In my Walking by Faith Bible Study, I make this statement: "God is in control of satan and his actions; satan can never act outside the limits God sets." A lovely woman wrote to me recently, asking me to clarify that statement because a member of her study group had a huge struggle with the first clause of the sentence: "God is in control of satan and his actions." The phrase made her feel uneasy, because it suggested to her that satan was God's puppet, making "bad" things be in God's hands and control instead of satan's.
Whew! Let me be clear. I wish I had phrased that statement “God is sovereign over satan and his actions.” To be sovereign means ultimately that God has power and authority over everything and everyone. That is true. Yet His authority often expresses itself in a willingness to allow that which His power could prevent, such as suffering and evil. Satan is not God’s puppet, acting at His bidding. He is no more God's puppet than we are. In God's sovereignty and benevolence, He allowed free will to exist. The existence of free will permits choice; choice ushers in the possibility for sin and evil. In God's sovereignty, He allows evil. He also sets the boundaries for evil.
When I say that “God is in control of satan and his actions,” I am saying that God has ultimate authority over everything that happens in your life. That’s not the same as saying He “controls” each action of satan or yours and mine.
The most obvious and clear example of God's sovereignty over satan is in the first chapter of Job when satan comes to God requesting permission to afflict Job. The fact is that while satan is purely motivated by hatred and evil, he cannot touch us without God's permission. Then when you read the entire book of Job, you find at the end that God was working all the while in Job's life (see Job 42:5-6). You also see in Genesis 37-46 that just as Joesph’s brothers meant their deeds for evil but God meant them for good, satan ultimately does the work of God.
So, for me, I choose to accept God’s authority, depend on His power, and trust His benevolence and sovereignty.
Bless you, Lorraine. Hope this helps.