If Satan can be at only one place at a time as I have been told, why do all of us as Christians say constantly that Satan tried to keep me from praying, Satan kept me from witnessing, Satan whispered such and such in my ear, or Satan tempted me in this or that? If he can be only in one place, surely we can’t be bothered by him much when there are so many people in the world.
One of the great truths of Scripture is the fact that God is omnipresent—present everywhere at the same time. In contrast, the Bible never teaches that Satan is omnipresent. He cannot be everywhere at once, as God can be. However, before we breathe a great sigh of relief, we must recognize that Satan has legions of agents, or demons, who go everywhere doing his bidding. In that sense we say Satan says and does to the believer the things you mentioned. Satan himself can be in only one place at a time, but his network of emissaries carries out his assignments. Space and time do not limit these powerful spirit beings. They are able to observe and influence what goes on in the world. They especially note and follow the saints of God, seeking to thwart their lives, both individually and collectively. They cannot possess the child of God, but they surely influence and harass him. They have access to the mind.
It is true that we tend to blame Satan for all sorts of things and circumstances, when he is but one part of the so-called “unholy trinity”—the world, the flesh, and the Devil. But we must not minimize the work Satan does through the world and the flesh, or the fact that he is an astute liar and organizer. Satan has a plan to defeat each of us, and he will not allow his agents ever to letup on their work in doing what he directs. In that way, Satan “walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8).
One of the greatest needs of the hour is a new awareness among Christians of Satan, his evil forces and how they operate. Satan has never been busier, not only in blinding the eyes of the lost but also in getting believers to fall. With example after example of Christians who have suffered defeat by not having their armor on (see Eph. 6:10–18), we ought to pay earnest attention to what the Bible says about our foe, and we ought to determine to walk in circumspect holiness under the Holy Spirit’s control and saturated with Scripture. People with spiritual discernment are concerned that in many cases vast numbers of church people (even in evangelical, fundamental circles) have never truly experienced the new birth as demonstrated by a subsequent separated, obedient life in which they have made Jesus Christ Lord. This reality of our Laodicean age is yet another manifestation of the power of Satan and his hosts. He has succeeded in blinding people with false teaching.
Ultimately, praise the Lord, his nefarious activities will stop. He was defeated at the cross and is, though yet very active, doomed. He is subject to God’s timetable and decrees. God’s Word will come to pass with regard to Satan and his angels.
This article appeared in the “Q & A” column of the Baptist Bulletin (December 1991) by Norman A. Olson.