Friday, February 02, 2007

Satan’s Reign on Earth

We all grew up with a certain perspective regarding the battle between good and evil. As children we played “cops and robbers” or watched movies like “Star Wars.” As adults we think in terms of athletic competitions or the hit television series “24.” We love to see the good guys win especially when the battle is between two evenly matched opponents or, better yet, when the victory is an upset against seemingly impossible odds. My question is how does this perception of “a good fight” calculate in the spiritual realm? Are God and Satan on an even playing field? Open theists like Gregory Boyd believe this to be true and, quite honestly, there are some bible passages that appear to confirm this perspective.

As I’ve posted earlier, I am presently in the Perspectives course here at Parkview. It is an outstanding course that I believe ever Christian should take. Last weekend in one of the lectures a “perspective” was shared regarding Gregory Boyd’s book “God At War.” After hearing this talk, which incorporated several quotes from Boyd’s book, I was troubled by the proposition that Satan’s reign on earth means he has, “all “authority” and “glory” of “all the kingdoms of the world”… because it all belongs to him.” (Boyd P. 80, Perspectives Reader) Is this really the intended assertion of Luke 4:5-6? If one only looks at a few bible passages regarding Satan’s influence it would be easy to accept Boyd’s opinion, however, if we really examine the scriptures we find scores of passages that give us an entirely different view on the authority of Satan’s reign on earth.
Job 1:12 - And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.

Job 2:6 - And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”

Jude 1:6 - And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.

James 4:7 - Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

Isaiah 46:9-10 - Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose.

Daniel 4:17 - The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will.

Psalm 33:10-11 - The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing; he frustrates the plans of the peoples. The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.
Certainly an empowered view of Satan creates a sense of urgency within the apathetic believer, but we must not forget that empowering Satan also demotes God and violates an accurate biblical picture of who He is.

This is a link to a book review by D.A. Carson regarding Boyd’s book “God at War.” It is lengthy and academic, but if you skip to page 8, you will get his basic evaluation of the book. Here also is a link from a talk given by John Piper at the 2004 Desiring God conference regarding the “Ten Aspects of God’s Sovereignty Over Suffering and Satan’s Hand in It.” Both are good reads that responsibly unpack a proper view of Satan’s limited power on earth.

(Thanks for the Carson link Justin!)

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