In John Milton’s Paradise Lost, it is clear that Satan can do what he does only because God permits it. Why does God permit Satan to enter earth and successfully tempt Eve? In order to show God’s glory in the work of redemption. Milton’s description of God’s decree of redemption a beautiful statement of God’s love.
The Father’s Decree of Redemption
After this determination to fight “war then war,” Satan comes up with a plan to find the new planet of which they had heard rumors. The goal is to disrupt “the Enemy’s” plan. The Father in heaven sees what Satan is doing, decrees to permit the fall, and then decrees to redeem the world through His Son. I found the conversation of the Father and the Son particularly moving.
Milton attempts to describe the glory of the Son as that of the glory of the divine Father:
Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance filled all heaven, and in the blessed Spirits elect sense of new joy ineffable diffused. Beyond compare the Son of God was seen most glorious; in him all his Father shone substantially expressed; and in his face divine compassion visibly appeared, love without end, and without measure grace; which uttering, thus he to his Father spake (3.135–143).
The Father and Son are willing to redeem human beings, but there is a problem. Humans must be punished for their sin. The Son agrees to become a man in order to suffer the punishment for sin in man’s place. The result is the decision of the Father and Son to show forth divine glory in the redemption of the world:
His crime makes guilty all his sons; thy merit, imputed, shall absolve them who renounce their own both righteous and unrighteous deeds, and live in thee transplanted, and from thee receive new life, so man, as is most just, shall satisfy for Man, be judged and die and dying rise and, rising, with him raise His brethren, ransomed with his own dear life. So heavenly love shall outdo hellish hate . . . (3.290–298).
From the standpoint of the story, it is clear now that Satan will win the battle, though he shall not win the war.