Once, many years ago, when I was preaching, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Satan doesn’t have any power over you; the only thing he has is ability, and that is the ability to deceive.” There are a lot of people that consider satan to be an all-powerful being, when, in fact, he’s not! He lost whatever power he had as an anointed cherub of God when he was cast out of heaven and fell to Earth (Luke 10:18; Isaiah 14:12-14) He is not equal to God in any way, and he never was! We have to realize that all he is, is a disenfranchised spirit that is seeking those that he might deceive. The Scripture says in 1 Peter 5:8, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.”
Note that he isn’t a roaring lion, he just acts like one! It’s important for us to realize that God is the one that has the real dynamic power, not satan, and in this study we’re going to look at some scriptures and some definitions that will help us better understand that!
Satan doesn’t have power, but what he can do is use your own authority against you by getting you to say things that are out of line with God’s Word, and that are on track with satan’s plan in your life. And, of course, his plan is simply stated in John 10:10, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” So, satan has come to steal, to kill, and to destroy; so if it is destructive, if it is stealing from you, if it is robbing you, then that is satan’s involvement in your life. And it stems from deception. Deception in getting you to speak things that are contrary to God’s will for you, and His Word. So let’s take a look at some scriptures and we’ll see that in each case, Satan doesn’t have power he has only has the ability to deceive!
Job 1:9-12, “Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought?
Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land.
But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face.
And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD.”
The Hebrew word “yawd” means “open hand” indicating, “power” but means “direction.” Both the word “power” and the word “hand” in verse 12 is this Hebrew word “yawd.” When God said that Job was in satan’s “power” he was saying that Job was “in the palm of satan’s hand.” And how had Job gotten to this place? As Job 3:25 says, “For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me.” Satan uses fear to deceive us into confessing things about our lives and situations in a spirit of fear, and the power of our own words is used against us. Job realized this later on and said, “Teach me, and I will hold my tongue: and cause me to understand wherein I have erred. How forcible are right words!” (Job 6:24, 25) Job “erred” because he allowed satan to deceive him into speaking words contrary to God’s will for his life! Once he got back in line with God’s Word, and began to pray for his friends in faith, all was restored to him… and even more than he had!
What about the New Testament?
Acts 26:17, “Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee,
To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.
Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision:”
The Greek word for “power” here is “exousia” which means “ability, privilege, mastery, influence,” and denotes “freedom of action, the right to act;” when used of God, it is absolute, unrestricted, “authority,” “ability, force, strength,” W.E. Vine says it is nowhere translated “power” in the Revised Standard. In other words, the word “exousia” is “ability” while the word “dunamis” is better translated “dynamic power,” in the sense that we normally think of truly dynamic power. So it this case, the phrase “from the power of satan unto God” means that they should turn from the “ability” of satan to the ability of God.
So, what is the root of the ability of satan to deceive mankind? Satan uses mankind’s base nature, that came from Adam’s sin, against him! For instance, in Habbakuk 2:9, “Woe to him that coveteth an evil covetousness to his house, that he may set his nest on high, that he may be delivered from the power of evil!”
Again, here the word translated “power” in Hebrew is “kaf” a word that means the “palm of the hand, bowl, figuratively power.” Not actual power, but figurative power. We see again the ability of satan is to deceive, in this case, using covetousness against the person in question not literally “strong-arming” them to do exactly what he wants. This ability and influence is something that he gained not though his own power… he got it from Adam; when Adam committed high treason against God in the Garden. Satan admits as much in his discussion with Jesus during the unsuccessful temptation of Jesus:
Luke 4:1-8, “And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,
Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it be made bread.
And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.
And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.
And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.
If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.”
The Greek word for “power” here is “exousia” which we defined earlier. If you remember, it means “ability” or “influence.” He said that this ability and influence was “delivered” to him and “to whomsoever I will I give it.” So, he has the ability to use this ability, and he can also give it, or confer it, to others. Jesus didn’t dispute this in the temptation, in fact, that is why it was a temptation! This will come up as an important point later in our discussion.
Let’s look at satan’s ability to oppress people. Note what Acts 10:38 says, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”
The Greek work here, “katadunasteuo” means to “exercise dominion against, that is to oppress.” Dominion? Where would satan have gained dominion? Remember what God told Adam in Genesis? In Genesis 1:26, “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” God gave mankind dominion over the earth… then, Adam gave it to satan when Adam committed high treason! Using this influence, satan brought death into the world by teaching man how to speak death! The scripture tells us that, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.” (Prov. 18:21) Once satan began to deceive man into speaking death over himself; slowly man began to live a shorter and shorter lifespan. Think of how people express themselves, “That just KILLS me!” “I thought I was going to DIE!” “That was so funny I nearly laughed myself to DEATH!” People constantly use death to express themselves… and it is literally KILLING them! Rather than living by the power of faith in God… people live by fear, inspired by the devil. Fear is the reciprocal of faith… it is faith perverted! So, by using the fear of death, mankind was subjected to bondage.
The scripture says in Hebrews 2:14:
“Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
The Greek word here is “kraytos” meaning “vigor,” figuratively “dominion.” Satan used the dominion given to him by Adam to develop a fear-based dominion over mankind.
And remember that I said that satan has the ability to transfer, or share, this ability with others? The only recorded incident in the Scriptures that demonstrates the active, dynamic form of power that has normally been associated with satan is in regard to power that will be exercised by the antichrist and spoken of in 2 Thess. 2: 1-14:
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things?
And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time.
For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.
And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:
Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth:
Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The “wicked” that will be revealed is, of course, the antichrist. Satan will share his dominion, temporarily with the antichrist, and he and his “prophet” will do some amazing looking “signs.” But, they will be lying wonders.
Let’s look at the Greek words used in the above verse. The Greek word translated “power” in verse 9 is “dunamis” and means “force, miraculous power.” The word translated “signs” is “semeion” which means “supernatural indication.” And the two word term “lying wonders” is “pseudos teras” which is “lying, or false, omens.” All of this is more along the lines of what we have come to expect when we think of satan’s POWER! But, notice, it is channeled through a man, the antichrist! The power and dominion that God gave man is perverted by satan and turned into lying wonders! So, even at what may be the height of his demonstration of “power,” it is due to his perversion of man’s authority, not because it is inherent in satan himself. Keep this in mind when satan tries to lie to you about just how strong and powerful he is!
John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” He is a liar! He can only deceive and lie! Don’ let him turn this ability on you! He has no dynamic power… he only has the ability to deceive you into using your own authority and ability to use your words against yourself!