Note: This article is part of a series.
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.” (Revelation 12:9-10)
“I can’t forgive myself,” a tortured soul thinks as she meditates on the sin into which she’s fallen. “God is angry with me,” says the man frustrated with his low level of sanctification. Our conscience sometimes condemns us – not always accurately, as John reminds us in 1 John 3:20-21. The devil often accuses us, reminding us that we are not worthy to be called the children of God. Against these struggles, we have the wonderful promise of Revelation 12. Yes, it is communicated to us via a vision of pictures – symbols that reveal spiritual realities. The symbols in this passage tell us about something which is mysterious and yet which should be the cause of great rejoicing. You see, in the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus (described in Revelation 12:5), something truly amazing happened: Satan and his minions were ejected from heaven.
What does this mean exactly? We are not entirely sure, but it seems that in ages past, the devil, as an angel (even if fallen), had some level of access to the throne room in heaven. We find this referenced in the early chapters of the book of Job. For example, in Job 1:6 we read, “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them.” What did the devil do when he had an audience with God? He accused Job of being a mercenary, who only served God for profit and not for love. The name “Satan” means “adversary” and the term “devil” means “slanderer.” These are apt descriptions of the prince of the demons. He opposes God and His people, and one of the ways he does it is by slander and accusation. Revelation 12:10 suggests that the devil enjoyed accusing God’s people before God “day and night”!
Revelation 12:7-8 tell us that in the aftermath of Jesus’ work there was a great battle in heaven and that the dragon and his demons were cast out of heaven. This is a symbolic way of describing one of the underappreciated aspects of the victory of Jesus. Namely, that Satan no longer has an audience in the presence of God to accuse and slander the children of God. As commentator Louis Brighton writes, “At the center of this warfare in heaven is Satan’s ability to stand in God’s holy presence and accuse the saints of God.” It is as if, once Jesus completed His work, the devil’s privileges are removed – he has been disbarred. Christ’s people, living in the time after He has paid the price, cannot be accused before the throne of God. They stand in the righteousness of Jesus and are therefore beyond reproach in the heavenly court.
Other scriptures remind us of the definitive victory of Christ over His great enemy on the cross. Not long before His death, Jesus said to his disciples, “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself” (John 12:31-32). Paul wrote about Jesus’ death, “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15). On the cross Jesus broke the devil’s power.
I’m not sure we fully appreciate how secure our standing is in Christ. If you are a believer, you cannot be credibly accused by the enemy of your soul before a holy God. That is a mind-blowing truth. We have to balance this reality with the fact that on earth, we are not all that we should be. We can be credibly accused of sin because we continue to struggle as we live our lives in this world. This fact does not change who we are in Christ. Revelation 12 goes on to say that once the devil was expelled from heaven, he came to earth “with great wrath because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12). He is like a chicken with its head cut off, running around trying to cause as much chaos as possible before he expires. There is a frantic nature to his work in the world. As a result, we feel the sting of it.
The greatest asset you have in fighting against the temptations you face regularly – including the temptation to accuse yourself – is to remember that Jesus’ victory means that your standing before your heavenly Father is secure. In that great tribunal, the prosecuting attorney has been thrown out; there is only your perfect Advocate, who died for you, and the most holy Judge, who is also your Father in heaven. Rejoice that your accuser has been thrown down – fully and finally.