Allen Jackson - Satan Rules A Kingdom - Part 1
We've been working through a study on spiritual warfare with a particular awareness of the end of time. The Bible is a discussion of spiritual warfare from the creation narrative in the opening chapters of Genesis where Satan comes to the conclusion chapters of the book of Revelation. It is a primary theme. But as we approach the end of the age there's some very specific information we're given, and we've been trying to get some fundamentals in place so that we could look at those characteristics of the end of the age with a little more intentionality.
And the theme for this session is quite simply that Satan rules a kingdom. It is no longer fashionable to believe in the devil. We seem to imagine we're a little too sophisticated, perhaps a bit too educated, maybe even too affluent and we can talk about previous cultures or the third world places and they may still believe in those things. But after all, now we have medicine and psychology and academics, and we don't have to believe in that. And I wanna look at that scripturally it's kind of, it's not difficult for me to poke fun of that but poking fun of it isn't particularly helpful.
And so I wanna start with Jesus's perspective. I would submit to you that it would be inappropriate to imagine that you're smarter than Jesus. Could we agree on that to some extent? That the incarnate Son of God, if you're a Christ follower and you believe that Jesus was the Son of God, I think it would be appropriate to imagine that Jesus might know.
And so I wanna start with just a couple of passages from Jesus's life and ministry. In Matthew 4, it says, "The devil took him, Jesus up to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. And the devil said to him, 'All this I'll give you if you'll bow down and worship me.' And Jesus responded, 'Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.' And the devil left him, and the angels came and attended to him".
So in one scene in Matthew's gospel, we have Jesus the incarnate Son of God, we have Satan, an individual personality, not some nebulous force for unhappiness. A personality, an individual. In one snapshot, Jesus, Satan, and the angels. Now it's clear that Jesus believed in the angels and he believed in Satan. So you and I have a decision to make. If we believe in Jesus, are we going to yield to his counsel or are we going to determine that we're more enlightened? It's not that complicated of an equation, it's not always easy to choose, but it's not complex. There is an obvious interaction in this little snapshot between spiritual forces of good, and evil, and humanity. Satan asserts to Jesus and it goes unchallenged that he has authority over all the kingdoms of the world.
So when we talk about both good and evil we have to understand they have realms of authority that influence humanity. And if your life plan, if your daily activities do not include responses to spiritual forces of both good and evil, you are ignoring the counsel of Jesus. That's just not a wise way to travel. Most of you have a daily hygiene plan. Many of you have a daily routine of exercise, or vitamins, or supplements, or nutrition. You have all sorts of things to strengthen your wellbeing. If you are ignoring your spiritual life, you are making yourself vulnerable at the most fundamental level of your existence, your spirit is the eternal part of your person.
And you know, if you think going to church means you are spiritually prepared, I'm an advocate for church, I spent a lot of time in one but I don't imagine that attending church is what makes me spiritually healthy or well. Now, I'll add to that one more passage it's in Matthew's gospel as well. This is chapter 12. "They brought Jesus a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him". I don't wanna do the word study in any detail but the word where it says healed him the root of that word, this is a form of the word in Greek. That's the language of the New Testament but the root of that word is "Sozo," which is the word we use to translate typically saved. It means to be made totally whole.
So when we talk about salvation in the New Testament of being saved, we're not just talking about eternity, we're talking about your physical wellbeing, we're talking about deliverance from unclean spirits. Again, we've had such a limited focus we've thought in terms of the restitution of a prayer at an altar, and then a ticket that will impact us in eternity, but between here and there we've been pretty close-minded about the impact or the efficacy of the redemptive work of Jesus. And it's very clear in the language of the New Testament, it's not confusing at all.
Now, we've obscured it with what I believe, or what my church believes, or my denomination believes, or what my family believes, but candidly if what you believe or any of those previous groups believe contradict scripture, change, quickly in humility. Because you've been asserting your beliefs and leading people in a direction that's not helpful to them, and I believe we will be asked to give an account for that. So don't stand in your pride and go, "Well, that's just how I believe". That's goofy. Goofy's a Greek word for unwise as well as being a character in Looney Tunes. "So they brought Jesus a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see".
The implication is that the demons were the causative agent in his blindness and his inability to speak otherwise there's no reason to acknowledge the presence of the demons. Does that make sense? All right, so "All the people were astonished and said, 'Could this be the Son of David?' But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, 'It's only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow cast out demons.' Well, Jesus knew their thoughts and he said to them, 'Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he's divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?'"
Let's pause there just a moment. I think it's worth noting, at least in passing that the religious leaders were annoyed that Jesus helped a man who had been blind and mute. They used the instance of the man's healing, his deliverance, his restoration to become a point of accusation against Jesus. If we think about that in terms of the world we live in, they're calling evil good and good evil, it's upside down, it's confusing. It would've been confusing to the people in the audience that day. The people in authority that you're looking to, that you trust to give expression to authority in your worship are accusing a man standing in your midst that the miracles he's doing are inappropriate.
Now, we have the benefit of two millennia's distance and our decisions about Jesus in a broader context but for the people sitting in the synagogue are in that group watching that that day, it's a very confusing moment. People you've known that you've trusted, that you imagine to be trained or prepared or educated, who are recognized with some status, or are spewing hateful accusations at someone. And they're not lining up with what you're watching. There's a dissonance in that that is very disorienting and it's part of the world we're caught in these days or have people with authority and power that we have trusted to speak the truth to us that are not telling the truth.
And we are watching, and we have a sense that what we're seeing and what we're hearing are not aligning but it's disorienting. And Jesus steps into the discussion. He said, "If a house is divided, it can't stand. If Satan drives out Satan," you don't have to worry about Satan, "His kingdom will collapse". And he said, "If I'm driving out demons by Beelzebub," it's verse 22, "By whom do your people drive them out"? Now he's getting personal. "So then, they will be your judges. And if it's by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you".
Now again, Jesus is the primary actor in this passage in Matthew 12. And Jesus in his own words recognizes the existence of two separate kingdoms: the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of God. And he recognizes that they are in conflict with one another. So if you and I are going to imagine ourselves to be Christ followers, and we're gonna yield to the authority of scripture, it seems to me, and this is just a sampling, this is by no means an inclusive presentation of the topic that we've got to begin to come to terms with the fact that there are two opposing spiritual kingdoms.
And the other part that's abundantly clear in this passage as it was in the earlier passage in Matthew 4, is Jesus is acknowledging the impact of these spiritual kingdoms upon human beings. A man who is blind and mute. Now, do I think every blind or mute person is attributed to demonic activity? No, the Bible doesn't say that but it says that it's a possibility. "Well, how would you know? How could you make the distinction? How could you arrive at a diagnosis"? Well, it would be helpful if you had some awareness of spiritual things, and it would be very limiting if your attitude is, "I just don't know what to do with all of that".
So let's walk this forward a little bit but I wanted to start with the Jesus perspective, this is not what Allen thinks. We've got to grow up beyond where how we feel and what we want is the only factor that determines what we choose to believe. Do you understand that is very childish? For example, I remember as a child at home, not so much with me, but with my brothers. I would occasionally want to eat something before dinner like a piece of cake because all of the essential food groups were there. There's eggs for protein and dairy and it just made sense to me, it was perfectly logical I understood and because my parents were oppressive, they would hold this attitude that I should wait until I had dinner and I ate my vegetables.
And if you ever expressed the desire to cake before dinner, then they would monitor your quantity intake during dinner. Like if you didn't eat appropriate amounts, you were disqualified from a cake. Oppressive. And in my mind at that point in my life, I didn't wanna be confused with any data, I didn't wanna hear calorie counts or my need for protein and growing bones, I knew I was right, I felt deeply in my person and it was attested to this by the Spirit of God within me, that cake was the appropriate way to go.
And so there would be emotions attached to that. It wasn't just how I thought it was how I felt to the point that it would disrupt my appetite for vegetables and a conflict would emerge. I never won, but it would emerge. And I hear something very similar to that very frequently from Christ followers, from adults that go to church. "Well, pastor you and I kinda know what the Bible says, but I feel," or "I think," or "This is kinda how I wanna do it". And in my mind I'm seeing myself throwing a fit for a piece of cake. And I'm like, "So the facts don't matter, and the scripture doesn't matter, and Jesus's counsel doesn't really matter". You're gonna go with what you think and you feel.
As long as you understand that is a childish approach, then you stay in that lane. But please don't do it unaware. Jesus gave us some very clear help. He didn't tell us everything we wanna know. I have many questions but I'm a learner and I wanna learn as much as I can from the patterns and perspectives that Jesus gave us. So let's just take another step or two with it that the Bible gives us very clearly this idea, this presentation that Satan rules the kingdom. He's not in hell. That would be nice. And if he were bound in the darkness, but he's not, he's not.
The Bible talks a great deal about this present age. 1 Corinthians chapter 2 and verse 8, "None of the rulers of this age understood it," talking about the redemptive work of Jesus, his death, burial, and resurrection. "For if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory". I assure you there was a celebratory time in the halls of darkness when Jesus said on the cross, "It is finished". Every time the lash fell on Jesus's back I am confident there was a fiendish cackle that rippled through the demonic hoards. I'm sure there was an oppressive spirit that is impossible for me to imagine or certainly to describe. They thought it was triumphant. Jesus's physical enemies did, they gloated about it, they taunted him while he was on the cross. Not clever.
And so Paul's describing it to the church at Corinth that group as the rulers of this age, I don't believe he's talking about earthly rulers, there weren't multiple earthly rulers involved in Jesus's crucifixion orders. I believe he's talking about the spiritual rulers, the rulers of this age. The Bible talks about time in various ways and one of the measures it uses is an age. It's an indeterminate amount of time, it's a group of many years and the Bible talks about time in terms of ages comprised of ages. It's beyond my imagination. A lot of the discussions we have about the age of the Earth I think really ignores some of the things that scripture tells us.
The scripture gives us a snapshot into one specific age that from the creation of Adam and his descendants on planet Earth. It leaves open the possibility something happened before Adam and it tells us very clearly there'll be a new heaven and a new earth, God's gonna reorder this place again but it gives us information about this present age and it would be to our best interest to know, it's like looking at the weather report. Look in Ephesians 2, "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient".
It's referring to Satan as the ruler and the realm he rules is defined as the kingdom of the air. The Bible talks about more than one heaven. Again, it's not a subtle theme. In the opening verses of the Bible when it says, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth," there's two plural words. God is plural. In English to make a word plural, you add an s or an e-s. In Hebrew, one of the plural endings is i-m, im. And in that opening chapter, it says, "God created Elohim". It's plural. And then it says, "He created the heavens". It's "Shamayim" it's plural.
So from the opening of the story, the idea that we see played out through the breadth of scripture is, we're invited into. It's not some subtle bizarre, look in John 12, "Now is the time for judgment," this is Jesus, "On this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. But I, when I'm lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself". He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die. Jesus referred to Satan as the prince of this world. Again, he rules a kingdom, he has authority, it's attested to by Jesus. It's affirmed by the church, the leaders of the church after Jesus's ascension in 1 John 2. The Apostle John is coaching us he was the closest to the disciples to Jesus.
"Don't love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father isn't in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, it is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever".
Now, there's some very helpful information there. Satan's kingdom is not eternal. It is enmeshed in this present age and this present age will come to a conclusion. That's why Satan's objective, his effort is he is feverishly attempted to do everything he can to disrupt the purposes of God in this age. Because he knows once this age comes to a conclusion, his opportunity is complete. If he can't stop you from accepting the Lord, he'll do everything in his power to distract you, to diminish your participation. You have an adversary. John also reminds us that Satan was defeated through Jesus's death, burial, and resurrection. That's good to know. We are not a match for him, we don't have to be. We live in the victory that Jesus accomplished but we have not been delivered from the battlefield.
So we're told to put on our armor and to do everything we can to take our stand against the devil's schemes because we still live in the arena where he's in conflict. I spent a good bit of time in the Middle East. We've had multiple conflicts with parties in the Middle East. None of them have had the strength to overcome our nation but I still have to be wary and aware when I'm in the Middle East because we have enemies. We're not frightened they're going to conquer us and obliterate us from the map typically, but they pose a real threat if you're not aware of the circumstances and situation you're in.
And the same is true spiritually. It's naive to say that "Jesus was victorious over Satan and all of his kingdom, therefore, I don't have to pay any attention to that". It's equally foolish to spend your life frightened and terrified and imagining there's something, you know, lurking behind every bush that is going to beset you. We are deployed in our journey through time in the midst of this conflict, we are given a role. We've looked at some of those verses about being good soldiers. We don't wanna be good soldiers we wanna be good vacationers. And if we have to imagine that we're a soldier, we wanna be soldiers on R and R. We don't wanna be frontline folk. We at least would like to be included with the conscientious objectors or we could have some non-lethal role in some rear assignment. We don't wanna be any place where there's something loud or threatening.
Ephesians 6:12 says, "Our struggle isn't against flesh and blood". Our real battle isn't with people, "But against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms". Again, there's a hierarchy to the kingdom of Satan that is as well structured. It's not some random, crazy, bizarre, unorganized, happenstance. I assure you, it is as structured and intentional as you could imagine. The reason I believe that is he copied it from the kingdom of heaven. Satan was an archangel who rebelled against God, caught in his pride, and he managed to influence a third of the angels to follow him. Imagine what that implication is. You're no match for the devil neither am I we have to stand in Jesus's victory. A third of the angels that had seen the glory of the kingdom of God. Satan was successful enlisting them in following him in a rebellion and they lost their place.
Hey, before we go today, I wanna ask you to join me in a quick prayer of repentance for all the times we've refused to cooperate with the Spirit of God. A lot of reasons, but I haven't always been the most cooperative. Let's pray:
Heavenly Father, we come today to acknowledge the times we have refused to cooperate. When in our stubbornness, or our ignorance, or our reluctance we have said "No" to you. We ask you to forgive us. Give us receptive hearts and listening ears that we may cooperate with you more fully than ever. In Jesus's name, amen.