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Archive for April, 2009

“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” Revelation 12:12

 

Satan is called by many names in Scripture, one of which is the accuser of the brethren. Someday, he will no longer be allowed to enter God’s presence to accuse believers. He will be forever banned from Heaven, unable to point fingers at those who are covered by the redeeming blood of Christ. I often wonder what it is he’s trying to accomplish. Since Satan’s battle is ultimately against God, I wonder if in throwing out endless accusations against God’s children Satan is living up to another of his names, a slanderer. He is slandering those God has saved, and thus by implication slandering God Himself as well. “You say You are holy and pure, and yet You let this one into Your Kingdom. Just look what they do!” Regardless of the reasons and motivations, someday all such accusations will cease. Until then, we have Christ our Advocate forever living to make intercession for us.

In the meantime, we’re given three means by which to overcome Satan. First, by the blood of the Lamb, second by the word of our testimony, and third by not loving our lives to the death. The first, the blood of the Lamb, is a reference to the purifying effect of Christ’s sacrifice on those who come to Him for salvation. Nothing Satan does can ever overcome that power. The second, the word of our testimony, totally contradicts the lies of Satan that say religion should be a private thing we keep to ourselves. We are to proclaim with every aspect of our lives, in both word and deed, the gospel of Christ which saves all who call upon His name. The third, not loving our lives to the death, means Christ is the first love in our lives that all other loves are subject to. Holding anything higher than Christ, including our very lives, gives Satan a foothold by which to drag us down and limit our growth and effectiveness.

God never listens to the accuser of the brethren, and neither should we. Listen instead to the One who completely saves and sanctifies us; the One who gives us the power to overcome.

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“And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought.” Revelation 12:7

 

A recent Barna report found the nearly six out of every ten self-identifying Christians don’t believe in the literal existence of Satan. They believe, rather, that he is merely a symbol of evil. Six out of ten people. I have to wonder if they are reading the same Bible I am. We are in a war, a war that has been raging since the serpent first tempted Eve in the garden; a war that won’t completely end until Satan is once and for all cast into the lake of fire. One of his greatest victories in this war is to convince people that he doesn’t exist at all. If six out of ten people who believe themselves to be Christian don’t believe he exists, I’d say he’s done a masterful job. We won’t fight what we don’t believe exists.

 There are many views on when this battle between Michael and Satan occurs. Regardless of its timing, it’s clear that Michael takes his adversary very seriously. You don’t fight wars against someone you don’t take seriously. When you look at another passage involving a confrontation between Michael and Satan (Jude 9), Michael knew where the power to overcome Satan comes from. That power, the power of Almighty God, flows through all those who are called by His name. As Michael and his angels prevail over Satan and his angels, so too will we prevail against Satan when we resist him in the strength and power of the Lord.

Let us never forget that our adversary is very real, and very determined to steal, kill, and destroy. And let us always remember where the power to overcome him comes from.

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“The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come…” Revelation 11:18a

 

The nations are angry with God. This is not a phenomenon unique to the time period described in the book of Revelation. This is just the point in time when it reaches its peak. I think at some level the nations have been angry with God ever since mankind rebelled against God and decided to do things his own way. The psalmist talks about the anger of the nations toward God. Read the headlines on any given day and it seems clear that this anger continues and grows. There will come a day when God says enough is enough. The remarkable thing is not that His wrath will one day come on this earth filled with angry nations, it’s that He has waited as long as He has.

Anger against God, at its core, is rebellion against God. To be angry at God is to demonstrate that, at least at some level, we don’t fear Him. Who are we to judge God and demand He do things the way we think they should be done? When we truly understand Who God is, insofar as He has revealed Himself to us, the proper response is holy awe and deep respect. To be angry with God is to say, in effect, “God, You are wrong and I am right.” Stop a minute and think about that. Think about the incredible folly of telling the Creator of all things that He is wrong and we are right. I think that’s one of the reasons the Bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.

God, knowing we are but dust, forbears with our foolish anger as He draws us to Himself. But someday, for those who say no, time will run out and enough will be enough.

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“When they finish their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the bottomless pit will make war against them, overcome them, and kill them.” Revelation 11:7

 

The two witnesses. I think there is more speculation on who these two men are than anyone else, other than the anti-Christ himself. Whoever they are, they do mighty things for God during an incredible time of yet-to-come history. They are unstoppable as they prophecy for forty-two months. A word from them, and the rain stops, plagues descend, water turns to blood. Try to oppose them and you get toasted, literally. Then the tables turn. Their work is finished and just like that, the anti-Christ overcomes and kills them. I’d imagine that many on the earth at this time will see this as proof that they were neither sent by, nor speaking for, God. After all, God wouldn’t allow them to be killed if they really were doing His work, would He? Three-and-a-half days later, of course, the truth will be obvious to anyone who wants to see it.

Sometimes, it seems like the bad guys win. Not long ago, a man walked into a church and gunned down the pastor. Evil prevailed. In 2001, nineteen terrorists killed thousands. Evil prevailed. We regularly hear of more terrorists perpetrating acts of violence in Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, and other places. Evil prevails. “If God is all-powerful, why does He let things like this happen?” It’s a question I’ve heard asked in one form or another by both struggling believers and questioning non-believers. I can’t give an answer that will completely satisfy. I just know that time will show that ultimately, evil did not prevail at all. Evil can never prevail over the plans and purposes of God. Sooner or later, the truth will be obvious to anyone who wants to see it.

We can’t see the whole picture on this side of Heaven. Trust that someday, we will look back and marvel at how God used even evil to achieve His purposes.

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