They Overcame Him

Revelation 12:7-12

Is obvious from Revelation… as well as rest of Bible… Christian life is one marked by conflict. For example, read Romans 7:22-25. Often believers give up the fight, try to coast along through life, hoping to somehow survive along with their sin until they get to heaven. Then, of course, Paul’s encouraging text in Ephesians 6:12-13 (read). I’m sure you can think of those who haven’t even showed up for wrestling match, others who have called time out. In all of this, people of God live as though sin and Satan are enemies that cannot be overcome.

Our text declares to us – Satan is defeated foe… still incredibly dangerous, but defeated. War has been fought, did not end in truce but in clear victory for one, defeat for the other. Yes, war fought on spiritual level, among beings we cannot detect with physical eyes. Doesn’t make any less important or real. And outcome of war has great significance for us here and now in 21st century America.

So who are combatants; why are they at war; when did war occur; what was outcome; how was it achieved; finally, what its significance for us.

A. who

war takes place in heaven – how is that possible? doesn’t make sense on many levels, given our image of what heaven is – more in few minutes

Michael and his angels

don’t know a lot about Michael – name means “who is like God”, first mentioned by name Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1

portrayed as the great prince charged with protecting God’s people, in conflict with their enemies – makes sense, given Ps. 91:11For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways.”

Bible doesn’t talk much about angels… for good reason – John the author, should have known better and really did, made mistake twice of trying to worship angel! Rev. 19:10; 22:8

Bible does make us understand were beings created to serve God and his people – can enter visible realm, most often carry out duties unseen by mankind

dragon and his angels

early on in history of creation leader among angels rebelled against authority, brought sentence of judgment on himself and followers

know from Jesus’ own words place is prepared for Satan, those angels and people who are loyal to him: “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels” Matt. 25:41

just as Michael and his angels primary work to serve and protect the church, so Satan and his angels primary goal to prevent God’s redemptive purpose from being fulfilled, to destroy Christ and his church

dragon; serpent; Devil; Satan; deceives; accuser

learn much from names and description – his character, tactics, agenda; make no mistake, appearances are deceiving, this is not Puff the Magic Dragon even if he presents himself that way

this fallen angel is destroyer in disguise, attempting to impersonate God himself in order to take captives, destroy lives

is the Adversary, actively campaigning and fighting against Christ’s church – has been on prowl since serpent days in Garden

primary tactic/tool/weapon – deception: making evil look good, danger look safe, hiding what will destroy under wraps of what is desirable

his agenda toward God – dethrone God, assume control in his place; will stop at little in order to achieve goal: has “great wrath”, furious anger boiling up and over

B. why

“accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God” – had access to heaven, God’s presence, for a time

see Job 1:9-11; Zech. 3:1-2 appeared before God, challenging God’s right to treat his people as justified/pardoned for sin

battle for souls – hence the accusations

accused Job for only following God for the benefits; sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it… except not true for Job

standing ready to accuse Joshua high priest standing before the King in dirty clothes – he’s just plain old sinner still in sin

yet really accusations were against God, not his people – condition of God’s people before Calvary: sins had been covered, not yet removed

at that point in time/history the only sacrifice actually offered that of animals… and God knew was only temporary

if animal sacrifice could actually take away sin, would not have to keep doing it; in Satan’s mind, until God’s plan of redemption actually historically complete, was not a done deal; perhaps Satan could prevail

C. when

if God’s redemptive plan could be derailed, then Satan wins

repeatedly throughout human history Satan attempted just that – every attack on God’s people was attack on God’s plan

so long as Satan had access to heaven, had way to be informed of inside information – why do think Joseph ended up in Egypt? 10 spies gave bad report? Philistines harassed Jews? Saul tried to kill David? idol-worship was so attractive? Herod and Judas and Pilate acted as they did?

if at any point line to Christ was broken or Lord Jesus himself disqualified or defeated, Satan wins; even Satan not wise enough to recognize awesome mystery of Gospel

as intelligent as Satan was, couldn’t figure out Jesus’ death a defeat for Satan, not God; did all he could to make sure Jesus’ life ended in defeat

then… accusations would be true, Satan would win, every human being would belong to Satan and none to Christ

until crucifixion

when Jesus said “it is finished”, not only was penalty for sin of his people satisfied, Satan’s access to heaven ended

no more opportunity for accusation – what if sacrifice isn’t paid for these sinners, what then? moot point when redemption was accomplished on cross

we think of Jesus’ return to heaven happening 40 days after resurrection; but… remember his words to fellow next cross to his – “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

and to his Father – “into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46) is clear he expected his spirit to be present with his Father within moments – “Having said this, He breathed His last.”

from that moment on, Heaven not big enough any longer for conquering Savior and defeated enemy Satan

D. what outcome

cast out/cast down

angel-servants of triumphant Savior eject Satan and all his angels from heaven, no chance of ever returning there

no longer any access to inside information; all he knows – his time is limited, his territory significantly diminished, power restrained

salvation, strength, kingdom and power have come

salvation has been accomplished; God’s power has been demonstrated; Christ’s kingdom is in place, his ruling authority established… all shown for certain in overthrow of #1 challenger

ultimately, rejoicing among the righteous

heaven now secure – no possibility of invasion by any evil force, no possibility of further deception and rebellion of those already resident there

everything in place for final complete defeat and everlasting imprisonment of Satan and all his angels – only a matter of time, God’s time, when rule of sin and Satan will forever end

E. how

achieved by blood of the Lamb

blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins (Heb. 10:4); blood of Christ is one sacrifice for sins forever – when Christ’s sacrifice is applied to sinner it removes Satan’s power to accuse

by word of testimony

when sinners hear “word of testimony”, truth of Gospel and its transforming power, and then respond in repentance and faith, removes Satan’s power to deceive and enslave

faithfulness to Gospel more essential than life

Christ has overcome Satan, his followers overcome Satan when they put the Gospel first, even when it gets costly

Too many Christians evangelize and live like they believe Gospel has power to save only from hell, not from sin and Satan. As though Gospel only relates to destiny in next life but cannot transform people in this life. Read 1 Thess. 1:5-7

Heard July 9 of Muslim whose view of ideal, best thing possible for Muslim – die as martyr for sake of Islam, then come back so as to die again, and again. Yes, we need to live for Christ, in part so others can hear Gospel and come to faith in Christ. But remember what apostle Paul said: “For me to live is Christ”, we like that part, but he didn’t stop there – “and to die is gain”. Phil. 1:21 Not just words, “For I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” (Phil. 1:23) If living in light of the Gospel becomes difficult or dangerous, need to keep Paul’s words in mind, also those of the Lord Jesus – “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.” Mark 8:35

Task is unfinished – seeing hearts and lives transformed by power of the Gospel. Every follower of Christ is called to be participant in finishing task of spreading good news of new life in Christ. Mission field begins with person closest to you who has not responded to Gospel message in repentance and faith. And moves out from there to encircle the globe. Is a task that can only be carried out in total dependence on God with Christ as our focus. Let’s encourage one another to take up the task of reaching the lost.

 

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