Tuesday, December 12, 2006

how powerful is satan these days?

David Wayne, the JollyBlogger, is trying to stir things up and is looking for feedback. In his most recent post he makes the below points regarding Satan. I agree with him even though when put together like this, the summary is that Satan has far less power than what we might normally attribute to him. But still, I think he is correct.

  • Our understanding of Satan must begin with the fact that he is a creature.
  • As a creature he falls within the scope of God's providence - WSC #11 says this:
What are God’ s works of providence?
God’ s works of providence are, his most holy, (Ps. 145:17) wise, (Ps. 104:24, Isa. 28:29) and powerful preserving, (Heb. 1:3) and governing all his creatures, and all their actions. (Ps. 103:19, Matt. 10:29–31)
  • Thus, when we think of Satan we ought to think of him as a creature whose every action is controlled by God.
  • It follows that Satan is unable to act independently - this is consistent with the whole biblical witness.
  • We need to re-think spiritual warfare. Yes the bible uses warfare metaphors and imagery when talking about Satan's conflict with God, but what kind of warfare is it when one combatant has to ask his adversary's permission to attack that adversary.
  • From this I suggest that the kind of warfare that Satan can engage in against God is the kind of warfare a lttle child throwing rocks can engage in against a tank.
  • After the cross, Satan is still like that little kid, except his rocks have been taken away.
  • Another analogy is that Satan is like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
  • Yes Satan is dangerous, I Peter 5:8 says that he is like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. But the lion image needs to be kept in line with the rest of the Scripture's emphasis on the sovereignty of God over Satan. Thus, the danger that Satan poses is not the danger that a lion in the streets poses, it is the danger that a lion in a cage poses to those who are stupid enough to jump in the cage.
  • Yes Satan can hurt you in the same way that the Black Knight or a caged lion can hurt you. If you want to walk over to the Black Knight, lift his helmet and stick your arm in his mouth he can bite you. Ditto's for those who want to jump in the lion's cage.
  • I also argue that the biblical picture doesn't really present Satan as one who is on the offense against God, rather as one who is on the defense.
Wayne used the analogy of Satan being like a lion in a cage since Satan cannot do whatever he pleases. Perhaps a lion on a tether is a more accurate analogy.

He will continue to post on this topic and if his comments are a predictor, the future posts should be good.

... the bible never demonizes sin. In other words, ... moral evil is always laid squarely on the doorstep of the human being who committed the sin. Satan is not addressed as the cause or solution of sin in a human being.
Please let drop by Wayne's blog and let him know what you think (I wouldn't mind some comments on this either).

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