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Weekly Message

Message #934

When the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison

Revelation 20:7-9

(7) Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison (8) and will go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, whose number is as the sand of the sea. (9) They went up on the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them.
New King James Version

We shake our heads at this most wretched of creatures, and rightfully so, for his existence is miserable. His removal will bring relief to the whole earth because even without making anybody sin, his presence always spawns turmoil. His fruits are always chaos, sin, misery, and destruction.

But before we become self-satisfied, consider substituting the phrase “carnal human nature” for Satan in Revelation 20:7-9. When our carnal nature is released, it immediately does what it has always done. Our carnality retains the spiritual image of Satan, and in type, it always produces the same things, even though we, too, have been told the end in advance!

Therefore, a third reason Satan must be released is to remind us that even as our Adversary never changes, human nature is always ready to choose spiritual blindness. In Revelation 20:7-9, the nations fall for the deceptions, just as Eve did because Satan easily manipulates the natural inclination of the human heart toward self-centeredness. It hears the siren song of getting more, of asserting itself over others, and it begins dancing to the tune.

Satan’s spirit permeates this world, and it works in those who disobey, as Paul writes in Ephesians 2:1-3. Such was our condition before God regenerated us and endued us with His Spirit. However, the indwelling of God does not mean that our former selves have been banished. Thus, the epistles urge us to put off the works of the flesh, the hidden things of darkness, and the old man. Corruption will remain until the day of our resurrection or change when we finally put on incorruption. Until then, we wrestle with the law of sin and death at work in our members, struggling to keep our old man bound in chains.

But when we let down, we release our old man for a little while. Like Satan, he goes to war against God and man just as soon as his chains slacken. What remains of Satan’s image in us is ever-ready to spring forth and risk all the spiritual abundance we have received.

Once let loose, our old man resists God. He bends the truth or even lies boldly for camouflage, self-preservation, or self-advantage. He radiates pride, antagonism, competition, selfish ambition, and unflinching confidence in his own rightness, even if it means God Himself would be wrong. He challenges God’s sovereignty in his thoughts, perhaps in his words, and even in conduct.

Our old man has no problem using people for his own ends—even sacrificing them like Satan does the nations—because his ends always justify his means. Just as Satan gambles that he can skirt the consequences that always fall, our old man also bets that it will be different for us and the consequences the Bible foretells will not happen. God recorded the effects of sin for us millennia ago, yet when we are in the moment, we still convince ourselves that His Word is not absolute—that all those bad things will never happen to us. Yet Revelation 20 tells us—just as it tells Satan—where those choices lead. We, too, know the result of sin, for it is written in advance.

Once the generation of those who live through the Day of the Lord dies, no human will have ever experienced Satan’s broadcast. Think about having a 1,000-year history when nation will have never lifted up sword against nation, never learned how to make war. The nations will reap the abundance of Christ’s rule, especially the blessing of peace.

Despite this, human nature in the nations will cast aside everything they have achieved because it believes it can have more, even though “having more” will mean opposing God’s perfect will. Their human nature will wager that attacking is better than submitting.

As a test for the nations in the four corners of the earth, God releases Satan so those who are inclined to listen to him can be separated from those who listen to God, as chaff is separated from wheat. The Almighty finally judges the Adversary for his never-ending opposition, and He will judge the nations who follow the Deceiver for choosing to heed his poisonous message. Clearly, Satan is the instigator of the rebellion, but the root problem is human nature’s unchanging proclivity to find common cause with his self-centeredness. If mankind possessed the character and heart of Jesus Christ, the Devil’s fiery darts would have nothing to hit.

While Satan’s influence and work amplify the perversity of human nature, carnality is a malignant force on its own. The real solution to sin is to replace human nature entirely with God’s nature—one that is incorruptible, will not follow Satan’s urgings, and will never become another adversary of God. This is what God is doing, and when the divine purpose has been fully worked out, nothing will ever again defile the Eternal’s magnificent creation.

— David C. Grabbe

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