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Saturday, January 02, 2016

The Rebuke

I saw a movie recently about the power of prayer. Good stuff, really. Well, I mean, that prayer is powerful. And it's a good idea to 1) know your enemy (Hint: it's not that other political party, whichever that might be, or those rotten gay folk, or the liberal media or ...) and 2) plan to pray. I'm not entirely sure about a literal prayer closet, but, hey, if it works, who am I to say? I mean, if it gets you to talk to God, I'm all for it.

There was a scene, however, that baffled me. Not because it was in the movie, but because I've heard it before and really can't figure out the concept. The character in the movie went around the house and rebuked Satan. The idea was that he was there and could be kicked out of the house by telling him so. Oh, I don't mean to oversimplify. The power of God and all. But I can't figure out where this "I rebuke you, Satan" tactic comes from. Certainly not Scripture.

We know, from Scripture, that Satan is a fallen angel. In fact, the prime angel. Thus, he is a created being. Apparently a lot of Christians believe that this being is omnipresent. Why? But they're rebuking him in Cincinnati and rebuking him in Orlando and rebuking him in Arkansas. (I think he's more welcome in some places than others, though. For instance, I'm not at all sure anyone's rebuking him in Washington D.C.) I mean, the Bible is abundantly clear that he is dangerous. I don't mean to minimize that. But as a created being, he is not omnipresent, omniscient, or omnipotent. In fact, Jesus said all authority was granted to Him (Matt 28:18), so that kind of lowers Satan's authority a bit, doesn't it? And we do know that demons followed Jesus's commands when He was on earth. So it would seem to be the case that Satan is not the ultimate authority or power.

But this whole rebuking thing ... where does that come from? We are commanded to resist Him (James 4:7) after submitting to God. And we are told that we are at war with him (Eph 6:12), but that requires armor (Eph 6:13-17), not a rebuke. We're supposed to be on our guard (1 Peter 5:8). There is this interesting statement in 1 John where he writes, "We know that no one who is born of God sins; but He who was born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him." (1 John 5:18) That makes it sound like our protection from the evil one is God, not a well-placed rebuke.

Besides a few references to Jesus rebuking Satan, there is one other reference with the phrase in it. Jude writes, "Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'" (Jude 1:9) So even Michael is unwilling to rebuke Satan, but leaves that to the Lord.

I get it. I do. Things can look really bleak. We need help and we recognize it. We do have an enemy in Satan and his demons. And we want some sense of control. We want things to change and we want them to change now. But when we assume we have the control that we have never been given, I wonder about the wisdom of assuming that position. When the archangel was unwilling to do it, perhaps you and I ought to reconsider the notion of rebuking Satan ourselves. Oh, maybe you're closer to God than I am (or Michael, apparently), and you know when and how to do it. I think I'll just go in my prayer closet, submit to God, resist the devil, and see if he doesn't flee. Oh, and Scripture. That appeared to be a favorite method of Christ (Matt 4:1-11). That will be my strategy.


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

There is also a lot of "binding" Satan. My questions are: Why did Paul never bind Satan? And how come if he is being bound all over the world, how can he be every place at once, and how come he keeps getting unbound?

Anonymous said...

I've heard people "rebuke" Satan, yes. In Pentecostal circles the more common prayer is to "bind" Satan. But likely as not, next Sunday they are feeling the need to bind him again, so there must be a time limitation on it.

Stan said...

Well, apparently, Glenn, there must be a time limit on the effective binding ... or rebuking or whatever.

David said...

I'm guessing it has to be a Catholic tradition thing. A lot of things they do from only Tradition seem to find their way into Christianity because they are typically what the media portrays as Christian. Look at the Passion of the Christ. Some of the things that happened in that movie were based on Apocrypha and Tradition. So, anyone not really versed in Scripture will believe that is what all Christians believe (as just one example). As for binding Satan, I believe that has already been done by an angel in Revelation (Rev 20:2-3: And he (the angel holding a key and chain) laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and sit it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer...), but binding someone doesn't necessarily make them incapable of doing anything, just limiting. Think about the Biblical stories of Satan's activity and look at his activity now. He seems pretty restrained to me. Many chalk it up to a change in tactic, I chalk it up to Revelation. So anyone "binding" him now would again just be following Catholic Tradition. Or it could all be based on Jesus rebuking him and us doing what He did, I just don't think it means what they are trying to do.

Stan said...

It could be somewhat from Catholic tradition, but, as Anonymous pointed out, it is most commonly today in the Pentecostal tradition. They tend toward the spectacular and that which feels good, even if it's not biblical, and this would be all three -- spectacular, feel good, and not biblical.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

The angel binding satan is in the future. If you think he's already bound for 1000 years, then why he still the god of this world?

David said...

I don't believe he is going to be bound for a literal 1000 years, and nothing in him being bound denies him still being the god of this world.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Oh, so you don't believe in the literal interpretation of Scripture? (By literal, I mean as the author intended, i.e., including figurative language, analogies, metaphors, etc, but this passage isn't figurative).

And if he is bound now, how can he be the god of this world, being unable to have any affect on it?

Stan said...

Are you really going to go there, Glenn? The only way to understand Revelation is in a purely literal fashion? You indicate that's not what you mean. And clearly Revelation is full of figurative language. And genuine, Bible-believing, diligent believers have disagreed from the start about the correct interpretation of the book. But you're sure yours is the only right one and anyone else who doesn't agree is refusing to believe in a literal interpretation of Scripture?

You know that the same argument could be made about your position, right?

I'm not arguing a position on this. I'm suggesting that a hard-line stance on THIS point is not necessarily the best place to stand.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

When the author intends to be figurative, he uses words such as "like" or "as if" etc. There is nothing of that nature in that passage about Satan being bound for 1000 years.

Then again, I understand the major "reformed" understanding of Revelation is preterist and virtually all figurative anyway even though there is nothing in the text to suggest such understanding. It is all future to John. And the idea that satan is now currently bound is totally absurd.

Stan said...

Ah, the problem of the "Calvinist" or "Reformed" tag, again. Even though I did not express a viewpoint and, indeed, are not likely coming from the position you think I am.

That's fine, Glenn. If you're going to make your particular perspective on the Book of Revelation a dividing line between a person who takes the Bible as written and a person who is a heretic, so be it. If you're going to stand on the Futurist Only view and no other has any merit, that's your prerogative. As for me, I don't intend to label you as any such thing for disagreeing with someone on this particular point. I don't make this one a dividing line. The "proper understanding of eschatology as I see it" doesn't qualify as an essential of the faith to me. Not worth arguing over.

David said...

Seeing as that entire passage of figurative, unless you believe a literal dragon will be literally bound by a lock and a chain and literally thrown into a literal abyss. And again, bound doesn't need to equal impotent. I believe he is given more credit these days than he deserves. I know I do more than well enough job of tempting myself,I don't need to blame Satan. He can still be bound and be our accuser.

David said...

And I also believe in a literary interpretation of Scripture.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


Boy, did YOU jump to conclusions!! I did not call any names, nor did I even intimate anyone was a heretic. I merely pointed out that the "Reformed" position is usually preterist, which is where a lot of the idea of spiritualizing Revelation comes from (originating with Augustine).

My point was that you can't just pick and choose what you want to be figurative just because it doesn't fit with a particular theological bent. Unless the author himself used words suggesting figurative use, we should not assume anything but literal.

If the literal sense makes sense, seek no other sense. The dragon has to be figurative. Don't take your "literary" interpretation beyond what the author intended.

Stan said...

Just as a (repeated) clarification, Glenn, my position is not the "Reformed" position. (I'm not aware that the standard Reformed position is the preterist position. Maybe the partial preterist position. I actually know of no full preterists.) Since I take my theological beliefs from the Bible and not, say, from "Reformed" or "Calvin" or "Augustine" or the like, it's very difficult to say, "Stan is in the Reformed camp, so he aligns with others on most matters." Again, just for clarification. If you are going (in the future) to disagree with me (which is perfectly okay with me), be sure to do so for biblical reasons and not a distaste for Calvin, Augustine, the Roman Catholic church, or any other such thing. Disagree with me for my understanding of Scripture. (Again, this was intended not as argument or correction, but clarification.)

David said...

That's my point, everything in that passage is figurative, so why must only the 1000 years be literal? Yo-Yo Jesus was always a bother to me when I was a pre-millenialist. He has a 2nd Coming, not 2 and a half. It just seems odd that John would start with figurative language, change to literal for one sentence and back to figurative for the rest of the paragraph. And nothing in Revelation appears to be in a chronological order, but flashes of images shown to John, for all we know he saw things in the past/present/future on earth and then again in the spiritual realm. All he can say is "and then I saw" because he can't see multiple concurrent events at the same time. I see the structure of Revelation as a loop of events, not a straight timeline.

When I converted to amillennialism I came into the study hostile. I had grown up pre, had pre taught to me in high school and college. Thought that anyone that believed otherwise was just ignoring a plain reading of Scripture. It felt like a kick to the head when I had amillennialism explained to me over a two day seminar. Those two days overcame almost 30 years of training. Could pre still be right? Possibly. I'm just no longer convinced. Admittedly, the entire time I was a pre, the biggest hang up I had was the very short life of the pre view. It always concerned me that it was no more than a 200 year old belief. Now, to me, it feels just like those that say they've figured out what Scripture meant when nearly 2000 years of Christians couldn't.

Sorry to go so far off track there, dad.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...


I made no comment about YOUR particular beliefs, only that of the standard Reformed teachings (at least by most of the "Reformed" teachers I read).

Not everything in the passage is figurative. Only your particular interpretation decides to make it that way.

My study of the ante-Nicene Fathers leads me to understand that prior to the 3rd century (at least) they were millennialists, and that's also how I understand what the Bible says. I am a post-tribber, though, which tends to upset others in my "camp," but I find nothing in the Scripture or early Christian writings which says Christ will return prior to a tribulation. Which means that the pre-trib position is about the newest position in regards to the Rapture, and if it is new it isn't true.

The millennialist position appears to have been founded at least a couple centuries after Christ, as a lot of spiritualizing was brought into the church, and as the Church began to see itself as the "new" Israel with a priesthood and all that stuff.

Stan said...

" I am a post-tribber, though, which tends to upset others in my "camp,""

Yes, Glenn, I understand your "difficulty" because it's mine, too. I would classify myself as a "both-and" guy, believing, myself, from the biblical texts that some of what Jesus predicted (especially Matthew 25) already happened but much of Revelation has yet to occur. As long as I'm not a hard-over "It's pre-Trib" or "Post-Trib" or an entire litany of possible hardline positions, I'm in agreement and disagreement with most. :)

By the way, from what I've read, the ante-Nicene Fathers were Historical Millenialists, slightly different than the Pre-millenialist. The current version, with its "pre-Trib" rapture and all, appears to be a pretty new innovation in Church history terms ... which shouldn't bother you because it's not your view.