God’s Power Versus Satan’s Power

God’s Power Versus Satan’s Power May 15, 2023

God’s power is endless.

Satan’s power is limited.

Several decades ago when I was a teenager, I attended a church fireside at which we listened to a man from our congregation whose career was in the counseling field. We found out soon after he began his presentation that his clientele included some types of people I hardly even know existed at the time. He shared with us several experiences he had counseling people who had ventured into Satanism. Because of the intensity of the topic, it was one of the most memorable firesides I’ve ever attended.

The gist of what this man told us through his experiences with people whose lives were in turmoil because of their decisions to get involved with Satanism (go figure) was that Satan is very powerful. The devil had captured these people and he was under no circumstances willing to let them go, at least not without their receiving significant help and making valiant efforts.

Something he said during the fireside struck many of us who attended as being very unsettling. While talking about the general battle between good and evil, he asserted that the ultimate victory of God over Satan depended in some part on each of us. He explained the possibility that if we and others in our generation who were among the righteous didn’t live up to our covenants and foreordained callings, that our failures could ultimately cost God his ultimate victory over Satan. The idea he presented in this fireside discussion was that the overall outcome in the war between good and evil would be determined by a kind of score that summed up the collective power for goodness of God and all of his followers versus the tally for Satan and his followers.



I had never heard that idea before, and I’ve never heard it again since then. 

I feel certain that God’s power is greater than the devil’s, and that the ultimate outcome of this war between the adversary and God is certain: God wins! 

What does hang in the balance is our own salvation, which is contingent upon how committed we are to our belief in Jesus Christ and to our responsibility to follow the plan.

But Satan has been granted a certain amount of power over those who live in this mortal existence. The Lord told Joseph Smith in the preface to the Doctrine and Covenants (Section 1) that “the devil shall have power over his own dominion”, and that “the Lord shall have power over his saints”.

Many statements made in the scriptures and by modern prophets give us reason to contemplate the capabilities of the competing powers: God versus Satan; good versus evil. I’ve been inclined to ask questions like these:

  • What is Satan’s dominion? Over what does he have ultimate power?
  • What is the context of the power that we see manifest in our world, both for good and for evil?
  • If God is all-powerful, why does he allow Satan so much freedom to work his plan of destruction on this earth?
  • What limits does God place on Satan’s power, and how does he enforce those limits?
  • How does the gift of agency factor into the power and influence of Satan, who despises agency, and God, who places an eternal value on agency?

The War in Heaven

Reaching back as far back as scriptural records provide as they lay out the chronology of mankind’s existence, the first interaction between Satan and Jesus presents them as rivals during a war that was held in heaven before the creation of this world. During that war, Satan apparently held a position of high authority as the “Son of the Morning”. In the pre-mortal council, Satan had volunteered to fulfill the role that Jesus ultimately fulfilled, but in a different way. Satan is quoted as saying, “I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.”

Satan’s motives for saving the human race were selfish. His unchecked pride and aspirations for power, including attempting to usurp the power of God the Father himself, caused him to be cast out of heaven as described in Doctrine and Covenants 19:

Doctrine and Covenants 19:25-29

25 And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son,

26 And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning.

27 And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning!

28 And while we were yet in the Spirit, the Lord commanded us that we should write the vision; for we beheld Satan, that old serpent, even the devil, who rebelled against God, and sought to take the kingdom of our God and his Christ—

29 Wherefore, he maketh war with the saints of God, and encompasseth them round about.

Satan’s Power Facilitates Earthly Opposition

Satan was cast out of heaven and took with him one-third of the spirit offspring of God. In his rebellion and in harmony with eternal law, Satan was granted the ability to tempt those who would be born to this earth. God yielded power to Satan on earth as part of the plan for God’s children to be tempted and tried, which is part of the ultimate eternal plan for His children’s progress.

As described by Nephi, Satan provides the necessary opposition through his destructive power of temptation.

2 Nephi 2:11 

For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so…righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

Satan’s power includes the ability to tempt people. Satan’s power grows as people give way to temptation. We know from the scriptures that evil spirits can be aggressive, that they can possess the physical bodies of those who have succumbed to temptations or who have been subjected to physical infirmities that make them susceptible to the power of evil spirits. Although it is clear that through faith and priesthood power, evil spirits can be cast out of a person’s body and even out of a physical location (such as a home through a dedication prayer), the power and influence of Satan is very real.

Aside from direct influence from Satan, we are also subjected to the very real evil that is committed by people who have allowed the influence of Satan to guide their thoughts and actions.

Were it not for the work of Jesus Christ through the atonement, Satan’s power would be much more extensive, going beyond this life. Jacob explains that were it not for Christ’s gaining victory over death, that our ultimate destiny would be that “our spirits must have become like unto [the devil], and we become devils…to remain with the father of lie, in misery, like unto himself.”

The story of Korihor in The Book of Mormon is a vivid demonstration of the very real power that Satan has over people in this world. After having his ministry of deceit and opposition to God undone by a miracle in which he was struck dumb, Korihor explained how he had been taught by Satan:

Alma 30:53

But behold, the devil hath deceived me; for he appeared unto me in the form of an angel, and said unto me: Go and reclaim this people, for they have all gone astray after an unknown God. And he said unto me: There is no God; yea, and he taught me that which I should say. And I have taught his words; and I taught them because they were pleasing unto the carnal mind; and I taught them, even until I had much success, insomuch that I verily believed that they were true; and for this cause I withstood the truth, even until I have brought this great curse upon me.

Satan’s influence in our modern era is highly noticeable. Sometimes even the most religious can find themselves asking this question: “Who’s really in control?”

Enoch’s description of Satan’s power on earth is a vivid reminder that he has been given free reign for now:

Moses 7:26

And he beheld Satan; and he had a great chain in his hand, and it veiled the whole face of the earth with darkness; and he looked up and laughed, and his angels rejoiced. 

When Will Satan Lose His Power?

While Satan is flourishing in his pursuit of evil and temptation in the world, and has been for thousands of years, we know that the day will come when his power is destroyed. During the Millenium, Satan will be bound, and God’s power will be manifest in such a way that the enmity of all flesh will cease, and the earth will be at peace.

Our Christian faith gives us the hope and expectation that God is in ultimate control, even while experiencing increased wickedness and the seemingly endless exposure to Satan’s influence.

The ultimate end of Satan’s power will come, as described by the Savior in his explanation of how his power trumps Satan’s:

Doctrine and Covenants 19:2-3

2 I, having accomplished and finished the will of him whose I am, even the Father, concerning me—having done this that I might subdue all things unto myself—

3 Retaining all power, even to the destroying of Satan and his works at the end of the world, and the last great day of judgment, which I shall pass upon the inhabitants thereof, judging every man according to his works and the deeds which he hath done.

Isaiah provides a candid description of the ultimate end of Satan, his loss of power, and the realization by mankind of the weakness of the evil that is typified in the devil.

Isaiah 14:16-19

16 They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;

17 That made the world as a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?

18 All the kings of the nations, even all of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house.

19 But thou art cast out of thy grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcase trodden under feet.

Christians have strong reason to believe that God’s power can always overcome Satan’s, that Satan’s power only exists as he is given permission from God to work destruction and opposition as part of God’s eternal plan of happiness. The plan of happiness gives mankind the ability to experience perpetual happiness through eternal progression. Satan, together with his limited power to cause destruction, has lost access to that happiness, and is left in misery along with those who choose the same unenviable outcome.

About Richard Robbins
Richard Robbins is a Latter-day Saint father of eight and an entrepreneur. In addition to faith topics, he writes about technology and principles of prosperity on his personal blogs. You can read more about the author here.

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