Couldn't God Just Judge Satan Before Man Fell?
I appreciate the time put in to your answer, I can see that you have done an amazing amount of homework. My question begins before the fall of man however. I want to understand why God allowed Satan to continue after he fell. My point was that God didn't allow many humans to continue living after they made bad decisions, but he allowed Satan to continue existing. God seemed to only change Satan's address, he didn't diminish his power.
In my own understanding, God needed Satan to allow us to have a free choice. From a limited human paradigm, God needed an antithesis to His own power. From this perspective, it feels like a grand metaphysical game, God picks and chooses who will have freedom of choice, and who He decides will have that freedom removed from them. This is what I think that Steve was saying in his original question, and I don't think that you have addressed it yet.
Fear of God began in me when I realized that God is completely random in how He chooses to do business. In His displeasure, He chooses to cut one person's life short, and in the same breath, he allows Satan to span the length of man's time on the planet. I understand that my limitations make it impossible to fully understand the question that I am asking, and I may never understand the answer. By faith, I continue to believe.
Thank you so much for writing back and clarifying your views. Dialogue is the only way we can understand each other better. I'm glad you asked this question, as it seems to be the "gap" between my first letter and my last. Again, I don't purport to have all the answers, but hopefully we can find a place to start. The main idea in my ministry is to show that Christians can be confident that logic won't undermine their beliefs, but support them. So, let us examine you question and see if God's actions contradict His nature or goodness.
I must again clarify a few points before we launch fully into our discussion. You first assume that Satan now has the same power as he held before the fall. I am not willing to grant this. We know from Ezekiel 28:14 that Lucifer was "the anointed cherub who covers" and was full of wisdom and perfect in beauty (vs.11). After pride was found in him, God judged Satan's position and his access was limited. Ezekiel 28:16 says, "therefore have I cast you as profane out of the mountain of God; and I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; you have corrupted your wisdom by reason of thy brightness" To me, this sounds like Lucifer no longer have all of the powers and abilities he once held. He is still a very powerful being, and he can come to us as an angel of light, but by nature of his fall he is less than perfect. His judgment has started already and won't be complete until he is cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10)
Secondly, I don't feel that God needed Satan to allow us to have a free choice. In the millennial reign of Christ, spoke of in Revelation 19:15 we are told that Jesus will rule with a rod of iron, signifying that he will immediately quash any rebellion or lawlessness. This is happening while Satan is bound. So, humanity was quite capable of sinning even without Satan to tempt them in the garden. God didn't need an antithesis. (By the way, many people mistakenly see Satan as an "anti-God." This is a woeful misrepresentation, for as a created being Satan pales in comparison to God's power and majesty. He is neither omnipresent, omnipotent, nor omniscient; three main attributes of God.)
Now, one more thing we must remember in investigating these thoughts is that we were created to glorify God. Revelation 4:11 states, "Worthy art thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the glory and the honor and the power: for thou didst create all things, and because of thy will they were, and were created." So, in examining your question, we must look at how the existence of Satan furthers this end. One thing we know is that conquering Satan shows not only God's power, but in His sacrifice he demonstrates His love toward us. It is a most poignant way for God to show He is a God of love. Because of this, He receives glory. Colossians 2:14-15 says, "having blotted out the bond written in ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us: and he hath taken it out that way, nailing it to the cross; having despoiled the principalities and the powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." The phrase "principalities and powers" is used Biblically to refer to Satan's minions, and by extension Satan himself.
Further, we are told in Ephesians 2:4-7 that "God, being rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. " So, our salvation allows Him to continue to bless us and "in the ages to come" demonstrate that He is rich with grace. Allowing Satan to continue is one way that God can further receive glory. Job chapter one shows this practically.
Lastly, I don't think it's fair to say God allows some people freedom of choice and not others. Nor do I believe that any of God's choices are random, but as with Job, carefully selected and controlled. God has given every person a true free will. Now, our eyes may be so blind to the truth that darkness looks good to us and Godliness looks boring (or even bigoted), and it may be that the Holy Spirit needs to open our eyes to the truth of the goodness of God before we can ever choose Him (ref Eph. 2:8-9). However, He does not remove anyone's free will. He may give someone eighty years of life and another a much shorter time, but He is Creator, it is His right to determine when we live and when we die. This is outlined in Romans 9, where Paul writes, "Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why did you make me thus? Or hath not the potter a right over the clay, from the same lump to make one part a vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor?" In other words, we cannot play God by taking a life, but God can play God. By His nature as creator it is His right to give life and to take it. This is not evil, and it is not a game, but He carefully and lovingly chooses to use events to glorify Himself. If it only suits Him and is for His glory, that is enough reason to be justified and non-contradictory with His nature. Remember, He didn't create evil, but allows for its existence to meet His ends.
I do agree with you that we are limited in our point of view and will probably never fully comprehend God's ways. Even when we receive our glorified bodies, God's ways will be infinitely higher than our ways. We do have enough information, though, to understand that it is ultimately for His glory and for good that God allows these things. And they do not contradict the idea of a loving and all-good God.
Thank you for your patience and all your kind words. I appreciate them very much. I hope you will pray for this ministry, and I want to thank you for your diligence in seeking out the things of God.