The Divine Council: Three Titles Reveal Satan’s Strategies
Angelic Rebellion Lesson #15
December 27, 2020
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Our Father, as we study this topic of the angelic revolution, we are reminded that there is a reality that is beyond our senses, beyond the foundation of our knowledge that we can only learn about through the pages of Your Word, and that this revolution is not something that is just of intellectual interests, that this is not something that is just sort of like a science fiction, but this is directly related to everything in our spiritual life. It is directly related to the existence of the Church, that is, the body of Christ composed of Jew and Gentile equally as we have seen in Ephesians, and that understanding this gives a new dimension to our understanding of our purpose, our role as believers on this earth.
“As we continue our study learning more about the schemes, the thoughts, the plans, the wiles of Satan that have as their ultimate goal the destruction of our spiritual life, we pray that we might be enlightened by Your Word and to come to a greater appreciation and understanding that so much of what we encounter in our daily life is the consequence of this angelic revolt, and we pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
We have been studying, starting back in our study of Psalm 89 and Psalm 82, this doctrine which is teaching the instruction in Scripture related to this angelic revolt. That this began, I believe, at some time in eternity past when the creature who is identified as Helel ben Shachar, wrongly translated as Lucifer in the Vulgate, which as perpetuated itself in our language related to Satan, that when he rebelled against God, this was on the basis of arrogance, and it is a revolt against the authority of God.
Understanding those two ideas and thinking them through is so important because arrogance or the idea of self-absorption, being focused on self as opposed to the creator God who created us and who has determined who we are and all that we have, focusing on self, that self-absorption, is the essence of sin and all the problems that we have on the planet.
If we think about the things that are being challenged today in the culture around us, with the rise of various political moods and ideas that want to overthrow the history of this country or canceled the knowledge of the history of this country or Western civilization, to blame all of these different things on Christians or on white Europeans is just the result of complete ignorance.
But it’s motivated by something that is far deeper. It really exposes that there is a recognition in the soul of all of these people that things are not the way they ought to be. Life is unfair. There is injustice in the world, and no matter what we try, we must realize we can’t fix that.
Now because they have taken God out of the equation, they have replaced Him with something else. That always happens. Whenever God is removed, whenever truth of the Scripture is removed, something replaces it. What has been replaced in all of this social justice language is government. That because we have these problems, it must be because of government. We blame government, we blame government policies, we blame education, we blame things that are also disrupted by this root cause which is sin.
Because we live in a fallen world and because of who the ruler of this world is, we will always have injustice, there will always be inequity, there will always be problems that are caused by government, that are caused by marriage that are caused by the family. These are just reflected really. They are not caused by these things, they are reflected. The sin is reflected in all of these divine institutions. There is no perfection, there will not be perfection until Christ comes. But the real problem is still sin.
Christ will return and establish a perfect government. We refer to that time period as the Messianic Kingdom or the Millennial Kingdom. As we’ve studied many, many times, this is a time when there will be perfect government, perfect administration of government, perfect laws, and yet people who are born during that period still will have sin natures. It will not be at the level of corruption that we see today because much of the curse of sin is sort of rolled back during this time period.
For example, in the animal kingdom, we are told that the wolf and the lamb will lie down together, that an infant can put his hand into a cobra’s den and not be harmed. So much that is wrong with the world that we see today will be removed, but the real problem is still there, and that is the problem that in each of us there is a corruption, and that corruption is sin.
But what is denied in all of these utopian views, for that’s what we see in these attempts to rectify perceived—and by using the word perceived I’m not denying it or minimizing it—perceived or real injustice. There is, there always has been, there always will be. You will never have perfect parents. Nothing in this life will ever make your parents perfect. They are sinners. On the other hand, parents, there is nothing in this life that is going to make your kids perfect. They are fallen, corrupt sinners as well. That’s part of parental responsibility is to help them learn to have some self-mastery and some discipline in their own lives.
But the problem is sin, and in the worldview of what we see dominating today or coming onto the scene is a rejection of the sinfulness of man, and that that’s really the problem. But that’s not a new insight.
If you were to read the forward to a great book by Thomas Sowell, a great black commentator and economist who has retired but is still with us, still makes comments, a wonderful, intelligent, articulate individual who wrote tremendous things, that in his forward to his book Conflict of Visions, he goes back to use a couple of examples during the time of the American War for Independence to say, what is conservatism and what is liberalism? What is it that ultimately determines the difference between those who line up on one side of the fence and those who line up on the other side of the fence?
He goes through and examines the historical documents and the arguments that are set forth through a couple of different individuals, each representing the opposite sides, and what he demonstrates, others have demonstrated it using other historical figures and examples from that same period of time, is that the core difference is that there are those who believe that man is basically good and those that believe that man is basically corrupted by sin, and everything flows from that.
As I have said many, many times from this pulpit, everything is theological. There’s not one thing in this life that is not theological. Everything goes back to your view of God, and if you have a biblical view of God, then you should have a biblical view of man, which means that man is basically a sinner, and that the only solution to sin is the grace of God and the Word of God.
It is the Christian life and recovery, for we are all recovering addicts to sin, as it were. This term “sanctification,” an unwieldy term in modern vocabulary, but sanctification is the idea not of moral perfection, but is the idea of being set apart to the service of God, and the way in which we grow and mature. The Scriptures talk about this as growing in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This knowledge is essential for being able to be transformed.
Two key passages appear in Scripture. One is Jesus’ high priestly prayer in John 17:17 where He prays to the Father, “Sanctify them by means of truth. Your word is truth.” That is the core. It’s transformative. The Apostle Paul put in a slightly different way in Romans 12:2. He said, “Do not be conformed to the world.” That is the world’s way of thinking.
The world’s way of thinking either says there is no God, or there is a God but He’s impotent, and that man is perfectible, and there’s no such thing as sin because if you don’t have a holy, righteous God, then you don’t have sin, because sin is a violation of the character of God. In their view man is basically good, and you have all these different philosophies and religions and worldviews that have developed that all come under this one word in the Bible called the world or worldliness, and we’re not to be conformed or pressed into the mold of the world. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind.
So that’s the real issue. The only way to renew your mind is through the Word of God. That’s what Jesus was talking about is we’re sanctified in truth, Thy Word is truth.
TSo understand the ultimate dynamics, we have to recognize what the Bible teaches that there are these three enemies that we face in life. The first is within ourselves, the enemy within, and that is our own sin nature. We have a proclivity to disobey God. We have an orientation to self-absorption and self-advancement where it’s all about me. And as long as that holds true, there will always be injustice, there will always be in equity. There has to be some external morality and ethic that can transform us and to enable all of us, despite our sinfulness, to aspire to something higher.
That is what we see embedded in the Constitution of United States. It’s not perfect, it’s not handed down by God, it is not inerrant, but the writers of the Constitution, the writers of the Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence were heavily, heavily influenced, doesn’t mean they were perfect in everything they said, but they were heavily influenced by the Word of God.
But the world system seeks to violate that and to change it. Today what we’re looking at is how Satan’s strategies in this age, in this Church Age, are seeking to overturn any ideology that will promote freedom of individuals to worship God and to come to an understanding of the truth of the gospel, and subsequently, to live the spiritual life.
The Scriptures warn us again and again of the “wiles of the devil,” a term Paul used in Ephesians 6, which is based on a Greek word from which we get our word “methods,” and then we have another term in verses we will look at today that is talking about the “schemes of the devil,” and the Greek word that is used there is interesting in what it emphasizes.
So what we’re looking at today is three titles that reveal Satan’s strategies. Now it’s assumed under each of these are other titles, but three main titles really give us an understanding of who Satan is.
Just to remind you, last time we looked at Genesis 3:15 and this war between the Seed of the woman, which is a reference to the promise and the first prophecy of the coming Messiah, and the seed of Satan, that there is this conflict. From the moment that Adam and the woman ate from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, from that moment, and the entry of sin into the human race and corruption, there has been this battle because Satan must stop the Seed of the woman from defeating him. God is going to ultimately defeat him through the Seed of the woman.
So I pointed out last Tuesday night three principles, I’m going to add one that we always must keep in mind.
First of all, Satan did not have a clear idea of what the Seed of the woman would do or how He would redeem mankind or gain His victory. He is not omniscient. He doesn’t know everything. He has to study the Bible just as much as you and I do to look for clues as to what’s going to happen, so that he can check God in whatever strategy God has. We have to remember, Satan is limited, he’s not omniscient, omnipresent, or omnipotent.
The second thing is that Satan did not know what God knew. God is omniscient, Satan is not. Satan did not know, when Jesus came, what was going to happen. He thought that it was all about finally fulfilling those promises of the Kingdom that are embedded in the covenants with Israel, the unconditional covenants: the Abrahamic Covenant, the Land Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant. He did not know that Israel would reject the King and the Kingdom and crucify the Savior, thus bringing divine discipline on that nation.
Because Satan didn’t know that, he had no clue. God did not reveal it to anybody. This is what we’d been studying in Ephesians up until we took a pause for this topical study. Satan did not know the mystery of the Church Age. It was not revealed. It was a secret in God’s own plan, and so Satan is as surprised by the new entity called the Church as he can possibly be, and he’s got to stop it because it’s important for God achieving His ends.
At the first advent, his purpose was to prevent the fulfillment of the Kingdom, and he thought that if he killed the King he would win, only to learn that the King, after dying, would rise from the dead, and that would secure Satan’s defeat.
Third, Satan thought that the coming of the Second Person of the Trinity was all about establishing the Kingdom, so his focus was to prevent God from fulfilling the promises of these four unconditional covenants. His knowledge was limited. Now his focus is on the Church, but it will return to Israel. And through this Church Age he seeks to destroy Israel so these promises cannot be fulfilled. That is the evil that is anti-Semitism.
Then the fourth thing that we have to remember that comforts us, is that Satan can do nothing apart from divine permission. That’s what we learned in Job 1 and Job 2. God must grant him permission to do the least thing.
So, when something happens, and we know Satan is working in this, that this is a test for us and that God has given us this opportunity, as he did with Job, to trust in God and not react and get angry with God for what has happened.
Let’s look at these three titles.
First of all, he’s referred to as the father of lies in John 8:44. This is an interesting chapter, an important chapter in the Scriptures. In John 8 Jesus is having a confrontation with the Pharisees, and one of the reasons Jesus always had confrontations with the Pharisees is because the Pharisees had the highest view of Scripture among these various Jewish groups, and so they were close to the truth, but they were still far from it.
So, you have this confrontation that is taking place between these Jewish leaders who are part of His audience and Jesus, and Jesus is emphasizing His deity. They have made this assertion based on their theology that just by their physical lineage, their relationship to Abraham and the fact that God made His covenant with Abraham, that because of that they were going to spend eternity with God, because they were special, because they were descendants of Abraham, and Jesus is pointing out in this particular section that they are not true descendants of Abraham. It’s not just physical lineage. It also has to involve spiritual lineage.
He says in John 8:40–41a, “But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. You do the deeds of your father.”
Jesus never read How to Win Friends and Influence People. He just spoke the truth. He told them that they were doing the work of Satan.
John 8:41b, “Then they said to him, ‘We were not born of fornication; we have one Father—God.’ ”
John 8:42, “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor by comfort of Myself, but He sent Me.’ ”
Then He says in John 8:44, “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it—the ‘it’ refers to lies.”
So, he’s the father of lies. He’s the father of deception. He is the first to be self-deceived in his arrogance, and then to deceive others. All who are in rebellion against God are following in his sin. That’s what Jesus is saying.
He says he’s a murderer from the beginning because, due to his rebellion against God, it cost lives and it costs lives for eternity. He’s a murderer from the very beginning because he has enticed those who follow him.
Then Jesus makes two important statements: (1st) he does not stand in the truth, (2nd) because there is no truth in him.
He is inherently a liar. His view of himself is a deception. We follow in that. When we’re operating on arrogance, we are self-deceived about who we are and about our capabilities, about all kinds of things in our lives. This is the root of all of these errors. There is no truth in him.
We see the first example of this back in Genesis 3:1, “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat from every tree of the garden?” ’ ”
We know who the serpent is because the last Book of the New Testament identifies the serpent:
Revelation 12:9 says, “The great dragon was thrown down—this is part of the vision that John is seeing in that chapter—the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan.”
We see that these two other names for Satan—devil and Satan—are part of this and related to his concept of lying.
But what we see here at the very beginning is he questions the truth of what God has said. He said, “Did God really say this? Did He mean that? Did He really have your best interests at heart?”
At the very root of all sin is questioning the truth of God. That’s what happens when Satan sins. That’s what happened when Adam and Eve sinned.
Now that episode in Genesis 3 continues in Genesis 3:2–3, “And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, “You shall not eat it—and then she adds to what God said—neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” ’ ”
God never said that, but see, she’s already in the dynamics doing exactly what Satan wants her to do. He’s perverting God’s Word, and she is adding to God’s Word. This is always a problem in the history of the faith going back into the Old Testament.
Then the serpent says, “You’re not going to die.” He directly contradicts God, and this is the first major overt lie, “You will not die.” God said you will die, and Satan says no you won’t die.
Then he embellishes on that with his explanation in Genesis 3:5, “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
What he means by that phrase “knowing good and evil” is not only seeing good—and by good we mean that which is good and conforming to God’s plan, but evil is that which does not conform to God’s plan—but the phrase itself indicates that they are determining for themselves what good and what evil is. It’s no longer grounded in the external absolute of the character of God and God’s revelation; it is grounded in their own thoughts.
Now this is the world in which we live ever since the Fall. We talk about the fact that in our world today our culture is dominated by postmodernism, and in postmodernism we have moral relativism. But moral relativism started right here. It’s the old lie, it’s just dressed up in new garments, but it’s still the same old lie that man can determine what ultimate truth is.
In the New Testament in 2 Corinthians 2:11, Paul warns his readers, “lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices.”
See the Bible tells us what his strategies are and what his goals are, and part of his strategy includes deception. He’s the father of lies.
The word here for “devices” is the Greek word NOEMA. It’s an interesting word. It is based on the root NOUS, which means the mind, the place of thought, the place of thinking. There are several different forms of that word, all with NOUS as a root, that refer to thinking, thoughts, ideas.
NOEMA has the idea of focusing on his mental strategies, what he’s thought through in terms of how he is going to gain victory over the Seed of the woman and over God’s plan so that he can win. Using a plural word here, it refers to the designs, the schemes, the deceptions of Satan, his plans to deceive mankind and to win this revolution.
We skip forward nine chapters and in 2 Corinthians 11:13–15 we read part of what we’ve read in our Scripture reading this morning.
The first 12 verses of this chapter are ultimately dealing with the problem of false teachers coming into Corinth. They had problems with various categories of false teachers that not only affected the Corinthians, but as we’re reading in 2 Peter in our Thursday night study, which we will be getting back to if not this week, then the next week, the warning there is that false teachers will come.
It’s amazing, in the last 50 years the multiplicity of wrong ideas in Christianity and new schools of thought that multiplicity has increased geometrically, and the false ideas in the world are increasing geometrically simply because of the Internet. We have so much outflow of information, and you get thousands and thousands of different ideas and philosophies, where there may have only been hundreds 50 years ago.
These false teachers and false apostles, people are coming along claiming to speak for God, claiming to have the authority of God, and we will take a little time to look at something called the New Apostolic Reformation, which is an important thing to be aware of. They claim that there are apostles today, and that they have restored apostolic authority, and this mentality has penetrated politics.
Some years ago, I don’t remember when, it was when Rick Perry was still governor, that there was across the state of Texas these united synchronized prayer revivals that went into big stadiums, and these were some spiritual advisors to Gov. Perry. But the main figures who were pushing this whole thing were all members of this New Apostolic Reformation.
There is a woman named Paula White, who is a false teacher, who is considered by President Trump to be his pastor, his spiritual advisor. She is clothed in New Apostolic Reformation heresy. This is important because these ideas are penetrating so many different areas today.
This is what Paul was facing. People were coming along claiming to be apostles. They’re (2 Corinthians 11:13) “false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.”
2 Corinthians 11:14. “And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.”
We always see people projecting these images of Satan in terms of evil. That was one of the things I saw in the film The Exorcist. My roommate from college called me up the day after Christmas. That’s one of those Christmas movies that never makes anybody’s non-Christmas-movie-Christmas movie list. He calls me up and says, “Hey! I heard this is a great horror flick. Let’s go see this film.” I knew nothing about it.
We sat there while all of this possession imagery was going-on on the screen. He and I were just watching all the people squirm in discomfort. They had no framework for understanding any of this, and we, of course, had both grown up under solid biblical doctrinal teaching and we did, and we were quite amused by the reactions. But see, that’s how the Satan wants the world to think of him in terms of all of these horrific, wicked, overt things, and he appears as an angel of light.
Some years ago when the Harry Potter films and books were very popular, I gave a presentation of a paper on demon possession at the Christian at the Conservative Theological Society meeting in Fort Worth. In the Q&A I was not actually prepared for this, but there were people who were asking, “Should our kids read Harry Potter, or should they watch these films?”
My answer created an uproar. I said that the human viewpoint that is in Pollyanna or that is in most of the shows that were popular, films that were popular in the 50s and 60s that you think are so spiritually neutral, the human viewpoint there is worse and more destructive than the so-called magic that is in most of these films, because that’s overt and it’s make-believe.
But the evil that is in the liberal theology of the self-righteous liberals in liberal churches—Methodist, Episcopal—that teaches that you can gain salvation through your good works and your good deeds, that is more destructive than anything that’s in Harry Potter or some of these other films. You see, Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, and this deceives people.
In Corinthians 11:15 he says, “Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”
We see another way in which this happened this last summer in all of the protests related to so-called social justice, is people are touting this new view of justice. They are the disciples of the devil who are transforming themselves into ministers—you can translate it to—ministers of justice, because the same Greek word can mean either justice or righteousness, depending upon the context. So, it is Satan’s deception, and oh, it’s working so well in our culture today! Once you take the Bible out of the culture, then all kinds of evil flows into it.
This is all part of Satan’s age-old strategy. It is inherent to his very nature. He is the father of lies.
On that basis, then, he becomes the accuser of the brethren. This is the second title that we see that relates to several things. It relates to his title Satan in the Old Testament, in the Hebrew, or the DIABOLOS, Devil, in the New Testament, and he is specifically called the accuser of the brethren in Revelation 12:10. But it’s important to see the connection between Revelation 12:9 and Revelation 12:10.
In Revelation 12:9 John says, “So the great dragon—that is, Satan—was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan—so it’s going to make this connection in this context—who deceives the whole world.”
Our first title was he’s the father of lies, and the second relates to the significance of these two names, Devil and Satan.
In Revelation 12:10 he says, “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, ‘Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come—see it is on the verge of announcing what is coming in terms of the second half of the Tribulation, that is the final birth pangs of the coming kingdom, and he says—for the accuser of our brethren—Satan, the Dragon, the devil, Satan—who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” This is what he does. Whether directly or indirectly through other demons in his chain of command, he is constantly accusing us before God.
The word “devil” is a translation of the Greek word DIABOLOS, and it simply means an enemy, an adversary. It’s translated as the devil, and it refers to someone who is a slanderer or accuser.
When we refer to Satan as the devil, we’re referring to the fact that he is an accuser and a slanderer of the brethren. He’s bringing up false charges based on deception, based on lies because he’s the father of lies.
It’s from the verb DIABALLO, which means to throw over or across something, to create a divide, set at variance, to bring accusations, charges, slander, inform, reject, misrepresent, or deceive.
Ephesians 4:27 tells us that we’re not to “give place to the devil.” We’re not to let these kinds of slanders and lies become part of our Christian life.
The way to defend against it, which we will be covering probably this week, Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
Notice the emphasis in the Scripture is that we are to stand. It’s a defensive term. It’s behind a wall or a fortress. We stand firm. We are not to attack the devil. We are not to come out from behind the walls and attack. We are not to somehow think in arrogance that we can do it.
He’s invisible, and he has abilities far beyond us. There’s nothing we can do. We stand firm and obey the Scriptures, and it is Christ who deals with Satan. That’s how we are to handle it. We are to put on the full armor of God, so that we can stand in defense.
DIABOLOS really just comes as a Greek translation of the Old Testament word Satan. It means also an adversary, one who stands against someone. It’s from the verb s’atan, which means to be an adversary or resist someone.
It’s interesting, in Jewish theology they do not believe that the adversary against God in Job 1–2 is what Christians refer to as the devil. They do not have a Satan fallen angel in Jewish theology. This is one reason they have a weak theology. They don’t believe in total depravity or Adam’s original sin. That kind of idea is foreign to Judaism, so this explains a lot, if you are able to think that through.
So, Satan is an adversary, one who brings accusations against believers.
This goes back to the Old Testament. One of my favorite passages picturing the grace of God, imputation, and justification, second only to Genesis 15:6 where God says that Abraham was justified when he believed God, and God imputed righteousness to him.
Now that’s just an overt statement. Abraham believed God, and it was imputed to him as righteousness. But we see the illustration of it here in Satan’s attack on the high priest Joshua.
This isn’t Joshua of the conquest in the book of Joshua earlier, this is another Joshua. This is after the return from Babylon in the beginning of the second Temple period, and one of the new high priests was Joshua. Satan is going to accuse him that he’s a sinner, he’s not qualified, he’s not good. This is the same accusation he has for all of us. It’s a vivid picture for us of what happens in imputation and justification.
Zechariah 3:1, “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of Yahweh.”
The Angel of Yahweh is the pre-incarnate Christ. That term always refers to Him. How do we know that? Because, for example, the Angel of Lord is not a normal angel. Gideon worshipped the Angel of the Lord and was not rebuked by the Angel of the Lord. The Angel of the Lord receives his worship, the worship of God, and in fact, within that same context, the Angel of the Lord refers to Himself and is referred to as simply “Lord.”
But in the beginning of Zechariah 1, the Lord Yahweh speaks to the Angel of the Lord, and so we see that there are two distinct Persons. So the Angel of the Lord is the pre-incarnate Christ, and Joshua in Zechariah 3:1 is standing before the Angel of Yahweh, but Satan, the accuser, is at His right hand to oppose him.
Zechariah 3:2, “And the Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you Satan!—notice the Angel of the Lord is really the One speaking here, but he is called the Lord—The Lord rebuke you—referring to the First Person of the Trinity—the Lord rebuke you Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this—that is, Joshua’s—not a brand plucked the fire?’ ”
Do you know the historical significance of that phrase? It was used by John Wesley to refer to his own salvation. He was “a brand plucked from the fire.” He understood the significance of this illustration. Everyone who trusts in Christ the Savior is a brand plucked from the fire, the fire of eternal punishment.
So then we’re told in Zechariah 3:3, “Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments.”
That word “filthy” is an important term. It means he is clothed with garments that are saturated with excrement. Can I be more graphic? He is putrid. He stinks. God says all of our works of righteousness are as filthy rags. It’s a different term, but it expresses the same idea.
Joshua is clothed with “unclean garments—telling us that he is a sinner, he is unclean—and was standing before the Angel.”
Zechariah 3:4, “Then the angel answered and spoke to those who stood before Him, saying—those who stood before Him, I take it, are the Council, the Assembly of the Angels—‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to him—that is, to Joshua—He said, ‘See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.’ ”
This is what happens at salvation. It is not that we are no longer sinners, but the sin, the condemnation, is removed, and we are clothed with Christ’s work. That robe of righteousness is Christ’s work, Christ’s righteousness, so that we are covered with His righteousness and God looks at that covering and declares us to be justified. That’s what justification by faith alone is.
He says, “ ‘Take away the filthy garments from him.’ And to him He said, ‘See, I have removed your iniquity from you, and I will clothe you with rich robes.’ ”
Zechariah speaks in Zechariah 3:5, “And I said, ‘Let them put a clean turban on his head.’ So they put a clean turban on his head, and they put the clothes on him. And the Angel of the Lord stood by.”
That is our picture of justification. That is our picture of righteousness.
If you were to read the subsequent verses, Joshua is going to be charged with the way in which he should conduct himself now as high priest.
See, first we have to recognize that God is going to clothe us through His righteousness. That’s justification. And secondly, because we are a justified person, there are upon us obligations as to how we should conduct our lives, but we will still sin. But we will always be covered with the righteousness of Christ.
This is what we see in Ephesians 6:11. Ephesians has been telling us all along what we have in Christ, that is positional, but when we come to the end, we are to put on something. This is experiential. This is our spiritual life and growth, “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”
What we see is that as the accuser of the brethren, the attempt is made to destroy us and delegitimize us.
Third, the god of this age, the ruler of this world.
We have seen Satan is the father of lies. Second, we have seen he’s the accuser of the brethren, and third, he is called the god of this age and the ruler of this world, which tells us the authority that he has over all of the civilizations of man, the kingdom of man, all of the governments, all of the education systems, all of the economic systems, everything in this world is corrupted by the ultimate authority in this world system.
In John 12 and John 14, Jesus uses this title referring to Satan.
What’s happening in John 12:31? Chronologically, this is right before He goes to the Cross. What happens in John 13 is He and His disciples are meeting together for the Passover, the Last Supper. Then in John 14–17 we have the Upper Room Discourse.
John 12 is right there at the end of Christ’s ministry, and He is predicting what is about to happen. He says in John 12:31, “Now is the judgment of this world—this world, the cosmic system, is going to be judged at the Cross through the judgment of the ruler of this cosmic system—now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”
Now that doesn’t mean Satan is removed. It just means that the strategic victory of the angelic rebellion is accomplished, but the war goes on. It’s just like the strategic victory over Nazi Germany in World War II was achieved with the victorious invasion of the continent of Europe. Everything after that was just working out the implications that Nazi Germany was defeated, once we secured ourselves on the beach of Normandy, but we had to continue the fight for another year before it was completed.
John 14:30, as Jesus is talking about the spiritual life and what’s coming, He says, “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.”
So, the ruler of this world, He recognizes, is behind the attack on the Cross.
This word KOSMOS, translated “world”, is a very important term that we must understand. It is a word that can be translated as “world” or as “mankind” or as “earth,” but its root meaning is a word that talks about bringing order and organization to something. It is the word from which our English word “cosmetics” is derived.
A woman puts on cosmetics to bring her appearance in order, and to organize it, and that is the concept of KOSMOS. It is an all-embracing order, and it denotes the world in terms of its thought systems, and it encompasses all of the ideas and philosophies and religion that Satan promotes among people to establish his kingdom on the Earth.
In the world system there may be mutually contradictory ideas because, remember, the foundation is inherently a self-contradiction. But there are these ideas, Darwinian, evolution, psychology, materialism, all these came out of shifts that occurred in the mid-19th century. Marxism as well. Socialism, pragmatism, secular humanism, moral relativism, New Age mysticism, all of these are just different manifestations of the world system.
In terms of religions, you have Hinduism, you have Buddhism. You have one of Satan’s great deceptions, because I believe he is the angel who appeared as Allah to Mohammed. Islam is one of the devil’s greatest deceptions. It’s a duplicate of Mormonism. You can read numerous books that are written to describe the similarities. It’s uncanny. It’s almost as if the same person wrote the script for both of them.
This is a cosmic system. Satan is the ruler of this world. He illegitimately took charge of it when Adam failed in the Garden. Since then, he has been the ruler of this world, and it’s not until Christ kicks him out that Christ wins.
2 Corinthians 4:4 says, “whose minds—that is, minds of unbelievers—the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.”
A couple things to note here. First of all, Satan is referred to as the god of this age. The word for age is the word AION, which refers to a time span. What we’re really talking about here is the spirit of the age. The German word is zeitgeist, the spirit of the age, and every age has certain characteristics. Those are the characteristics of the world system at that particular time. But the zeitgeist, the god of the zeitgeist, blinds the minds of unbelievers.
Here’s what’s interesting, just as a side note, is in Calvinism you have a doctrine called “irresistible grace,” and the idea is that only the elect to whom God first regenerates are going to be saved. They have to have this irresistible grace to save them, because if they’re totally depraved, they can’t understand the gospel at all. Well, if the unbeliever is spiritually dead and he can’t understand the gospel at all, then why does Satan need to blind their minds? Just something to think about.
He is the god of this age and the ruler of this world, and all of these terms indicate that he is the one who is in control.
He is also called in Ephesians 2 the prince of the power of the air, and this relates to the fact that, as Paul describes them, this relates to identifying the Gentiles as sons of disobedience, which is just a way of talking about them as being disobedient.
So all of this terminology in Ephesians 2:2, where he says, “in which you once walked according to the course of this world.” That’s what every unbeliever does … and most believers. They walk according to the course, the guidelines of the world system, and it’s only if you are not conformed to the world through your mind being transformed, that you’re going to be able to get away from worldly thinking.
The more you grow and mature as a believer, the more you will be set apart from those around you, and the more they will look at you as being out of step because you’re thinking biblically and not in the way of the world.
In our culture, we have a tradition of being influenced to some degree by the Bible, more so in the 1600s, 1700s, less so in the 1800s and 1900s, and even less so now. But part of the problem is that if you’re a believer now, the discord between you and the way the world thinks is going to be much more pronounced.
It will affect your paycheck, because you may be working for a company now that is going to start asking you to use certain kinds of language to conform to the social pressures of the so-called “woke generation,” which is nothing more than Marxism. Substitute “Marxist” every time you see the word “woke.” They want to force you into thinking according to these new standards.
Well, if you are working in human resources or just about anything, you’re going to have these policies that you have to conform to. If you conform to them, you are slitting your own “spiritual throat” because now you are becoming a two-soul believer. In order to get a paycheck, you’re compromising your biblical worldview, and eventually something’s got to give. Either your spiritual life will collapse, or you will ultimately realize you just can’t compromise with the devil’s world system.
The pressure coming on believers in the coming years is going to be unbelievable. I hear stories all the time. I hear Christians talking about how they’re involved in advertising, and they must conform to certain things. “We can’t say those things anymore in an advertisement.” They don’t even realize that what they’ve just said is, “We have to conform to the world system.” They’re already being seduced, just so they can keep their job, just so they can make a paycheck, and this is a pressure that is very real.
What we have seen in this study is organizing the titles of Satan under these three headings, that he is the father of lies; second, that he is the accuser of the brethren; and third is that he is the god of this age and the ruler of this world. What we have to recognize is we are called out from this world. God will protect us from his accusations, and God gives us the truth in contrast to his lies, but we have to be willing to walk in the light of God’s Word; otherwise, we too can become one of the devil’s disciples.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study this concept, to study what Satan is doing in the world, how he has manipulated and he has mastered all of the different nuances that are in part of our culture. He’s invented some of them, and he is using them to tighten the noose around the body of Christ, to try to restrict us all with nice-sounding verbiage.
“Father, we must stand true to Your Word and let Your Word define truth, let Your word define language, and not succumb to the pressures of so-called politically correct verbiage or socially acceptable verbiage. But we must continue to talk in terms of sin and righteousness and biblical justice and judgment.
“Father, we pray that we may deal with those around us in grace, knowing that they are deceived, that we may shine as lights in the midst of this wicked and perverse generation, and that we may encourage other believers who just struggle so with whether or not they can compromise with the pressures of society around them, the pressures that come from social media and other groups, not to say certain things or take certain stands, influenced by all kinds of perverse ideas related to identity and gender, and other things.
“Father, only on the basis of the truth of Your Word can we have strength and objectivity. We pray that we might not falter, but that on the basis of Your Word and God the Holy Spirit, we may stand firm.
“Father, we pray that if there’s anyone that’s listening on a recording or listening over the Internet, or anyone that is here that has never trusted Christ as Savior, that they understand that it’s a free gift. We don’t do anything to earn it or deserve it. We can’t do anything to earn it or deserve it without destroying its nature as a gift.
“Father, we pray that they might understand the gospel of grace, that we are all sinners. There is no sin that is more favored than some other sin. There is no sin that is more determinative of an eternal penalty than any other sin, but that Christ died for all sin. He paid the price. So, the issue is not what sins have we committed, the issue is have we trusted in Christ as Savior. When we believe, we are clothed with His righteousness, declared just, and now our job is to live in light of our new identity.
“Father, open our eyes that we can see the truth of these things. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”