The Lord Almighty is Completely Sovereign

Most of you folks know I often mention the fact in my sermons and Bible studies that the more I plumb the debts of the Sacred Scriptures, the more convinced I become of how shallow my understanding and knowledge of them actually are. I’m not too old to learn and I hope I never con myself into believing otherwise. Discovering biblical facts which had never completely sunk into my understanding or truths I had overlooked in the past is something I delight in. For example, the most recent one is that the devil does not ask God for permission to afflict us as he did with Job and Christ’s disciples. I’m not suggesting he doesn’t afflict us because he does. I’m simply saying that Satan doesn’t ask God for permission anymore. Please resist the temptation to tune me out at this point and put me on top of your prayer list. Allow me to explain and then search the scriptures for yourselves to see if what I’m saying is indeed factual.

One of the desires of my heart is that we will always be mindful of the reality that you and I are living in the midst of a fierce supernatural battle between good and bad angels who are fiercely fighting in God’s Kingdom of Light and Satan’s Kingdom of Darkness. Failure to do so will result in us sustaining significant traumatic experiences. The Apostles Paul and James reminded the first Christians of that fact and instructed them what they must do. It goes without saying it’s something you and I must also.

“…be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV).

“…Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7 (ESV).

Considering the horrendous tribulation they were experiencing we can be absolutely certain Christ’s disciples and those First Century Christians gave a lot of thought to Satan. Evils such as being stoned to death, fed to the wild beasts, and burned alive. And all of them were being persecuted severely. Can you imagine the hope they would have derived when they heard what the Apostle John had written? Unlike most Christians today, they understood completely the symbolic imagery the exiled Apostle was using.

[THIS IS] the revelation of Jesus Christ [His unveiling of the divine mysteries]. God gave it to Him to disclose and make known to His bond servants certain things which must shortly and speedily come to pass in their entirety. And He sent and communicated it through His angel (messenger) to His bond servant John, 2 Who has testified to and vouched for all that he saw [in his visions], the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. 3 Blessed (happy, to be envied) is the man who reads aloud [in the assemblies] the word of this prophecy; and blessed (happy, to be envied) are those who hear [it read] and who keep themselves true to the things which are written in it [heeding them and laying them to heart], for the time [for them to be fulfilled] is near. Revelation 1:1-3 (AMP)

“Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels went forth to battle with the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought. 8 But they were defeated, and there was no room found for them in heaven any longer. 9 And the huge dragon was cast down and out—that age-old serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, he who is the seducer (deceiver) of all humanity the world over; he was forced out and down to the earth, and his angels were flung out along with him. 10 Then I heard a strong (loud) voice in heaven, saying, Now it has come—the salvation and the power and the kingdom (the dominion, the reign) of our God, and the power (the sovereignty, the authority) of His Christ (the Messiah); for the accuser of our brethren, he who keeps bringing before our God charges against them day and night, has been cast out! Revelation 12:7-10 (AMP)

David Chilton comments: “The definitive accomplishment of this, of course, was Christ’s atonement for the sins of His people: thus, just before He offered up Himself as the sacrifice, our Lord said: “Now judgment is upon this world: now the ruler of this world shall be thrown out” (John 12:31). In Christ’s victory, salvation and the Kingdom came to earth. Satan was defeated.”

“The very language of the Gospels bears this out. The standard term for Christ’s “casting out” of the demons throughout His ministry (ekballo; cf. Matt. 8:16, 31; 9:33-34; 10:1, 8; 12:24, 26-28) is simply an intensive form of the word used repeatedly in Revelation 12 for the throwing down of the Dragon (ballo). And Jesus announced: “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God has come upon you” (Matt: 12:28). The message of Revelation is consistent with that of the New Testament as a whole: Christ has arrived, Satan has been cast down, and the Kingdom has come. By His death and resurrection, Christ “disarmed” the demons, triumphing over them (Col. 2:15). Satan has been reduced powerless, (Hebrews 2:14-15)“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery”, and so Saint Paul was able to assure the believers in Rome that “the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet’ (Romans 16:20). The Cross was the mark, Jesus said, of the judgment of the world (John 12:31)-or, as John Calvin rendered it, ‘the reformation and restoration of the world. The illegitimate ruler of the world was cast out by the coming of Christ’. As He announced at His Ascension, “All authority (exousia) in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt. 28:18.) Saint John’s vision declares the same thing: the Kingdom of our God and the authority (exousia) of His Christ have come!” (A)

Frederick S. Leahy adds: “Though Adam was a steward and trustee of God’s creation, Satan had no authority to rule men, for man was never his own master. And therefore there could be no scepter of rule belonging to man which was transferable to Satan after the Fall. God has given Satan no dominion over man. Man is within ‘the dominion of Satan’ (Acts 26:18)“to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me, only because of his sin. In revolt against God, he aligned himself with Satan. In this sense Satan is his ‘god’ and ‘prince’; man is a captive in the jurisdiction of darkness (Col. 1:130).“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” “The New Testament proclamation is that the sentence passed upon Satan in Eden has been executed! The truth about Satan is not merely that he is an unseated dignitary who was ejected from the courts of heaven; at the cross of Christ he has been crushed and routed upon earth. At Calvary Christ achieved total victory over Satan and his evil hosts. Of this truth the Scripture leaves us in no possible doubt. Jesus is said to have ‘spoiled principalities and powers‘, and to have ‘made a show of them openly, triumphing over them’ in His cross.”

The Apostle Paul wrote in Colossians 2:13-15

“And you who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross. 15 [God] disarmed the principalities and powers that were ranged against us and made a bold display and public example of them, in triumphing over them in Him and in it [the cross]. Colossians 2:13-15 (AMP)

“He completely overcame the powers of evil. As F. F. Bruce remarks, He ‘grappled with them and mastered them, stripping them of all the armor in which they trusted, and held them aloft in His mighty outstretched hands, displaying to the universe their helplessness and His own unvanquished strength.” They were completely disabled at the cross where Christ stood before the whole moral universe as Victor Emmanuel. In no other way could we be delivered from the jurisdiction of darkness. On the eve of His crucifixion Christ could say, ‘Now is the judgment of this world; now shall the prince of this world be cast out’ (John 12:32). The one whom this world served, and with whom it was allied, was to be cast out not in the remote future but ‘now’- a word which is made emphatic in the Greek text by reason of its position in the sentence. Our Lord’s statement is abundantly plain: through His death the expulsion of our chief enemy would become an accomplished fact.” (B)

The scriptures are quite clear. Satan and his evil demons have been defeated by the Blood of the Lamb. The war between the Kingdom of Light and the Kingdom of Darkness ended on the Cross of Christ. But if the war was over as those first Christians obviously believed, why were they experiencing such affliction in all the tribulation I spoke about earlier? At this point some of you folks may also be wondering that if the war is over why isn’t there peace throughout the world today? After all, each of you are aware of the many evils that have taken place in your own lifetime, and all the horrors such as terrorism, child molestations, little girls and women being raped which are probably occurring even at this very moment? The first followers of Christ were reminded that Satan was prowling around our world like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, especially true Christians. They knew from experience that truth of that statement and Christ’s first followers also believed the following.

Then I heard a strong (loud) voice in heaven, saying, Now it has come—the salvation and the power and the kingdom (the dominion, the reign) of our God, and the power (the sovereignty, the authority) of His Christ (the Messiah); for the accuser of our brethren, he who keeps bringing before our God charges against them day and night, has been cast out! 11 And they have overcome (conquered) him by means of the blood of the Lamb and by the utterance of their testimony, for they did not love and cling to life even when faced with death [holding their lives cheap till they had to die for their witnessing]. 12 Therefore be glad (exult), O heavens and you that dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in fierce anger (fury), because he knows that he has [only] a short time [left]! 13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast down to the earth, he went in pursuit of the woman who had given birth to the male Child. Revelation 12:10-13 (AMP)

D. A. Carson explains: “Once Satan has been hurled to the earth (v.9), John “heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now has come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ’” (v. 10a). The kingdom has dawned. It is here. It is not yet consummated, but it is now come. It has started. One of the ways in which this has been demonstrated is that Satan himself has been decisively defeated. Or in terms of the symbolism of 12:7-9, Satan has been cast out of heaven. He has no standing before God whatsoever. He cannot bring accusations against the brothers anymore, “for the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down” (v. 10b) Satan, though doubtless he has been operating on the earth since the beginning of the creation, is now restricted to the earth and has lost his access to God that has enabled him to accuse us before God so directly.” “So Satan turns all his rage and vengeance upon the woman (i.e.), upon us, the messianic community: “When the dragon saw that he had been hurled down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child” (v.13). It is precisely the Devil’s restriction in authority that is the fundamental reason here for his rage in this restricted sphere. Satan is not only wicked; he is frustrated, angry, and vituperative. “He is filled with fury, because he knows his time is short’ (v.12). Satan is full of rage not because he is so spectacularly strong, but because he knows that he is defeated, his end is in sight, the range of his operations is curtailed-and he is furious. He knows that in principal he is already undone.”

“This reaction is psychologically believable because it has happened many times in history. For instance, during the Gulf War, once the allies had arrived with a quarter of a million troops, tons of material, and sophisticated weapons that Saddam Hussein could not possibility match, anyone with half a brain in his head knew it was over. It was uncertain how bloody it might be and what setbacks might be encountered, but it was over. Does that mean that Saddam Hussein quit? No, he ordered his troops to fight, and they were killed and captured by the thousands. They fired all the oil wells in Kuwait on their way out. Saddam did the most vengeful things when it was clear that he was already beaten. It was not rational, yet his response was not atypical for defeated despots.”

“That is the nature of the opposition we face. Satan’s sphere is restricted, his time is short, and he is angry. He cannot get directly at Jesus, so he aims to do as much damage as he possibly can to Jesus’ people, to the woman; that is you and me. The troubles of Christ’s people (the children of the woman) arise not because Satan is too strong but because he is beaten in principal and will rage violently to the very end. Our present conflict belongs to this cosmic scope.” (D)

Leahy adds: “Frequently the illustration of sentence passed and judgment yet to be executed is used. But this does not agree with Scripture, which, as we have seen, tells us very plainly that the sentence passed in [the Garden of] Eden was executed at Calvary. A better illustration would be that of thunder and lightning. In objective reality these are virtually one, but from our standpoint, owing to the fact that light travels much more quickly than sound, there is usually a time-lag between seeing the flash and hearing the thunder. With God the victory and the judgment are all in the cross. “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out,” (John 16:11). But to the believer who lives in time, there is a time-lag between Satan being cast down and the hearing the crash of his fall. With God there is no such gap and at the final judgment, when time will have ended, we shall see for ourselves that the cross stood at the heart of history and that there Satan was in fact cast out.” (E)

We’re all presently suffering affliction in various degrees of intensity and some of us for quite a while-with no let up in sight. That’s the reason I’m going to close by sharing a timeless comforting fact from Arthur W. Pink who reminds us that-“the angels, good and evil, are under God’s control, and willingly or unwillingly carry out God’s purpose. Satan himself is absolutely subject to God’s control. When arraigned in Eden, he listened to the awful sentence, but never said a word. He couldn’t touch Job until God gave him permission. He had to get our Lord’s consent before he could “sift” Peter. When Christ commanded him to depart-“Be gone Satan”-we read, “Then the devil left Him” (Matt. 4:11). And, in the end, he will be cast into the Lake of Fire, which has been prepared for him and his angels.”

“The Lord God omnipotent reigns. His government is exercised over inanimate matter, over the brute beasts, over the children of men, over angels good and evil, and over Satan himself. No revolving world, no shining star, no storm, no creature moves, no actions of men, no errands of angels no deeds of the Devil-nothing in all of the vast universe can come to pass other than what God has determined. Here is a foundation for faith. Here is a resting place for the intellect. Here is an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast. It is not blind faith, unbridled evil, man or Devil, but it is the Lord Almighty who is ruling the world, ruling it according to His own good pleasure and for his own eternal glory.” (D)

Think of all the anxiety you and I often subject ourselves to because we forget these eternal truths and commit the sin of worry. We don’t ponder them often enough nor do we give much thought to Satan’s present status and his impact on our daily lives. Of course, we’re still being afflicted but it isn’t because Satan is asking God for His permission to afflict us. The fact is that he can’t! Satan no longer can enter into God’s presence and make accusations against us or ask God for permission to afflict us as he once could. The war between the proud lion and the Humble Lamb is over. The Lamb was victorious.

I pray that we will stay close enough to each other so that whenever one of us is being clobbered by those cosmic forces of evil, we will be able to bring to each others remembrance the fact that the Lord Almighty is Completely Sovereign!

Lord willing, next week…

(A) The Days of Vengeance, An Exposition of the Book of Revelation, By David Chilton, © 1987 by Dominion Press, P. O. Box 7999, Tyler, Texas 75711. P. 317.

(B) Satan Cast Out, A Study in Biblical Demonology, © 1975 by Frederick S. Leahy, The Banner of Truth Trust. P. O. Box 621, Carlisle, Pa. 17013, pg. 24-26.

(C) Scandalous, The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus, © 2010 by D. A. Carson, published by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, 1300 Crescent St. Wheaton, Illinois 60187, pg. 91-92.

(D) The Sovereignty of God, © 1930 by Arthur W. Pink, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Pg. 57-58.

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June 5, 2011 Posted by Categories: Uncategorized 4 comments

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