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Rainbow Divider

Chapter 6

What About The Devil?

One of the great keys in the kingdom Christ came to establish has to do with the devil and his place in the scheme of things. When Christ came the world was in gross darkness (Isaiah 60:2). This darkness was not just the absence of light, however. It represented the awful power that Satan and all his host wielded over mankind through sin. It resulted from the deliberate effort of the devil to imprison man in a state of blind rebellion against God leading to death.

When Jesus was tempted by the devil during a 40 day fast one of the temptations reveals something of the devil’s place. Luke 4:5-7 says, “And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will give it. If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.”

Of course, Jesus was steadfast in resisting the devil and remaining loyal to His Father. However, we do see in this a picture of the dominion Satan exercised over the nations of the earth. He had them pretty much where He wanted them. He could use, abuse, and destroy them as he would. God seldom interfered, except where His people were concerned. Through sin he had the power of death (Heb. 2:14). Had Christ not come, had God not intervened, the situation would have been completely hopeless. Praise God, He did, however!

Jesus revealed a little about the kingdom that was shortly to come during one exchange with some Pharisees. He was widely known for casting out devils. However, their explanation of this was that Jesus could cast out devils because he was in league with the devil!

God revealed to His Son what the Pharisees were thinking and so He addressed the matter openly in Matt. 12:25-37. In verses 28 and 29 we find these words: “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house.”

Jesus directly links his power over devils to the coming of God’s kingdom. Verse 29 gives us a wonderful insight into the gospel age. Christ’s commission was to take something of value — God’s elect — from the “house” of the “strong man” — the devil. In order to do that it was necessary to “first bind the strong man.” Notice that Jesus used the word “first.” This was something that had to be done before the work of the gospel could begin.

Satan Cast Out

In John 12:31-32, shortly before he went to the cross, Jesus spoke these words: “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”

The “prince” of whom Jesus spoke was the same devil who had earlier offered him the kingdoms of this world. His status was about to change! He was about to be “cast out” of his exalted place. The power of the gospel to draw men to Christ directly flowed out of the great victory that He won over the devil when he was lifted up on the cross.

See Paul’s wonderful words in Colossians 2:15: “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.” The “it” mentioned in this verse is the cross. The picture there is of a victory parade in which the conquering general forces his enemies to march down the street in chains for all to see. That is what Christ did for us! That is why Paul was able to write of God in Col. 1:11, “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” Satan is powerless to stop God’s plan!

In Rev. 12 the Lord gave John a wonderful vision in which he saw in very graphic symbolism an overview of God’s kingdom in the world. Verses 1 and 2 begin, “And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars: And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.” This woman represents the believing Jewish remnant which by faith played such a key role in the coming of Christ, the child about to be born.

In verses 3 and 4 we see the devil portrayed as a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns, symbolically showing both his nature and also the place of power and dominion he enjoyed at the time. This vision even reaches all the way back to the fall of Satan in the beginning when he led one third of the angels in rebellion against God. John saw the dragon stand before the woman with the intention of destroying her child as soon as it was born.

Verse 5 says, “And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.” In this verse we see both the destiny of Christ and also his exaltation to the right hand of God following his death and resurrection. Obviously Satan utterly failed in his attempts to destroy Christ. He was also unable to destroy the woman as God provided for her protection and sustenance.

In verses 7-9 we see the great battle that took place between Satan and his evil hosts against God’s angels led by Michael. Truly the battle of the ages was fought at Calvary! The result was Satan’s defeat. He was “cast out” of heaven just as Jesus had said he would be. “Heaven” here signifies a place of spiritual power and dominion. Paul referred in Ephesians 1:19-21 to God’s mighty power “Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” It was the beginning of the end for the devil!

Victory!

Now, take careful note of what this meant to the people of God! “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” Rev. 12:10.

What a glorious proclamation of victory! The kingdom had come. Christ had ascended to His throne. This made salvation and strength available to God’s people. Does this mean that salvation was not available before this? Yes and no. What our Old Testament brethren had was a promissory note concerning what was to come. Of course, considering Who it was that promised, they were on solid ground! That is why Hebrews 11:13 says, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.”

In the outworking of God’s great plan it took the death of Christ to provide a perfect and complete salvation. The very best the law could do was to show men their need and point forward to a Savior who was yet to come. Satan always had grounds to accuse men because they were utterly unable in themselves to attain to God’s righteousness. But when Christ came everything changed! He became sin for us “that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” II Cor. 5:21.

Satan’s mouth was stopped. As Paul said, “It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?” Rom. 8:33-34. Here was a message worthy of being proclaimed to the ends of the earth! Men could become righteous before God and enter into eternal life, not by the deeds of the law, but by faith.

Rev. 12:11 sets forth both the means and the process whereby God’s people have been able to overcome their defeated foe. The first thing is the solid foundation of the blood of Christ. Upon no other ground may we stand and hope to overcome. Nothing less will do. All other ground is sinking sand.

Secondly is “the word of their testimony.” True faith is based on the Word of God being revealed to us. But it doesn’t stop there. When we truly believe from the heart that revealed word becomes the confession of our lips. It has to be personal. “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Rom. 10:10.

And then in our Christian walk the Word of God is the sword we use to defeat the devil when he assaults us with his lies. We have to do as Jesus did when he was tempted and learn to say, “It is written....” Matt. 4:4. When God’s Word is made real to us it becomes a living force, a powerful weapon before which the devil cannot stand. Never debate the devil. Use the Word!

The third thing is, “...and they loved not their lives unto the death.” Salvation may be free in the sense that we cannot earn it, but it is not without cost. No one has the right to claim the benefits of citizenship in the heavenly kingdom without giving up his life and bowing in surrender to the king. If there is anything in your life that is more important to you than God and His kingdom then you are yet in your sins. The rich young ruler found that out to his great sorrow. Luke 18:18-23.

Jesus said in Matt. 16:24-26, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”

That is what is so wrong with religion today. So many preach a “gospel” in which there is little or no cost to count (Luke 14:25-33) and for which it is not really necessary to give up one’s life. No one will ever gain eternal life who is not first willing to give up the corrupted life they were born with. Some may be literally called upon to lay down their lives as martyrs but for most it means a life in which we are no longer our own but are bought with a price. We belong willingly to another. We live for Him and the world to come and not for ourselves and this world. That is the price of the kingdom.

Verse 12 exhorts those who dwell in the heavens to rejoice. This is a reference to the spiritual realm enjoyed by God’s people (Eph. 2:6) as opposed to “the earth and the sea,” a reference to the earthly realm under Satan’s dominion. Those who remain under Satan’s power are warned of his great wrath. Christ’s victory signaled the beginning of the end for Satan’s kingdom and he has been increasingly angry about it ever since. The closer we get to the end, the worse it will be for the world. Yet they will blindly cooperate in their own destruction.

With respect to God’s people who have lived on the earth since the cross, Satan’s main activities have been persecution and deceit. Even on the personal level all he can do is oppress and lie. His real power is gone!

While we have seen and continue to see persecution of every sort over the past 2000 years, by far the most effective tactic has been deceit. This is pictured as a flood out of the dragon’s mouth in verse 15. He has spewed out every lie he can think of in an attempt to confuse, divide, spoil, and in general deceive God’s people, and lost religious people have drunk it up by the millions. While his efforts have filled the earth with counterfeit Christianity he can never steal away the eternal salvation into which God’s elect have entered. They are safe in Christ’s hands, and He is safely in the Father’s hands! John 10:28-29.

Because of Satan’s efforts the Christian life is, as Paul described it, a “fight of faith.” (I Timothy 6:12). God’s people have had to overcome every conceivable obstacle to serve God in this present evil world. Yet they have the very faith of Christ (Gal. 2:20) on the inside and that faith is the victory that overcomes the world. I John 5:4. Whatever Satan is allowed to do he is powerless to stop God’s plan from unfolding. His doom is sure!

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