What Power Does Satan Have in this World: What Are His Limits?

Debbie McDaniel

iBelieve Contributing Writer
Updated Mar 03, 2021
What Power Does Satan Have in this World: What Are His Limits?

In all that swirls around us today, from news headlines to daily life struggles, we may be aware more than ever of this one thing: we're in a battle. We face an enemy every single day that we're here breathing air. We may not see it. We might forget he’s there. We may lose our focus when things seem tough or get distracted on all that doesn't really matter.

But the truth is - spiritual forces are at work.

There’s one who lurks around us today. He’s real. He’s alive. He’s deceptive and crafty. His primary goal is to strike you down, along with as many others as he can drag down with you. He waits, searches, and watches for the best time to attack – your weakest and most vulnerable moments.

Satan is the enemy of every believer. And he’s not just some guy in a red suit, pitchfork in hand. Don’t be fooled; he’s far more deceptive than that.

He wants nothing more than to silence every Christian and render us completely ineffective. He seeks to gain ground today in as many lives as he can, and in every corner of our world, for he knows his time is limited.

But we don’t have to let him win the battle in our lives.

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woman looking sneaky and thinking

"We must be alert to what his schemes are so that we're not tricked and taken off guard."

God reminds us in His word to constantly be aware of the devil’s schemes. If we’re aware of how the enemy operates and know what his weaknesses are, he loses effectiveness. The best soldiers understand that when you're in a war, you're never going to win if you don't know who it is you're fighting against. We must be alert to what his schemes are so that we're not tricked and taken off guard.

Revelation 12:4, Isaiah 14:11-15, and Ezekiel 28:12-19 tell us how Satan was cast out of heaven and that a third of the angels fell with him. Though his power is limited, he has many dark forces on his side. We may not know exactly how many demons are at work in this world, yet we can know, according to scripture, there are many.

And though the enemy’s threat may seem real and fierce, he’s not all-powerful. He wants to be. He pretends to be. But the Bible tells us differently. There are things he’d prefer you didn’t know about him because it reveals his weaknesses.

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5 Limitations of Satan’s Power:

1. Satan can’t be everywhere at the same time. He must travel around.

Satan has evil forces at work for him, but he is limited in what he can do and where he can be. 

1 Peter 5:8 says, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

The book of Job also reminds us that when Satan comes before God to ask his permission to attack Job, God asks him where he has been. And he answers, "From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it." Job 1:7

His words indicate he has must travel about, not able to be in all places at one time. His power is limited in where he can be and all that he can do.

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vision road to future sun clarity leadership

But God is omnipresent.

God can be everywhere, at the same time. He never sleeps or slumbers, He's aware every moment of every day, exactly what we're up against. He knows our way and is with us always. There's no place on this earth we can go that He doesn't see and know about.

“He will not let your foot slip-- he who watches over you will not slumber;” Psalm 121:3

“The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good.” Proverbs 15:3

2. Satan is not in full control. His power is limited by God.

Satan’s power is limited, and his destination is certain, so he seeks to take as many with him into destruction as he possibly can, knowing full well that his time is limited. 

The book of Job is again a reminder of the enemy’s limitations. He must ask God for permission to bring harm to this God-fearing man, Job. Ephesians 2:2 refers to the devil as "the ruler of the kingdom of the air," and says he works in the hearts of the disobedient. His main aim is to steal, kill, and destroy us. John 10:10 calls him a "thief."

We should be very aware that as we stand against him, we are only secure in the armor of God and protected by His power. We cannot fight this enemy alone. Yet God reminds us to stand strong. He reminds us that there is indeed a real enemy. And He assures us that He is the One who will fight our battles and give us final victory. It’s not up to us or our power and strength. We don’t have enough in and of ourselves. But through Christ and His completed work on the cross, we can stand strong and believe that He is the One who will lead us through even the fiercest of battles.

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But our God is omnipotent.

But our God is omnipotent.

He is all powerful. He reigns supreme. He gives us what we need for every moment in this life. He strengthens us, His Spirit guides us and empowers us for His purposes. He alone holds the power to forgive, the power to set free, the power to save, and the power to give eternal life.

“Salvation and glory and power belong to our God... Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.” Revelation 19:1, 6

"For nothing will be impossible with God." Luke 1:37 (ESV)

3. The enemy does not know all.

If our enemy does not know all, he cannot read our minds, nor does he possess the power to have the full knowledge that God has. He can overhear our conversations, even to ourselves, he observes our behavior, decisions, and knows our weaknesses. 

We should stay very aware that he is studying our lives and can predict our responses based on past decisions.  You can be sure that the enemy will use any of our shortcomings to his advantage against us, but he still does not know what God knows. We can be confident of this because of Matthew 4:1-11. He speaks to Jesus in the wilderness and brings temptation against Him, yet there’s no indication that he knows ahead of time how our Lord will respond.

No matter what we’ve done, where we’ve been, or past mistakes we’ve made, no matter what information the enemy tries to hold against us, we do not have to be held back in fear.

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Tree growing up out of an open book

But God is omniscient.

He is all-knowing. He sees all and knows all. He knows everything about us: every word before we say it and every thought before we think it. And He still loves us more than we could ever imagine. He is the One we live for. We trust in the power of His truth, not the voice or the lies of the enemy.

“Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding has no limit.” Psalm 147:5

“You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar.” Psalm 139:2

4. Satan is a created being He is not equal to God.

Many times, people may make the mistake of assuming that Satan is an opposing force “equal” to God. But the enemy is far from equal to God Almighty. He was created as an angel in heaven. He was there to bring worship to God Himself. And because of pride of his own desire to be worshipped, he fell from heaven, taking many angels with him. These are the dark forces we wage war against in this life. But the truth to remember is that Satan was an angelic being created by a loving God. By his own choices, he fell from his position in heaven and his destiny is doomed.

“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! You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.” Isaiah 14:11-13

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person standing on rocky outcrop looking at beautiful universe, God will never leave you

God alone is the Creator.

He made us, the world, all that we see and know. Everything that exists around us is because God Himself brought it into being. That is a power the enemy could never duplicate or manipulate. He is not God. He is not the Creator. God is clear in His word that his angels are under His command, doing his work and obeying His word.

“For thus says the LORD—He who created the heavens; He is God; He formed the earth and fashioned it; He established it; He did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited—'I am the LORD, and there is no other.’” Isaiah 45:18

“Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.” Psalm 103:20

5. The devil’s destiny is already determined. He’s lost the battle.

Scripture is clear that the end of Satan and all his demons and dark forces will come. He cannot stand against God Almighty. He will never hold the final victory against the Lord and His children. Christ has already won that battle when He defeated sin and death by His work on the cross. It’s only a matter of time that the enemy is cast down once and for all.

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” Revelation 20:10

Maybe the time seems slow in coming. The spiritual battle around us continues to escalate and it’s hard some days to keep going strong. We get weary. We wonder why the attacks keep coming, and sometimes we feel all alone. But God longs for as many as possible to know His love. He is kind and merciful and wants many more to know the freedom Christ offers.

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Cross with white fabric at sunset

This one truth rings true no matter what we face in this life: Christ won.

Jesus won the victory over the enemy. He crushed his head, and Satan’s doom is coming. As the last days are upon us, may God keep us forever aware that time is short. May we continue to be a light in a dark world, that seeks to point others to Christ’s love and forgiveness. There is hope because of Jesus. The enemy would want us to think all hope is gone. But we know better. Jesus is victorious and because of Him, we live free.

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:57

Christ overcame all evil. The power of the Resurrection proves - He won. And that same power fights for us even now. The enemy may try every scheme possible to distract, tempt, or lure us away with fear, lies, and manipulation, but as believers, he does not hold our future in his hands. Only God does that. And we are forever secure in His power.

“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39

In whatever you face, know that He is with you, know that He is for you, and He fights for you.

May God’s grace and strength fill you today, as you live aware of His constant covering and protection.

Stay close to Him, live aware, and stand strong.

Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's Facebook page, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives. Find her also on Twitter and at her blog www.debbiemcdaniel.com.

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Originally published Thursday, 21 June 2018.