Sure Seems Like the Devil is Alive!
One of the most powerful objections to the teaching that satan was thrown into the lake fire at the close of the Mount Sinai covenant in 70 a.d. is the chronic rise of wicked evildoers and the perpetrators of gross evils in our world throughout the generations since apostate First Century Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. To many millions of Christ followers, it seems to be utterly impossible that Satan was destroyed and sentenced to everlasting punishment if evil still plagues mankind.
This compels us to distinguish between biblical definitions of Satan and artistic glamorizations of the Chief personality who is the enemy of all that is decent, good and right in all times and places by his pathological nature.
Two biblical realities emerge as requiring the careful consideration of the prayerful and thoughtful student of the Word of God: (1) Satan as a spiritual personality who took the Lord Jesus Himself on a high pinnacle and asked for the adoration belonging only to our Father in heaven; and (2) Satan as the oppressive opponent/s of the people of God whenever truth is opposed and lies are used to undermine the advance of the kingdom of God within and among God’s people.
Jesus said that He would bind the strong man of the house, referring to Satan, and plunder the house of Satan, by Christ’s own interpretation of one of His parables. The millennial passage in the 20th Chapter of the Book of the unveiling of Jesus Christ as Conquering King over the nations seems to highlight this triumph of kingdom advance while the devil is restrained from deceiving the nations. Yet, the Apostle Paul wrote that Satan was roaming the earth like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Which is it? Satan restrained or Satan on the loose?
Only thinking through the proper biblical context will allow us to resolve this apparent contradiction. Satan was blinding the minds of unbelievers in the majority of the Nation of Israel in the First Century even while Satan was unable to prevent the remnant of the nation, described in Romans 11:5, from responding to the preaching of the Apostles, and becoming Christ’s disciples. Both things were occurring at the same time.
At the close the Apostle Paul’s letter to the suffering Christians in First Century Rome, the Apostle assured the saints that God would “SOON crush Satan under their feet.” This is (amazingly) the only clear and distinct New Testament reference to the practical fulfillment of the Almighty’s promise to Eve that her Seed would crush the head of the serpent in Genesis 3:15.
If Satan has already experienced his eternal destruction in the lake of fire, how is evil orchestrated now? How does anti-Christ apostasy influence the outworking of God’s people through false teachers, etc.? If we apply the competing reality during the Apostolic raid on Satan by the Gospel saving both Jews and Gentiles, even as the evildoers among both the Jewish rulers and their allies in the heathen empire of Rome we’re allowed to keep masses in blindness, we can grasp a possibility that it doesn’t take Satan as an active evil architect for the mystery of iniquity, well-planted into the sinful nature of unbelievers, to continue the lies and patterns of destruction in every unsaved soul.
Does this fit with the vision of the ever-expanding kingdom of more and more human beings in each new generation of mankind filling the world with people who freely, gladly and openly confess that Jesus is Lord? The answer is absolutely “yes”.
The last two chapters of the Book that unveiled the Lord Jesus as Conquering King over all provides us with two seemingly opposing realities: (1) the water of life healing the nations; and (2) the continuing reality of evildoers outside of the City of God, even as it exists fully among the nations! To suppose that the full presence of the kingdom requires a sinless world automatically through another “coming” since the extension of God’s Israel to all nations is not fair to the visions God have to Jesus who gave them to John. Jesus revealed a glorious City with evildoers outside of it.
Just as it’s fully possible for us to be entirely accountable to God for every thought, word and deed, while simultaneously boldly affirming the absolute sovereignty of God in all things, so it’s completely compatible with the whole counsel of God for the new heavens and new earth, the Wife of the Lamb, the Christian Church among all nations, to be healing the nations, even as we face fierce opposition from those outside of the City of God, whose evil intentions are born into their nature. These strikingly opposing realities can take place at exactly the same time! Satan used his time well prior to being thrown into the lake of fire. He was master of his disciples (who do not have any idea that they were and are born as Satan’s kids) continue the mystery of iniquity by natural instinct, WITHOUT him.
The kingdom of God is not measured by ups or downs in politics, economics, or our general pleasure or displeasure with the perceived status quo. It is knowing that Jesus Christ, having conquered death for all who God has given to Him, and having removed the custody of the kingdom away from the rulers of ethnic First Century Israel, to all believers among all nation, is ruling the nations with a rod of iron from the Throne of David. We do have enemies who are “satanic”, even though their dad is in hell.