Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Is Satan Omnipresent?


Omnipresence is defined as “being present everywhere at the same time”.

Satan is powerful and influential, but he is not omnipresent. Omnipresence is a characteristic of the Divine only. At times, one may think that the Devil is omnipresent because of passages like (1 Peter 5:8) “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour”. It is true that Devil influences many people to sin, but this might not always be him directly, but instead an indirect result of his already established work in the world.

The Devil is limited by time and space, God is not, for He is omnipresent. 
How, biblically, should we think of God's omnipresence? The word means that God knows exhaustively, and upholds and touches continually, every single item in the universe he has made, from the tiniest genes and electrons to the most massive stars in the expanding universe to the most complex mind-body interactions in the psyche of over 6 billion people. God is here, there, and everywhere, and his mind and hand are on everything. We are never out of his sight (Psalm 139), and we cannot get away from him (John 1). Wherever we are, he is there too. This is not simply a matter of transcending spatial confines. Strictly speaking, God has no spatial location at all, for space belongs to the created order and exists in him rather than he in it. Such is the omnipresence of God. (Packer, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2000/september4/36.115.html)
The Devil cannot be everywhere at the same time like God can. Notice the following passages.
  • (Job 1:6-7) “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. The LORD said to Satan, “From where do you come?” Then Satan answered the LORD and said, “From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it.” 
  • (Matthew 4:3) “And the tempter came and said to Him...”

In these two passages, it is clear that the Devil is not everywhere at once. The Devil “roams” and “walks”. If he was omnipresent he would not have to “move”, because he would already be there.  If the Devil is a fallen angel (as the Scriptures describe him), then the same limitations of an angel are the same limitations of the Devil. An angel cannot be everyone at the same time, nor is an angel “all knowing”. “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven-- things into which angels long to look” (1 Peter 1:12). 

Only God can be omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. The Devil is not God, he cannot (as a created being) have power equal to the creator. He is a created being with limited power who decided to not follow God. It is this willful rebellion that will result in eternal punishment for him and his followers. 
"And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire" (Jude 6-7).
Although Satan is not omnipresent, we still should fear him. The Devil wants Christians to be lost and I believe he focuses much of his attention on believers. The Devil’s work is well established in the world and the results of it are far reaching. The Devil is powerful, but He is not as powerful as God and faith in Jesus. We can overcome the Devil, “Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

By Cliff Sabroe (Scripture references from NASB95).