Last week I received an email asking if we should feel some degree of compassion for Satan. The question arose from two observations: First, humans sin, and God has provided a means of redemption and forgiveness, but Satan is provided no such opportunity for his sin. Second, the Bible calls Satan our enemy but also tells us to love our enemy. Should we therefore pity and love Satan to some degree?
It is certainly an interesting question. How would you respond?
Here’s my shot:
First, I want to point out that even if God had provided a way of redemption for Satan, he would not have desired it. Satan does not desire to be reconciled to God. Satan opposes God by his very nature and does not want redemption but exaltation. He does not want to be saved from his sin but to be worshiped and served as supreme.
Redemption would have involved humility and contrition, and Satan is opposed to this disposition of the heart. I want to begin here lest we inadvertently imply that Satan would have repented if only some means of redemption were provided.
Second, in reference to loving our enemies, this command is regarding our physical, human enemies, not spiritual powers. Our wrestle is not against people, but it is absolutely against Satan and his demons (Ephesians 6:12). We feel compassion and pity for our human enemies because they are enslaved by the demonic to some degree, but we should not feel compassion for Satan for being enslaved to himself.
While humans are certainly not free from responsibility, it is helpful to remember that they are simultaneously transgressors and victims. Satan is in no way a victim. He is the original transgressor, the origin of our bondage and corruption.
Last, the Bible calls us to have compassion upon and pray for others in hopes that they will experience repentance (2 Timothy 2:25). We simply do not know the future of our earthly enemies. The fiercest opponent of the gospel can be converted (after all, Saul became Paul).
The Bible, however, has already explicitly revealed the destiny of Satan (Revelation 20:7-10). There is always a chance that your human enemy will repent and thus become your brother or sister, but Satan will never repent. Satan’s destiny is marked out, not because God has been unjust, but precisely because God is just. God has provided His Son for His children because He is merciful, but His failure to extend the fullness of His mercy to some does not imply that He is mean, evil, wicked or unjust.
God has chosen to lavish His children with mercy and to justly withhold His mercy from others. Let us praise Him for the former and stand amazed at the latter.