Have you ever heard somebody say that God is in control and that the devil has been defeated? This is true and not true. In Hebrews 2:8, God explains the difference.
Hebrews 2:8 (NET bible)
You [God] put all things under his [Jesus] control. For when he [God] put all things under his [Jesus] control, he [God] left nothing outside of his [Jesus] control. At present we do not yet see all things under his [Jesus] control,
How can all things be under Jesus control and not yet under his control? This seems to be an oxymoron. The answer is that the first part is a figure of speech and the second part is literal. The figure of speech is prolepsis or anticipation. To emphasize the surety of a future event then the present tense is used instead of the future tense. “You are a dead man if you don’t pay me” Is another example of the same figure of speech. The literal form would be “You will be a dead man if you don’t pay me” but the figure is used to arrest our attention.
Let’s now explore the second part of the statement that Jesus is not yet in control of all things.
We can read in the book of Revelations about the demise of Satan, but that is a future event. However, in 2 Corinthians the God of this age is revealed.
2 Corinthians 4
4In whom the god of this world [age] hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
The God of this age is Satan. Jesus Christ paid the price to defeat the devil in the long term after he returns with his saints. For the present, he paid the price so that he could work through us to defeat the works of the devil. We have the choice to walk by the spirit or walk by the flesh. This is based on our willingness to believe God’s thoughts and ways, instead of our own thoughts and ways. We are in a spiritual battle according to Ephesians 6.
12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Satan is a spiritual being, an angel of Light. Spirit is always superior to the flesh. Therefore, when we walk by the flesh we are under Satan’s authority, but when we walk by the spirit we are over Satan’s authority.
8Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them;
9And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou will fall down and worship me.
10Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and he only shalt you serve.
The Devil told Jesus that he would give him all of the kingdoms and the glory of them. If they were not the Devil’s to give then it was not a true temptation. Jesus knew that it was true so then it was a temptation.
1 Corinthians 15
20But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
24Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25For he must reign till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
Jesus will destroy all of his enemies. The last enemy is death.
14Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
Death is still part of life. Christians die every day and the devil still has the power of death. Once the power of death, the last enemy, is destroyed then death will be swallowed up in victory.
1 Thessalonians 4
16For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
If the dead Christians are in heaven then who is going to rise when Christ returns? Just like Lazarus was raised from the dead so will the dead in Christ.
God has influence, Satan has influence, and we have influence in this world. To say that God is in control today is to discount the devil’s power and our God-given freedom of will.