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The Binding of Satan

We read in Revelation 20 of the binding and loosing of Satan. This passage tells us that this binding of Satan will lead to a long period of peace on earth, a time when the nations of the world will be real, practicing Christian nations. Following this though, there is to be a time when Satan is loosed; once again he deceives the nations and an anti-Christian movement is formed. God destroys it with fire from heaven, casts the Devil into Hell and we come to the great white throne and the end of the age.

J. Marcellus Kik in his excellent exposition of this chapter associated the binding of Satan with the saving work of Christ on the cross. His death brought salvation to every believer. The true Christian, one born of the Spirit, is free from Satan’s bondage (Col. 1:13). Satan is bound in that he no longer has the free reign he enjoyed previously. There are now millions of Christians that he no longer controls; they interfere with his ability to deceive the nations. As they work to establish God’s law in the nations, the faith spreads, the nations are converted and eventually the millennium becomes a reality.

After the thousand years, though, Satan is loosed and the millennium breaks down. Why? Is it for some reason we are not given or is it also a consequence of the actions, or lack of action, of the Christian population? If Satan was bound by the freedom of the Christian population, could he not be loosed by the lack of, or lack of employment of, that same freedom? Now we know that the freedom Christ gave has not been rescinded. Nowhere in Scripture is there any support for such an assertion. But there is another factor, one that relates to the responsibility Christ gave Christians. They are to be the salt and light of the world. The salt that preserves the good and the light that shines God’s truth into every dark corner. To the degree that God’s people are faithful to these responsibilities, to that degree Satan’s power is restricted and he is bound. To the degree they fail in their responsibilities, to that degree Satan is loosed and is able to deceive the nations. The loosing of Satan then, at the end of the thousand years, may well be due to the failure of the Christians of that day to live up to their responsibilities. After many generations of peace and tranquility, complacency sets in, the churches fail to teach the doctrines of Scripture, the culture becomes less Christian, and finally a generation arises that is in complete rebellion against God. Satan’s binding continues to diminish until finally he breaks out in full strength.

We have seen in the last century or so a resurgence of Satan’s power to deceive the nations of the once solidly Christian West. This renewal of Satan’s power has been closely synchronous with the rise in popularity of new theologies among Christian churches and the Christian population as a whole. The great majority of Christians now believe that Satan is the god of this world and that the world will continue to decline and will get worse and worse until Christ returns. It would seem that Satan is most definitely not as tightly bound as he was previously. There is unquestionably a connection between Satan’s ability to deceive the nations and the vitality and sense of responsibility of Christians.

Has the period of Satan’s loosing we read of in Revelation 20 already come? There is too much Scriptural support for a truly golden age, one we have not yet seen, that precedes his loosing, for that to be the case. But the history of the Christian age has not been one of monotonic growth. There have been many ups and downs in church history and there may be many more yet to come. One thing is certain; Christians and especially the Christian clergy need to come to grips with the significance of the doctrine of Christian responsibility. It is not properly exposited and driven home to the faithful in more than one in ten thousand pulpits today.