Often times middle schoolers ask the best questions. Expose them to sound Bible teaching and, count on it, good and sometimes difficult questions come abounding. One such question I received a while ago from a 6th grader serves as a good example. One night at The Ride, a young man walked over to me after a thrilling game of dodgeball and asked, “If God is all powerful and righteous, why didn’t He crush Satan the moment He sinned?”
Put yourself in my place; ready, set, answer…
Thankfully, God had prepared me for such a question with a very satisfying and profound answer. In short, God created Satan and has allowed him to live in order to glorify His Son, Jesus Christ. Satan exists to make Jesus Christ glorious in all our eyes. How do I know this? Because, “all things have been created through (Jesus) and for (Jesus)” (Colossians 1:16). This means that Satan has been created by Jesus for the purpose of glorifying Jesus.
How does that work? John Piper (as usual) says it well:
Satan deserved the lake of fire the moment he rebelled against God. It is an infinitely grievous sin to rebel against an infinitely worth Being…God had the right and the power to put Satan out of commission the moment he sinned. Therefore, the fact that God did not do it shows that He had a reason. Can we know what it was?
The ultimate answer…is that “all things were created through (Christ) and for (Christ)” (Colossians 1:16). God foresaw all that Satan would do if He created Satan and permitted him to rebel. In choosing to create him, he was choosing to fold all of that evil into His purpose for creation. That purpose for creation was the glory of His Son. All things, including Satan and all his followers, were created with this in view…
Satan’s fall and ongoing existence are for the glory of Christ. 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 single, sudden, and infinitely holy display of power to destroy Satan immediately after his fall would have been a glorious display of power and righteousness. but it would not have been the fullest possible display of all the glories in the Son and the Father. God chose an infinitely wise way of displaying the full array of divine glories in letting Satan fall and do his work for millennia.
Satan and all his pain, serves in the end to magnify the power and wisdom and love and grace and mercy and patience and wrath of Jesus Christ. We would not know Christ in the fullness of His glory if He had not defeated Satan in the way He did. (Taken from Spectacular Sins, p. 48-49. You can hear the sermon series here for free. I highly recommend it.)
All things serve to make much of Jesus. In Him does all of creation and history find its purpose; including Satan. All the purposes of God are unapologetically Christ-centered; may we be so as well.