Does God control or have dominion over evil spirits?
This question might turn into a bit of a run around, which hopefully by the end of this will make some sense.
There’s a bigger question on the menu here that I think we need to answer before we can get into this one specifically. That is, what do we mean by “God’s control”. Many people make the statement, “God’s in control,” on a regular basis. The funny thing about this statement is that it really just isn’t saying anything. How people use it however is often misguided. If by God being in control one means that God is that absolute final authority on all things, yes, that is true. However, God being the final or ultimate authority speaks little of why things happen day to day. Usually when people say this, it is nothing more than a cop out to blanket a situation in a way to make themselves feel better about it. It is a way of quickly moving on to other things. I’m not a fan of this, even remotely! When there’s an issue, we need to care enough to find an answer!
Then there are some that claim God is limited to what He can do because after all, “the devil is the God of this world.” This is a ditch on the other side. Misquoting or misunderstanding scripture doesn’t help the situation either and it’s done way too often without care. How does one care? Only by INSISTING and ENDEAVORING to do it! Let’s tackle this one first because ultimately, it will play importantly into the original question.
2 Corinthians 4:4 (NASB) says, “In whose case the god of this world (speaking of the devil) has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” See! It says it right there! Well, hold on there Bucko! Let’s consider this with another scripture. Psalms 24:1 (NASB) says, “The earth is the LORD’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” To make this make sense we have to understand lordship. Lordship, in God’s view, is who you’ve given your life, or control to. As God’s ambassadors, WE have the choice. In Romans 6:16 (NIV) Paul says, “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” The choice whether sin or obedience is always given to us thereby deciding whom our Lord is. When the Bible says the devil is the god of this world, it means the god through the chosen actions of the world and its systems. He is the one worshipped in their disobedience.
We see this concept in other places as well like, Philippians 3:19 (NIV) which says, “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.” Obviously people are not running around advocating a new stomach cult! God gives humanity free will but asks them to willingly give it back to be used by Him. This choice He gives as blessing and bless it He does exceedingly! God rewards obedience.
I say all of that to get to this, God’s purposes WILL be fulfilled on this earth and no devil or lack of human participation will stop it! Look at what Luke says in Luke 19:39-40 (NASB). “Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Him, ‘Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.’ But Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!’” I say it again just to be dramatic, God will have His way!
So on to the original question, “Does God control or have dominion over evil spirits?” The simple answer is yes He most certainly does. Is He actively controlling them? The answer to this is no. It would seem according to what we see in scripture that even the demons have some sort of free will. Whether it is the same as humans, I don’t think is revealed to us. Now, this does not mean that He never exploits them because He has many times in the Scriptures (think of Pharaoh or Judas), yet this does not mean that they are on His payroll either.
God can only not do what He won’t do. He is bound by no one but Himself. I would imagine that most anything else is on the table. I want to add that God is not employing devils against His righteous either. So if you’re getting attacked or facing opposition, God is not activating devils against you to test you. 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NASB) says, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” He is giving us the way out and ensuring that we will not be overcome. What a wonderful and loving Father, to always tilt the odds in our favor!