The Parable of the Strong Man: Part 2
What are some of the weapons Satan uses to keep his kingdom under subjection? In our last newsletter, we saw how Christ invaded Satan’s territory, then overcame his power and destroyed his weapons. We looked at two of Satan’s weapons: Pride and Fear. Now, we pick up with a look at two more of Satan’s weapons: Lies and Hatred. And then we’ll see how the spoils of this spiritual battle are divided.
3. Lies (John 8:44). Satan is a liar and the father of lies. Jesus came to bear witness of the truth (John 18:37). By the way He lived, and by what He taught, Jesus exposed Satan’s lies and revealed God’s truth.
It is important to note that Satan’s lies are often religious lies. He masquerades as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:13-15) and sends his false apostles to lead people astray. Satan is even able to twist Scripture to lead people away from God’s truth and into his deception. Every false cult is based on some misinterpretation of God’s Word, and most false cults claim to submit to the authority of the Bible.
The Holy Spirit works in men’s lives through truth, but Satan works in men’s lives through lies. Once you believe a lie, you are open to the working of Satan. As Christians, we must test our thought life by Philippians 4:8, and note that the first test is “Whatsoever things are true.”
The entrance of God’s Word gives light (Ps. 119:130), but the entrance of Satan’s lies produces darkness (2 Cor. 4:4). Satan blinds men’s minds, Christ brightens men’s minds. It all depends on what you believe.
When Christ came to Earth, He found God’s wonderful truth buried under centuries of human tradition. This religious tradition had robbed people of the freedom of truth and had led them into the bondage of lies. One of the first things Jesus had to do was to set God’s Word free from man’s tradition, and it was this ministry that brought Him into conflict with the Pharisees and scribes.
Christ deliberately healed on the Sabbath Day so He could call attention to the abuses the religious leaders had foisted upon the people. He and His disciples did not always practice the ceremonial washings, and this gave Jesus the opportunity to point out how the traditionalists had robbed God’s Word of it’s power (Mark 7:1ff). Of all lies, religious lies are the most dangerous for they can result in the eternal condemnation of the human soul.
The test of all teaching is the Word of God, Isaiah wrote, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isa. 8:20). No matter what may be the credentials of a religious leader, if he does not teach the truth of God’s Word, he is a false teacher. “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
4. Hatred (1 Peter 5:8). Satan hates God and God’s people (Rev. 12:17) and loves only himself. He is a murderer (John 8:44) and a destroyer (Rev. 9:11; both “Abaddon” and “Apollyon” mean “destruction”).
Hating evil is a holy hatred that is born of God: “Ye that love the Lord, hate evil” (Ps. 97:10). But most of the hatred in this world is displayed against good, not evil. People love the darkness and hate the light (see John 3:19-21). The world hated Christ when He was here, and it hates His followers (John 15:18). Hatred is usually born of fear and blindness. Satan uses his weapon of lies to blind men’s minds, and his weapon of fear to control men’s hearts, and the result is hatred. A famous poet has written, “Short is the road that leads from fear to hate.”
Jonathan Swift, who wrote Gulliver’s Travels, once said, “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” Jesus has but one way to destroy Satan’s weapon of hatred, and that is love. He revealed His love for us when He died on the cross (Rom. 5:8). When someone trusts Christ as Saviour, He gives him His Holy Spirit within and “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts” (Rom. 5:5). We are “taught of God to love one another” (1 Thes. 4:9). Not only are we to love one another, but we are also to love our enemies and those who hate us (Matt. 5:43-48).
Of all hatred, religious hatred is the worst. It is one of Satan’s chief weapons to destroy God’s work on Earth. Professed Christians who hate one another usually disguise their hatred under a zeal for truth or purity. The Pharisees crucified Jesus because they felt He was leading the people astray. Their zeal for power and prestige made them muderers of their own Messiah. Family fights, church splits, and many other personal squabbles are often subtly used by Satan to achieve his purposes, but to the human eye, such conflicts may seem like battles for the truth.
Three stages in Christ’s war against Satan have been considered: He invaded Satan’s territory, overcame Satan’s power, and destroyed Satan’s weapons. A fourth stage involves the spoils of this war.
Christ Claimed Satan’s Spoils
‘He… divideth his spoils” (v. 22). This is what war is all about. It was Senator William L. Marcy who said, “To the victor belongs the spoils of the enemy!” He was referring to political victories in which the winners get to fill the offices with their friends, but the principle can be applied to other areas as well. Achan got into trouble because he claimed the spoils (Josh. 7:21ff), and Abraham stayed out of trouble because he refused the spoils (Gen. 14:21-24). But generally speaking, it is the privilege of the victor to claim and distribute the spoils. In fact, there are definate laws in the Old Testament governing the handling of the spoils of battle (Num. 31:25ff; 1 Sam. 30:24-25).
We should capture and use for God’s glory everything Satan has possessed. The spoils referred to in this parable primarily means people who have been under Satan’s control. Jesus Christ came to “preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised” (Luke 4:18). Paul wrote that God “Hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son” (Col. 1:13). This was one of the great consequences of Christ’s work on the cross. Isaiah prophesied, “Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong” (Isa. 53:12).
At His birth, Jesus invaded Satan’s territory and overcame his power and destroyed his weapons with His life, teaching, death, and resurrection. It was at His ascension that He took the spoils for Himself. The psalmist predicted, “Thou hast ascended on high,, Thou hast led captivity captive: Thou hast received gifts for men” (Ps. 68:18). Paul used this verse in Ephesians 4:8 and connected it with Christ’s ascension.
In other words, having won the victory, Christ is now on the throne, claiming the spoils and distributing gifts. It is a picture of an eastern monarch sharing his spoils of war with those who helped him win the battle. But the difference is that Christ’s spoils are the people who were at one time fighting against Him. He has set them free from Satan’s dominion, and now they are enjoying their spiritual wealth in Christ.
The Apostle Paul is perhaps the best example of this truth. As Saul of Tarsus, he thought he was doing God a service when he persecuted the church and even voted to kill the saints. Like many stubborn religious people today who have never been born again, Saul’s self-righteousness blinded him to his real need. When the Lord saved him and set him free, Saul of Tarsus, the dedicated rabbi, became Paul, the Apostle of the grace of God. Jesus then sent Paul into a world of lost sinners “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God” (Acts 26:18).
The big question is this: How shall you and I respond to this victory that Christ has won at the cost of His own blood? One thing is sure: we cannot be neutral. The Parable of the Empty House warns us against neutrality (Luke 11:23-26). Just as nature abhors a vacuum, so spiritual nature abhors a vacuum. No one can remain neutral, but must choose whom he will serve (see Josh. 24:15).*
Either we are with Him, helping to gather the spoils, or we are against Him, helping Satan to scatter the spoils. There is no middle ground. If we are with Him, then we are on the winning side. If we are against Him, we are on the losing side. And one of these days, He shall return to the earth to finish the war. Satan will be cast into hell (Rev. 20:10), sinners will be judged (Rev. 20:11-15), and Jesus Christ will usher in the new heaven and the new earth. HAVE YOU MET YOURSELF IN THIS PARABLE?
©2003 WWW All rights Reserved
Dr. Warren Wiersbe (1929-2019) was an internationally known Bible teacher, author, and conference speaker. He graduated in 1953 from Northern Baptist Theological Seminary in Lombard, Illinois. While attending seminary, he was ordained as pastor of Central Baptist Church in 1951 and served until 1957. From September 1957 to 1961, Wiersbe served as Director of The Literature Division for Youth for Christ International. From 1961 to 1971 he pastored Calvary Baptist Church of Covington, Kentucky south of Cincinnati, Ohio. His sermons were broadcast as the “Calvary Hour” on a local Cincinnati radio station. From 1971 to 1978, He served as the pastor of Moody Church in Chicago 1971 to 1978. While at Moody Church he continued in radio ministry. Between August 1979 and March 1982, he wrote bi-weekly for Christianity Today as “Eutychus X”, taught practical theology classes at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois, and wrote the course material and taught a Doctor of Ministry course at Trinity and Dallas Seminary. In 1980 he transitioned to Back to the Bible radio broadcasting network where he worked until 1990. Dr. Wiersbe became Writer in Residence at Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids and Distinguished Professor of Preaching at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. In his lifetime, Dr. Wiersbe wrote over 170 books—including the popular Be series, which has sold over four million copies. Dr. Wiersbe was awarded the Gold Medallion Lifetime Achievement by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA).