Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels warring against the dragon, and the dragon waging war, and his angels. But he did not prevail, neither was there place found for him in heaven any longer. And the great dragon was also cast out, the ancient serpent, who is called the Accuser, and Satan, who deceives the whole world. He was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. . . .
For this, rejoice, O heavens and those who dwell in them! Alas, earth and sea, for the Accuser has come down among you, having great anger, knowing that he has just a little time. . . .
And then, the dragon was enraged over the woman, and he went away to make war against the rest of her seed, those who keep the commandments of God and have the witness of Jesus.” Revelation 12:7–9, 12, 17
“I watched Satan falling like lightning out of heaven.”
Let me ask you an odd-sounding question: If Satan hates God, as many teach, and if he despises what God says and does, as most believe, then why was he cast out of heaven? Doesn’t that sound like a strange question? Think about it, and it may not seem so strange.
My real question is, if Satan despises God and hates what is good and holy, then what was he doing in heaven at all? Why, if he despises holiness and hates God, didn’t he just leave heaven on his own instead of hanging around until God had to throw him out? God gave him no choice. “Choice” is a blessing that sin causes one to lose. Satan had to leave, and being given no choice in that matter made him very, very angry.
The fact is that Satan loves the glory of God, but he loves it in the wrong way. He envies it, and that is a destructive kind of love. He loves the glory and power of God for his own benefit, not because he loves others, including God. Satan even loves truth, but not all of it. He loves only that part of the truth which serves for self-aggrandizement. He loves the name of Jesus, and according to Paul, Satan inspires men to declare the name of Jesus to others (2Cor. 11:13–15), but he loves it only in a way that also brings him glory. He loved certain scriptures from Psalm 91 when he tempted Jesus in the wilderness, but he didn’t love the Scripture Jesus quoted back to him, because it exposed his self-serving love of the Bible.
Satan doesn’t hate holy things. He loves them and wants them for himself! He covets the blessings of God. He longs to enjoy the glory of the Lord in the midst of God’s saints. He longs to be back in the light of God’s presence. And it makes him absolutely furious to know that he can never have those things again. That is why he became so angry when he was cast out of heaven. That is also why, when he was cast out of the kingdom of God and thrown down to earth, Satan struck out at God’s chosen people, first against the Jews, and then against those “who keep the commandments of God and who have the witness of Jesus.” People whom God rejects often react in the same cruel way.
Satan envies your blessings from God. He wants them, but he wants them for the wrong reasons. Therefore, God judged Satan to be unworthy to live in His presence. As for Satan, he judged himself to be more than worthy to be in God’s presence, and he no doubt feels misunderstood and mistreated because he is no longer welcome among the assembly of the sons of God. He became proud of his blessings from God. He lightly esteemed his glorious place in God’s kingdom and devised wicked plans to steal more glory than he had already been given – and lost it all.
Over the past few months, I have commented to a number of people that in the past, if people began to doubt the truth I or other servants of Jesus preach, or if they grew discontent with the way matters were handled among the saints, they just went away. But over the past few years, I, and I suppose other ministers as well, have had to face another breed of backsliders, people who love the freedom and blessings of God that are among the saints too much to go away, even though they feel discontentment in general and feel superior to their pastor in judgment. Here among us, it has been difficult for me to get some people to leave who ought not to be here!
It has been awkward, but I have actually had to sit a few people down over the past few years and tell them what is in their hearts. I have had to tell them, “You do not like it here. You are not happy. You need to go find your pastor. You need to go find the place where you really belong.” Oddly enough, they often become angry when told they do not belong here, just as Satan grew angry when he was told (rather unceremoniously) that he did not belong in heaven. One would think that if you did not like the way things were in a congregation, you would leave. But not Satan, and not those who are like him. They want to stay and share in the glory and enjoy blessings they have not earned, and benefit from precious gifts that have not been given to them.
The question could be asked of such people, just as I asked in the beginning about Satan: If they hate me and despise what I and others here teach and do, then why were they asked to leave? The real question being, Why were they hanging around here in the first place? The truth is, they had a love for me and for the benefits of the truth I teach, but they only loved the parts that suited their private purposes. And in imitation of my Father, I will not tolerate that kind of love. Like Him, those around me are going to love me sincerely with all their heart, as I love them (for their welfare, not mine), or they will not be welcome in my presence. They will be given no choice in that matter.
Why would any one of us welcome or even tolerate people in our homes and lives who love us for their own benefit, and not love us the way God loves? That’s just simple common sense. It is also the way our wise God conducts His holy life.