Revelation 12:9, 12 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole inhabited earth; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. 12 Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! Woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath because he knows he has a short time.”

We see here that Satan the Devil is thrown down from the heavens to earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. The Bible talks about the heavens, and it is only by the context that one can truly determine what is meant. The heavens can be the earth’s atmosphere where the birds fly. (Deut. 4:17; Pro 30:19; Matt 6:26) The heavens can be outer space, which is on the other side of the earth’s atmosphere. (Deut. 4:19; Isa 13:10; 1 Cor. 15:40, 41; Heb. 11:12) The heavens can be midheaven, which is where the eagles fly; thus, within our atmosphere. (Re 8:13; 14:6; 19:17; De 4:11 [Heb., “heart of the heavens”]) Heaven can also be the heaven of heavens or highest heavens (Deut. 10:14; Neh. 9:6). “The Hebrew expression [heaven of the heavens], however, may be nothing more than poetic imagery.”[1] This is an expression of completeness for the physical heavens, as they visually extended out from the earth in all directs as far as the eye could see.

Now that we have covered all of the aspects of the physical heavens, we can now turn our attention to the spiritual heavens. The spiritual heaven exists outside of the physical heavens and is the home of God and all other spirit creatures, like the angels, cherubs, and seraphs. (Jude 6; Gen. 28:12, 13; Matt. 18:10; 24:36) The spiritual heavens would have an infinite vastness, unlike anything we could possibly imagine. In other words, the spirit creatures, who share the spiritual heavens with God, do not have access to his presence at all times, beholding the face of the Father.

For example, consider our Milky Way galaxy. There could be as many as a trillion stars in our galaxy. If humans had a spaceship that could travel at the speed of light, 186,282 miles per second, it would take 100,000 years to cross it. This boggles the mind does it not. Now, there are about 100 billion galaxies in our universe. We are not finished yet because there are approximately 125 billion universes. Now, this is almost impossible for our human mind to grasp. What a backyard for the human family. Whoever said that we would get bored if we lived for an eternity, likely never considered the vastness of it all? Moreover, the universe is continuously growing, as are the others. If this is what we have, one cannot really wrap their mind around the spiritual heavens.

Satan and his angels had access to the spiritual heavens in the days of Noah, and centuries later in the time of Job.  “Again it came to pass on the day when the sons of God came to present themselves before Jehovah that Satan came also among them to present himself before Jehovah.” (Job 2:1) Even centuries later Jesus speaks prophetically of a future fall that Satan is to have, as a result of Jesus ransom sacrifice. Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” He also said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.” John 12:31

We will never know the day and hour of Christ’s return. However, many Bible writers speak of the “last days” before that return. Paul wrote, “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”–2 Timothy 3:1-5, 12-13

While we may not know the day and hour of Christ’s return, the events of the 20th century and now the beginning of the 21st century suggest that we may very well be living deep in the “last days.”[2] Even though the “last days” has been going on for almost 2,000 years from now, it is quite short, when one contemplates eternity. Some Bible scholars believe that Jesus’ return is very close [which they should not suggest]. However, they then go on to suggest, “be careful to obey the Scriptures and accurately interpret the evidences of Christ’s return without abusing the Scriptures in an attempt to somehow date his coming.”[3]

Again, here is how we are to view Christ’s return. We should live as though it is tomorrow, but plan as though it is 50-years away. Again, how are we to apply this principle? We live as though Christ is returning tomorrow, by walking with God, having a righteous standing before him. We plan as though it is 50-years away by living a life that makes plans for a long-term ministry that fulfills our end of the great commission. (Matt 24:14; 28:19-20; Ac 1:8) Our sinful nature would not do well if we knew the exact day and hour. We do badly enough when we simply think Christ return is close. You have had religions that have set end of time dates, or are constantly saying, ‘the end is near!’ The ones who set actual dates for Christ’s return: quit their jobs, sell their homes, take all their money out of the bank, and take their kids out of school, either (1) to have a good time before the end, or (2) to spend the last couple years yelling from the rooftops that “the end is coming!” Those who are constantly saying, ‘the end is near,’ are similar, in that they do not take job promotions because it would cut into their ministry, they do not allow their children to have university educations or plan careers because the end is near. These groups are at least concerned about their ministry, but they fail to realize, that we do not know when the end is coming, nor are we meant to. Below, we will talk about the 50-year ministry plan, which is not saying that Jesus is returning in fifty years because it could just as easily be three hundred years.

In dealing with Satan and his angels being kicked out of the spiritual heavens, and cast down to the earth says, Revelation 12:12 says, “O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath because he knows that his time is short!” We do not know if this has specifically happened as of yet, but we do know that a great wrath will go with it, which will last for a short time. What a “short time” is specifically we do not know. To whom is that great wrath going to be directed toward? Certainly, Satan is not interested in the world of humankind, who is already alienated from God but only in the chosen ones of God, and his sole efforts will be toward eradicating them if he cannot turn them away. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus identifies the signs of Christ’s presence, and the conclusion of the age, followed by talk of the Great Tribulation. It would seem very likely that Satan’s being expelled from the spiritual heavens, having a great wrath for God’s people, because he knows his time is short, could very well coincide with the Great Tribulation, coming just before it.

Matthew 24:21-22 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. 22 And if those days had not been cut short, no flesh would have been saved: but for the chosen ones[4] sake those days will be cut short.

Even if this has yet to begin, we know that we are likely living deep in the last days, with things deteriorating from bad to worse, and will culminate into the Great Tribulation such as this earth has never seen, nor will ever see again. We do know the devastation of the First and Second World Wars of the 20th century, and that this Great Tribulation is going to be so bad, these will pale in comparison. If we knew that a hurricane was coming to our beachfront property, and we did not prepare, this would be foolish.

the-battle-for-the-christian-mind-1

We are losing millions of Christians every year to the progressive, modernistic world of humankind, who is alienated from God, and the Great Tribulation is not even upon us as of yet. In Satan’s attempt to acquire the minds of today’s true Christians, he uses fear. Right now, to be a truly conservative, evangelical Christian, who allows the inspired, fully inerrant Word of God to lead his way, is very unpopular, and these few are viewed as being different, the lepers of the modernistic society.

Eighty percent[5] of “so-called” Christianity have abandoned their post, and joined the ranks of the world, because they cannot handle being different, and would rather be popular. It is these ones, who Satan is using to blind the minds of our Christian brothers, misleading them from their conservative position into the world of liberal-progressive Christianity.[6] Instead of making their churches like a biblical church, based on criteria from the Word of God, these ones are making the church to suit the worldly people who would not otherwise attend their church. In this liberal-progressive environment, the churchgoers are nine-part world and one-part Christian. Moreover, even the modern so-called Bible translations, like the Good News Bible, the Contemporary English Version, the New Living Translation, have the translation philosophy that is focused on today’s reader, making every effort to translate the original language text so thoroughly that the modern language translation is easy to read on a 6th to 7th grade level. In doing this, they have,

  • reduced the level of vocabulary from what you had written to what the translator regarded as a seventh-grade vocabulary level;
  • cut your sentences down into a series of shorter sentences;
  • dropped metaphors because he decided that a target audience did not know how to handle figurative language;
  • changed words that he thought to be old-fashioned;
  • eliminated words that he thought to be technical;
  • changed words to match what he thought you had intended to say.[7]

Satan has also used commercialism and materialism to sidetrack the Christian mind, brainwashing them into thinking that they need the latest of everything. Even true Christians are swept away in this battle for the mind, as they too are becoming as Paul put in the above, “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power.” The philosophy is that pleasure and material wealth are the single genuine goals in life. Another propaganda tool of Satan is the television, movie and music video industry. The eyes are the window to the heart, the seat of motivation is bombarded with scenes of graphic horror, scenes overwhelming the mind with rape, murder, robbery, arson and every other crime. The movie and television industry has a way of making the evil of this world look like the good thing, and Christian moral values a bad thing. (Isa 5:20-21) If true Christians are to survive this offensive material, then they must be selective about what goes into their mind.

Satan also uses our natural desires for a sexual relationship, which should be with our wife alone. This is seen as old-fashioned in today’s world. Everything about this world reeks of sexual immorality. Many products sold on the internet or television, are sold having half-naked women advertising them. (Heb. 4:13) A recent sitcom in the United States is called, ‘The New Normal.’ The premise of the show is about two men named Bryan and David, who are a happy gay couple living in Los Angeles, California. The title of the show exemplifies the new mindset of the Western world toward homosexuality, the new normal. In other words, it is just an alternative lifestyle, which is now normal. Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9

Marriage is no longer honorable, as many live together outside of marriage, and of those who have married, about fifty percent end in divorce. (Matt. 19:6-9; Rom. 7:2, 3; Mal 2:14-16) The young ones these days are living in a world of nothing but parties, drugs, sex, and loud, hateful music. (1 Pet. 2:12) The apostle Paul’s words to the Ephesians are very fitting,

Put Off the Old Person

The Old and the New Person

Ephesians 4:17-19 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

17 This, therefore, I say and bear witness to in the Lord, that you no longer walk as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; 19 who being past feeling gave themselves up to shameless conduct,[8] for the practice of every uncleanness with greediness. 20 But you did not learn Christ in this way, 21 if indeed you have heard him and have been taught in him, just as truth is in Jesus, 22 that you take off, according to your former way of life, the old man, who is being destroyed according to deceitful desires, 23 and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24 and put on the new man,[9] the one created according to the likeness of God in righteousness and loyalty of the truth.

Satan is very crafty in using the natural desires that God gave us, which are now bent toward wrong, as a tool in his chest of weapons, in the battle for our minds. Yes, his battle for your mind, my mind, every true Christian mind carries on without letup. On Ephesians 4:17-19, Max Anders writes,

4:17. The Gentiles in Ephesus were particularly sinful. Ephesus was a leading city of commerce and culture in the Roman Empire, the home of the pagan temple of Diana, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Worship of Diana involved the worst immorality of degraded pagan religion. That influence made Ephesus a wretched hive of scum and villainy, a wicked place indeed. Temple prostitution, graft, crime, immorality, idolatry, and every conceivable form of sin abounded. Many of the Christians in Ephesus came out of that kind of background. In contrast with that evil background, Paul made his appeal, “Don’t live like that any longer!”

First, he says, it is futile to live like that. It leads to nothing.

4:18. Second, he says, it reflects darkened understanding, a result of having turned their backs on God. Their hearts are hard, and as a result, their mind is dark. Lives separated from God’s holiness are ignorant lives. This is hard for the sophisticated, educated people of Ephesus to accept. How dare someone call them ignorant. Paul did not contend they had no knowledge. He contended the knowledge did no good in leading them to a lifestyle that pleased God. Without such a lifestyle, their minds did not function properly.

4:19. Their hard heart, which yielded a darkened mind, led to an unholy life. Paul says they have given themselves over to sensuality, a life without concern for the consequences of their actions. Their desire for sensual pleasure overrode every other regard. No matter what they did, such desire was never satisfied. They always wanted more. Lust not love dominated their lives. Such Gentiles certainly did not serve as models for the church. They were not mature. They did not bring unity.[10]

applying-gods-word

Prepare Your Mind for Action

Romans 8:5-8 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For setting the mind on the flesh is death, but setting the mind on the spirit is life and peace because setting the mind on the flesh means enmity toward God, for it is not subjected to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Satan cannot read our mind. However, our emotions, life, and actions, as well as what we say are indicative of our thinking. It is his goal to know how we think so he can corrupt our mind. If we are ones who have our mind on the flesh, we will live in accordance with the flesh. However, if our mind is on the Spirit, we will live in accordance with the Spirit. If we are to desire the will and purposes of God in our heart and mind, it will only come through forming a longing for his Word, through the company of our Christian congregation, as well as personal Bible study and prayer. On Romans 8:5-8, Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier write,

8:5–8. Here, in different language, is Paul’s contrast between the deeds of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:19–23. He lists the deeds and the fruit in Galatians; here he explains from whence they arise. The mind of a human being can be set upon only one thing, either the desires of the flesh or the Spirit. The new way of life in the Spirit makes it possible for the mind of the believer to be set upon what the Spirit desires. Here is what Paul states, implicitly and explicitly, about the two kinds of people he is describing:

Those Who Live in Accordance with the Flesh Those Who Live in Accordance with the Spirit
What they think about doing Minds are set on the desires of the flesh Minds are set on the desires of the Spirit
Ultimate end Leads to death Leads to life and peace
Attitude toward God Hostile toward God Receptive toward God
Attitude toward God’s standards Does not submit to God’s law Seeks to fulfill God’s law
Ability to keep God’s standards Unable to submit to God’s law Able to submit to God’s law
Ability to please God Cannot please God Able to please God

Paul is not defining two categories of people here: Christians versus non-Christians, or Spirit-filled Christians versus “carnal” Christians. Rather, he is using the opposite extremes of the spectrum to illustrate two ways of living life in God’s world. One way is to live it according to the desires and directives of the flesh, a way that produces hostility toward God and ultimately death. The other way is to live life according to the desires of God as revealed and empowered by his Holy Spirit, a way that leads to life and peace.

James Boice recounts a story from the life of the English abolitionist, William Wilberforce, that illustrates the vacuum of spiritual understanding manifested by those who are devoid of the Spirit. Wilberforce, a strong Christian, had tried unsuccessfully to get his friend, William Pitt the Younger, the prime minister of England, to go and hear the great British preacher Richard Cecil. Pitt was a nominal Christian only, a church member, and Wilberforce thought the preaching of Cecil might awaken saving faith in his friend’s heart.

Finally agreeing to go with Wilberforce, Pitt attended Cecil’s preaching service where the two sat under a powerful and wonderful presentation of the truths of God. Wilberforce was sure that his friend Pitt would sense the truth and embrace it wholeheartedly. But as they left the service, Pitt turned to Wilberforce and said, “You know, Wilberforce, I have not the slightest idea what that man has been talking about.” Boice concludes by saying, “Clearly, Pitt was as deaf to God as if he were a physically dead man” (Boice, 2:808–809).

This is Paul’s point. A person with his or her mind set upon the things of the flesh cannot “accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). All one has to do is look around societies and cultures to see the results of living life with the mind set on only that which the flesh desires. The result is not life and peace—it is death and destruction. But that is the easy observation to make, the one down at the far end of the spectrum. What about those who claim to be Christians who yet manifest many of the same characteristics as those who make no such claim? What are we to do with the indicators from contemporary polls that suggest the practices of “Christians” are often not much more spiritual than those who live in and of the world? Paul is about to suggest a serious implication.[11]

for-as-i-think-in-my-heart_2nd-edition

Be Holy as Obedient Children

1 Peter 1:13-16 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)

13 Therefore, gird the loins of your mind,[12] and being sober-minded,[13] set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As children of obedience,[14] do not be conformed according to the desires you formerly had in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, you also be holy in all your conduct; 16 because it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

The Greek here for “prepare your minds for action” (ESV, LEB, HCSB, and NASB) is literally “gird up the loins of your mind (mental perception).” “Girding up your loins” infers that one is getting ready for action. This is a reference to the custom in Bible times of “tucking up the skirt of a garment into a belt and tightening it so the legs would be free.”[15] Peter was here using the expression as preparation for vital and strong mental or spiritual activity. The Greek behind “being sober-minded” has the sense of one keeping their senses. Bible scholar R.C.H. Lenski states, “Soberness is the opposite of infatuation with the things of the world, a calm, steady state of mind which weighs and estimates things aright and thus enables us to make the right decision.” (Lenski 1945, 2008, 52) As you know, Satan is seeking to get at our thinking, to corrupt it, and we need to prepare our minds for strong mental or spiritual activity. On 1 Peter 1:13-16, David Walls and Max Anders write,

1:13. This verse sets the time line boundaries for our behavior. The first word, therefore, points back to the preceding discussion that focused on our salvation hope. We entered into that hope when we committed ourselves in faith to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The last words in this verse, when Jesus Christ is revealed, point ahead to an undisclosed day in the future when Jesus Christ will come to earth the second time. Christians must not forget the first chapter of our salvation or ignore its final chapter. The first affects the second. The second affects the first. From the outset believers are to live each day for that great final day.

How do we do this? First, prepare your minds for action. In the first century, people who wanted to walk or run quickly faced a problem. Before they could quicken their pace, they had to gather up their loose flowing robes with a belt so they would not trip and fall flat on their face as they set off for their destination. Translating that into daily living, Peter said, “Pull your thoughts together. Don’t let anything hinder your mind as you put it to work for God.” In other words, have a disciplined mind.

Be self-controlled expresses the same idea. A loose paraphrase might be, “Stay on your toes spiritually.” Be realistic about what you face in your life as a Christian. Be alert and ready in your whole spiritual and mental attitude, because it is so easy to slide, especially when you are suffering. In those moments it is very difficult to “pull your thoughts together,” and to “be realistic” about your circumstances. The tendency of our mind is to scream exaggerations and denials. The inclination is to lean away from spiritual concerns.

That will be our fate unless we set [our] hope fully on the grace to be given [us] when Jesus Christ is revealed. The main emphasis is on putting one’s hope completely in the final demonstration of the grace of God in Jesus Christ. At this moment, we enjoy only the beginning of that grace. What we have experienced of grace up to this point in our lives does not begin to compare with the grace that will be ours at the second coming of Christ. We must have the long view in mind, or the short run will kill us. Peter is really issuing a command: “Keep looking toward your final salvation, which will be fully experienced when Christ returns. You have been saved, you are being saved, and you will be saved, so don’t get off course.” Our future hope is not simply a theological doctrine with little or no practical application. It is, in fact, an ethical hope. It has behavioral consequences. If we really believe in the second coming of Christ, this belief must make a difference in the way we live.

1:14. The difference in the way we live is described by Peter’s words, as obedient children. Obedience does not produce a believer in Jesus Christ, but true belief will always produce obedience in a believer in Jesus Christ. Part of this obedience is our nonconformity to evil desires. The verb conformed means “to be fashioned into something.” The word describes the practice of adopting for oneself a pattern or mold of life that is changeable and unstable.

The emphasis of verse 14 helps us see that this conformity does not begin with outward actions, as much as it begins with our attitude, our mind-set, our character. Peter is referring to a conformity of thought and purpose. What God requires in us is a total change of purpose. Our outward life will change only as it is a natural outworking of an inner change. Conformity is a lack of obedience that adopts the attitudes, mind-sets, and purposes of the culture of which we are a part. Conformity belongs to the time of ignorance when we did not know Christ and so lived like the world.

One of the prevailing attitudes of our culture is, “I don’t want any problems, any pain. I do not deserve to experience difficulties or trauma in any measure.” As believers, we are not to adopt that mind-set. We are to conform to the example of Christ, the Suffering Servant.

1:15–16. The alternative to conformity is holiness. Among God’s characteristics, as he has revealed himself, none is more significant than his holiness (see Lev. 11:44–45; 19:2; 20:7). Both the Old and New Testaments speak more about his holiness than any other attribute. The implication is that believers who cultivate Christian hope must also cultivate personal holiness. The root meaning of the word holiness could be expressed as “different or distinct.” It describes a qualitative difference. Holiness includes a specific moral sense of separation from evil and a dedication to a life of right living. The lives and attitudes of Christians should be qualitatively different because of their relationship to God through Jesus Christ. Holiness produces in our lives a loving conformity to God’s commands which ultimately produces the character of God in us.[16]

[1] , vol. 2, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, 713 (Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1979–1988).

[2] The “last days” is not some future event to which we look. It is now, Jesus Christ initiated this epoch, and it will continue uninterrupted until his return.–Holman New Testament Commentary (p. 301) http://biblia.com/books/hntc73th/2Ti3.1

[3] Towns, Elmer (2011-10-30). AMG Concise Bible Doctrines (AMG Concise Series) (Kindle Locations 6138-6140). AMG Publishers. Kindle Edition.

[4] Or the elect

[5] In this chapter percentages are rounded.

[6] The word liberal in liberal Christianity denotes a characteristic willingness to interpret scripture without any preconceived notion of inerrancy of scripture or the correctness of Church dogma. Progressive Christianity is the name given to a movement within contemporary Christianity characterized by a willingness to question tradition, acceptance of human diversity with a strong emphasis on social justice or care for the poor and the oppressed and environmental stewardship of the Earth, as opposed to carrying out the Great Commission Jesus commanded. Evangelicalism is a Protestant movement of the Christian Church whose members believe in the authority of the Bible and salvation through the personal acceptance of Jesus Christ.

[7] Leland Ryken. The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation (p. 28).

[8] Or “loose conduct,” “sensuality,” “licentiousness” “promiscuity” Greek, aselgeia. This phrase refers to acts of conduct that are serious sins. It reveals a shameless condescending arrogance; i.e., disregard or even disdain for authority, laws, and standards.

[9] An interpretive translation would have, “put on the new person,” because it does mean male or female.

[10] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 153–154.

[11] Kenneth Boa and William Kruidenier, Romans, vol. 6, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 250–252.

[12] I.e., prepare your minds for action (mental perception)

[13] Sober Minded: (Gr. nepho) This denotes being sound in mind, to be in control of one’s thought processes and thus not be in danger of irrational thinking, ‘to be sober-minded, to be well composed in mind.’–1 Thessalonians 5:6, 8; 2 Timothy 4:5; 1 Peter 1:13; 4:7; 5:8

[14] I.e., obedient children

[15] Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary Volume 4: Hebrews to Revelation., 129 (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002).

[16] David Walls and Max Anders, I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude, vol. 11, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 11–13.