An excellent preacher once said, “I’m not worried about the things in the Bible I don’t understand. What bothers me are the things I understand and I’m not doing.”
There are a few statements in today’s Bible passage that I don’t understand. I won’t attempt to comment on them.
On the other hand, I will write about what can be known and what needs to be incorporated into our behavior.
The War in Heaven
What I don’t understand is John’s vision of the war in heaven.
And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back,
But they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven (Revelation 12.7-8).
I don’t understand what the dragon and his angels were doing in heaven. Neither do I know when this took place.
What we can know is that Michael defeated them and they no longer had a place in heaven.
The Nature of Satan
The meanings of the names for the evil one describe his activity. He is called “Satan,” which means accuser. The evil one is also called the “devil,” which refers to his activity as a slanderer.
John identified the dragon with names that described his character, “the devil (slanderer) and Satan (accuser).”
The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world — he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him (Revelation 11.9).
Satan uses false prophets to deceive his followers.
Jesus taught, “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and produce great signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).
Jesus revealed Satan’s end when he said, “I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning” (Luke 10:18).
We are living in the “already, but not yet” time in history. Satan was defeated on the cross, but his ultimate defeat will take place at the end.
For those who live in the “already, but not yet” portion of time, we must continue to be faithful to the Lord and his mission.
What does the future look like?
Then I heard a loud voice in heaven proclaiming,
“Now have come the salvation and the power
and the kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Messiah,
for the accuser of our brothers and sisters has been thrown down,
who accuses them day and night before our God.” (Revelation 12.10)
Salvation, power, and kingdom are present realities. Satan, the accuser, is not able to lodge a complaint against God’s children.
Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.
Who is to condemn? It is Christ who died, or rather, who was raised, who is also at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us (Romans 8:33-34).
The Key to Victory
We have our existence in the “already, but not yet” portion of time. The victory has come, but we must live victoriously until the end is confirmed by the Lord.
John’s vision describes how people gain a victory over the devil and his deceptive servants.
But they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony,
for they did not cling to life even in the face of death. (Revelation 12.11)
There are three keys to the victory.
(1) The blood of the Lamb is the most important portion of our victory.
The entire life, death, and resurrection of Jesus explain why the blood of the Lamb is so important.
Here’s how Paul wrote about it.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God
Not the result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2.8-9).
(2) The word of our testimony is another key to victory.
Imagine this scene. Domitian demands that all persons in the Roman Empire worship him as a god. You refuse and are threatened with crucifixion or death by wild animals in the Roman Coliseum.
As you are being beaten prior to execution, they tell you, “All you have to do is bow your knee to the Emperor and say that he is lord.”
In the midst of great pain and through gritted teeth, you declare “Jesus is Lord!”
You are a living example of this truth: “No one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12.3).
The Holy Spirit who dwells within you has given you the power to endure and give witness to King Jesus.
(3) When Jesus called his disciples, he said “If any wish to come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8.34).
The third source of victory over the devil’s deception is a willingness to deny self and to sacrifice one’s life as a follower of Jesus.
Most of us won’t be required to die for our faith. However, we all will need to give up self-serving attitudes and actions.
In today’s society, where distractions and temptations abound, it is essential to understand the nature of Satan and his tactics.
Let’s choose to live victoriously in the “already, but not yet” portion of time by following the three keys to victory: the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony, and a willingness to deny self.
By incorporating these keys into our behavior, we can live faithfully to the Lord and his mission.
It is crucial to remember that Satan was defeated on the cross, and his ultimate defeat will take place at the end.
As believers, we must continue to be faithful to the Lord, and we can be confident that the victory is already won.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. It is on the Bob Spradling channel.