10 June 2010

"For a time"

by Dan Phillips

NOTE: today's was-going-to-be post was premised on an expected snail-mail arrival... which didn't. So instead, I offer you this brief hortatory thought.

The fourth chapter of Luke's gospel relates Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. The narrative concludes with these words (Luke 4:13):
Καὶ συντελέσας πάντα πειρασμὸν ὁ διάβολος ἀπέστη ἀπ᾽ αὐτοῦ ἄχρι καιροῦ.
And when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time.
The Devil exposed Jesus to an array of temptation, and was met at every turn by Scripture, and by an unshakable reliance thereupon. Matthew relates that our Lord ordered Satan to leave (Matthew 4:10). Luke agrees that he did so... adding, "until an opportune time."

Just mull that one over a bit. Satan had gained not a yard, not a foot; not a centimeter, not a millimeter. In Jesus, he had found no sympathetic response, no wavering, no quivering, not the least inclination to yield.

Yet when he left, it was only for a time. He would be back. He wasn't finished. He'd try again.

My simply cautionary thought to myself and to you is: if thus with Christ, then certainly thus with us as well.

In the movie version of the "Lord of the Rings," Smeagol tells his Gollum-personna to leave and never return. He leaves... and returns.

So we may tell our "Gollum" to leave us forever, and we may mean it heartily... but Satan's forces at best will only leave us until a good opportunity, in this life. I mean good heavens, just think about it: Satan never once scored the slightest hint of a victory off of Jesus. He has scored many off of us, on our best days. Do you really think he'll give up? On the likes of you and me? When he never gave up on Jesus? Foolish, foolish, foolish thought.

But it won't be forever, for the believer. Thank God, it won't be forever.

Until then, watch, pray, be on guard. Some of the finest Christians I knew fell horribly. We're no better, nor is our enemy duller nor less persistent.

God hasten the day when the parting will be total, final, and eternal!

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23 comments:

Robert said...

A good reminder, Dan. May we all be aware of this so that we can stay alert after God pulls us to the peaks on our path of sanctification. Maybe then the valleys won't be quite as low after reaching those peaks.

The amazing thing to me is that Satan tempted Jesus more strongly than he has to with any of us. Just think about it...you work the hardest to try to persuade the people who resist the most. And nobody resists temptation (or Satan) more than Jesus (stating the obvious). It just gives me more of an appreciation for the High Priest that we have that has been tempted just as we have. Not that I am not in awe of Him already, but it sure does personalize it a bit more (I think).

Scott Weldon said...

Thanks for the Gollum analogy. Nothing like starting my day with a good LOTR reference. And how true it is, complete with the added "creepiness" this subject needs. (shiver!) Thank you guys for all your good work.

BJ Irvin said...

Nice Dan, good reminder. I recently listened to Focus on the Family's Radio Dramatization of the Screwtape Letters and, while being a bit off in some of its general theology, it was good for peek into how the devil is at work (realizing it is fiction). Coincedentally, Andy Serkis, a.k.a. Gollum, voiced Screwtape!

stratagem said...

Amen to that!

Stefan said...

Dan:

Thank you for the warning, brother! That's 2 posts in 2 days that have been providentially well-timed.

God is doing amazing work in my wife's and my lives right now, and one of the things He's doing is opening my eyes up to all the insidious ways that the Adversary can take our eye off the Cross.

Not to say that from here on out, I can coast the Narrow Way on cruise control—which is why your warning is so well-timed!

donsands said...

Satan is real. He has his ways. I can look back and see his influence at times, and how he tempted me in my pride, my lusts, and self-pity.
I have grown stronger, but he still hinders and schemes.

Thanks for the short and sweet reminder.

I thought alos how angels came and "ministered" to the Lord afterward. An angel also strengthened Jesus during His passion.
I wonder if angels come to minister to us after we are tempted?

Zaphon said...

Satan's opportune moments:

1. when you are not in the right place where you should be..

2 Samuel 11 :1-2; Proverbs 1:8-19

2. when you're anger is unresolved
Epesians 4:26-27

3. when you are tired- Matthew 26:41

4. when you are locked in some secret sin- John 13:27

5. when you're pride is ripe Proverbs 16:18

6. when you are fliritng with temptation

There are surely others. Sad thing about those who have fallen.

In particular, I believe Satan attacks pastors. To make them fall is cause the church havoc.

I know of a man whose home was demonically attacked after he began in the ministry. Yes, Satan is real and no...sorry to say this to about half Pyro's readership...HE IS NOT BOUND YET!

donsands said...

"HE IS NOT BOUND YET!"

But his head is crushed.

"that through death He [Christ] might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil,"

“I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” -Lord Jesus

Satan can hinder and cause problems, but he is chained up. He is a barking dog chained, and can't bite us. The Cross and the empty tomb chained him.

There's more to be encouraged about what has happened to the devil, then not. That's my thinking anyhow.

DJP said...

Where do you get that he's chained, Don? He walks at leisure like a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:7), he deceives the minds of the unbelieving globally (2 Corinthians 4:4), the whole world lies in his power (1 John 5:19).

Sonja said...

All the years I spent as a rock-hard atheist, I paradoxically believed in Satan's reality. Messed up thinking, but I was blind to Him and the devil and his work were in my face all the time. Satan still is and now it's personal -- I don't belong to him anymore. One day he'll go away for good, but until then I just try to draw near and resist so he flees "until an opportune time".

donsands said...

Revelation 20:1-2.

I am thinking, (yet I'm not convinced, totally), that this chain upon Satan, which John wrote about is binding on him from the Cross of our Lord, in a "symbolic act".

"John intended not a literal binding but a figurative restraint whereby Satan is unable to perform his wickedness as he did prior to his restriction. From Jesus, John learned that to enter the house of the strong man, who is Satan, binding him had to be done first. Jesus told him that he had seen Satan falling as lightning from heaven. ...The devil is still active, prowling like a roaring lion seeking erring sinners whom he may devour. But Satan can go only as far as God permits (compare Job 1:12;2:6). Paul writes about the man of lawlessness, who, as the leader of evil forces, is being restrained (2 Thes. 2:6). Even though these words are cryptic, they reveal that the evil one is kept in check." -Simon J. Kistemaker

DJP said...

Really?

So, on that understanding, when does the Cross lose its power (Rev. 20:7)?

Shepherd said...

Carrying on the Lord of the Rings analogy: the fight with sin and temptation is never over until sin itself is cast into the fire. Just as Frodo is tempted by the Satanic Ring until he drops it into the fires of Mount Doom, so also the Church will be tempted by sin until Satan and his followers are cast into the eternal lake of fire.

A good reminder that sin should be taken seriously, but that we have an eternal hope, and Christ is our Protector.

http://www.theknightblog.com

Stefan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Stefan said...

...And a rather humdrum comment thread just got interesting!

Zaphon:

I hear you.

It seems that this whole world is enslaved to powers and principalities. Just because we can't see the agents of evil doesn't mean they don't exist—likewise for the angelic host that is normally invisible to us (2 Kings 6:17).

It's tempting to think that we are enlightened believers who don't need to trifle ourselves with that kind of thing, but if we scoff at it, then we are (a) setting ourselves up for a fall, and (b) professing an anemic, naturalistic, and unbiblical worldview.

We as Christians of all people should be cognizant that there is a supernatural realm that we cannot normally perceive—but God is sovereign over it just as He is sovereign over the rest of creation, and He ordains all things for His glory.

As long as we are sealed in the blood of Christ, God will deliver us in the hour of trial (Isaiah 43:1-2), but it might not be a pleasant walk in the park to get there (Psalm 23:4).

Mike Riccardi said...

"John intended not a literal binding but a figurative restraint whereby Satan is unable to perform his wickedness as he did prior to his restriction..."

This always raised my eyebrow. Notice how Kistemaker seeks to substantiate this argument by giving an example of Satan's "bound-ness" from the Old Testament (Job 1:12; 2:6), before he was said to be bound by the Cross.

But even so, what gives Amils the idea that Satan is less active now than then? Because the Gospel has gone to the Gentiles vs. Israel only? Seems to be a pretty weak argument as the visible Church isn't looking much better than visible Israel was at any given time, not to mention the NT passages that explicitly testify to Satan's freedom in the present age (1Pet 5:7; 2Cor 4:4; 1Jn 5:19, as Dan quoted).

No sale.

donsands said...

"So, on that understanding, when does the Cross lose its power (Rev. 20:7)?"

Of course, it never does.

"Near the end of the period between the ascension and return of Christ, Satan will be released from his restrictions. He himself will not break loose from his prison, but Gos will allow him to freely deceive the nations once more as in the age prior to the Christian era. This means that he can muster his forces to disperse falsehood worldwide, lead the masses of mankind astray, and wage war against God's people. At present non-Christian religions together with secularism are spearheading the lie, causing humanity to live in spiritual darkness, and fiercely persecuting Christians on every continent." -Simon Kistemaker

ps Go Celtics!

donsands said...

"Satan's freedom in the present age" Mike

He's free, but he has had his head crushed.

Paul said to the church in Rome that God would soon crush Satan under their feet.

I think he surely did bruise our Lord's heal, as Christ stamped on his head. He's a different devil for sure after God was made incarnate, I think.

He's still powerful and hinders, but we are not ignorant to his schemes.

Mike Riccardi said...

I don't wanna drag this out longer than it needs to be, especially considering this is usually a no-go at Pyro, but maybe just one more comment.

He's free, but he has had his head crushed.

Paul said to the church in Rome that God would soon crush Satan under their feet
.

So doesn't that point to a classic already/not yet? A typical or analogical fulfillment in the 1st century that will be ultimately fulfilled in the future events of Revelation 20?

I think he surely did bruise our Lord's heal, as Christ stamped on his head.

I believe the sense in which Christ stamped on Satan's head is as follows: "He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives." There's no grounds based on that to go wacky with the chronology of Revelation 20.

He's a different devil for sure after God was made incarnate, I think.

I'm just not sure how this is so. Didn't Kistemaker himself appeal to Job (pre-incarnation, pre-Cross) to demonstrate God's sovereignty over Satan, and Satan's limited power? How is Satan more bound now than then?

He's still powerful and hinders, but we are not ignorant to his schemes.

I'm not sure how we're less ignorant of Satan's schemes, except by virtue of progressive revelation. It would seem to me that any believer who had the books of Genesis, Job, and the Twelve wouldn't be ignorant of Satan's schemes.

Anyway, I wonder if you wouldn't mind taking a listen to this, regarding Revelation 20. If you decide to listen, email me and let me know what you think.

Sir Aaron said...

DJP:

Ever see the movie Luther? Watching him deal with spiritual attacks really brought all the Biblical passages about Satan and his minions to life.

And if Satan and his minions do give up on us, is that a good thing or does it mean we aren't being effective witnesses for Christ even without his interference?

donsands said...

" that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil"

I don't think it's wacky to correlate Rev. 20 with this verse.
the devil is powerless, the writer says, becuase of the Cross.

I appreciate the discussion Mike. I shall have a listen to your link later on.


I suppose the doctrine of Satan and eschatology is more intertwibed than I thought.

I am not convinced of any interpretation of Rev. 20 to be honest. I am pondering these thngs.
And you have made some good points.

Thanks.

Have a blessed weekend and Lord's day.

DJP said...

The Kistemaker dodge doesn't really work at all, either. If i is the power of the Cross that has Satan "bound," and then he is released, one can only conclude that the power of the Cross is defeated or falters.

The solution, I think, is not to come up with fancy ways around that implication, but simply to hear Scripture: he isn't bound (in the Revelation 20 sense), but will be, after Jesus returns to earth.

donsands said...

"he isn't bound (in the Revelation 20 sense)"

Perhaps.

But there seems to be a big difference in this world, and even spiritual realm, ever since Satan entered Judas to betray the Son of God, and our Lord died on Calvary, and rose from the dead.


The Gospel has gone out to thousands of heathen nations, and it has prevailed against the gates of hell. the Gospel of Christ is the truest power in this world now. it was before as well, but not like now.

Satan offered all the nations and kingdoms to Jesus, to no avail.
Jesus now has it all. the devil may be a roaring lion, and a strong man, but he can be bound, and is restricted in a greater way, since Jesus Christ now sits upon His throne.

Jesus has all authority and power in the world. I know we all agree on this. "The devil is God's devil."

Thanks for letting me share my thoughts.

I'm still studying these deep things of the Word. Deep for me at least.

have a wonderful Lord's day Dan.

You are one of the beat teachers of the Word that I know.