At church last night we got into an interesting discussion about satan. We are studying the verses in Colossians 2:14-15.
Verse 15, ESV: “He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.”
NIV: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
KJV: “And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
The question was, do we think the cross chastened satan enough so that after the cross he understood he is a cooked goose, and now is just taking as many down with him as possible? Or is he uncowed by the cross and continuing in his pursuit of exaltation over God? In other words, what impact did the cross have on him when Jesus descended and made a spectacle of the demons and their evil leader, satan?
Here are my thoughts on it.
Why do I believe satan thinks he will win, and that the cross did not sway his thinking on this score one bit?
1. The nature of sin.
We’re told that the unregenerated heart is totally depraved. We’re told that it only goes from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (2 Tim 3:13). That they grow only more and more ungodly (2 Tim 2:16). That there is a progression to sin that descends us and never ascends (Romans 1). In addition we’re told specifically about satan that he is the father of lies and to destroy. (John 8:44; John 10:10).
We know that sin makes us stupid (Romans 1, Ephesians 4:17-18 …) We are speculating on satan’s reaction to his defeat at the cross as if he were a rational being reacting naturally to a defeat as we would react to it. He isn’t and he won’t. We can’t use a logical mindset to apply to his subsequent actions to that defeat. Sin makes us stupider and stupider. He is not in his right mind. As Ephesians says, our minds become futile. The cross would be a setback and not a defeat- in his stupid, sin-drenched, futile, darkened mind.
So due to what we are told about the nature of sin, there is no reason to think that satan is any different than he was at the outset of his fall as described in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28, arrogant and prideful, and every biblical reason to know he is worse. I think the cross did not chasten him at all. In fact it probably acted as a catalyst for satan to redouble his efforts. We know satan is defeated. I do not believe he does. His behavior has shown us that. Here are some examples:
2. Arrogance from the beginning
Though he was the guardian cherub, THE chief guard of the guards as it were, and served God in His temple, and no one was closer to God than he was, satan’s intent from the beginning was to conquer God. He said,
“I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” (Isaiah 14:14b-15)
Satan saw God create the earth with the power of his own voice, he watched God create a human and breathe His life into him, and yet satan still thought he could exalt himself above God. THAT is arrogance of all arrogance.
2b. Arrogance continued through Jesus’s earthly ministry (Luke 4)
I believe satan’s arrogance was deepened by the time Jesus came to earth, because satan tempted Jesus. Wow. He offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth and Jesus did not correct satan, but simply refused the offer. Satan’s leash is a leash but satan, I think, has forgotten he is one a leash at all. I think he thinks that because he has access to heaven, 1/3 of the angels on his side, and is god of this world that he can and will continue to gain territory.
3. Satan’s fury at being tossed out of heaven, (Rev 12:7-17).
In Rev 12:13 it says “When the dragon realized that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued the woman who had given birth to the male child.” The common interpretation, I understand, is that has had access to heaven since his fall, but at this point in the Tribulation, satan is barred further access to heaven, along with his 1/3 fallen angel army. In fact, this is what sparks the Great Tribulation. He is so furious he fiercely persecutes the Israel/Jews in the 2nd half of the Tribulation, and then the Christians. He’s shocked, shocked, at being thrown out. It even takes him a bit of time to absorb the fact. See–
…where the verse says “when he realized he had been thrown down”. If satan has to take time to even realize he has lost the war in heaven, he must have thought that his access would have gone on forever. The word in the verse for “he realized” means he perceived or discerned, “to see with the mind” (i.e. spiritually see), i.e. perceive (with inward spiritual perception). (Strong’s). In this case I propose that if he is just realizing it in the Tribulation that he lost territory, then prior to that he didn’t have a clue he even could lose. The cross notwithstanding…
3b. The permanence of his intent to conquer God
Satan’s reaction to this loss of access to heaven is cold evil fury (Rev 12:17). The Greek word for his fury means settled anger (opposition), i.e. rising up from an ongoing (fixed) opposition. This tells me that his anger was as fixed as it was the day he declared war on God by saying he will exalt himself above God. It means an unwavering, settled anger. So once again I interpret that satan is still arrogant and still believes he will win even at the future date of the Great Tribulation’s outset. He starts to get a clue in Rev 12 where the angel says ‘people, rejoice because the devil knows his time is short.’ But that does not stop him at all. The cross notwithstanding. As a matter of fact… it only spurs him on. Because next on the schedule of events is…
As John MacArthur preaches the verses in Rev 16, we see all the armies of the world that satan has demonically influenced to assemble at Armageddon. Why do they all gather there? There is one world government and one world leader…so they don’t come to fight against the antichrist…and not against each other, because they are all there as one military unit. Do they come to fight against Israel? Perhaps, MacArthur says, but more to the point they have gathered to fight against GOD. Even that that late date, satan still thinks he will win. His armies at Har Megiddo are there to fight against Jesus Himself. The cross notwithstanding!
5. Millennium Rebellion
Even after defeat at the cross, being tossed out of heaven, losing at Armageddon, and after being locked up for 1000 years, the first thing satan does after getting out (at the end of the millennium,) is that satan foments a rebellion. A big one. Rev 20:8-9, “will come out to deceive the nations that are at the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle; their number is like the sand of the sea. 9 And they marched up over the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, but fire came down from heaven and consumed them,”
This evil angel believes he can win until the very second he is thrown into the lake of fire!
I believe the cross was a severe blow in satan’s mind but not a defeat in his mind, (we know that it was the final nail in his coffin, of course) but that the cross only redoubled his efforts. My opinion is: he thinks he will win. He is relentless in his hatred, which is total. Sin only deludes further and further as we know from Romans 1. And those reasons above are the basis for me having formed that opinion. But it is only an opinion. I can’t be dogmatic about it. What do you think?
The point I want to make is that we should never underestimate the persistence of sin in our lives. Jesus broke those chains for us and therefore satan has no power over us- if we cling to Jesus tightly. We must always appeal to the Holy Spirit to help us resist our natural inclination to sin (as long as we are in our bodies).We can be influenced by satan and tempted to sin and as we see from the progression of his activity throughout the ages, he is relentless.
As for the lost, if you have unsaved people in your family or your workplace or your school…please remember satan’s monumental arrogance, pride, and aim to totally destroy. Their chains have not been broken and they are under satan’s sway. Pray for them and have patience with them. They do not know what they are doing!
Let me know what you think on this subject or any other.