Since Jesus has crushed Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15), doesn’t that mean Satan has been rendered powerless?
James F. Pope
Your question leads us back to the Garden of Eden where God prophesied the defeat of Satan. The answer to your question takes us on a journey to Holy Week and the Last Day.
Crushed by the risen Christ
When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the Creator did not remain silent. He disclosed sin’s consequences, but then he revealed himself as their Savior-God. What is fascinating is that God promised a Savior to Adam and Eve while addressing Satan. God uttered the words of Genesis 3:15 to Satan, but he delivered them especially for the benefit of Adam and Eve and all their descendants.
God announced that from that moment on there would be animosity between his followers and those who are on the side of Satan. God then declared that one of Eve’s offspring, the promised Messiah, would crush Satan’s head. Keep in mind that Satan is a spirit being, a fallen angel, having no body of flesh and bones. Because Satan does not have a physical head capable of being crushed, God’s promise pointed to a crushing blow to the power of Satan, symbolized by his head. Jesus delivered such a blow when he rose triumphantly from the dead and then descended into hell to demonstrate to Satan who had won the battle between them (1 Peter 3:18-20).
Does this mean that Satan has been rendered powerless? No, but the day is coming when that will be the case.
Banished by the powerful judge
What we can say from Scripture is that Satan is presently a defeated enemy of God.
While he cannot do whatever he wants (Revelation 20:3), he retains the ability to tempt people. His goal is to prevent people from coming to saving faith in Jesus and to rob Christians of their faith. Satan goes about his work with a sense of urgency because “he knows that his time is short” (Revelation 12:12). Only God knows when the Last Day will take place, but Satan is keenly aware that the time is approaching when he will lose all influence. So, until that time, he is on a mission of spiritual destruction.
On the Last Day, all his activity will cease. Jesus Christ, the King of kings and judge of all people (Matthew 25:31-46), will banish Satan and his minions to hell forever (Revelation 20:10). Never again will Satan be able to bother Christians.
As you and I await that glorious day, we recognize that Satan remains a dangerous enemy of ours. Scripture does not portray Satan as a harmless kitten but as a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8). On our own, we are no match for Satan (Ephesians 6:12), but with God on our side, Satan is outmatched.
While the historic Reformation anniversary has come and gone, the truths that the Reformation restored and emphasized remain. “Scripture alone” is the source and foundation of our faith, and Scripture is our powerful weapon against Satan. “This world’s prince may still Scowl fierce as he will, He can harm us none. He’s judged; the deed is done! One little word can fell him” (Christian Worship 200:3). While we wait for Satan to be rendered completely powerless on the Last Day, we daily use God’s Word to send him reeling in defeat.
Contributing editor James Pope, professor at Martin Luther College, New Ulm, Minnesota, is a member at St. John, New Ulm.
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Author: James F. Pope
Volume 105, Number 01
Issue: January 2018
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