The Expulsion of Satan from Heaven
November 18th, 1962 @ 10:50 AM
THE EXPULSION OF SATAN FROM HEAVEN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-18-62 10:50 a.m.
On the radio you are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message entitled, The Expulsion of Satan from Heaven. In our preaching through the Bible, we have come to the last and climactic book, the Revelation. In our preaching through the Revelation, we have come to chapter 12. In our preaching through chapter 12, we have come to verse 7. And the reading of the passage is verses 7 through 12:
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
And prevailed not; neither was their place found anymore in heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that ancient serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, who deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God,for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accused them before our God day and night.
And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. But woe, woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
This, of course, is the stage for the final consummation of the age – after the war in heaven and the expulsion of Satan, and in a brief time, he is chained in the bottomless pit; then after the great, final judgment, cast into the lake of fire for ever.
"And there was war in heaven." You know, these battles in the spiritual world – unseen and above us, from the time of the beginning of the human race – has enthralled the imagination of our greatest poets, who in vivid and celestial language have described the wars between the gods and the battles in the spiritual world. It’s the same kind of a thing as you find in mythology and in legends in other races and in other languages of the story of the garden of Eden, and the Fall, and the Flood, and the tower of Babel. These things make an indelible impression upon the human mind, and beyond the true and recorded Word of God, they linger in tradition and in mythology among other people and in other languages. That same kind of a thing is found in the intuition of our great poets, who have sensed that this conflict of good and evil goes beyond our human fragility and enters into the very spiritual world of the gods themselves. I suppose the most dramatic of all of the epochal delineations of this violent conflict in heaven is that written by the immortal poet, John Milton, in Paradise Lost. There is no vividness of language, nor majesty of sentence, to compare with that incomparable poet’s description of this war in heaven. He begins in introducing Satan:
To set himself in Glory above his Peers,
He trusted to have equal’d the most High,
If he oppos’d; and with ambitious aim
Against the Throne and Monarchy of God
Rais’d impious War in Heav’n and Battel proud,
[John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I]
Then along in the great effort, John Milton describes that battle:
,MICHAEL bid found
Th’ Arch-Angel trumpet; throu the vast of heav’n
It sounded, and the faithful Armies rung
HOSANNA to the Highest: nor stood at gaze
The adverse Legions, nor less hideous joyn’d
The horrid shock: now storming furie rose,
And clamour such as heard in Heav’n till now
Was never, Arms on Armour clashing bray’d
Horrible discord, and the madding Wheeles
Of brazen Chariots rag’d; dire was the noise
Of conflict; over head the dismal hiss
Of fiery Darts in flaming volies flew,
And flying vaulted either Host with fire.
So under fierie Cope together rush’d
Both Battels maine, with ruinous assault
And inextinguishable rage;
[ Paradise Lost, Book VI, John Milton]
Then following the effort, he speaks of the expulsion of Satan:
,Him the Almighty Power
Hurld headlong flaming from th’ Ethereal Sky
With hideous ruine and combustion, down,
[Paradise Lost, Book I, John Milton]
Was there ever such language in the earth? "Him the Almighty hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky." That is poetry! – not this cheap stuff you call poetry. Then he closes with the magnificent tribute to the Son of God:
Hail, hail Son of the most High, heir of both worlds,
Queller of Satan, on thy glorious reign
Now enter, hasting complete redemption.
[Paradise Regain’d, Book IV, John Milton]
Thou didst defeat and down from heaven cast
The false attempter of thy Father’s throne,
And frustrated the conquest fraudulent . . . .
[from Paradise Regain’d, Book 4, John Milton,]
That is John Milton.
"And there was war in heaven," And in the expulsion of Satan, "rejoice, ye heaven, and ye that dwell in them," [Revelation 12:12]. For until that hour, Satan had recourse to the presence of God, to walk in and out with the very sons of glory. And in this, in the garden of Eden, has been our tempter and destroyer ever since. But – ",rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them," This is the beginning of the purging and the cleansing of the whole of God’s creation.
But there is yet a chapter remaining ",but woe, woe to the inhabiters of the earth," And what we read here, in the delineation of the great consummation of the age, is the spiritual truths of the story of the human family. "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth,for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath. . . ." That seven-headed python, red in anger and incrimsoned with wrath and malice, as though one satanic head were not enough, he has seven, the fullness and plenitude of iniquitous, villainous, wicked ingenuity. And he loves the pomp and the ostentation and the display of his evil power. He is crowned with seven diadems, and he has ten horns that sets him apart as being the ruler of the prince of this earth, himself the ruler of all God’s destroyed creation. And that has been his role and his character from the beginning. Our Lord said he was a liar and a murderer from the beginning. Every tear that falls, and every heart that’s broken, and every vision that is crushed, and every life that is ruined is the work of that satanic and evil spirit.
In the days of Job, in the permissive will of God, he destroyed his family, slew his children, and set Job in despair and ruin in a heap of ashes. In the third chapter of the prophet Zechariah, I saw "Joshua standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him" [Zechariah 3:1]. In the [fourth] chapter of Matthew, he sought to destroy the Son of God Himself, in those vicious and ingenious and subtle temptations. In the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew, our Lord says: "The evil one steals away the word of God that is sown in the human heart" [Matthew 13:19]. He said in that same thirteenth chapter of Matthew that the evil oversowing of the tares was the work of the enemy, the devil [verse 39].
In the description of the ministry of our Lord, the Book of Acts says: "He was anointed with power: He went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil" [Acts 10:38]. In the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Luke, our Lord referred to this woman bowed down, saying: "Lo, these eighteen years, she has been bowed down by Satan" [Luke 13:16]. John said Satan put in the heart of Judas to betray the Lord [John 13:27]. The Book of Acts, in the fifth chapter, says that Satan induced Ananias and Sapphira to lie to the Holy Spirit [Acts 5:3]. In the fifth chapter of 1 Peter, that great apostle says that the devil, Satan, "as a roaring lion, walketh through the earth to gain whom he may devour" [1 Peter 5:8]. And Satan was cast out – "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth,for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath," [Revelation 12:12].
And yet – and yet the saints overwhelmed him and were victorious and triumphant over him. How? Why, it is an astonishing and unbelievable thing that men made out of dust, should triumph over that seven-headed python, crowned with his seven diadems. How? How? It’s not because the saints were numerous. The fact is they were very few in number. It was not because they were men of prestige and wealth and social standing. They had none. Nor was it because they were people of great influence; they never had enough influence to stay out of the dungeons and out of the jails; nor was it because they were sheltered and protected by the omnipotent arm of the Almighty God. In fact, my impression, reading the story of the lives of the saints, both in the Bible and in secular history, my impression is that God feeds them to the lions, and they’re maimed, and they’re mauled, and they’re sawn asunder, and they’re beheaded, and they’re the outcast and the offscouring of the world. You stand at the gates of glory and watch God’s sainted children enter in. You’ll see they’re covered with scars, the victims of the claw and the fang of the serpent. There is a crying and a moaning that is common to all of God’s children in all generations. "O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?" [Romans 7:24]. And yet, these feeble folk, these men made out of dust and ashes, these sinners in the earth, they are victorious over this seven-headed serpent, and this ten-horned devil, and this seven-crowned devil!
How? An amazing thing. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" [Revelation 12:11]. What an astonishing text – and truly one of the most meaningful, significant of all of the words in the Bible. They overcame him – this great, red dragon, this reptile of evil, this seven-crowned Satan, this evil embodiment – they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and by the devotion of their lives unto death.
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb," And what is the significance of that word from the Lord? And what power to overcome and to overwhelm the kingdom of Satan is found in the blood of the sacrifice of the Son of God? Listen! Listen. With your soul, listen. This is the truth and the revelation of the Lord. Listen. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb." That gave them access to the throne of Almighty God. With courage, and with assurance, and with boldness, they could approach the very throne of the Omnipotent, Himself. "Ye," said Paul, "ye that were sometimes afar off" – interdicted, cast out, shut out – "ye who sometimes were afar off are now made nigh by the blood of Christ" [Ephesians 2:13]. In the blood of the Lamb, we have perfect access to the throne of God. We can tell the Lord all about this conflict that rages, and about the inequality of our battle status. And was ever a battle so unequal with the prince of the power of the air on one side, whom the archangel Michael himself durst not rebuke but say: "the Lord rebuke thee" [Jude 9]. Yet he is our antagonist and we war against him. But in the power of the Son of God, and in the right of access by the blood to the throne of Omnipotence, we are sprinkled and covered by the blood, we are invincible and we are invulnerable!
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
[from "How Firm a Foundation," John Rippon, ed., 1787]
The word and promise of God: through the blood we draw nigh, we have access to the throne of Omnipotence. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb." That carries with it, in the next place, that marvelous blessing of God of our acceptance in glory, our status, the dignity of an ordinary saved sinner in the heaven of heavenlies. Look at the verse that precedes: ",for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night" [Revelation 12:10]. For Satan stands in the presence of God and says: "Look at him, a vile sinner! Listen to him, the imaginations of his heart are evil! The dreams of his life are wicked, look at him!" And Satan accuses God’s people day and night. And where is the man who stands up to say, "These accusations are wrong. I am pure in all of my thoughts. These things that Satan says against me are not true. I am perfect in all of my life." There never, there never lived a man that could stand up and avow that perfection, not since God created him in the earth. For when Satan says, "Look at him! He is a vile sinner," every man bows his head in shame and says, "God, that is right." Every man is lost in his wickedness and in his sin. And Satan accuses them day and night – "but they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb." "The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanseth us from all sin" [1 John 1:7]. "These are they who have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" [Revelation 7:14]. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb" [Revelation 12:11].
We have acceptance and status in heaven because of the blood of the sacrifice of the Son of God. An old Talmudic tradition among the Jewish people says that Satan, the archenemy of God’s people, accuses the saints day and night except on the Day of Atonement. And every day and every night for the Christian who looks to the blood of Jesus is a Day of Atonement – "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb." That secures for us an eternal salvation, an everlasting deliverance. Israel was not saved out of the bondage of Egypt except by blood of atonement, the blood of the Lamb sprinkled in the form of the cross on the lintels, and on either side of the doorposts [Exodus 12:12, 23]. And under the aegis of the red, flying blood banner of the Son of God, in the symbolism of the blood of the paschal lamb, they marched out of slavery into God’s Promised Land. And it is thus with us. Washed by the blood of the Crucified One, we are saved to an eternal inheritance in Christ our Lord who says, "I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never, ever perish" [John 10:28]. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb." And that secures for us that eternal inheritance. "This is My blood of the new covenant" – of the new promise, of the contract – "of the new testament" [1 Corinthians 11:25]. "This is My blood!" All of the covenant gifts of God are vouchsafe to those who trust in Him, through the sacrifice and the atoning love of Jesus Christ our Lord.
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony," That’s one of the strongest and most beautiful phrases in Greek – dia ton logon tes marturias, "and they overcame him by reason of" – dia, by reason of – ton logon, "the word" – tes marturias, of their martyrdom, of their witness, "of their testimony." "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their devotion." That speaks of the martyrdom of Stephen, whose face shone like the face of an angel [Acts 6:15], when, in it the great apology and defense of his faith, he saw the Lord high and lifted up, standing by the throne of God [Acts 7:56]. That is the witness of the faith of Paul and Silas who, when they were beat, thrust in the inner dungeon, bound down in stocks and in chains, sang praises to God [Acts 16:25]. How could you stop a man like that? What would you do with a prisoner like that? When he is beat, and thrust in the inner dungeon, and bound down in stocks and in chains, he prays and he sings praises unto God. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony,"
That is the testimony of the martyr, John Huss, who, when the flames began to rise around the stakes to which he was bound, sang praises unto God. That’s the martyrdom, that’s the witness, that’s the testimony of Jerome, his fellow martyr, who, when the fagot was placed at the back to spare him the agony of watching it, said to the man, "Bring it around to the front, set the fire before my eyes; if I had been afraid, I wouldn’t be in this place." That is the testimony of Felix Manz, who marched in scorn and contempt through the streets of Zurich, Switzerland, his mother walking by his side urging her brilliant young preacher Baptist son to be faithful unto death. They took him in the middle of the Limmat River, the river that flows through the great city of Zurich, and they said, "He likes water, let’s give him lots of water"; and they drowned him in the beautiful Limmat River that flows out of Lake Zurich. "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony," That’s the word of the prophet and the witness; when John Bunyan, incarcerated for twelve years because he was a Baptist preacher, pled with the people through the bars that incarcerated and bound him, ",by the word of their testimonies."
That’s the same kind of a witness that prevails in this world today. It hasn’t been but four weeks ago when I was in a prayer meeting with a group of evangelical missionaries in Latin America. And when request for remembrance in prayer was made, one missionary stood up and said, "On my field, one of our church houses was burned down. Remember us." And another missionary stood up and said, "And where I labor, fourteen homes of our Christian believers were burned down, remember us." And a third missionary stood up and said, "And where I labor for Christ, seven of our Christian converts were murdered;" this within the last few weeks. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony – dia ton logon tes marturias, by the word of their martyrdom."
And then, lest we might have missed the secret of the source of their great power, the Holy Spirit said to John, "and" – adding the third clause: "they devoted their lives unto the death – they loved not their lives unto the death" [Revelation 12:11]. "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb" – access to the omnipotent power and promise of God – "and by the word of their martyrdom" – sealing it with their blood – "for they loved not their lives unto the death." When the life of the saint was placed in the scales of the balance, he never quailed, he never hesitated, he never feared.
I saw the martyr at the stake,
The flames could not his courage shake,
Nor fear his soul appall.
I asked him whence his strength was given,
He looked triumphantly to heaven
And answered, "Christ is all."
["Christ is All," W. A. Williams]
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" [Revelation 12:11]. They felt, they taught, they were believing that they were bought with a price and their bodies, as well as their spirits, belonged to God. I marvel at us today. Our Sunday school dropped four hundred. Why? Because it’s a little cooler this Lord’s Day than it was last Lord’s Day. I wonder what kind of stuff our people who profess to love Jesus, what kind of stuff we’re made of. So many of our people will give a dime, when it ought to be a thousand dollars, will give a thousand when it ought to be a hundred thousand, will give a nickel when it ought to be a hundred. And any little discouragement can move us off-base, and any little difficulty can send us to the dust of the ground, and any little thing that arises can deceive us! "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and by the devotion of their lives unto death."
Oh, the enemy of the saint of God, there beyond us, across the seas, merciless and cruel and fierce. Ah, the enemies of the child of God, they are in the homeland, no less cruel, and subtle, and merciless, and ruthless. And the enemy of Christ in our own churches and in our own pulpits: these who stand purporting to be the emissaries of the courts of heaven, and they lust after the latest sophistry. They pant after the new theology. They spend their time spinning words and inventing theories and delivering these inventions and machinations of men as though they were the doctrine of the true God. O Lord, where today in this hour of crisis and need and desperation – where are the men of God and the saints in the house of the Lord who devote unto our great Savior their lives unto death, who seal the doctrine with the word of their martyrdom, and who have no other trust and no other assurance, but leaning on the everlasting arms, looking to the cross of Jesus, trusting in the blood of the Crucified One? O Lord, if You count Your saints, and if You number Your soldiers now, and if You call the roll call in the book, O God, grant that my name may be there. Number me, Lord, among those, among those true to the faith, trusting in the blood of Jesus, and willing, and willing to pour into this ministry the soul and heart and life of all that I possess or shall ever hope to be.
Am I a soldier of the cross,
A follower of the Lamb,
And shall I fear to own His cause
Or blush to speak His name?
Must I be carried to the skies,
On flow’ry beds of ease,
While others fought to win the prize
And sailed through bloody seas?
Are there no foes for me to face?
Must I not stem the flood?,
Sure, Lord, sure Lord,
I must fight if I would reign;
Increase my courage, Lord;
I’ll bear the toil,
endure the pain,
Supported by Thy word.
["Am I A Soldier of the Cross," by Isaac Watts]
"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death" [Revelation 12:11]. This is the victory of the people of God.
And while we sing our song of appeal – what’s the number of "Let Jesus" – what? We’re going to change it. There is not a more beautifully moving hymn in the book than "Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone." You can sing it out of your heart – sing it out of your heart. If you need a book it is 428, number 428. And while we sing the song, and while we make the appeal, somebody you, give your heart to Jesus. Somebody you, put your life in the fellowship of the church. A family, come. "This is my wife and these are our children, all of us are coming today." While we sing the song, while the Spirit speaks to your heart, out of this balcony round, down one of these stairwells at the front and at the back, and there’s time and to spare, you come. On this lower floor, the press and throng of people, into the aisle and down to the front, "Preacher, here I am, and here I come. I give my heart to Jesus today. I take Him as my Savior, and here I confess Him before men and angels." Or, "I am putting my life in the fellowship of the church on the promise of a letter." On a statement if you can’t get a letter, or, "I am coming by baptism, just like it says here in the Book: ‘buried here with our Lord and raised with our Lord.’" As the Spirit of God shall lead in the way and open the door, make it now, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.