Once we understand God’s eternal plan, we can more fully comprehend what this present life is all about. Primarily, this life serves as a test for every person. Each person’s choice determines if he or she will enjoy the blessed privilege of being one of God’s own children who will live with Him for eternity. Those who humble themselves, yielding to God’s drawing, repenting and believing, will be exalted (see Luke 18:14). This life is primarily a test for that future life.
This also helps us understand some of the mysteries that surround this present life. For example, many have wondered, “Why are Satan and his demons permitted to tempt people?” or, “When Satan was cast out of heaven, why was he permitted to have access to the earth?
We can see now that even Satan serves a divine purpose in God’s plan. Primarily, Satan serves as the alternate choice for humanity. If the only choice were to serve Jesus, then everyone would serve Jesus whether they wanted to or not.
It would be similar to an election in which everyone was required to vote, but there was only one candidate. That candidate would be unanimously elected, but he could never have the confidence that he is loved or even liked by any of his electors! They had no choice but to vote for him! God would be in a similar situation if there were no one competing with Him for the hearts of people.
Consider it from this angle: What if God had placed Adam and Eve in a garden where nothing was forbidden? Then Adam and Eve would have been robots by reason of their environment. They couldn’t have said, “We’ve chosen to obey God,” because they would have had no opportunity to disobey Him.
More importantly, God would not have been able to say, “I know Adam and Eve love Me,” because Adam and Eve would have had no opportunity to obey and prove their love for God. God must give free moral agents the opportunity to disobey in order for Him to determine if they want to obey Him. God doesn’t tempt anyone (see Jas. 1:13), but He tests everyone (see Ps. 11:5; Prov. 17:3). One way that He tests them is to allow them to be tempted by Satan, who thus serves a divine purpose in His eternal plan.