Does Satan have to ask for God’s permission before he can attack us?
Job 1 and 2 describe Satan requesting permission from God to attack Job’s life. Based on these chapters, some believe Satan must ask God for permission to attack us spiritually. Is this true?
Though Satan requested permission in Job’s case, there is no evidence this is required on other occasions. Luke 22:31-32 offers one additional example regarding Peter. There Jesus states, “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat” (v. 31 NIV). Typically, however, Satan is portrayed as living as a liar and father of lies, working to destroy others without obtaining specific permission from God.
In fact, Satan is called the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 14:30). He has already been given authority to operate in this world, tempting people to sin. He even tempted Jesus three times in the wilderness, being resisted by Him (Matthew 4:1-11). Satan was able to work through Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus without any mention of obtaining specific permission from God.
Instead, 1 Peter 5:8-9 teaches, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.” We are to expect Satan to attack and are called to be prepared and resist him. James 4:7 promises, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
Ephesians 6:10-20 also offers clear advice regarding how to respond to Satan’s attacks. We stand firm, wearing God’s “spiritual armor” to successfully respond to the devil’s schemes: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (v. 11).
Satan comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10). First John 5:19 teaches, “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” Yet we are to “give no opportunity to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27) and set our mind on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5).
For those who believe in Christ, we can rest in His promise that, “Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). Nothing, even Satan, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37-39). In the end, Satan will be defeated and his power will end (Revelation 20:10).