How Christ’s death won the victory in the war in heaven

SUMMARY OF THIS ARTICLE

As discussed in the previous article, the victory in heaven was won AFTER Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev 12:5). This implies that Michael won the victory in the war in heaven through the Cross. Talking about His approaching death, Jesus similarly said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:27, 31). The question in this article is: How did the Cross defeat Satan?

WHAT WAS THE PROBLEM?

To answer this question, we must first determine what problem had to be solved. What is the nature of the war in heaven?

Evil originated in heaven. In the beginning, Lucifer was blameless in his ways.  He probably was or is the most brilliant mind ever created, but he became proud (Ezek 28:17) and desired to receive an honor equal to like the Son of God. Later, when God created humans, Satan led Adam and Eve into sin, and through sin, obtained control over the human race.

Satan became “the accuser of our brethren” (Rev 12:10). He does not accuse all people; he specifically accused God’s people.  In this way, Satan effectively accused God of arbitrary judgment when He forgives some people their sins but condemns others. Satan is not trying to make sure that God justifies the right people.  His real purpose is to defend himself against God’s judgment, for he has been condemned to the “eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41).

Due to Satan’s extremely clever and informed arguments, he convinced many of God’s beautiful and mighty angels to side with him (Rev 12:4, 7). And, for the same reasons, the heavenly beings that remained faithful to God were unable to refute Satan’s charges and to show conclusively that God’s judgments are perfect.  That is the problem that Christ’s death had to solve.

HOW DOES GOD SOLVE THIS PROBLEM?

Revelation reveals Satan’s weapons as deception and accusations (Rev 12:9-10). This explains the nature of the war in heaven. God does not solve this problem by means of force.  He addresses Satan’s charges with two techniques; the death of His Son and the testimony of the brethren (Rev 12:11). According to Romans 3:25-26, God displayed Christ Jesus publicly “to demonstrate His righteousness.” In other words, to refute Satan’s charges, God provides evidence of “His righteousness” by means of demonstrations. Jesus, by remaining faithful to God to the end (His death) provided evidence to show that Satan’s accusations were false.

HOW CHRIST’S DEATH REFUTED SATAN’S ACCUSATIONS

BY CHRIST’S LIFE

The Bible says that people are saved by Christ’s blood. Many people believe that there was some magic in His blood, or that His death saves people by satisfying the wrath of an angry God, or that justice demands that somebody must suffer infinite punishment, and only an infinite person is able to suffer infinite punishment.  There are much that we have to unlearn:

Firstly, His “blood” is merely a symbol of His death. There is no magic in His literal blood.

Secondly, the evidence of God’s righteousness was not provided by Jesus’ death, but by His life. If Jesus sinned, His death would have been without value.

The Bible emphasizes His death because the days and hours before He died was the highest test that He had to pass and because His death was the end of His test.

BY VALIDATING THE BASIS OF GOD’S JUDGMENTS

But the question remains, what evidence did Christ’s death provide that refuted Satan’s accusations? HOW did the “blood of the Lamb” overcome Satan?

      • Over the centuries, many people have overcome Satan’s temptations, but the accuser of our brethren was always able to point out sins in their lives.  Not one ever remained without sin.
      • Jesus became a human being.  He was a sinless man in a corrupted world and had to resist the maximum possible provocation and temptation, but never sinned.  In this way, He demonstrated that human beings are able to remain faithful to God under the most severe circumstances.
      • This implies that Satan claimed that it is not possible to remain faithful to God under all circumstances and that the fault, therefore, lies with God’s law, and therefore with God.
      • But Christ showed that there is nothing wrong with God’s requirements and laws and that God, therefore, is just when He condemns hardened sinners and justifies sinners selectively.

(For a further discussion, see, The book which not even God can open).

ANGELS DROVE SATAN OUT OF HEAVEN.

Revelation 12:7-10 describes the war in heaven as a war between two groups of angels and indicates that archangel Michael and his angels defeated Satan and drove him out of heaven.  Previously, they were unable to refute Satan’s clever arguments, but Christ’s death provided the evidence they needed. Now they were convinced that God is just in His judgments and that Satan is the father of lies.  With this evidence, they drove Satan and his angels out of the courtrooms of heaven:

There was no longer a place found for them (Satan and his angels) in heaven” (Rev 12:8).

CONCLUSIONS

      • The fact that evidence was required implies that the war in heaven is similar to a courtroom, where evidence is brought, and the jury decides. This is a war of deception and accusations, and evidence is required to refute the accusations.
      • God condemned Satan and his angels, but because the angels did not completely understand what Satan did wrong, the angels would not have understood if God executed His judgment on Satan and his angels before the allegations against God were clarified.  Doubt would have remained, providing the seed for a future rebellion.  Because God wants His intelligent beings to understand, He allowed Satan to continue until the nature and consequences of Satan’s ways are understood by all.
      • All of this implies that God’s creatures have freedom.

CHRIST’S DEATH WON THE VICTORY. 

As indicated by the following, Michael won the victory in the war in heaven through the Cross:

      • Main Concepts – Two of the main concepts in Revelation 12 are Christ’s ascension (verse 5) and the victory in the war in heaven (verse 8-12). The emphasis which Revelation 12 places on these two events imply a causal relationship.
      • The Chronological sequence of events, as discussed in the previous article, shows that the victory in heaven was won AFTER Jesus was “caught up to God and to His throne” (Rev 12:5).
      • Blood of the LambIn the context, the loud voice from heaven announces that “our brethren … overcame him (Satan) because of the blood of the Lamb” (Rev 12:10-11).

The Bible also elsewhere teaches that God overcame Satan through Christ death and resurrection:

      • Talking about His approaching death, Jesus said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (John 12:27, 31).
      • Since the children share in flesh and blood, 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” (Heb 2:14).
      • God “disarmed the rulers and authorities” when He “canceled out the certificate of debt” by nailing it to the Cross (Col 2:14-15).  Rulers and Authorities are supernatural beings that oppose God.

Michael, therefore, won the victory in the war in heaven through Christ’s death. The vertical movements in Revelation 12 are an indication there-of: After Christ was caught up from earth to God’s throne (Rev 12:5), Satan went down from heaven to earth.

HOW DID THE CROSS DEFEAT SATAN?

Then the question is: How did the Cross defeat Satan?  To answer this question, we must first determine what problem had to be solved. What was or is the nature of the war in heaven?

EVIL ORIGINATED IN HEAVEN.

In the beginning, Lucifer was blameless in his ways.  As discussed in the article on the Origin of Evil, Lucifer probably was or is the most brilliant mind ever created. He was a covering cherub (Ezek 28:14), which means he served in God’s immediate presence.  The angels trusted, loved, and admired him.

But Lucifer became God’s enemy.  God said to him, “Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor” (Ezek 28:17).  Lucifer became the selfish and proud Satan, who desired to receive an honor equal to like the Son of God (Isa 14:14, compared to John 17:5).

Later, God made the humans in His likeness (Gen 1:26), and “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7).  Although Satan already was God’s adversary, God allowed him access to Adam and Eve.  Satan appeared to Eve in the form of a talking serpent.  Through deception, he led Adam into sin, and through sin, he obtained power over the human race: “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19; cf. Genesis 3).

SATAN ACCUSED GOD OF ARBITRARY JUDGMENT.

Satan became “the accuser of our brethren” (Rev 12:10). He does not accuse all people; he specifically accused God’s people (cf. Zech 3:1; Job 1:11).  In this way, Satan effectively accused God of arbitrary judgment when He forgives some people their sins but condemns others, such as Satan himself and his angels (See Book of Life). This is confirmed by Romans 3:25-26:

Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly … in His blood … to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed … so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom 3:25-26).

Many theologians explain this passage as that God’s righteousness demanded that sins cannot be forgiven; that someone had to pay.  However, the text explicitly tells us why God had to demonstrate His righteousness, namely “because … He passed over the sins.” In other words, He had to demonstrate His righteousness because He selectively forgave some sinners their sins. This supports the conclusion that Satan questioned God’s righteousness He forgave some people their sins.

Satan is not trying to make sure that God justifies the right people.  His real purpose is to defend himself against God’s judgment, for he has been condemned to the “eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt 25:41).

He probably argues that all people have sinned (Rom 3:23) and that sin cannot be forgiven; if he is to be condemned, then the entire human race must also be condemned. And if God’s people are “justified as a gift by His grace” (Rom 3:24), then he and his angels must also be justified. In other words, Satan uses the sins of human beings to convince the universe that God judged him and his angels unfairly.

THE ANGELS DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

As stated, Satan was possibly the most brilliant being ever created.  As discussed in the article series on the seven seals, due to Satan’s extremely clever and informed arguments, he convinced many of God’s beautiful and mighty angels to side with him (Rev 12:4, 7). And, for the same reasons, the heavenly beings that remained faithful to God were unable to refute Satan’s charges and to show conclusively that God’s judgments are perfect.  Revelation symbolizes this lack of understanding of God’s judgments as a book that is sealed with seven seals (Rev 5:1; see Book of Life).

That is the problem that Christ’s death had to solve.

GOD PROVIDES EVIDENCE.

Many people understand the war in heaven as physical in nature; not fought with earthly weapons, but by supernatural physical means; using powerful physic-spiritual energies of which we have only vague intimations; energies which can move mountains and change planetary orbits. If this war is to determine who has the most physical power, Satan would never have started this war. See, Why Satan thought he could win.

Rather, Revelation reveals Satan’s weapons as deception and accusations (Rev 12:9-10). This explains the nature of the war in heaven. God, also, does not solve this problem by means of force.  He does not use His infinite power to stamp out resistance.

God addresses Satan’s charges with two techniques; the death of His Son and the testimony of the brethren (Rev 12:11). According to Romans 3:25-26, God displayed Christ Jesus publicly “to demonstrate His righteousness.” In other words, to refute Satan’s charges, God provides evidence of His righteousness by means of demonstrations. Jesus, by remaining faithful to God to the end (His death) provided evidence to show that Satan’s accusations were false.

The same applies to the testimony of our brethren.  God was accused of unfair judgment, and through Jesus, and through the testimony of our brethren, God provided evidence to show that His judgments were fair.

SEALED SCROLL

This conclusion is supported by the sealed scroll of Revelation 5.  Before Jesus’ death “no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the book or to look into it” (Rev 5:3).  It was a time of extreme sorrow in heaven (Rev 5:4). But then Jesus appears as “a Lamb … as if slain” (Rev 5:6), and the heavenly beings sang a new song, saying to Jesus:

Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev 5:9).

A closed book symbolizes concealed information. The sealed scroll of Revelation 5 is the Book of Life.  In other words, before Jesus died, nobody was sure who will be saved.  But through His death, Jesus provided the evidence required to open the book.

SAVED BY CHRIST’S BLOOD

The Bible says that people are saved by Christ’s blood, for example:

      • Justified … through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:24). The next verse explains this redemption by saying that Jesus was “displayed publicly … in His blood.”
      • Similarly, in Revelation 12:11, the accuser of our brethren was overcome “because of the blood of the Lamb.”

Many people believe that there was some magic in His blood, or that His death saves people by satisfying the wrath of an angry God, or that justice demands that somebody must suffer infinite punishment, and only an infinite person is able to suffer infinite punishment.  There are much that we have to unlearn:

Firstly, His “blood” is merely a symbol of His death. There is no magic in His literal blood.

Secondly, the evidence of God’s righteousness was not provided by Jesus’ death, but by His life. If Jesus sinned, His death would have been without value.  His entire life was a test.  At the beginning of His ministry, “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt 4:1).

The Bible emphasizes His death because the days and hours before He died was the highest test that He had to pass and because His death was the end of His test. “He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30).

But the question remains, what evidence did Christ’s death provide that refuted Satan’s accusations? HOW did the “blood of the Lamb” overcome Satan? Three categories of evidence are proposed:

      • God’s laws are just.
      • God is trustworthy, and
      • God is love.

GOD’S LAWS ARE JUST.

Over the centuries, many people have overcome Satan’s temptations, but the accuser of our brethren was always able to point out sins in their lives.  Not one of them remained without sin.

Jesus became a human being.  He was a sinless man in a corrupted world and had to resist the maximum possible provocation and temptation, but never sinned.  “He humbled Himself by becoming obedient (without sin – Heb 4:25) to the point of death” (Phil 2:8); “even when faced with death” (Rev 12:11).

In this way, He demonstrated that human beings are able to remain faithful to God under the most severe circumstances.  This implies that Satan claimed that it is not possible to remain faithful to God under all circumstances and that the fault, therefore, lies with God’s law, and therefore with God. But Christ showed that there is nothing wrong with God’s requirements and laws and that God, therefore, is just when He condemns hardened sinners and justifies sinners selectively (For a further discussion, see, The book which not even God can open).

GOD IS TRUSTWORTHY.

The serpent said to the woman:

You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:4-5).

In other words, Satan said that God did not tell the truth.  If Satan did this with Eve, then we can assume that one of Satan’s basic strategies is to tell lies; including lies about God.  Jesus, in contrast, revealed the truth about God (John 1:18). Jesus is the exact representation of God’s nature (Heb 1:3). He is “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15) and His life on earth confirmed Him, and therefore God, as the “true Witness” (Rev 3:14). In other words, Jesus showed that God is trustworthy.

GOD IS LOVE.

The cruelty of the accuser, as displayed in his malicious persecution of the only begotten Son of God who became a vulnerable human being, demonstrated Satan’s nature and the consequences of his principles. This is in contrast to Jesus Christ, who did not use His power to protect Himself.  As “the image of the invisible God,” by becoming a slain lamb (Rev 5:5, 6), He revealed God’s nature.  Jesus showed that God is love.

ANGELS DROVE SATAN OUT OF HEAVEN.

The importance of evidence explains why Satan was overcome by Jesus, but driven out of heaven by Michael and his angels.

Revelation 12:7-10 describes the war in heaven as a war between two groups of angels and indicates that archangel Michael and his angels defeated Satan and expelled him from heaven.  Why would God’s loyal angels drive Satan out of heaven if he was defeated by Jesus’ death?

The answer is that they, previously, were unable to refute Satan’s clever arguments, but Christ’s death provided the evidence they needed. Now they were convinced that God is just in His judgments and that Satan is the father of lies.  With this evidence, they drove Satan and his angels out of the courtrooms of heaven.

Perhaps Satan was not physically thrown out of heaven, but he was driven out in a figurative sense in that nobody believes him any longer.  Michael and his angels now understood and were fully convinced of God’s justness.  Satan was no longer able to accuse God’s people before God.

There was no longer a place found for them (Satan and his angels) in heaven” (Rev 12:8).

IMPLICATIONS

DECISIONS ARE MADE IN HEAVENLY COUNCILS.

The fact that evidence was required implies that the war in heaven is similar to a courtroom, where evidence is brought, and the jury decides. This is a war of deception and accusations, and evidence is required to refute the accusations. For example:

      • In Revelation 5, it was not God, but the council’s decision that Jesus is “worthy … to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain” (Rev 5:8-9).
      • In Daniel 7, “the court sat, and the books were opened” (Dan 7:10).
      • Satan brought his charges against the humans in the meetings of the “sons of God“ (Job 1:6).

GOD ALLOWS TIME FOR HIS INTELLIGENT BEINGS TO UNDERSTAND

In consequence of his rebellion, God cast Satan “as profane from the mountain of God. And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire” (Ezek 28:16).  God condemned Satan and his angels to “the eternal fire” (Matt 25:41).  But because the angels did not completely understand what Satan did wrong, the angels would not have understood if God executed His judgment on Satan and his angels before the allegations against God were clarified.  Doubt would have remained, providing the seed for a future rebellion.  Because God wants His intelligent beings to understand, He allowed Satan to continue until the nature and consequences of Satan’s ways are understood by all.

GOD’S INTELLIGENT BEINGS HAVE FREE WILL.

The requirement for evidence means that physical power is not decisive.  God did not set Satan’s criticism and questions aside by physical force.  Satan deceives, accuses, and slanders. “Our brethren” respond, not by physical force, but with a testimony that is so strong that they are willing to die for what they believe (Rev 12:11).  God has all power, but the outcome of the war in heaven is not determined by who has the most physical power.

Since physical power will not settle this dispute, but evidence, it implies that God’s creatures have freedom.  On the basis of this principle, God grants Satan time and allows His own judgments to be tested.  God even became the accused and the universe became the judge.

FINAL CONCLUSIONS

      • Michael won the victory in the war in heaven through the Cross.
      • Satan accused God of arbitrary judgment when He forgives some people but condemns others.
      • Due to Satan’s extremely clever arguments, God’s loyal angels were unable to refute Satan’s charges.
      • God does not solve this problem by means of force. He provides evidence of “His righteousness” by means of demonstrations.
      • Satan claimed that it is not possible to remain faithful to God under all circumstances and that the fault, therefore, lies with God’s law, and therefore with God. Jesus, by remaining faithful to God to the end, showed that Satan’s accusations were false.

ARTICLES IN THIS SERIES 

The following are the articles in this series on the war in heaven as described in Revelation 12:

    1. Michael and his angels waged war against the dragon and his angels. Who are the Male Child, His mother, the Dragon and Michael?
    2. The wilderness period is mentioned both before and after the war in heaven. What is the chronological sequence? When was Satan defeated and driven out of heaven?
    3. Satan deceives & accuses God of arbitrary judgment when He forgives some people their sins but condemns others.  How did Christ’s death refute Satan’s accusations? Current article
    4. While Revelation 12:7-10 describes Michael’s victory over Satan in the war in heaven, verse 11 describes the victory of “our brethren” over Satan because of “their testimony?” Who are they?
    5. God made peace in heaven by the Lamb, but Revelation 12 indicates that the war continued on earth. Why did God not make an end of evil immediately after the Cross?

For further reading on Revelation, I recommend Jon Paulien’s commentary. For general discussions of theology, I recommend Graham Maxwell, who you will find on the Pineknoll website.

4 Replies to “How Christ’s death won the victory in the war in heaven”

  1. When on the cross, Jesus utters at his last breath; “tetelestai” interpreted to mean, “it stands finished”.!
    The it was ALL necessary circumstances, events, outcomes, testimonies by ALL witnesses in the trial of Lucifer in the Supreme Court Of Heaven. Sin IS NOT AN ISSUE ANYMORE.! When Christ died, ALL of humanity died, when He was resurrected ALL of humanity was resurrected. Every human who has or will ever live has been ransomed, since Adam. God the father summed up ALL of creation
    in His son Jesus Christ. All of His enemies will have been put under His footstool when He effects His parousia at the Will, & behest of His father. ALL humanity has been saved for eternity, as the proclamation of the prophets, scholars, Jesus, The Holy Spirit, indeed YHWH Himself… There is not now nor has ever even entered into the imagination of God to create such a place; let alone, condemn a creature of whom He declared is was VERY GOOD.! the word hell,
    sheol, is a very terrible, troubling translation, & a damnable heretical teaching point of doctrine popularized by the san hedrin, & then the catholic church; furthered by the denominational churches & continues today.

    1. I agree with much of what you are saying, but if all humans will be saved, why do we still live in a sin-filled world? What is the point? Will Satan be saved? What about his minions?
      Regards

  2. How could the devil physically defeat God? He is a created being who God will put to death when sin has run its course and God has been proved to be just. God bore long with Lucifer and the angels. Lucifer deceived and God cast all of them out of heaven, and they live here because of Adam and Eve’s sin. However, he is a defeated foe, and he knows his end will come soon. “Sin and sinners will be no more”

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