It seems to me that there are a set of fixed rules that are as of yet unseen by mankind. These rules must have in some sense been affixed by God, and evidently he respects those rules also. Those rules evidently include allowing Satan to run over this world, to and fro, as Job says, and to constantly accuse. What his province, or his job is, at current is hard to say. He is called the prince of the power of the air, which indicates that, at the least, he has the power to range over the earth. Perhaps he is allowed to accuse, and perhaps God listens with the heavenly host as witnesses to those accusations. But more unseen is the Devil’s control over the minds of men. Evidently he is allowed, at times, to incite violent awful episodes of derangement in our world, of course looking forward to the seventieth week of Daniel where he is allowed to wreak havoc upon the earth, and all them that dwell therein.
I think it makes sense, at least to me, that Satan was behind barbaric acts such as what happened on 9/11, where he was able to use a handful of fools to perform his will. It seems to me obvious from living through that day that great wickedness was given a way forward that seemed to be allowed to get over great hurdles. Of course, we know from Job that God himself is sovereign even over what the Devil might do. In that way, God is sovereign over all, just as we understand our Bibles to so plainly teach us. But just as in Job, we see God using agents to perform his will. Did he not use Satan to perform his will? It seems that both statements are true—that God is sovereign, and that Satan is performing at least some of his will. Trying to reconcile the two has proven to be a Sisyphean task for theologians; no matter how hard they try, the two do not seem to fit together. Yet, it is these opposing truths which God presents us with in Scripture. We are never quite told how they reconcile, but the safest course for the Christian is to simply believe and trust that one day it will work out as God has promised.
But I want to reflect on how we got here. Theologians cover in depth our depravity, and they have done an excellent job, as far as it goes. But actually it is revealed in Scripture that we (mankind) are almost the postscript in a story that has been going on for a very long time. There are other beings, called angels (it is a wonder to me, but if I called these angels aliens, many people would perk up, willing to believe in that which we have not been told about instead of that which we are told about) and these angels were involved in a struggle in heaven. God evidently sent mankind, that these insignificant beings should be, to the wonder of heaven, the very instrument to bring about the demise of Satan.
We are, as I have written elsewhere, the pawns on the chessboard of life. But the insignificant pawn suddenly becomes very important in the chess game when the pawn finds itself on the seventh rank. All of a sudden the game focus shifts totally to that pawn, as the mover tries to “queen” his pawn, and his opponent does everything possible to prevent that. We are the pawns, on the seventh rank. Suddenly the whole focus of heaven is upon us, waiting for the significant move that God is about to make.
But let’s look at things from the point of view of the pawn, who scarcely knows what is going on. All of the other pieces are suddenly focusing on his power, but he does not much understand how he, being so little and unimportant, has become the center of attention. So we little understand the rules of the game; we cannot see why God should suddenly make us so important. Yet, with the Incarnation, he did just exactly that, deciding to become flesh, reconciling the world to him, but also bruising the Serpent’s head. In the cross lies the chess move of God, if you will, making man to suddenly be on the seventh rank, and in lifting the Son up, pronounces simultaneously the bruising of the head of Satan, and the lifting up of men to become the Sons of God.
Remember that this lifting up of man in the incarnate man is a marvel in all of heaven—it is almost as if the rules of the chess game have changed, to the utter amazement of watchers. Now we await the final promotion, when the pawn is crowned and the new queen presents herself to the King. Rules that we cannot understand or begin to fathom, but why should we expect to understand? Has he not asked us to walk by faith?