Satan is far more crafty than we give him credit for and it is to our eternal detriment that he uses our failure to fully comprehend his full arsenal of tricks that he is able to inflict so much pain and suffering on us all. He is so very sneaky that he manages to persuade some scholars and their fellow liberals that he does not really exist; for them Satan is at best another convenient concept, a peg on which we hang our failings. To people like these the very thought of Satan being bound is impractical in principle and fallacious in theology. Let us be absolutely in no doubt that it makes no difference that some people dismiss the reality of hell and Satan and heaven and the judgment and eternity for these things are factual and all believers everywhere know this to be so and conduct their lives accordingly.
We know that our archenemy Satan is real because God's word affirms it in a number of places.
"And Satan stood up against Israel, and provoked David to number Israel" (1Chronicles 21:1)
"And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." (Luke 10:18)
"To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me." (Acts 26:15)
The dilemma before us, the question that we have to address is not related to whether or not Satan exists but to his ability to inflict damage to anybody at anytime and anywhere without let or hindrance. In other words our topic question is our enemy Satan presently bound?
Part of our dilemma is due to the muddying of the waters by some liberal scholars and some believers whose theology regarding the millennium is erroneous. The Bible is extremely clear that during the biblical millennium Satan will be bound for a thousand years, "And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years." (Revelation 20:1-2) Those people who believe that the biblical millennium is taking place now, also say it commenced at the first advent of Christ and will end at the second coming, being replaced by the eternal state. They are asserting therefore that Satan is presently bound.
Another part of our dilemma is that the Bible refers to fallen angels as being bound in chains; presumably including Satan and here is the scripture, "And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." (Jude 1:6) But is Satan among them, let us search and find out.
A third element of our dilemma is that a lot of wrong things are done and the blame is heaped on Satan and in truth they have nothing whatsoever to do directly with Satan. Our nature has been corrupted by our fall from grace and this scripture describes our flawed nature extremely well, "And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man." (Mark 7:20-23) It is for good reason then that we proceed carefully and thoughtfully as we seek answers to Satan's status.
A lot of confusion arises because many people fail to differentiate between Satan being limited, as is everybody created by Almighty God and Satan being bound.
In this entire universe God alone is Almighty and he alone has the attributes of Deity, i.e. All Powerful, All Knowing and All-pervading. By definition and logic then every being is bound to be limited so that if we had never heard anything about Satan, other than he exists, we would know assuredly that there are certain things he could not do, hence his limitation. But the Bible does not leave us wondering what Satan's limits are; it comprehensively and authoritatively states them for our benefit.
Lets us remember one very important, compelling fact above all else; humans are God's children, especially so when they are Christians, and God permits no meddling with his children except those children willfully align themselves with Satan who then becomes their father. Remember what Jesus said to the perverse Jews, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do..." (John 8:44)
Here is what we know regarding Satan's limits; limits imposed by Almighty God that Satan cannot break, has never attempted to break and has never broken. Satan in trying to break God's limits would be like a house-fly trying to stop the flow of super-hot molten lava by head-butting it; absolutely and uniquely preposterous.
We know that Satan cannot tempt even the weakest child of God beyond that which he is able to bear, "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 Corinthians 10:13).
We know that Satan cannot touch God's children in any way to cause harm to them or their property, just like he could not mess with Job's prosperity, because God's ever-present protection is assured, " The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them." (Psalm 34:7)
We know that Satan cannot breach the boundaries of protection surrounding God's children except God gives him specific permission to do so as in the case of Job's wealth, "And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, all that he hath is in thy power; only upon himself put not forth thine hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the LORD." (JOB 1:12)
We know that even when Satan is given permission to mess with your possessions (is this the reason the Bible says If riches increase set not your heart on them?) he can't touch you personally except God specifically permits it, "And Satan answered the LORD, and said, Skin for skin, yea, all that a man hath will he give for his life. But put forth thine hand now, and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse thee to thy face. And the LORD said unto Satan, Behold, he is in thine hand; but save his life." (Job 2:4-6) In the case of the Apostle Peter Satan wanted to sift him as wheat so that he could not do the job Jesus had assigned to him but Jesus refused Satan's permission (Luke 22:31)
All of these attest to the fact that Satan has limits placed on him because in the Space of Almighty God everyone has limits. This does not mean that Satan is bound. The millennial binding of Satan is to curtail Satan's activities so that he is directly unable to bring his evil influence to effect the thinking and behaviour of people. The Bible states it thus, " And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 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." (Revelation 20:1-3)
Notice the precise reason for Satan's binding, shutting up and sealing; THAT HE SHOULD DECEIVE THE NATIONS NO MORE.
So is our enemy Satan presently bound? NO HE IS NOT and will not be until the start of the millennium because his binding enables the millennium to commence. This is how we know the millennium has not started and shows here evidence that Satan is free and still deceiving people.
NO SATAN IS NOT BOUND because he is freely doing his work as he has from his fall as shown here; he deceived two Christian hypocrites, "But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?" (Acts 5:3)
NO SATAN IS NOT BOUND because he was free to deceive the Jews in calling for Jesus' execution and their deception was acknowledged thus, "Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God." (Matthew 27:54)
NO SATAN IS NOT BOUND because he is freely doing his work in deceiving people to reject the gospel, "But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them." (2Corinthians 4:3-4)
NO SATAN IS NOT BOUND because he is freely roaming doing his vicious work, " Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." (1Peter 5:8)
All believers therefore are required to be vigilant, perceptive, in good standing with God and be fully protected, " Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil." (Ephesians 6:11)
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013