This is a subject over which there is much confusion. For instance, many perceive Satan as a formidable foe of God; however, God has no formidable foes. He is God; therefore, He really has neither adversity nor adversary. Now, this is not to say that He is unopposed by fallen angels and men, but merely to say that all opposition to God is futile. Far from being the lest bit threatened by those who “rage” against Him, God finds all hellish and human hostility laughable (Psalm 2:1-4).
Do you remember how surprised “the seventy” were to discover that “even the devils [were] subject unto [them] in [Jesus’] name” (Luke 10:17)? Our Lord responded to their surprise by explaining to them how he “beheld Satan as lightening fall from heaven” (Luke 10:18). In other words, Satan poses no problem to our Lord, as is proven by the fact that Satan was tossed out of Heaven in a flash the instant he rebelled against God. I guess you could say that Lucifer was the original flash in the pan.
In the book of Job, we are told how Satan appeared before God “when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord” (Job 1:6; 2:1). Many have mistakenly concluded from this that Satan has freedom of access to God. What the Bible is really teaching, however, is that Satan is forced to give an account to God, as is proven by God’s questioning of him in Job 1:7 and 2:2. It's not that Satan gets to appear before God, it's that he has to.
Furthermore, as Job 1:8-12 and 2:3-6 clearly teaches, Satan is limited in what he can do by the restraints imposed upon him by a sovereign God. If this were not the case, he would immediately wipeout the world’s Christian population. As it is, the only Christians whose lives appear to be jeopardized by him are those handed over to him by God because of unrepentant and egregious sins in their lives (1 Corinthians 5:1-5).
Along with His use of Satan in the chastening of disobedient saints (1 Timothy 1:18-20) and the judgement of disobedient sinners (Judges 9:22-24; 1 Samuel 16:14, 23), God also uses Satan in other ways as well. For instance, God used him to spiritually strengthen both the Apostle Peter (Luke 22:31-32) and the Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
In the end, the devil, like everyone else and everything else, is a tool used by God in the accomplishing of His divine plans and purposes. In nothing else is this more clearly evident than in what Paul called “the mystery of iniquity” (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Rather than destroying Lucifer when he rebelled in Heaven or Adam and Eve when they fell in the Garden of Eden, God has given to both fallen angels and fallen men enough rope to hang themselves. In other words, instead of annihilating Satan and sinners, which would have done nothing to prove God right and them wrong, God permits evil (iniquity) in this world so that He will ultimately be proven just and true and all who ever opposed Him wrong and liars (Romans 3:4).
In the end, all of the evil ever perpetrated by Satan and sinners will provide a dark backdrop for the glory of God, resulting in the splendor of God’s glory shining forth in indescribable brilliance against such a pitch-black background. Thus, all that Satan has ever done, is now doing, or will ever do, will only lead in the end to a more dazzling display of the glory of God.
One would expect to find in the Book of Revelation some climatic conclusion to the battle of the ages; that is, the battle being fought over the immortal souls of men by the host of Heaven and the hordes of Hell. Yet, much to the surprise of many, the battle of the ages ends with a whimper, not with a bang. After having bound Satan for a thousand years (Revelation 20:1-3)—tying his hands and gagging his mouth—Christ releases him in order to use him one last time. Afterward, being done with him, Christ simply tosses him into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10).
The fact that Satan is a pawn of God should not be misinterpreted to mean that he is anything less than a formidable foe of ours. We are ever to be on our guard against him, since he, as the Apostle Peter pointed out, “walks about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Guarding ourselves against our roaring spiritual adversary necessitates that we adhere to the Apostle Paul’s admonition, “Neither give place to the devil” (Ephesians 4:27). All it takes is a little place in our lives for the devil to eventually erect a spiritual stronghold from which nothing but miraculous and divine intervention can deliver us.
As God used Israel’s physical enemies to “test” His people and “to teach them war” in the Old Testament (Judges 2:20-3:4), God uses the church’s spiritual enemies for the same ends in the lives of Christians today. According to Paul, we are engaged in daily hand-to-hand combat “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). Our only hope of victory is to suit up in “the whole armor of God,” to mightily wield “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” and to “pray always” and “without ceasing” (Ephesians 6:13-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:17). If we vigilantly attend to these things in our Christian lives we will be numbered among those heroes of the faith who “waxed valiant in the fight” (Hebrews 11:34). If we fail to do so, we will spend our entire Christian lives spiritually penned down by demonic powers and principalities.
In his temptation of Christ, the devil tempted our Lord to “worship” him by offering Him “all the kingdoms of the world,” as well as the “power” over them and “the glory of them” (Luke 4:5-7). The devil assures Christ that he can deliver on this seemingly outlandish promise because all of the kingdoms of the world have been “delivered unto” him. The Greek word translated “delivered” actually means “betrayed.” Interestingly, Christ neither disputes Satan’s claim to the world nor the fact that the world had been betrayed into Satan’s hands.
When was the world betrayed into Satan’s hands? The answer to this question is found in the third chapter of Genesis. In the first two chapters of Genesis, we read about the creation of man and how God gave to man dominion over all the earth. Then in the third chapter—the darkest chapter in the Bible—we read about man’s betrayal of God and handing over to Satan the dominion of this world.
Ever since man committed high treason against God in the Garden of Eden and betrayed the world into Satan’s hands, Satan has exercised dominion over the world. Satan may have acquired his dominion over the world through treachery, but he acquired it nonetheless. This explains why the Lord Jesus called the devil “the prince of this world” (John 12:31, 14:30), why the Apostle Paul called him “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), and why the Apostle John taught that “the whole world is under the control of the evil one” (1 John 5:19 NIV).
The hoof-prints of the devil’s dominion over this world may be found throughout the Scripture. For instance, they are clearly seen in all of the following:
- His use of the elements (Job 1:18-19; Mark 4:35-41).
- His blinding of the minds of unbelievers to the Gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
- His afflicting of individuals with physical infirmities (Luke 13:10-16; Acts 10:38).
- His binding of sinners to sin (Ephesians 3:1-3).
- His mastery of men in the doing of his bidding (Job 1:9-10; 2:4-5, 9; Luke 22:3-6).
- His inspiration of all false prophets and teachers (1 John 4:1-6).
- His instigating of all false religions (1 Timothy 4:1-3; 1 Corinthians 10:21; Revelation 2:9; 3:9).
- His masquerading as idols and false gods (Deuteronomy 32:16-17; 1 Corinthians 10:19-20; Revelation 9:20).
- His taking men captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26).
- His deceiving of the nations and of the whole world (Revelation 12:9; 20:1-8).
- His orchestration of the world system and empowering of world leaders (Ephesians 2:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10; Revelation 13, 17-18).
In spite of these hoof-prints found throughout the Scripture and the devil’s usurped dominion over this world, the central message of the Bible is that God sent His Son into this world to redeem it. To redeem something means to buy it back. Everything lost to Satan through man’s treason in the Garden has been bought back for God by the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
In John 12:31, Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” Jesus made this statement within the shadow of the cross. He knew that His impending death would prove to be the devil’s undoing. By shedding His blood on the cross, Christ stripped Satan of any legal claim to the earth. It is the shed blood of Jesus Christ that cast out “the prince of this world.”
Suppose you returned from vacation and discovered a squatter living in your house. You insist to the trespasser that he vacate the premises, but he refuses to leave. How can you cast out this trespasser? You can do so by producing the title to your home, proving your ownership of it. With the title you have a legal claim to your house and the legal right to evict the intruder.
In the fifth chapter of Revelation, the Apostle John sees “in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals.” I believe that this book in God’s right hand is the title deed to the earth. A search is made for someone “worthy to open the book, and loose the seals thereof.” Unfortunately, “no man in heaven, nor on earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.”
As a result of no one being found worthy to hold or to open the title deed to the earth, the Apostle John begins to weep. While he is weeping, one of the twenty-four elders, which sit around the throne of God, speaks to him. The elder tells John to “weep not” because “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.”
When John looks up he sees “in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders…a Lamb as it had been slain.” John watches as the Lamb goes to the throne of God and takes the book out of God’s right hand. When the Lamb takes the book from the hand of God all of heaven erupts in “a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”
Jesus Christ is the worthy holder of the title deed to the earth. It is His shed blood that has bought back for God everything that man betrayed into the hands of Satan in the Garden of Eden. Therefore, Christ alone has a legal claim to the earth, as well as to everything and everyone within it. He also has the legal right to evict (cast out) “the prince of this world” wherever he is found trespassing.
According to our Lord, Satan—“the prince of this word”—is already “judged” (John 16:11). He has not only been evicted, but also convicted and sentenced; see Hebrews 2:14 and 1 John 3:8. All that awaits him is the carrying out of his execution. His condemnation has already sealed his fate.
Although the crucified Christ has stripped the devil of any legal claim to dominion over the earth, as well as delivered to “that old serpent” a mortal head wound (Genesis 3:15), the devil is still active in the world today. In fact, he is filled with “great wrath,” because he knows his time is short and his execution looming (Revelation 12:12). While he does so illegally, an infuriated “father of lies” is still claiming dominion over the earth and futilely attempting to thwart the plans and purposes of God. Thus, as Christians, we must never let down our guard against him, but relentlessly “resist” him so that “he will [unfailingly] flee from us” (James 4:7).
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