Question: Is God in control or does He have dominion over evil spirits?
This can be a hotly debated topic. I have heard both sides of the coin. On one hand, there are people who blanket say to everything that happens, “God’s in control!” Then I have also heard it said, “If God’s in control, He’s doing a terrible job!” I think both statements are misleading and wrong.
Let’s start with the first one. Often people who say this justify everything that happens in life by believing and declaring that God did it. A baby dies, God took it. A horrible tragedy happens, God called for it. These are often the people who always say, “I believe everything happens for a reason.” The funny thing about this statement is, it doesn’t really say anything at all does it! Of course, if something happens, something else (aka a reason) caused it. It’s a good way to sound spiritual to people who don’t know any better.
You may think I’m harsh but I want you to think of something. This may not change the salvation of someone who already believes but have we considered how the rest of the world hears it? All they see is a God that they don’t understand, doing horrible things they would never approve of, to people they can’t justify deserve it. These kinds of thoughts misrepresent God and make the world, understandably (if this was truly who God is), hate Him.
The other ditch are those who think that God couldn’t possible have his hand in anything that, appears to us presently, as being bad. This is another ditch which also makes God foolish. How? Because those Christians speak of a God of love who sits idly by, watching ignorant people that He made, spiral out of control and not get it right until they figure it out. This god is super passive (although he’s always passing judgement) allowing the world to self-destruct. In this view point, man sort of becomes his own savior. If he doesn’t do right, then God won’t do anything about it.
As I said, I believe both sides of this are in error. I believe the Bible teaches us, that we are ONLY able to do anything as a result of His grace. I can’t even love God without Him empowering me to. What God does desire though is that we choose to give Him our lives. We choose to live for Him out of a desire to be obedient. However the truth remains, we have to even ask Him to help our desire. I believe this is what we see in Mark 9:24 (NASB), “Immediately the boy’s father cried out and said, ‘I do believe; help my unbelief.’”
I see this as beautifully said also in Colossians 1:17 (NASB), “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” I love some versions that say, “In Him all things consist.” So is God in control? Yes, though He gives some autonomy to some things. I do not mean to say that all things are caused by God. That also doesn’t mean that those things are caused by the devil. As an example, God created this earth to operate under certain principles. God created the oceans, the atmospheres, and their cycles. Hurricanes are a natural phenomenon designed by God, to regulate the ocean temperatures of the earth as well as bringing rain to places so they can have growth. Without hurricanes, life on earth could not exist. That does not mean that every hurricane happens because God said, “wind blow” either! But there can be storms that are evil, and I believe the one Jesus rebuked was an example. Too often we can discount things that produce good as being bad because they seem bad. This is simply just ignorance.
When it comes to the idea of God controlling spirits, well, this is another point of contention. Let me point though, to a few scriptures. Luke 10:17 (NASB) says, “The seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’” Now the point here is that it’s by the authority of the name of God, not the disciples. Let’s look though at the word, subject. It means to submit self unto or to be in subjection. When we consider Jesus commanding the legion of demons into the pigs, He told them they could go. God controlled the demons.
This does not mean that God makes someone possessed, for example, or puts a demon on someone. But we should consider maybe a few more scriptures. Exodus 9:12 tells us that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, though what He was doing was giving him over to his own desire. However, God did use this for His purposes. Then there were times when God allowed one spirit to be a lying spirit in the mouth of a prophet. Or how about in Job when God put boundaries on satan but allowed him place to test Job?
God has ultimate control and authority, over everything, and can make it do what He desires. Although He does not always in every situation make something happen, He has the ability to rein it in when He needs to, in order to get done what He wants to get done. We don’t always understand why things happen, but we know for those who love Him, He is working His plan out. What seems bad today, will produce something wonderful later on, and in this we can have hope.