GETTING THE MESSAGE/Satan’s work is limited by Christ
There are various views on Revelation 20:1-3, the passage we are looking at this week. Many godly people have interpreted these verses differently. I hope to extract principles out of it that have continual application for us.
The first one is the necessity of the Lord binding Satan. In verse one, John sees an angel coming from heaven with a key to the abyss and a great chain. In Revelation chapter one, Jesus holds in His hand the keys to death and Hades as a result of His resurrection. He has all power and authority. So the angel represents the Lord Jesus. He seized the devil and bound him.
The binding of Satan is connected to the spread of the gospel. In Mark 3, Jesus compares Satan to a strong man who keeps his goods secure. A stronger man must come and bind him before he can take his goods, by which the Lord meant sinners held in bondage. In Colossians 2, Paul says that Christ disarmed the demonic rulers through the cross. Hebrews 2 speaks of Christ rendering the devil powerless through being a propitiation for the sins of His people.
The purpose of the binding is that Satan “might not deceive the nations any longer” (verse 3). Satan is referred to as “that ancient serpent” (verse 2), a reference to Genesis 3 when the devil in the guise of a serpent tempted man to believe God’s word was not true and that God had deceptive motives in forbidding them to not eat of the tree.
The design of Satan is to insult the majesty of God. His aim in reference to man is that man may have corrupt views of the divine character and works. The human reason and soul must have a God and religion of some sort, so the devil works to distort or pervert man’s view of the living, true God.
Satan has power over men. He doesn’t command their will, but he blinds the minds of sinners to the truth of God. He is familiar with our fallen nature and corruption and can manipulate it with angelic skill. He is full of malice, a liar and murderer from the beginning. And we are no match for him.
One as close to the Lord as Peter was manipulated by the devil to rebuke Jesus for speaking of going to Jerusalem to suffer and die. Jesus saw the work of Satan behind Peter’s mindset. Later Peter, though confident of his own fidelity, denied Jesus three times when Satan was allowed to “sift him as wheat.” Peter learned how dependent he was on the Lord Jesus.
The binding of Satan is connected to the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. In John 12, on the approach of His death, Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of the world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John then says, “He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die.”
Is Christ your Lord? It will either be Him or the devil. Christ alone can break the power of the devil over you. His redemption delivers you from power of sin, death, and the devil to see the glory of the living God. This calls for loyal and faithful service to Christ. It is a great salvation by a great Savior.
When David killed Goliath, Saul asked that David be brought to him. When David came, he had the head of Goliath in his hand. When Saul’s son Jonathan saw David, he loved him as his own soul. He saw in David the chosen one of God. When Saul hated David, he threw spears at him to kill him. When he learned of Jonathan’s loyalty to David, he threw a spear at Jonathan. But nothing could separate Jonathan from David. He bound himself by covenant to David.
This is how we must be bound to Christ: to see in Him a Savior who did what no one else could have done. The devil is a terrible enemy. So is sin. So is death. Christ vanquished them all in His death and resurrection. If you don’t have Christ, you must surely perish. Make Him the one thing necessary.
Satan’s work is limited toward Christians in the extent of it and the time of it. This should encourage Christians in their struggle against the devil. There will come a time when Christ will put him under their feet. Until then, we are to fight the good fight of faith, using the whole armor of God in Christ Jesus. And call upon our mighty King and Savior when we feel assaulted by the devil.
The Rev. Chris Shelton is pastor of Union’s First Presbyterian Church.