“And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. 4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:1-6).
There is a popular series of books which has been read by millions called Left Behind. Movies have been made based upon this fictional account of a seven-year tribulation period in which Anti-Christ rules the world. If the books are read for entertainment, and as fiction, there is no harm done. If these works are read believing the Bible actually teaches the sensationalism of which they speak, then the cause of Christ is being harmed.
Turning from pulp fiction to the Word of God, attention is drawn to Revelation 20, which describes the glorious reign of Christ, and the binding of Satan. The glorious reign of Christ is an important theme in the New Testament. Following His resurrection, all power was given unto Christ. We read that Jesus came to His disciples and spake unto them saying, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matt. 28:18).
At His ascension, Christ was given His kingdom in a more spiritual way. The apostle Peter explained this on the Day of Pentecost. “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear” (Acts 2:32).
“The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 4:30-32).
In Revelation 20, John speaks of the spiritual but present reign of Christ, beginning with the binding of Satan in verses 1-3. The idea of Satan being currently bound in some definite way is taught in Scripture. This may be a surprising concept to many, for the power of Satan is being unduly exalted in our generation. A mythical figure, possessing unrealistic power and wisdom, is being created in the minds of millions. The truth of the matter is that God controls Satan through all of his deceptive changes, even as he appears “as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14). It is the LORD God who holds the “key to the bottomless pit” into which Satan is cast (Rev. 9:1; 20:1).
The word “key” appears six times in the New Testament. Not once does it refer to a literal, physical key. In Matthew 16:19 Jesus told Peter that he would be given the “keys of the kingdom”.
Peter never received a literal key, to a literal kingdom, and yet he was given spiritual authority, which he exercised time and again during the days of his ministry.
Jesus rebuked religious legal lawyers for taking away spiritual understanding from the people in regard to the Law of God. “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered” (Luke 11:52).
And in Revelation 1:18 and 3:7 we read that Jesus Christ possesses the keys of Hades, and Death, and of the house of David.
Again, the reference in Revelation 20 is not to a physical key, but to the power to make available (to open), and to restrict (to shut). Therefore, we need not entertain silly questions regarding the shape and size of the “key to the bottomless pit.” The key is a symbolic representation of great restrictions placed upon Satan.
The word “bound”, emphasizes the binding of Satan. “Binding” expresses limitations, or obligations. “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives”, says 1 Corinthians 7:9. And the meaning is understood. There are limitations imposed by the law of the land. However, a wife being bound, in no way implies inactivity or inability to influence others.
And the binding of Satan does not mean cessation of his activities. Nevertheless, Satan is bound as the Scriptures teach. Therefore consider the following passages. Turn to Matthew 12:29. “Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? And then he will spoil his house.” Christ states that He Himself has bound Satan so He can plunder his house. This binding of Satan probably took place just before the start of His ministry when the Dragon, that Serpent of old, personally confronted Jesus.
Two temptations were initiated with the challenge to Christ in the wilderness. “If you are the Son of God, prove it” (Matt. 4:3,6). Jesus proved that He was very God of very God, and so bound His number one enemy.
Now turn to Luke 10:18. “And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” When His disciples returned with their report about casting out demons, Christ exclaimed, “I know. I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightening.”
Nearly every case of demon possession recorded in the Bible took place during the Lord’s ministry. In Christ, Satan knew He faced His greatest foe, and so unleashed the demons of darkness upon the land of Palestine. But it was to no avail. Jesus cast out the demons, and gave His disciples power to do the same. The Lord’s power over demons was evidence of the arrival of God’s kingdom. Satan was being bound.
But that was not the best news. The disciples were not to rejoice in this. Rather, they were to rejoice because their names were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
There is another important verse found in John 12:31. “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.” Jesus said that “now”, in His day Satan would be cast out. He did not say that Satan would be cast out thousands of years in the future. Jesus could say this because He knew that soon, oh very soon, He was going to destroy Satan at the Cross. Though each step to the Cross was a step of agony, it was also a step to victory. “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”
Turn next to 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7. “And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.” Led by God the Holy Spirit, Paul declared that the works of Satan were, and are currently being restrained. In context, the apostle taught that as long as law and order are still present, men of lawlessness, energized by Satan, are unable to appear upon the scene of history with a program of unprecedented unrighteousness, blasphemy, and persecution. If, and when, God removes the restraints, then the forces of hell will, and do break forth afresh, until they are arrested. History is filled with examples of this process. The life of Adolph Hitler is a familiar example. The great truth from this passage is that the works of Satan were, and are, currently being restrained.
The next passage to consider is Hebrews 2:14. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil.” The death of deaths, in the death of Christ, has rendered Satan defeated, “destroyed”, and powerless. Oliver Holden recognized what great work Christ accomplished, and invited the Church to sing the praises of the Savior.
“All hail the pow’r of Jesus’ name!
Let angels prostrate fall:
Bring forth the royal diadem,
And crown Him Lord of all.”
Christ has rendered Satan defeated, “destroyed”, and powerless, “And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled, and after that he must be loosed a little season” (Rev. 20:3).
Because Christ has bound Satan, in order to plunder his house of precious souls held captive, because Christ watched Satan fall from heaven, because Christ in His own day cast out Satan, because the works of the Devil are being restrained, the Evil One is not able to deceive the nations any longer. Now the Great Commission can be engaged in with confidence. Christians can go into all the world with the good news of redemption. And the gospel is being preached to all the nations, for they are deceived no more.
When Christ returns, the current limitation of Satan’s power, accomplished by the Lord’s death, will render this Arch Enemy of men’s souls complete. Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire forever, and hearts will rejoice that the one who plunged men into death and despair will be able to harm no one again.
On a personal level, the binding of Satan has a practical application. According to 2 Timothy 2, it is possible for Christians, who have willing allowed themselves to become satanically influenced, to bring themselves back out of his domain. Part of pastoral counseling is to help in this process. Writing to Timothy, the apostle Paul gave this instruction. “24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25 In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26 And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”
The binding of Satan does not contradict Paul’s teaching about some being taken captive “at his will”, for here is what happens. When a Christian does not crucify the flesh, when a Christian does not challenge the dark passions in the heart, they intensify and grow stronger. Invisible cords of repetitive behavior wrap around the soul until the mind is held captive. At the moment of temptation, the reigns of the will are surrendered afresh to Satan, and individuals are taken “captive by him at his will.” A desperate cry goes forth on the other side of an evil expressed, “O wretched man that I am. Who shall deliver me?”
Countless individuals have asked, “Pastor, how do I recover myself out of the snare of the devil?” The gospel answer is this. First, look to Christ. A fresh look has to be taken of Christ the crucified one. The heart must remember that Jesus died to make the captives free.
“Would you be cleansed
from the burden of sin?
There’s power in the blood.
Power in the blood.”
Second, accept personal responsibly. The concept of being the victim, in order to justify the evil that is done, is very popular in legal and religious circles. Very few are willing to accept responsibility for wrong attitude and actions. As a result, excuses are made, and words are expressed to justify the unthinkable, and excuse the inexcusable.
Third, understand that Satan has been bound. His reigning power is broken. He is not a super power. He is not what he once was, or what men make him out to be in their vain imaginations. Satan is a defeated enemy. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world, the flesh, and the devil.
Fourth, appropriate the means of grace to stay free of satanic bondage. God has promised that He would never allow any Christian to be tempted beyond what that soul is able to bear. And He will always provide a way to escape. 1 Corinthians 10:13 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”
I do not say that it is easy to recover one’s self from Satan. But it must, and can be done. May the Lord God grant us His sustaining grace, and His restraining grace, against sin in our lives, for Christ sake, Amen.