John Piper on Satan’s power: Why is the devil allowed to blind people to the Gospel?

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Rocket Republic/Flicker

Pastor and bestselling author John Piper recently explained why Satan can wield such immense power over the spiritual world, especially when it comes to blinding people to the Gospel.

In a recent episode of his “Ask Pastor John” podcast, Piper, the 78-year-old chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary in Minneapolis, Minnesota, said he receives more questions about Satan than any other biblical topic. 

Piper acknowledged the mysterious nature of these questions, noting that though the Bible hints at Satan’s fall from grace as a rebellious angel, the exact motives remain elusive.

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“There are hints that he’s a fallen angel and that there was rebellion in Heaven,” he said. "But that’s not a full explanation for where he comes from, because it’s very difficult to explain why a personal, rational being — an angel — who is created perfect, would ever find a motive to rebel in a perfect universe."

"That’s not easy to explain. I don’t think we have a sufficient explanation for that. That’s one of those things that’s cloaked in mystery for now."

Satan’s influence is palpable from Genesis to Revelation, Piper said, adding that Scripture is clear the devil is a ubiquitous presence, tempting, deceiving and obstructing humanity's spiritual journey.

This phenomenon leaves believers grappling with questions about why a benevolent and omnipotent God would allow such malevolent influence to persist.

Piper pointed to several biblical accounts where Satan's destructive power is evident, such as in the parable of the sower, where seeds representing God's Word are snatched from hearts by Satan, leaving people spiritually barren. Furthermore, the Apostle Paul warns of the "god of this age" blinding the minds of unbelievers to prevent them from recognizing the light of Christ's Gospel.

“Why does God allow that blinding, that word-stealing power?” Piper said. “I think the key lies in the fact that if God had eliminated Satan so that the only enemy to be defeated is our own human depravity, part of the glory of the triumph of salvation would be missing.”

According to Piper, by allowing Satan's presence to persist, God's triumph in overcoming both the blindness of human depravity and the deception of Satan is magnified.  

“God is showing us the double prison we are in,” Piper said. “We are doubly dark: the darkness of our own shackles around our wrists and ankles, and the darkness of Satan’s locked doors — like Peter in prison, had to have the hands freed, then he had to have the gates freed and the doors freed."

"There was layers of bondage: the darkness of our own delusions about God — that’s one level of bondage and blindness — and then the added darkness of Satan’s lies and deceptions all around us.”

The theologian contended that if Satan had been vanquished earlier, God's power would have been glorified, but not His superior beauty. The true miracle of conversion lies in the clarity it brings, revealing Christ's worth as incomparable to anything Satan offers. 

“If he obliterated Satan earlier, his power would be glorified. But if Satan remains, and we are able to defeat his deceptions by seeing the superior beauties of Christ, then not only is the superior power of Christ glorified, but also the superior beauty of Christ is glorified,” Piper said.

“We are so corrupt, we cannot see that Christ is a superior beauty, a superior worth, a superior greatness, and therefore a superior satisfaction over everything else. In our depravity, we are blind to all of that.”

The pastor closed with a rallying cry to "take up arms and be glad in the Son of God,” telling listeners that the joy found in Christ overpowers all else, dispelling darkness and defeating the enemy's lies. 

According to a 2015 Gallup Poll, while about 9 in 10 Americans say they believe in God (89%), only about 61% of the same sample believe Satan exists.

Similarly, the Pew Research Center's 2014 Religious Landscape Study found that roughly 7 in 10 (72%) Americans say they believe in Heaven — defined as a place "where people who have led good lives are eternally rewarded." 

But at the same time, Pew found that only 58% of U.S. adults believe in Hell — defined as a place "where people who have led bad lives and die without being sorry are eternally punished."

In an episode from 2019, Piper explained that while Satan has “tremendous power” in this world, all of his power is subordinate to the authority that is vested in Christ. 

“But he doesn’t have ultimate power,” he said. “We’re not dualists. We don’t think there’s God and Satan duking it out for power in the universe. God is God, not Satan. Satan’s not God. All Satan’s power is by permission. He has no autonomy to do anything God does not permit for infinitely wise purposes.”

However, in every battle with the devil, those who believe in Christ can “have total confidence of final victory,” Piper said, citing Romans 8:38–89, which reads, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers [satanic power included], 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.”

“He has been decisively defeated,” he concluded.

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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