We run our website the way we wished the whole internet worked: we provide high quality original content with no ads. We are funded by your direct support for ReKnew and our vision. Please consider supporting this project.
The Reality of Satan and the Spiritual Realm
A theme that underlies Jesus’ entire ministry is the apocalyptic assumption that creation has been seized by a cosmic force and that God is now battling this force to rescue it. Jesus understood himself to be the one in whom this battle was to be played out in a decisive way. The assumption is evident in almost everything Jesus says and does.
Jesus refers to Satan as “the prince” (archon) of this present age three times (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). The term archon was used in secular contexts to denote the highest official in a city or region. In short, Jesus acknowledges that Satan is the highest power of this present fallen world, at least in terms of his present influence. When Satan offers Jesus all “authority” over “all the kingdoms of the world,” Jesus does not dispute his claim that it was his to offer (Lk 4:5-6). Other writings explicitly teach that the whole world is “under the power of the evil one” (1 Jn 5:19), for Satan is “the god of the world” (2 Cor 4:4) and the ruler of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2).
Jesus addresses this evil “prince” as the leader of a relatively unified and pervasive army of spiritual powers and demons. Satan is thus called the “ruler of the demons” (Mt 9:34), and fallen angels are called “his angels” (Mt 25:41). On the basis of this assumed military unity, Jesus refutes the Pharisees’ contention that he exorcises demons by the power of Satan rather than the power of God. If this were so, Jesus argues, Satan’s kingdom would be working against itself (Mk 3:24) and could not exhibit the power it exhibits in this world.
Correlatively, Jesus taught that those who wish to make headway in tearing down this evil kingdom and in taking back the “property” of this kingdom must first tie up “the strong man” who oversees the whole operation (Mk 3:27). This could only be done when “one stronger than he attacks him and overpowers him” and thus “takes away his armor in which he trusted” (Lk 11:22). This, in a nutshell, is what Jesus understood himself to be doing by his teachings, healings, exorcisms and especially by his death and resurrection. His whole ministry was about overpowering the “fully armed” strong man who guarded “his property” (Lk 11:21)—the earth and its inhabitants who rightfully belong to God.
Jesus tied up the strong man so that he (and later, his church) could pillage the strong man’s kingdom. In fact, this is what Jesus’ teaching about the kingdom of God is all about. In the context of Jesus’ ministry, it is a warfare concept. “If it is by the power of God that I cast out demons,” Jesus teaches, “then the kingdom of God has come to you” (Lk 11:20). Where God reigns, Satan and his demons cannot. But otherwise, if the earth is to become the domain in which God is king (the kingdom of God), then it must cease being the domain in which Satan is king. This is what Jesus came to accomplish. He came to “destroy the works of the devil” (1 Jn 3:8: Heb 2:14) and to establish God’s domain on earth.
Every exorcism and every healing—the two activities that most characterize Jesus’ ministry—marked an advance toward establishing the kingdom of God over and against the kingdom of Satan. Consequently, in contrast with any view that would suggest that disease and demonization somehow serve a divine purpose, Jesus never treated such phenomenon as anything other than the work of the enemy. He consistently treated diseased and demonized people as casualties of war.
It is curious that the evil one to whom the Bible directly or indirectly attributes all evil has played a rather insignificant role in the theodicy of the church after Augustine. This, I contend, is directly connected to the fact that the church generally accepted the blueprint worldview that Augustine espoused. If we assume that there is a specific divine reason for every particular event that transpires, including the activity of Satan, then the ultimate explanation for evil cannot be found in Satan. It must rather be found in the reason that God had for ordaining or allowing him to carry out his specific activity. The New Testament, I submit, does not share this assumption.
—Adapted from Satan and the Problem of Evil, pages 35-37.
Tags: Blueprint Worldview, Evil, Satan, Satan and the Problem of Evil, Spiritual Warfare, Warfare Worldview
Topics: Spiritual Warfare, Cosmic Conflict, The Problem of Evil
Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree?
One of the strangest episodes recorded in the Gospels is Jesus cursing a fig tree because he was hungry and it didn’t have any figs (Mk 11:12-14; Mt 21:18-19). It’s the only destructive miracle found in the New Testament. What’s particularly puzzling is that Mark tells us the reason the fig tree had no figs…
Typhoon Haiyan and “Natural” Evil
Greg recorded his thoughts a few days ago on Typhoon Haiyan and the reality of “natural” evil that’s not really natural at all. “This an enemy has done.” (Matthew 13:28)
Is Hell Eternal Punishment?
The end of time, according to the Bible, is marked by hope, the hope that God’s will shall someday be done “on earth as it is in heaven.” The hope is that however terrible our present circumstances may be, before long they will all come to an end. Then creation will be what God always…
Thankful that God Outsmarted Satan
Concerning the cross, Paul wrote that God’s intent was “that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places … in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph 3:10-11). One…
Do Angels and Demons Really Exist?
While the supremacy of God is never qualified in the Bible, this supremacy is not strictly autocratic. Other “gods” or spiritual entities like angels and demons are not mere puppets of the God of the Bible. Rather, they appear to be personal beings who not only take orders but also are invited to give input…
Podcast: Am I Being Tested By God? Or Am I Being Attacked By Satan?
Greg ponders whether or not the SOURCE of testing matter, and offers wisdom for dealing with testing. http://traffic.libsyn.com/askgregboyd/Episode_0301.mp3