Satan’s Work


There are two areas in the Christian life that most of us try to ignore, in favor of staying with subjects that are more easily understood and accepted. One is the area of judgment; the other is satanic involvement in the lives of Christians. We’ve already considered some of the positive points about our personal judgment in an earlier article. Now I would like to expand the purpose of the final judgment to include the ultimate expulsion of Satan forever from the lives of the followers of Jesus.

A good place to begin is to explore the reason why Jesus said in John 12:31, 32: “Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up…will draw all men to myself.”

In the investigative judgment, the lives of God’s people are under review. Satan, the accuser of the brethren who accuses us before God day and night (Rev. 12:10), stands ready to make our lives look as black and hopeless as possible. It is up to God to show that Satan’s accusations are false, and that His chosen ones have successfully overcome him by the blood of Jesus, and the word of their testimony (verse 11).

An interesting analogy of this experience is found in Zechariah 3. Here, Joshua the high priest is viewed as he stands before God dressed in the filthy garments which represent his own sins and the sins of his people. As we might expect, Satan is standing at his right side to accuse him. Satan is aware of all the sins he has caused us to commit throughout our entire lifetime, and he delights in bringing them up to taunt us in his desire to discourage and dishearten us.

But perhaps the worst of his diabolical schemes is to try to make us believe that it is the voice of God in our conscience that is accusing us. Many sincere followers of Jesus have been brought into despair and discouragement through this tactic of Satan, and tempted to lose their faith and their hold upon God.

This attempt to deceive Joshua is alluded to by the the position which Satan assumes in this story. Notice that he is on the right side of Joshua. This would normally indicate that this is a friendly visitor from heaven. Note that in the story of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, Gabriel appears to him standing on the right side of the golden altar. This should have comforted him and inspired him with faith. (Ps. 16:8, 11.)

Jesus talks about this issue in John 10:2-5: “The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep…. His sheep follow Him because they know His voice. But they will never follow a stranger…because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”

These words of Jesus should help us realize that if we hear an accusing inner voice, it is not God’s voice, no matter how much we may be tempted to feel that because of our sins, our mistakes and unworthiness we deserve to be under accusation.

This is why the Scriptures tell us in Rev. 12:11 that the saints overcome the evil one by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony. They have learned that the secret of success in the Christian life is to look to Jesus and His righteousness, to ask for and receive His forgiveness and grace by faith, and to testify to everyone how wonderful it is to live in the smile of His approval, rather than in the feelings of condemnation which Satan would like to put into our minds. As we find stated so eloquently in Psalms:

“Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, O LORD. They rejoice in your name all day long; they exult in your righteousness. For you are their glory and strength, and by your favor you exalt our horn.” Ps. 89:15-17.

“Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him.” Ps. 32:1, 2.

But is forgiveness, mercy and grace ALL that is needed to expel Satan in the judgment? In order to get a fuller understanding of this let’s go to Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Note that the word used here in the KJV is remission. Its meaning according to Strong’s concordance is: freedom; pardon:–deliverance, forgiveness, liberty. Also: to send forth:–forgive, forsake, lay aside, leave, yield up; separation, departure, cessation, completion, reversal, etc. In other words, when we have true repentance for sin, we also are willing to separate from it, send it away, forsake it, be done with it.

But we all know that there is something about sin that causes it to reoccur, or to plague us with temptations that tell us that it isn’t as easy to escape it as we wish it were. That is because the human condition is more complex than we even dream when we first start out on our life’s journey. We seem to fall again and again in our weakest areas, much to our sadness, and disappointment in ourselves.

As Paul says, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing.” Rom.7:18-20.

But before I spark a theological discussion on the meaning of Romans 7, I would like to go back to a deeper understanding of the word, remission. As a former nurse, I am familiar with the medical meaning of the term as referring to a state of being free temporarily from the symptoms of a disease, but knowing that the disease itself is only dormant, and could reoccur at any time. My medical dictionary says: “Lessening of severity, or abatement of symptoms.”

Remission, then, is not the end of the story, whether it refers to physical disease, or the disease of sin. There is more to the solution of the sin problem than forgiveness. When we receive forgiveness, the guilt and power of the sin is dealt with; but there is also a need for cleansing, by which the very reasons for the desire to sin are removed. And when the desire is gone, there is no more internal response to the temptations of the devil by which he can ensnare and lead us to choose his voice over the voice of the good Shepherd, our precious Savior.

This is especially the work of Jesus in the second apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, as it corresponds to the Day of Atonement in the yearly service of the earthly sanctuary:

“This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny (afflict-KJV) yourselves…because on this day atonement will be made for you to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins…. Atonement is to be made once a year for all the sins of the Israelites.” Lev. 16:29-34.

Daniel prophesied about this in Daniel 12:9, 10:
“Go your way, Daniel, because the words are closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.”

Isaiah spoke of it in Isaiah 4:2-4:
“In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; He will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.”

Zechariah also looked forward with anticipation to the cleansing of God’s people:
“On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity…. In the whole land, declares the LORD, two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call upon my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’” Zech. 13:1, 8, 9.

Peter preached about it to the people of his day:
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:19-21. KJV.

Paul also understood the significance of a deeper cleansing during the pre-advent judgment:
“I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time (See Dan. 8:13-19); wait till the Lord comes (See Mal. 3:1-4). He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.” 1 Cor. 4:3-5.

So the investigative judgment is a time for exposing the deepest levels of the sin problem which are so deeply rooted in the human heart. Satan finds an entrance into each person as early as he can - even in the womb, by experiences that the parents go through and pass on to the child. Once he has a passage into our minds through fear, anger, jealousy, lust, bitterness, rejection, loneliness, insecurity, or whatever causes us to be in sympathy with his temptations, he has a stronghold until the day we die, or until we turn our lives over to Jesus and receive the strength and wholeness that He gives us through His indwelling Spirit.

During the judgment, God permits each person to go through just the experiences which will allow us to see our weaknesses and sinful tendencies, and to have time and opportunity to decide whether we will retain those weaknesses, or give them to Jesus to be cleansed and fully removed from our lives. It is up to us. We can stay as we are and keep not only our weaknesses, but also the demonic entities who use our weaknesses to cause us to stumble; or we can choose to be forever freed from the defilement of cherished sin, which makes us vulnerable to the temptations of the evil one.

I’m sure you have discovered, as I have, that Satan is not a benevolent taskmaster. He does not leave us just because we want him to go. He must be driven out by Jesus and the holy angels. And Jesus will only do this if we really want Him to, and if we place our lives in His hands. He has already won the victory for us on the cross of Calvary.

And now He wants to give us that victory and freedom - and this time, forever. The disease of sin can be permanently healed, never to return and threaten to defile our minds and destroy our bodies. Eternity is waiting for a cleansed people who are safe to live in the glorious heaven Jesus has prepared for His bride. I want to be among that number, and I’m sure you do, too. What a wonderful privilege we have of being ready for His soon coming!

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and His bride has made herself ready…. Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!” Rev. 19:7-9.

Additional quotes from the pen of Ellen White;

“You must not gratify the enemy in the least by doubting and casting away your confidence. Said the angel: ‘God leaves not His people, even if they err. He turns not from them for any light thing. He who so loved you to give His life for you will not turn you off and forsake you unless you willfully, determinedly forsake Him to serve the world and Satan…. Jesus retains your name on His breastplate and pleads for you before His Father, and if your eyes could be opened you would see heavenly angels ministering to you, hovering about and driving back the evil angels that they should not utterly destroy. The furnace in which you may be placed may be very hot, yet you will come forth as gold seven times purified, reflecting the image of Jesus.” IHP 119.

“Search for the precious promises of God. If Satan thrusts threatenings before your mind, turn from them and cling to the promises, and let your soul be comforted by their brightness.” KH 240.

“Remember this: If you have made mistakes, you certainly gain a victory if you see these mistakes and regard them as beacons of warning. Thus you turn defeat into victory, disappointing the enemy and honoring your Redeemer.” COL 332

“When dark clouds come between your soul and God, when all around you is dark and forbidding,..then it is time to pray and exercise faith in God…. Cherishing faith, the soul is enabled to rise beyond itself, and penetrate the hellish shadow which the enemy casts athwart the pathway of every soul that is striving for an immortal crown….
“We are to watch and pray just as long as Satan brings up clouds of unbelief…. Never let go of… faith. It may triumph amid discourage-ment, gaining victory after victory.” OHC 106.

To all our friends who read this, we hope you find it to be of value in helping you to connect with others who are hoping for the soon coming of our Lord, and who are looking forward with anticipation to that event. In the interim, we can encourage each other with thoughts and concepts that help us along the way.

We invite you to share your ideas, stories of hope, and anything that might encourage others to know that we have a living, loving Savior in heaven for each of us to rely upon and serve with faithfulness and joy. Also, please feel free to send us your prayer requests. We have had many answers to prayer, and would love to add yours to our list!