When I think of heaven I think peace, paradise, joy, and pleasure don’t you? But I am reminded that this is the place the most important war that has ever been fought began! “And war broke out in heaven” Revelation 12:7 It was a war of ideas about the character and government of God. Lucifer, the highest angel, chose for no good reason to lie about God’s character and government in order to advance himself. (Isa 14:12-14; Ezek 28:1-19; John 8:44).
This peace breaker who became Satan was eventually expelled from his position in heaven. He was not destroyed but permitted to give a demonstration of life outside of the parameters of God’s boundaries of love. After conquering man, Satan set up his headquarters here on earth and spread the rebellion.
Our champion Jesus Christ, the Son of God has defeated this enemy, at the cross demonstrating the superiority of love over selfishness. The contrast between Satan’s principle of self-exaltation in contrast with the self-sacrificing love of God expressed in Jesus' death for sinners tore to shreds Satan’s lies. With no tangible evidence He would ever live again if He gave up His own life, Jesus' death on the cross convinced the citizens of heaven that Satan was wrong, that God is right, and worthy of their worship, love, and loyalty forever! (Col. 1:20; John 12:31, 32; Rev. 12:10, 12).
Jesus has truly won the war with Satan but unfortunately for us, the battle still rages. Every person born into this world does not know about the war, even though they are in the midst of the battle that remains. God is providing everyone with the opportunity to choose sides in this world so they can decide whether or not they want to live in the next world--the one that lasts forever. Satan is permitted to continue so that both sides are clearly evident to the new people born into this world.
The battle Satan is fighting has intensified since the cross according to Revelation 12:12 “The devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time." Though Satan is extremely powerful and deceptive, the book of Job reveals that God holds him in check. He limits his power. (Aren’t you thankful?). However, the Bible warns us a time is coming when, because of the world’s resistance and rejection of truth from heaven Satan will be permitted to work “with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish” 2 Thess 2:9, 10
The power of Satan will be so convincing at that time that Jesus warned the “elect” will be at risk. (Matt 24:24).
God wants you to be prepared and have the advantage over what is coming. God is preserving His people today in the same way He did long ago: The gift of prophecy. Spiritual gifts are to help protect us from the deceptions of the enemy: “that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.” Eph 4:14 Jesus is speaking to us through the gift of prophecy, whoever the human instrument is: “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Rev 19:10 He will lead us safely through any attack of the enemy but we must take the time to study our Bibles and the modern spiritual gift of prophecy in order to perceive His testimony most clearly. The book The Great Controversy was especially written to counter the end-time deceptions and attacks of Satan. The author’s introduction of this book summarizes powerfully the importance of understanding the important themes contained in the chapters of this book:
“The great controversy between good and evil will increase in intensity to the very close of time. In all ages the wrath of Satan has been manifested against the church of Christ; and God has bestowed His grace and Spirit upon His people to strengthen them to stand against the power of the evil one. When the apostles of Christ were to bear His gospel to the world and to record it for all future ages, they were especially endowed with the enlightenment of the Spirit. But as the church approaches her final deliverance, Satan is to work with greater power. He comes down "having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." Revelation 12:12. He will work "with all power and signs and lying wonders." 2 Thessalonians 2:9. For six thousand years that mastermind that once was highest among the angels of God has been wholly bent to the work of deception and ruin. And all the depths of satanic skill and subtlety acquired, all the cruelty developed, during these struggles of the ages, will be brought to bear against God's people in the final conflict. And in this time of peril the followers of Christ are to bear to the world the warning of the Lord's second advent; and a people are to be prepared to stand before Him at His coming, "without spot, and blameless." 2 Peter 3:14. At this time the special endowment of divine grace and power is not less needful to the church than in apostolic days.
Through the illumination of the Holy Spirit, the scenes of the long-continued conflict between good and evil have been opened to the writer of these pages. From time to time I have been permitted to behold the working, in different ages, of the great controversy between Christ, the Prince of life, the Author of our salvation, and Satan, the prince of evil, the author of sin, the first transgressor of God's holy law. Satan's enmity against Christ has been manifested against His followers. The same hatred of the principles of God's law, the same policy of deception, by which error is made to appear as truth, by which human laws are substituted for the law of God, and men are led to worship the creature rather than the Creator, may be traced in all the history of the past. Satan's efforts to misrepresent the character of God, to cause men to cherish a false conception of the Creator, and thus to regard Him with fear and hate rather than with love; his endeavors to set aside the divine law, leading the people to think themselves free from its requirements; and his persecution of those who dare to resist his deceptions, have been steadfastly pursued in all ages. They may be traced in the history of patriarchs, prophets, and apostles, of martyrs and reformers.
In the great final conflict, Satan will employ the same policy, manifest the same spirit, and work for the same end as in all preceding ages. That which has been, will be, except that the coming struggle will be marked with a terrible intensity such as the world has never witnessed. Satan's deceptions will be more subtle, his assaults more determined. If it were possible, he would lead astray the elect. Mark 13:22, R.V.
As the Spirit of God has opened to my mind the great truths of His word, and the scenes of the past and the future, I have been bidden to make known to others that which has thus been revealed--to trace the history of the controversy in past ages, and especially so to present it as to shed a light on the fast-approaching struggle of the future. --The Great Controversy pp ix.4 - xi.3
In the days of Elijah the prophet, the king of Syria was frustrated because whenever he launched an attack against God’s people, it was as if someone shared his plan of attack with them ahead of time! He was angry and wanted to find the traitor but it wasn’t a traitor, it was the prophet of God. (2 Kings 6:12). The Lord wants us to have the same prophetic advantage. That’s why I’m urging the reading of The Great Controversy for the first six months of this year. The weekly readings will be in our bulletin and our sermons during this period will be those Biblical themes found in the book. Don’t forget to download your free audio version of the book read by our friend Delon Lawrence. - Pastor Mike