With just a quick read of Scripture, there’s no doubt that God not only allows Satan to live, but God allows Satan to tempt us. But why does God allow Satan to tempt us? Or maybe an even better question is why did God allow Satan to tempt Jesus?
Why Does God Allow Satan to Tempt Us? For God’s Glory
It’s a good place to start by noting that any question that starts with “Why does God . . . ?” can always be answered “For his own glory and our good.” Everything God does ultimately is rooted in his sovereign plan of glorifying himself and loving people.
It’s also important to note that Satan is at the mercy of God’s control. God uses Satan, Satan works for God, and Satan can only do what God allows him to do. Therefore, if we hold to the premises that everything God does (and allows) is for his glory and our good, and God allows Satan to tempt Christians, we can also assume that God uses demonic attacks for God’s glory and the Christian’s good.
Why Does God Allow Satan to Tempt Us? To Help Us Seek God When We Are Tired and Need Power
There are countless ways God uses the works of Satan for his will of glorifying himself and doing what’s best for us. One specific way can be seen through the timing of Satan’s temptations.
Have you ever noticed that Satan seems to consistently tempt us during at least two very specific points in our life: 1. When we are tired and beaten up. 2. When we are seeking to do something meaningful for God.
Notice that when Jesus was tempted he “was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing during those days. And when they were ended, he was hungry. The devil said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become bread’” (Luke 4:1:3). Here Jesus is clearly in a physically depleted moment. The Bible noticeably states that Jesus “was hungry.” Notice too that this forty days of temptation in the wilderness took place just before Jesus’ public ministry began (Luke 4:14-15).
In most Bible translations the headings in Luke 4 state “The Temptation of Jesus” (Luke 4:1-13) and then “Jesus Begins His Ministry” (Luke 4:14-15). Here we can see that God allowed Satan to tempt Jesus at the two specific points we all are consistently tempted during: when we are tired and when we are seeking to do something important for God.
Why on earth would God allow Satan to tempt those he loves during these two pivotal points? Satan desires to tempt at these points because he knows at these points we need God most. God allows Satan to tempt at these moments for the same reason, because he knows now more than ever we need him most.
Why Does God Allow Satan to Tempt Us? To Enhance Our Prayer Life, Humility, and Power in Christ
According to Scripture, how are we to resist the devil? By seeking and submitting to God: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).
God allows Satan to tempt us so we will seek more of God. God uses Satan to accomplish his will, and God’s will is always to bring himself more glory through his people loving, pursuing, and seeking him more. Satan is used by God for this very purpose. When you are tired, you need God more than ever. When you are about to do something significant for the Kingdom of God, you need God more than ever. Is it any wonder then why God allows Satan to tempt us during these most vulnerable moments? God uses Satan like God used the thorn in Paul’s flesh:
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (1 Corinthians 12:7-10)
God used Satan “to keep [Paul] from becoming conceited,” to cause Paul to seek God in prayer (“three times I pleaded with the Lord”), and to give Paul more power through relying on Christ in a deeper way (“For when I am weak, then I am strong”).
Why Does God Allow Satan to Tempt Us? So We Experience More of God’s Love
Notice that in James 4 when we are told to “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7), this command is placed in the context of God’s love for us.
God loves us so much he warns us of how the evils of the world can hurt our friendship with him (James4:4). God loves us so much that he “yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us” (James4:5). And God loves us so much he gives us instructions on how to be close to him, “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James4:8).
So notice that James 4:7 tells us to defeat the enemy by pursuing God, but it is surrounded by Bible verses expressing God’s desire for us to seek him more because of his love for us. Is there any doubt that God allows Satan to tempt us, especially when we are at our weakest, only so we will experience more of God’s love as a result of pursuing God and resisting Satan?
Why Does God Allow Satan to Tempt Us? So We Seek God With All of Our Heart
Jesus was hungry and tired. Jesus was about to embark on the most important mission in the history of the universe. And it was then that God used Satan for his own purpose. Hebrews 5:8, “Although [Jesus] was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered.” God used Satan in Jesus’ earthly life to help Jesus love and glorify the Father more. And God uses Satan in our lives for the same reason.
Though Satan acts on his own volition, for Satan to do anything, God must allow it. God is in complete and sovereign control over the devil. God said in Jeremiah 29:13, “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” God helps us seek him with all our heart by any means necessary, including through the temptations of Satan.
So why does God allow Satan to tempt us? To overcome Satan, we must seek God and submit to God. God always wants us to seek him and submit to him, therefore he allows Satan to tempt us.