The Big Picture
What is the ultimate goal of life? Of course, depending on who you ask there will always be different answers, however it is certain that everyone will agree that there are two things which are essential if life is to have any meaning and fulfillment. These two things are, happiness and freedom. If we think about it we can recognize that these are the two greatest ideals being pursued by all living things, not only those which are intelligent but even the unintelligent life which operates only on instinct. Happiness and freedom are foundational.
It shouldn’t be difficult for us then to recognize that these two things are the primary benefits that must be provided by any good system of government. When Satan first raised up rebellion against God in the universe these were the two areas in which he tried to bring doubts, questions and ultimately rebellion against God and his government. The Bible does not go into great detail in explaining what these first seeds of rebellion were, but as we do a careful examination of several incidents in the Bible, it becomes clear that these were the areas on which Satan focused his attack.
First of all, let us recognize that Satan’s rebellion against God was not based on physical conflict; the very thought of such a conflict is ridiculous. If Satan tried to match strength against God and his angels, how long would he last? How much resistance could the creature put up against the Creator who created him with just a word from his mouth? The answer is obvious, Satan would not have lasted for a second. So it is clear that his rebellion against God was based on something else. The Scriptures reveal that this warfare was an ideological battle, it was a conflict in which Satan pitted his ideas against the ideas of God.
Satan’s attack against God was based on the claim that God’s government was a government of slavery, a government that operated on the basis of keeping the subject completely enslaved, completely subjugated to the Ruler, and that such a government did not produce true happiness. Arising from this was a second accusation which was that God was not truly a loving and kind person, but that his character was that of a dictator who was ultimately seeking only what pleased him, and not the freedom and liberty of his subjects.
Attack on two things
When we examine the places in the Bible where we see Satan’s accusations, it becomes clear that these were his underlying criticisms.
First of all, in his deceiving of Adam and Eve, we see him attacking God’s character:
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. (Gen 3:5)
What was he saying? Consider his argument here: God was a dishonest person who was not telling the truth. Not only was God a liar, but he was holding Adam and Eve back from something which would not only make them happier, but which would give them greater wisdom and fulfillment in life. God knew that they would become more knowledgeable, God knew that they would become like him (as gods) and he did not want this, he wanted to keep them in a lesser place, to prevent them from developing. God was fully aware of this, but he had deceived them by keeping them from the tree with threats and warnings. This was Satan’s attack against God’s character and it is clear that Eve and later Adam, came to believe – at least in part – the lies of Satan. His purpose was to discredit God’s character and to cause intelligent beings to distrust, and turn away from God.
Secondly, we see Satan attacking God’s people, and through this means, he indirectly criticized and attacked God’s method of government. Before we proceed, let us understand what God’s method of government is: God is Lord in the lives of his people by their own free choice. As his people allow him into their lives, to live in them and to direct their lives, God works in them to will and to do of his good pleasure (Phil 2:13). This is God’s government, ruling from within through the personal interaction between him and them, by his spirit. This is the only perfect government in the universe because it is the way in which God is able to produce true holy living in his people. However, this kind of government requires cooperation between God and his people. First, his people willingly and freely, on the basis of their love for him and their faith in him, allow him to live in them and take full control of their lives. When God has this kind of access to a person, then there is no limit to the happiness and fulfillment in the life of such a person and God is able to do amazing things with, and through such a person.
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (Rev 12:10)
Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face. (Job 1:9-11)
Notice what Satan claimed: According to him, Job’s loyalty to God was not based on love to God nor trust in God, neither was it because Job believed that God’s way was the best way. He stated that the only reason why Job served God was because Job was seeking material benefits and God was supplying those benefits! In other words, Job was not interested in God’s ideology and his loyalty proved nothing, all he was really interested in was his own personal benefit! What Satan was trying to prove was that God’s government only produced selfish, self-seeking people and that God was only able to get people who believed in his way, by bribing them with material benefits. This is why God allowed Satan to afflict Job in such a terrible way; it was to demonstrate that Job truly was serving God from genuine motives and that God’s principle of government did truly produce people who were truly changed, who loved God for his own sake and who believed in his way, no matter what circumstances they found themselves in.
Rev 12:10 shows us that this was Satan’s constant practice, to accuse the people of God without ceasing until finally he was cast out of heaven after the resurrection of Christ. But the question is, why would Satan accuse people if his target was God? It is easy to prove that people have faults, all of us fail from time to time. If he really wants to prove that we are not fit for heaven, then this is not hard for him to do. So what benefit did Satan obtain by this constant accusation of God’s people? The answer is, when God’s people fail it is an indictment against the government of God. It is first of all a statement that God’s government does not make people truly happy and satisfied, that is why they have to keep seeking satisfaction outside of God’s will, that is why they fall into transgression of God’s will. Their failure is a statement that there is something wrong with God’s principles. Secondly, it is an indictment against God’s involvement in their lives, it is a statement that says, “God, you have given your life to these people, you have involved yourself in their affairs and united their spirit with yours, yet they still fall into unhappiness and sin. It is clear that your system does not work, there is need of another kind of government!
Satan’s false claims
So in contrast to his accusations that God’s government restricts freedom and creates dissatisfaction, Satan claims that his system of government – freedom from God’s control – is the true way to freedom. Interestingly there is a religious body on earth today which calls itself “The First Church of Satan.” This religious organization was founded by a man named Anton Lavey (now deceased). But when we examine the blasphemous principles embraced by this organization we can clearly identify the seeds of this original rebellion which Lucifer raised up against God in the distant ages of the past. Let me quote from some of the principles of this group as outlined in their own statement of beliefs.
principles of Satan’s church
· Before none of your printed idols do I bend in acquiescence, and he who saith “thou shalt” to me is my mortal foe!
· I dip my forefinger in the watery blood of your impotent mad redeemer, and write over his thorn-torn brow: The TRUE prince of evil – the king of slaves!
· No hoary falsehood shall be a truth to me; no stifling dogma shall encramp my pen!
· I break away from all conventions that do not lead to my earthly success and happiness.
My spirit recoils from even quoting such blasphemous words, but I think they can help to demonstrate the point that I am making: Satan’s accusation against God’s government is that it is based on slavery, it takes away freedom, and that true freedom means liberty to do as you please, to indulge your desires without restriction no matter where those desires take you. As we look at the state of the world today as it is, moving further and further away from God, we can see that this is the prevailing sentiment. Movements such as the LGBTQ movement and the Transgender lunacy, are simply an example of the Satanic principle that true freedom means freedom from God’s restraints and the liberty to indulge your own carnal fantasies without limitations.
However, when we take a closer look we see that there is a massive contradiction in the entire premise of Satan’s principles. What he is after is freedom from God, but in the process, he has created a system which requires the greatest bondage of all. Satan’s idea of freedom means that there is to be no restraint on the carnal desires of the flesh, no sexual limitations, no prohibitions on any perversion whatsoever that the flesh desires. This is his idea of freedom. Conversely however, when carnal people are set free to do as they please the result is always that there is abuse of others, conflicts, disagreements and endangerment to the lives of others.
A system for sinners
This is why although a system of government based on strict laws is not a perfect system of government, it serves a purpose in restraining and to some extent, controlling the carnal nature. It prevents people from falling into total anarchy. This is the necessity required where there is unrestrained carnality and so, anywhere in the universe that Satan’s system of “liberty” is embraced, there is also the necessity for a strict system of external government. There is need of a system that can force restraint upon carnal people in order that they may live harmoniously with other people. It is absolutely vital that there is a set of strict rules to control and limit their behavior, otherwise the result will be chaos and anarchy. This is true whether we are looking at a home, a community, a school or even a church or a social club! We can see then that when Satan offered freedom from God, he made it necessary that bondage to other created beings should become a necessity. He offered freedom, but really created a system of true bondage where people were dominated and controlled by other people.
Even God himself has no option other than to resort to such a system when dealing with carnal people. The Bible explains this very clearly in 1 Timothy 1:8-10:
But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully;Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers,For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; (1Tim 1:8-10)
So we may conclude that Satan is not opposed to government by rules and in fact, he has often used such a system to great effect in his efforts to destroy God’s people. What he is really opposed to is government by God, not government by rules. He does not even care if the rules in place are the ten commandments themselves! We notice that the Jews used their loyalty to the laws of God as an excuse to kill Jesus and many of his disciples. What he is opposed to is government by God! For him, democracy will do, dictatorship will do, communism or capitalism will do. He can, and will manipulate any system of rules and turn it into a weapon against God’s people, but when God controls the lives of people, he is helpless to manipulate such a government.
The best rules
God separated Israel to be his special chosen people and He himself referred to them as his people. However, it is in the New Testament that we are told what it really means to be a child of God. Paul tells us,
But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. (Rom 8:9)
When we understand this we realize that the Israelites were never God’s people in the true sense. They were not a nation of people who possessed the spirit of God, they were a nation of carnal people who wore the label, “Jehovah’s people,” but in actual fact, they only belonged to him in name. They were not born again of the spirit. This is the reason why God placed Israel under the government of the law. There is only one way of restraining the carnal nature and that is to place it under strict rules. It cannot be made to do good, but through the government of rules, enforced by penalties it can be brought under some sort of discipline and be restrained. According to Moses, God gave the Israelites the best rules that could be given:
And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? (Deut 4:8)
They were the best rules, the best system of legal government that had ever been established in any nation, but the evidence we see is that the system never worked. It never made Israel any better, they kept breaking the rules over and over again until as a nation, they became so corrupt that God’s protection was taken away from them and they became a prey to the nations around them.
In fact, according to the apostle Paul, the law was a system which not only failed to produce righteous people, but in fact, only produced bondage. Referring to God’s people while they were under the law he says:
Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: (Gal 4:3)
They were in bondage in the sense that they were not free to do as they pleased, they were not free to follow the impulses of their hearts, but were required to behave in ways that were contrary to their nature. This is what is meant by bondage, they were compelled to do things that they didn’t really want to do. If they didn’t, there would be severe penalties. And yet, all of this was ultimately a part of God’s great plan to restore his image in mankind and to reveal his wisdom to the universe. This work of the law in keeping Israel in a state of bondage was not the only reason why it was given; according to the apostle Paul, the law was also given to increase man’s condemnation! In other words, the law was given to man, to prove that man was not capable of keeping it! It was given to prove that no system of external government can ever produce righteousness, it just cannot work, it is an impossibility.
Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression. (Rom 4:15)
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. (1Cor 15:56)
God’s character revealed
God had one answer for all of Satan’s accusations and the dilemma into which he had plunged humanity and the entire universe. That answer was his Son, Jesus Christ. In Jesus, God produced his ultimate weapon, one comprehensive and perfect answer to every challenge which had been presented by Satan and sin.
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (John 17:4)
The first task that Jesus accomplished was that he vindicated the character of God. In his life and death, Jesus demonstrated that Satan’s first accusation was a complete lie. Jesus was the only begotten Son of God, the express image of his person, exactly like him in nature and character. What Jesus did, how Jesus lived was an exact, carbon-copy expression of what God himself would have done. This was guaranteed to be true, because Jesus was God’s only begotten son; the guarantee was in his literal sonship. There was no difference between them both as far as character was concerned. When a human parent gives birth to a child, the child in never an exact replica of the parent because there are two parents involved and the child inherits from both of them. So the child takes characteristics from both and is born different from each of them, but like each one in some respects. In the case of the begotten son of God, this was not possible. He had only ONE parent, his origin was God, there was no other parent and this is why he was guaranteed to be exactly like God. The law of inheritance declares that he was so.
Of course, when he became a human being, the opposite was true. He had a human mother, but no human father. However, this in itself did not affect the nature and the character that he had because all he inherited from his mother was a human body, his spiritual nature remained the same, and his spirit was who he was, his original identity which he took with him from heaven to earth to live in his new, human body.
So Jesus, limited as a human being, subject to all the limitations and uncertainties of human existence, was still able to display to the world and to the universe the full beauty of God’s loving, caring, selfless nature and character. He was the living expression of God manifested in a human form! The apostle Paul tells us:
For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2Cor 4:6)
The second thing that Jesus accomplished was that he revealed the true nature of Satan’s rebellion and exposed Satan for the lying conniving murderer that he was. When he bent all his energies to destroy Christ, his true character was finally revealed to the universe and the beings in heavenly places saw that from the beginning, his true purpose had never been to introduce a better lifestyle for created beings, but rather, to usurp the place of God, to seek his own glory and not the benefit of other created beings. Even in the moment when he was going to his death Jesus rejoiced to know that in this terrible experience he would finally destroy the façade of Satan’s lies and remove him from the affection of all heaven forever. Just before he was crucified he said,
Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. (John 12:31)
Later, in the book of Revelation we see how this statement was fulfilled. After the resurrection of Jesus he returned to heaven and from that moment Satan and his angels were expelled from heaven forever, never to return.
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. (Rev 12:10)
The third thing that Jesus did was that he redeemed mankind and reconciled humanity to God.
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (2Cor 5:19)
Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. (Rom 5:18)
In himself, Jesus restored the link between humanity and God. He became the first human being who had come under the dominion of Satan’s power. He was placed in the same circumstances of fallen man, and yet had remained untouched by sin. In defeating Satan, he restored the rights of humanity which Adam had given over to Satan. Now humanity was reconciled to God, God had every right to save all men, all who would accept it, not because men were good or deserving, but because Jesus had defeated Satan and taken back the human race from his dominion. We may truly say, all men have been saved, but not all men will accept and receive it! This is why the great majority will be lost, not because salvation has not been given to them, but because they refuse the gift of God in Christ! What a terrible tragedy!
So while he was here on earth, Jesus did three things:
1. Revealed God’s character.
2. Unmasked Satan for who he really was.
3. Redeemed mankind.
In these three things Jesus’ work is absolutely comprehensive, complete, finished, done. However, this does not mean that there is nothing else to be done, obviously, we are not yet in heaven and we still live in a world that is dominated by sin. In spite of the fact that Jesus lived and died two thousand years ago, in spite of the fact that Satan was cast out of heaven two thousand years ago, Christ has not yet returned and it is clear that the problem of sin still has some areas that need to be resolved. If not, why would God allow suffering and wickedness to continue for two thousand years after it was all done?
Remember that in the beginning Satan attacked not only God’s character, but also the government of God. One of the things which he claimed was that the system of government which he was introducing was a government of freedom which would better serve created beings than God’s government which he terms as a government of bondage which only produces slaves. It is also the work of Christ to overthrow this final lie, it also remains for Jesus to do this final work of vindicating God’s government. Jesus still has some unfinished business to do.
God’s system of government
The Bible reveals that God’s way of governing his people is unique, it is absolutely different from every other form of government which has ever existed in the universe! This amazing truth is missed by most people because there is the widespread misconception that the system of Government by which ancient Israel was ruled was God’s system of government. It is true that God did establish that system, it is true that it was a kind of theocracy where God instructed them how to behave, and directed their lives by rules. However, this was not God’s true system of government, it was simply a system of control, similar to every other government which exists on earth and having laws which were very similar. It was a temporary measure put in place by God which was not very effective, but which was to last until the time came for God’s true government to be implemented with the coming of Jesus Christ. God spoke of the coming of this revolutionary system of government through the prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah.
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. (Ezek 36:26-27)
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jer 31:33)
Wonderful, amazing truth! God promised that in the New Covenant his TRUE method of government would be implemented! Instead of giving his people a system of rules to govern them on the outside, he would govern them from the inside, he would put his spirit within them, give them his own nature, live in them himself and by this means, he himself would produce good behavior within them. He would himself be the government inside them! The apostle Paul explained it very clearly:
For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. (Phil 2:13)
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. (Gal 2:20)
This is God’s system of government, the unique system which belongs to him alone. No other “god” no other governing entity can duplicate this method, it is unique to the true God alone. Satan may sometimes possess people, but this is an invasion, a takeover by vicious compulsion and force, an experience where the mind and body of a person are violently subjugated and the person made a prisoner within his own body. God’s unique government is not like this, it is a loving cooperation where, by the invitation of the person, God comes to live inside of them, a very real power, a very real person, who, by their own invitation and permission, lives their lives for them, with their cooperation, enabling them to live lives of holiness, beauty and peace.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Rom 8:2-4)
Christ’s final work
Satan has claimed that true freedom means to be free from the dominating presence of God, he has claimed that the only way to true freedom is to leave each person with the liberty to do what his mind tells him to do. But history has proven over and over that when created beings are “free” from God, then the only way to save them from anarchy and destruction is to place them under a system of strict control, a government where they are given strict instructions as to how they should behave, with strict penalties accompanying the rules. This is the fruit of Satan’s concept of freedom. It is not God’s way.
But does God’s system of government really work? Does it really produce people who are more holy, more happy, more fit to live forever than the other system of external control? God has saved sinners, but does his system of government really produce candidates for eternity, or was Satan really right?
This is the question which is the focus of the unfinished work of Christ; it is the final phase of the battle to defend the kingdom of God and to establish it forever in the universe as the only system of government fit to rule for all eternity; the only system capable of governing created beings while still leaving them free and happy. This final battle is the contest to demonstrate that God’s system of government really produces the goods. It is a demonstration of the fact that Christ living in his people, Christ our righteousness is the only system of government which is fit to remain in place forever. So even though Christ’s work of saving man is over, there is still something else to be proven and this is why we are still here, two thousand years after Calvary.
Daniel and Revelation
This is what the books of Daniel and Revelation are all about, they describe this final conflict between the two systems of government. In the book of Revelation in particular we find this confrontation between the two kingdoms. Yet there is more to this confrontation than simply a display of force and power, it is a display of the fruit of both systems of government: On the one hand there is Satan’s system of external control which produces the beast kingdom with its domination of the entire planet and the subjugation of mankind where all men are compelled by force to conform to the dictates of this beast kingdom – whether they like it or not! This is a system of slavery where it does not matter what anyone thinks, everyone must conform or be destroyed. All that matters is the mind of the beast.
On the other hand there is the manifestation of Christ’s system of government with its ultimate revelation in the one hundred and forty-four thousand. These are the final group of Christians living on this earth, the remnant of God’s people who fully surrender to him and allow him to live in them so fully that he is able to use them as the perfect demonstration of his kingdom. They are the revelation of what his government produces, a people without “spot or wrinkle or blemish,” a people who are the firstfruits unto God and to the lamb.
This perfecting of the 144,000 is the final work of Christ for man in this world. It is the finishing of the work in establishing the kingdom of God forever. At the end of this work, the kingdom of the beast is finally destroyed
I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. (Dan 7:11)
The same judgment decrees that Christ is to be given the kingdoms of this world as his heritage forever. This is what we see described in Daniel chapter 7. It is the final judgment of the two kingdoms, the kingdom of Satan and the kingdom of Christ.
I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. (Dan 7:13-14)
This is an amazing truth and when we come to understand it, then we recognize the tremendous significance of the time in which we live, and the important part that each of us has to play in this final vindication of the kingdom of Christ. We have been afforded the greatest privilege of the ages, may we carry out our task faithfully!
(Source: Restoration Ministry)