This Age and the Satanic System.
It may also be concluded from the study of the ages that God has not been pleased to meet the presumptuous claims of Satan or of man by a simple denial of those claims; He has chosen, rather, to bring everything to an experimental test. One advantage of this method is obvious: every mouth will be stopped, and the entire universe of beings will see clearly the utter folly of that which might have been arbitrarily denied. Man can no longer claim that his conscience is sufficient to guide him to his highest destiny; since the whole race, when standing on that basis before God, so utterly failed that their destruction, by a flood, was necessary: in like manner, by the history of a most favored people in the age preceding the first advent of Christ, man has demonstrated his own inability to do right or to keep the law. In the present age, man proves his separation from his Creator by his spirit of self-sufficiency and positive rejection of God. The present issue between God and man is one of whether man will accept God’s estimate of him, abandon his hopeless self-struggle, and cast himself only on God who alone is sufficient to accomplish his needed transformation. All Divine love, wisdom, and power have wrought to make these conditions open to man; and when this last and supreme effort of God has been rejected, the final pleading with man must be forever past, and the long delayed judgment upon sin be executed in righteousness.
It has already been pointed out that Satan purposed in his heart to attempt all the functions of God; and, according to Scripture, that which he purposed is being permitted, to the extent of his ability, throughout the course of this age. Though his failure and defeat have been predicted from the beginning, yet it has pleased God to permit the Satanic ambition to come to its own destruction, and to demonstrate its own weakness and wicked folly. No other solution is given of the present power of Satan and the terrible manifestations of his increasing authority yet to be experienced in the closing scenes of this age.
His present authority is by no means complete. In II Thes. 2:7 it is stated: “The mystery of lawlessness doth already work: only there is one that restraineth now, until he be taken out of the way.” This is a description of the work of the Holy Spirit as He restrains and hinders the development of the power of evil. Nor can Satan direct the affairs of that part of humanity who have been delivered from the power of darkness and are now united to Christ (unless they yield to his wishes); though they are in the world and their earth lives are mingled in much of its history. These saved ones are the antiseptic salt, hindering, like the Spirit who indwells them, the untimely dissolution of humanity. Again, Satan’s dominion is limited in that “there is no power but of God: