Theology Corner

Addressing commonly asked questions about Christianity from the perspective of a non-theologian

60. HAS SATAN ALREADY BEEN BANISHED FROM HEAVEN?

By the substitutionary atonement, God redeemed or bought-back all creation from the bondage of Satan, who now no longer owns it (Luke 4:5-7), and offered redemption from the bondage of sin to all persons.  But Satan was not a willing seller and will never acknowledge the legitimacy of the sale.  He believes his property was stolen from him by a phony purchase.  He is battling God to retain possession.  Creation, for example, may be legally free from the bondage of evil but it is not free from the influence of evil itself through Satan and his minions who will never relinquish possession without a fight.  Satan, who holds the power of death (Heb 2:14) and is the prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30-31; 16:8-11), exercises a pervasive, structural and diabolical influence which caused all creation to be engulfed by the bondage of evil.  That which God created as good began to exhibit a pain-ridden, bloodthirsty, sinister and hostile demeanor.  “Mother Nature,” became an inherently violent and terrifying system dominated by disease, suffering and death – a system red in tooth and claw.  Not wanting free will to be an illusion, God is permitting, for a time and within limits, certain consequences of rebellion and corruption caused by both fallen angels and the humans who join them.  When restoration and repossession are complete, nature will be violent no more (Isa 11:6-9, 65:17-25; Rom 8:20-22; 2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1-4).  Keep in mind that redemption from the bondage of evil is aimed at all creation, including your human body, but redemption from the bondage of sin is aimed at your soul.

God decided to engage Satan’s army with the assistance of those human soldiers who accept the great gift of salvation which is offered to all persons by the grace of God and the Substitutionary Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Those who accept it are redeemed or set free from the bondage of sin.  Salvation causes us to be regenerated or born again from the death grip of sin to a life of pursuing righteousness.  We can, thereby, stand beside Jesus as He battles to purge evil from His creation.  However, salvation may set us free from the bondage of sin but it does not set us free from the influence of sin itself.  Satan knows that our concupiscence, bad judgement, inconsistent will and weariness can ensnare us in the vice-grip of evil even after salvation.  But for the first time in our lives, we can, by the power of the Holy Spirit, say “no” to Satan and to our own sin nature.  We can be set free from the bondage of sin but not from its influence.

In their eagerness to declare victory over evil, some pastors and Sunday school teachers insist that Satan has already been banished from Heaven.  A few sources seem to lend support for the banishment of Satan hypothesis but this scenario wobbles under careful examination.

 

  • In Paradise Lost, Milton describes the event of Satan and his army being ejected from Heaven and falling into Hell long before Adam and Eve were created. But this scenario has no Biblical support.

 

  • In Isaiah 14:12, the Authorized KJV states, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!”  But ‘Lucifer, son of the morning’ is ‘Day Star, son of Dawn’ in the RSV.  Isaiah was proclaiming the downfall of the king of Babylon and not the fall of Satan from Heaven.

 

  • In Rev 12:10, the Authorized KJV states, “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” But this verse describes a future event.  It also suggests that Satan currently has access to God in Heaven as the accusing witness and chief prosecutor for each individual in the human race.

 

  • In Luke 10:18, the Authorized KJV states, “And he said to them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” or, by the NASB, “And He said to them, I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.” This is an important verse because it represents the words of Jesus.  But what does it really mean? Let’s take a closer look.

 

Remember, text out of context is a pretext.  Context refers to the circumstances that form the setting for an event in terms of which the event can be fully understood and assessed.  But what is the context for Luke 10:18?  What are the circumstances that form the setting for this statement of Jesus?  Let us step back a few verses.

In Luke 9:2, Jesus said: “preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick.”  This instruction was given to the twelve.  In Luke 10:9, Jesus said: “Heal the sick who are there and tell them the kingdom of God is near you.”  This instruction was given to the seventy two.  He did not even tell the seventy two to preach the kingdom of God; presumably He would do that later.  Furthermore, according to G. A. Boyd, “Every exorcism and 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.  Furthermore, rather than accepting their circumstances as mysteriously fitting into God’s sovereign plan, Jesus revolted against them as something that God did not will and something that ought to be vanquished by God’s power... All sickness and disease was considered a form of satanic oppression, and so in freeing people from it Jesus demonstrated the presence of the kingdom of God.”  The text in chapters 9 and 10 of Luke and the unique roll of healing in the great war between good and evil suggest that the instruction to heal the sick is just as universal, for each Christian and the church as a whole, as the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

In Luke 10:17, the seventy two joyfully returned from their mission of healing and exorcism.  Their work marked an advance toward establishing the kingdom of God over and against the kingdom of Satan.  These seventy two missionaries, like Jesus, freed people from sickness and disease thereby demonstrating the presence of the kingdom of God.  This is, most likely, what Jesus meant in Luke 10:18 when He said, I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.  He was not thinking of Satan actually falling from Heaven in the past, present or future.  He was thinking of the contemporary effects of His own ministry on Satan’s activities.

Other passages of Scripture also suggest that Satan currently has access to God’s chambers of judgement.  Satan is the accusing witness and chief prosecutor for each individual in the human race.  When he fills this role he does so in the presence of God and his angels (Job 1:6, 2:7; Zech 3:1-5; Rev 12:10).  Satan is accusing us 24/7 probably with the frequency of cosmic gamma burst radiation.  Jesus Christ is interceding on our behalf (Heb 7:25) for each accusation.  This great confrontation is taking place in the chambers of Heaven.