall of Lucifer

Ezekiel 28:11-19 provides a prophetic lament over the king of Tyre that also describes characteristics of Satan before and after his fall. This passage indicates that Lucifer was a beautiful, wise, and perfect angel dwelling in Eden. But he became proud and corrupt because of his beauty and wisdom.

As punishment for trying to make himself equal to God, Lucifer was cast down from his exalted position.

Satan as the Enemy and Accuser

After his fall, Lucifer became known as Satan which means “adversary” in Hebrew. He is portrayed in Scripture as the devil who tempts humanity toward evil and accuses believers before God (Revelation 12:9-10). Though powerful, Satan operates under God’s sovereign control.

He seeks to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came to destroy the devil’s works (1 John 3:8, Hebrews 2:14). Ultimately Scripture points ahead to Satan’s final defeat and condemnation at Christ’s second coming (Revelation 20:10).

Why God Grants Satan Limited Power

Human Free Will Requires Allowing Evil

God grants Satan limited power because having the option to choose between good and evil is necessary for true human free will. If God eliminated all evil and wrongdoing, humans would essentially be robots programmed to only do good.

While that may sound ideal in theory, true love, sacrifice, courage and other virtues require the option to choose otherwise. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “God created things which had free will. That means they could go wrong.” Therefore, evil exists because God loves us enough to let us choose our own path.

Though the results are often tragic, our ability to freely love God and others is worth the risk in His omniscient view.

God’s Sovereignty Uses Evil for Good

Though God allows Satan to operate in the world, He remains sovereign over all Creation. According to His divine plan and wisdom, God can use evil events to ultimately accomplish greater goods. For example, persecution of the early church caused Christians to disperse around the Roman Empire and share the Gospel more widely.

Even horrific evils can lead to compassion, unity and spiritual renewal if people respond rightly. As Romans 8:28 promises, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Though we cannot fully understand it with our limited human perspective, God advance His Kingdom despite and even through evil schemes.

One frequently cited example is the story of Joseph in Genesis. Though sold into slavery by his jealous brothers, Joseph rose to power in Egypt and later stated, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen 50:20).

God remains sovereign even when evil looks triumphant.

God’s Patience Serves His Plan of Salvation

Some wonder why an all-powerful and loving God does not eliminate Satan immediately. However, God shows tremendous patience and delays destroying evil because He desires all people to have a chance for redemption.

The Apostle Peter explained, “…the Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

God’s perfect love compels Him to extend grace rather than to execute immediate judgement against evil. Destroying Satan and unrepentant sinners may seem right in human terms, but God sees the eternally bigger picture.

In addition, resisting the devil and his schemes helps prepare believers for eternity with God. As James 4:7 says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” By fighting against evil inclinations and Satan’s temptations, Christians grow in spiritual strength and maturity.

Like a wise coach, God allows His children to face struggles to help them build their spiritual muscles in enduring faith.

Theological Perspectives on God’s Reasons

Augustine’s View of Evil as Privation

The influential theologian Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) argued that evil is not a substance or entity in itself, but rather the absence or privation of good. When God created the world, Augustine said, everything was intrinsically good.

Evil entered when free creatures turned away from God, who is the supreme good. So evil is like a wound in goodness or a type of parasite that depends on goodness to exist at all.

Augustine said God allows evil to exist because God gifted free will to both angels and humans. Without free will, we could not truly love God. The privation view explains why an all-good God permits evil – it flows from the misuse of free will.

Augustine argues God will eventually defeat evil and all creation will be restored.

Irenaeus on Soul-Making and Maturity

The early church father Irenaeus (120-202 AD) offered a “soul-making” theodicy. He argued that exposure to evil and suffering is necessary for spiritual and moral development. God desires for humans to mature into the image of Christ. Without adversity, Irenaeus says, there is no growth.

Irenaeus compares this to a parent raising a child. The parent must allow the child to fall and get hurt while learning to walk. This pain produces growth and self-awareness. In the same way, God uses trials to shape human character.

Through endurance, people gain wisdom and Christlike virtues that could not form any other way.

Spiritual Warfare Theory of Cosmic Battle

Some theologians explain evil and suffering as byproducts of an immense spiritual battle between God and Satan. This view has roots in several biblical passages speaking of Satan as “god of this world” opposing God’s purposes (2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 5:19).

Proponents argue that much pain and tragedy in the world stems from demonic powers influencing people and systems toward harm. God could eradicate all evil at once but chooses not to because this would violate human free will.

The Bible depicts history moving toward a final day when God will defeat Satan and end evil forever (Rev. 20:10). In the meantime, suffering reminds that sin has devastating consequences in need of God’s salvation.

Addressing Common Objections and Concerns

The Problem of Evil and Suffering

The existence of evil and suffering in the world is one of the most common objections to the existence of an all-powerful, all-loving God. Critics argue that if God is truly good and all-powerful, He would not allow evil and suffering to exist.

This philosophical issue is known as “the problem of evil.” Here are some key points on this complex topic:

  • Not all suffering is meaningless – Some suffering can produce perseverance and character (Romans 5:3-4). Other suffering can serve as a warning to turn away from destructive behaviors.
  • Humans have free will and are responsible for much evil – God gave us free will, and humans often choose to act in evil ways that produce suffering.
  • Natural disasters are the result of living in a fallen, imperfect world – The Bible explains that human sin impacted all of creation, so natural disasters are not necessarily God’s direct action.
  • God may allow some suffering for reasons we do not understand – Some suffering ultimately produces good results that we can only see from God’s perspective (Genesis 50:20).

Why Doesn’t God Intervene More Often?

Some wonder why if God is loving and all-powerful, He does not miraculously intervene more often to reduce suffering and evil in the world. Here are several potential reasons:

  • Overuse of miracles could diminish human free will and responsibility – Constant divine intervention against human will could turn us into puppets.
  • God’s priority is building our faith and character – Hebrews 11 praises figures who persevered through trials, not those delivered from them.
  • God works patiently through human timeframes – What seems slow to us is appropriate in God’s eternal perspective (2 Peter 3:8).
  • God often works through people – God equips believers to help the suffering, addressing issues at a human level.
  • God will ultimately eradicate all evil and suffering – Scriptures promise that Christ’s return will usher in a perfect world free of sin, death, and pain.

Rather than constantly overriding the consequences of human actions, God works patiently through believers to limit suffering and evil. He also promises to fully deal with these problems in His perfect timing.

Is Satan Still a Threat to God’s Control?

Some wonder if the presence of Satan and demons means that there are forces of evil that are beyond God’s control and can truly threaten His plans. But Scripture makes it clear that God is infinitely more powerful than Satan. Here are some key truths:

  • Satan has limited power – The book of Job shows he can only act within boundaries God sets.
  • God uses even Satan’s actions for His purposes – For example, Satan’s tempting of Judas led to Christ’s crucifixion and the redemption of mankind.
  • Satan’s fate is already sealed – The book of Revelation says Satan will ultimately be thrown into the lake of fire as God’s enemies are judged.
  • God allows Satan’s presence for now out of patience – 2 Peter 3:9 tells us God is patient, not wanting anyone to perish but all to repent.


In conclusion, the question of why God allows Satan to continue acting in the world has challenged theologians for millennia. While simple answers elude us, we explored how God’s respect for human free will, His ability to incorporate evil into His ultimate plan of redemption, and the soul-making potential of spiritual warfare all provide pieces of this complex puzzle.

Evil remains a mystery, but through faith we can trust God’s wisdom and sovereignty amid life’s pain and suffering.

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