Not My Typical Week

I spent this past week gathering as much information as I could about the Coronavirus in an effort to figure out how to conduct church services in a reasonably safe way. I also met with our church deacons Tuesday night and with a small group of pastors Friday morning. Both meetings were about one question: “Should we continue to have church services during this pandemic?”

I wish everyone could have sat in on that pastors meeting. That way everyone would understand and appreciate not only how much us pastors loathe cancelling church but also our motivations for that loathing. It’s not about our egos, our desire for the spotlight, or our fear that we might lose a paycheck. What it’s all about is our concern for Christ’s church, the people that comprise it, and this nation itself. As I said in that meeting, “Isn’t it awful that in this time of national crisis (pestilence), a time when our churches ought to be full as we seek God’s help, they are empty?”

The topics we kicked around in that meeting were definitely a mixed “box of chocolates.” For example, we talked about the option of forging ahead with regular services and having faith that God will keep our people safe. We talked about having our congregations meet in multiple rooms and getting the sermon feed into those rooms, the idea being that more space will allow our members to keep a six-foot separation between themselves. We talked about setting up loud speakers and letting people sit in their cars and listen to the sermon. We talked about letting people bring their camping chairs and sit in our church yards as they listen. We even talked about the best way to disinfect and sanitize a pew without ruining the varnish on it. Now there’s a conversation I never expected to have!

Here are some other topics that got mentioned:

  • Hebrews 10:25 does tell Christians to not forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but it doesn’t say to do so in the midst of a pestilence.
  • Our elderly members, who by all accounts are the most susceptible to the Coronavirus, will be the first ones in attendance if church is held.
  • Those older members are the same ones who are the least likely to have internet access and be able to watch a sermon online.
  • If some people get out of the “routine” of attending church, they will never get back into church.
  • If those people don’t come back, are they genuine Christians anyway?
  • Could this virus be God’s way of separating the “wheat” from the “tares” (Matthew 13:24-30, 34-43) in His church to get us back to a spiritually purer membership?
  • Is this virus God’s way of testing the church to see just how much faith we have?

Friday night one of the pastors followed up our meeting by texting out a link to an article written by Michael Brown, who is a well known pastor, theologian, and Christian radio host. The article was a good read on the subject of whether or not to have church in the midst of a pandemic. Here are three quotes from it:

…even if I am not concerned about my own health, I run the risk of becoming infected and carrying the virus to someone else. And so, when hundreds of us gather together for a church service, unless we can guarantee that every person there has sufficient faith not to be infected, then our gathering presents a health hazard to others. That’s why I do not see this as an infringement of our rights as much as an opportunity to love my neighbor.

…It is also wisdom that shows us what to do. That’s why, when we are driving on the highway and there are ice patches forming all over the road, we slow down. That’s why, when there is a hurricane coming, we shutter up the windows. That’s also why we lock our doors at night. And why we don’t let our 5-year-old child wander around the neighborhood. It’s called wisdom.

If and when the government illegitimately seeks to steal our rights, we will stand up and say, “We must obey God rather than man” (Acts 5:29). This, however, is not that time.

Lastly, let me mention one other topic that we addressed in that meeting of pastors. One of the men offered the legitimate criticism that the actions of the church during this pandemic have really not been all that different from the actions of the world at large. While I agreed with his assessment, I likened the situation to the church being in a boxing match and getting hit with a haymaker punch in the opening seconds of the fight. As the old saying in boxing goes, “Everybody has a plan until they get hit.” Well, we got hit with a devastating right hand thrown by the Coronavirus and it addled us, knocked us off our game plan, and forced us to either lay down and take a count-out or get up and try a new plan.

Thankfully, that latter option is what’s happening in churches all across America as we are putting in the effort to figure out how to “do church” in this strange new society the virus has created. We’re streaming sermons online. We’re posting helpful things on Facebook. We’re writing blog posts. We’re writing articles. We’re doing podcasts. We’re sending out group texts. We’re using Twitter and Instagram. Seriously, it’s a great thing to see because if there is one thing our churches tend to struggle with it’s ministering in fresh and creative ways. So, in that sense, God is bringing good out of the Coronavirus just like He promises to do in Romans 8:28, and He’s still ministering through His church just like He promises to do in Matthew 16:18. For that I’m grateful and truly amazed at just how resilient (and dare I say resourceful) the church can be. It’s just a shame that it takes something like this virus to force us out of our comfort zones and get us there.

Posted in Adversity, Church, Church Attendance, Current Events, God's Work, Pastors, Preaching, Problems, Service | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

A Very Helpful Spiritual Exercise

Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me. For You are the God of my salvation; On you I wait all the day. (Psalm 25:4-5, N.K.J.V.)

Teach me to do Your will, For You are my God; Your Spirit is good. Lead me in the land of uprightness. (Psalm 143:10, N.K.J.V.)

If I ever wrote a book in which I listed the spiritual exercises that have helped me the most in my walk with the Lord, there is one exercise that would unquestionably be on the list. This is an exercise I use anytime I want to do God’s will but am genuinely confused as to what that will is. The exercise goes like this: I talk to God in prayer about the various options I have before me concerning the situation, and I say, “Lord, if you called me up to heaven right now and told me that I had to pick one course of action right now, I would choose…”

In the practical application of this exercise, I’ve found that there are times when I feel pretty strongly about the choice that I voice to God. Other times, however, my choice comes as the result of a razor-thin 50.1 to 49.9 vote. It all depends upon how confused I am about the situation.

The important thing to remember, though, is that the exercise isn’t meant to produce a final decision anyway. Instead, it’s just a way for me to get my up-to-the-minute bearings regarding where my thinking currently stands about the situation. Then, once I have those bearings and understand which way I’m at least leaning, God can move the process of revealing His specific will further along by either confirming my correct leaning or fixing my faulty leaning.

You see, what I’m talking about is what we might call the process of God revealing His will to me about my situation. Rather than give me His answer in one fell swoop that only requires me to seek His guidance one time, God bleeds out the revealing of His will because He wants to spend even more time in intimate fellowship with me. It’s as if He reveals a little bit of His will during one prayer session and then says to me, “Come back later and I’ll reveal some more. I’m enjoying our times together.”

I think this is what David was getting at in both of our text passages when he asked God to teach him His paths and how to do His will. Typically, it takes multiple classes and multiple lessons for a student to truly learn a subject, doesn’t it? And, of course, the more complex the subject, the more classes and lessons are required to learn it.

So, in keeping with this analogy, those times when I put my spiritual exercise into practice become midterm exams that show me how well I’m currently doing at mastering the subject in question. If I’m already leaning toward choosing God’s path for me, He gives me a passing grade and says, “Well done, you’re on the right track. Keep following it until I make my will crystal clear to you and you’ve done it.” But if I’m already leaning toward choosing a path that God doesn’t want for me, He gives me a failing grade and says, “Okay, you’ve got some work to do, but you can still ace the subject in the end if you let Me teach you.”

Perhaps right now you are standing at a fork in the road and you are going to have to choose one road or the other very soon. Well, do you honestly want to choose the road that God has in mind for you? I ask that question because the cold, hard truth is that many people don’t! If, however, you are one of the minority who do want to choose God’s road, then I advise you to use the spiritual exercise I’ve described in this post. Be honest with God about which way you are leaning right now, and then listen carefully for that still, small voice of His as He grades your answer. If He lets you know that you are leaning the right way, then keep up the good work until you have completely mastered the subject and done His will in the matter. But, on the other hand, if He lets you know that you aren’t leaning the right way, then enroll yourself in even more class-time with Him and work even harder to learn what He is trying to teach you. Trust me, if you’ll do that you can still earn your PhD degree in the subject even though you failed your first test. God is, after all, the most loving, patient, and gracious teacher you will ever have.

Posted in Choices, Decisions, Discipleship, Dying To Self, God's Love, God's Will, Personal, Prayer, Submission | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Bible & the Coronavirus

Like everybody else, my little corner of the world has been affected by the coronavirus even though no cases have been reported yet here in Mitchell county, NC. Our governor, Roy Cooper, has cancelled all public schools for at least two weeks, with the suspicion being that the cancellation will be longer, perhaps even until the end of the school year. That means that my wife Tonya and my son Ryan, who are both employed as middle-school teachers, are now having to scramble to prepare online classes for their students. Likewise, my son Royce is evidently going to be learning online as well due to the fact that Mayland Community College, the local college he attends, has also cancelled classes for the foreseeable future.

I myself am dealing with church issues. The original suggestion from Governor Cooper was that citizens should avoid gathering in groups of 100 or more for the next two weeks. Using that number as a guideline, we went ahead and had regular church services at Roan Mountain Baptist Church this past Sunday and had an attendance of 50 in Sunday School and 92 for worship service. That at least kept us “legal” (for lack of a better word). We did have some our regulars stay home, but we also picked up a few visitors whose churches had cancelled services. So, basically, everything evened out to keep us at our average numbers attendance wise.

The next day, however, the Center for Disease Control handed down the recommendation that gatherings of 50 or more people should be avoided, and President Trump followed that up by suggesting that gatherings be limited to 10 or more. Then I read last night that McDonald’s franchises nationwide are closing their dine-in option, and Governor Cooper held a press conference this morning to issue an Executive Order stating that all restaurants and bars in our state must remain closed to dine-in customers until further notice. There goes the option of dining out to enjoy a bit of escapism from all this chaos.

I’ve talked with a lot of people the past few days, read several articles on the internet, and (I’ll admit) camped out on Facebook for awhile in my attempt to figure out which way the wind is blowing concerning public opinion about the Coronavirus. Don’t worry, I won’t report all the different opinions I’ve run across, but what I would like to do is mention at least five of the verses (all from the N.K.J.V.) that are being bantered about in relation to the pandemic and offer my take on how they apply to the issues we are facing.

First, there is 2 Timothy 1:7, which says: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Malcolm Woody and I chose this as the text verse for our podcast this past Friday due to the fact that so many people, including many Christians, were freaking out over the threat of the Coronavirus. I have to admit, though, that while the verse does provide a general word of encouragement to the Christian in regards to any potentially dangerous situation, I haven’t found much practical help in it as to whether or not to cancel church services. Putting it simply, I don’t have a fear about having church or cancelling it. I just wish that God would send me a text message or an email either way.

Second, there is Acts 5:29, where Peter and the other apostles say, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” This is the line that typically gets used when anyone starts talking about the government telling preachers what they can and can’t preach. This makes perfect sense in light of the fact that Peter and the other apostles spoke the words in response to the Jewish religious leaders attempting to forbid them from preaching about Jesus. Here again, though, the verse hasn’t helped me concerning cancelling church services. You see, it’s not like Governor Cooper or President Trump is telling us we can’t preach for Jesus or against any particular sin. This isn’t that. All they are doing is attempting to curtail the spread of a pandemic. Actually, they are trying to act in our best interest.

Third, there is Romans 13:1, which says, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” The meaning of this verse isn’t hard to grasp: God wants Christians to submit to their governing authorities. Furthermore, I would remind us all that the apostle Paul wrote these words to Christians who were living under the Roman government, a government that was morally and spiritually worse than our United States government. And I would also add that this certainly isn’t the only passage in which God comes off as being very much pro-government and instructs Christians to submit to their governments. Other such passages are: 1 Peter 2:13-15; Matthew 22:21; Jeremiah 27:5; and Daniel 2:21. Needless to say, these passages make a strong case for minding your Governor and your President, especially if those politicians aren’t mandating something blatantly against scripture.

Fourth, there is Psalm 91:10, which says of the person who has made the Lord his refuge and dwelling place, “No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.” Admittedly, this verse does sound like a promise that God won’t allow anything bad happen to the devout Christian. However, the best commentary on the Bible is always the Bible itself, and holy scripture is filled with stories that prove that Christians, even devout ones, shouldn’t run off too far with the words of Psalm 91:10. Abel was right with God but still got killed by Cain. Job was right with God but still buried ten children. Uriah was right with God but still got killed after David had impregnated his wife. Stephen was right with God but still got stoned to death by the Sanhedrin council. Paul was right with God but still got whipped, stoned, and shipwrecked. John was right with God but still got exiled to the penal colony on the island of Patmos.

Fifth, there is Matthew 4:7, where Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6:16 in saying, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.” Interestingly, Jesus offers this answer in reply to Satan quoting Psalm 91:11-12 (the verses that follow Psalm 91:10, which I just covered). Satan quotes this portion of the Psalm in an effort to get Jesus to act presumptuously, not to mention recklessly, by casting Himself down from the pinnacle of the Jewish temple and expecting God the Father to send angels to keep Him from harm. This means that the teaching of the verse is that whatever scripture might say about God’s protection and refusing to live in fear, it isn’t God’s will for any Christian to needlessly place himself or herself in harm’s way. And that stands as doubly true if the Christian sets himself or herself to a course of action that requires God to send angels or perform a miracle to keep that Christian safe.

So, as you can see, the Bible can be used to back up just about any opinion that a Christian has about how to respond to the threat of the Coronavirus. Speaking as a pastor, what I have found particularly frustrating about the church dilemma created by the virus is that it places the church in a no-win situation. On the one hand, if we go along with the recommendations from the CDC, the Governor, and the President and cancel all services for at least the next couple of weeks, we run the risk of being classified as a bunch of gutless wonders who don’t have enough faith that God will protect us. But on the other hand, by continuing to meet for services we become (at best) civil rebels and (at worst) grim reapers if even one person actually gets sick and dies because of our meetings. See what I mean about it being a no-win situation?

In the end, I guess the best thing that any of us can do is fall back upon yet another verse of scripture, James 1:5. This is a verse that I not only quote often but employ frequently in my walk with the Lord. The verse says: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” Frankly, in all my years as a pastor I have never encountered any situation in which I have lacked wisdom any more than I do regarding all the variables involved with the Coronavirus threat. Therefore, what I’ve been doing and what I’m going to continue doing is asking God for wisdom about the decisions that need to be made. Right now, this is the best advice that I can give to any Christian in regards to this whole mess, and I assure you that it’s advice that I will be using myself.

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“Christian Verses” Podcast: 2 Timothy 1:7

We are certainly living in historic times, aren’t we? The coronavirus has seen to that. And while the end of this story is far from being written, this past Friday Malcolm and I devoted a podcast to offering a few thoughts on the subject. Neither one of us pretends to be a doctor or a health expert, but we do know something about what the Bible says about fear. To hear the podcast, just click on the link below:

Posted in "Christian Verses" podcast, Courage, Current Events, Fear, God's Sovereignty, Heaven, Trusting In God, Worry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How to Lose the Joy of Salvation

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation… (Psalm 51:12, N.K.J.V.)

Prominent Baptist preacher Dr. Tom Wallace tells of an experience he had when he was serving as the pastor of Bible Baptist Church in Elkton, Maryland. One Sunday morning a man visited the church, listened intently to the sermon, and came forward during the altar call to receive Christ as his Savior. The fellow didn’t know much about Baptists or “religion” in general, but he was definitely excited about experiencing the salvation offered in Jesus.

When it came time for the man to be baptized, he joined Dr. Wallace in the baptistery and was immersed. But when the fellow came up from the water he did something unexpected. Rather than observe the usual reverential, dignified protocol, he immediately started clapping his hands and shouting, “Hot dog! Hot dog! Hot dog!” Dr. Wallace finishes the story by saying:

Our people roared with laughter. I quickly asked them for silence as I explained that this dear man had not been around the church and didn’t know about “amen,” “praise the Lord,” and “hallelujah.” His phrase was “hot dog,” and he was praising the Lord with the only vocabulary he knew.

Christian, you need to understand that a joyless life wasn’t what God had in mind for you when He saved you. I’m not saying that you should feel like saying, “Hot dog! Hot dog! Hot dog!” all the time, but frequently there should be times when you feel like it. Oh, and in case you haven’t heard, joy isn’t based upon your outward circumstances. It’s an inward thing that bubbles up from deep inside you, not an outer thing that oozes into your skin from the outside when everything happens to be going your way.

In John 15:1-10, Jesus tells His apostles that He is the vine and they are the branches, and they must abide in Him if they want to bear fruit. Next, He tells them how they can abide in Him. He says:

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:10, N.K.J.V.)

Following these words, Jesus then explains the direct correlation between keeping the commandments and experiencing joy. He says:

These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11, N.K.J.V.)

The teaching, Christian, is that keeping the Lord’s commandments is the secret to you experiencing the joy of Christ. Even more than that, it is the secret to you experiencing that joy to the fullest. Actually, it’s not a stretch to say that joy is the reward that God bestows upon those who keep His commandments. .

We find further evidence of this in my text verse for this post. The verse comes from Psalm 51, a Psalm David wrote after he had lost his joy. And what had caused him to lose that joy? He had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had for all intents and purposes ordered the execution of her husband, Uriah (1 Samuel 11:1-27). In other words, David had broken God’s commandments regarding adultery and murder. Therefore, it became inevitable that he would lose his joy. That’s why he had to confess his sin, seek God’s forgiveness, and beg God to restore to him the joy that is supposed to walk hand in hand with salvation.

The upshot of all this, Christian, is that if you want to have a genuine joy about you, you must keep the Lord’s commandments. Never forget that sin is a joy killer! This makes your choice very simple. You can either have your sin or you can have the joy of your salvation. What you can’t have is both at the same time. This is the lesson that David had to learn, and it’s one that you and I must learn as well. Here’s hoping that you’ve already learned it and are choosing wisely.

Posted in Backsliding, Confession, Disobedience, Forgiveness, Guilt, Holiness, Joy, Rebellion, Repentance, Restoration, Sin | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Daddy, They Won’t Block”

One of the funniest things I ever saw on a football field involved a friend of mine named Richie Jarrett and his son, Dylan. If you’ll bear with me while I set up the story, I think you’ll be glad you did. Trust me, it’s a good story.

First, Richie was coaching Dylan in a youth football game. Second, Dylan was playing quarterback. Third, at this level of league play the coach was allowed to literally be on the field so that he could stand in the huddle and call the plays rather than try to do the play-calling from the sidelines. Fourth, Richie called a play in which Dylan kept the ball and ran with it. Fifth, the play quickly turned into a complete disaster as Dylan hardly got out of his tracks before he got creamed by what looked like half the other team.

Everybody knew why the play had turned into such a debacle: Dylan’s offensive linemen hadn’t blocked a soul. And I assure you this fact wasn’t lost on Dylan. That’s why he was hopping mad with his linemen when he got up from the bottom of that pile of defensive players. Then came the moment I’ll never forget. As Dylan stomped back to Richie for another huddle, the little fellow shouted out to him in utter disgust, “Daddy, they won’t block!

Have you ever been there? Have you ever taken it on the chin because somebody else didn’t do their job? Have you ever had to pay for somebody else’s shortcomings? My guess is that we have all felt that kind of sting at one point or another. Speaking as a pastor, I can’t even begin to count the times when I’ve had to do a church job that someone else in the church was more talented, gifted, and available to do, but I got piled on because that other person wouldn’t block.

Unfortunately, you just can’t make others do, can you? And equally as unfortunately it’s not like the work slows down in consideration of the fact that some people aren’t doing their share of it. No, the work marches unceasingly forward, forevermore piling up to whatever degree it gets left undone. Welcome to life.

So, for anyone out there reading this who feels overwhelmed by all the work that needs to be done, let me offer a word of encouragement. Actually, it’s a word that I once heard famed preacher Adrian Rogers give in a sermon. He said, “You’ve got enough time each day to do everything that God wants you to do.”

Ah, there’s the secret, isn’t it? We must learn to build our days around doing only those things that God wants us to do. That, ladies and gentlemen, is decidedly different from doing all the things that others want us to do.

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your soul. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30, N.K.J.V., underlined emphasis mine). What these words from Christ teach us is that Jesus isn’t in the business of burning out His servants. As I once heard another notable preacher, John Hunter, say of these words, “Serving Jesus isn’t go, go, go and do, do, do.”

Keep this in mind, Christian, anytime you feel weighted down by a workload that has been created for you because other people won’t block. The Lord doesn’t expect you to be all things to all people and corkscrew yourself into a state of exhaustion in the process. He just expects you to be the person He wants you to be and do only the work that He calls you to do each day.

Admittedly, some days will be busier than others, and, yes, there will be times when He will want you to pick up the slack left behind by others. But if you think that His plan for you is to work you like a pack mule until you break down physically, emotionally, or spiritually, you are surely serving the wrong Master. The God who said, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light” isn’t a harsh taskmaster or (getting back to my opening illustration) an overly demanding coach. He does understand a lack of blocking, and He does care deeply about any individual who pays the price for it.

Posted in Depression, Doing Good, Encouragement, God's Love, God's Will, God's Work, Human Life, Ministry, Service, Spiritual Gifts, Stewardship, Talents, Work, Worry | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Does Satan Know the Future?

And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. 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. (Revelation 12:7-9, N.K.J.V.)

I’ve been preaching a prophecy series on Sunday mornings at the church, doing more or less a survey course of the book of The Revelation. Like many other preachers, I interpret the events of the book to be the apostle John laying out a chronological timeline of events (with just an exception or two here and there) that will take place in the future. This means that I preach that Jesus will rapture away His church from this earth before the seven-year tribulation period begins, and that He will visibly return to walk this earth again at the end of the tribulation period just prior to the beginning of His 1,000 year reign upon the earth.

Okay, so why am I telling you this? I’m doing it to lay the groundwork for a question that arises from Revelation 12:7-9. Follow my logic here. If John truly is presenting a chronological timeline of future events, those verses must then refer to a second war in heaven that will take place at the midway point of the tribulation period. (For the record, the first war in heaven is referenced by way of the symbolized characters of Revelation 12:3-4.)

Of course, someone might object to this idea of there being a second war in heaven by saying, “But if Satan and the other rebellious angels were cast out of heaven long ago after the first war there, how could they ever get back into heaven to mount a second war?” While that sounds like a perfectly reasonable objection, it’s one that is easily answered by scripture. I say that because Job 1:6, Job 2:1, and Zechariah 3:1-2 all teach that Satan (and by implication the other fallen angels) still have some type of limited access to heaven if they chose to temporarily ignore their banishment from the place.

Therefore, we believe the midway point of the tribulation period will see a second war in heaven, and we believe the outcome of that war will be the same as the first heavenly war: Satan and his angels will lose and be kicked out of heaven. Satan will then come back down to the earth and, as John puts it, will have “…great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time” (Revelation 12:12, N.K.J.V.). That “short time” will be the last half of the seven-year tribulation period.

But all this gets me up to my question: Does Satan know the future? Specifically, if he knows that God’s written word prophesies that he and the other fallen angels will lose a second war in heaven, why would Satan forge on ahead with the war when the time comes? I mean, if you knew for a certainty that what you were planning was doomed to fail, wouldn’t you forego your plan? And if we have that much common sense, doesn’t Satan?

As my answer, let me first say that Satan does surely know what the Bible says about his future. For one thing, he’s had plenty of time to learn scripture. For another, even if he doesn’t know how to read (which I’m sure isn’t a problem for him), all he has to do is listen to preachers and teachers read passages of scripture and explain what the passages mean. Consequently, there’s no doubt that Satan knows what the Bible teaches. If you don’t believe that he knows scripture, let me remind you that when he tempted Jesus he actually quoted Psalm 91:11-12 to Jesus. Along the same lines, if you want to classify as scripture God’s words to Adam and Eve about not eating the forbidden fruit, Satan quoted (actually purposely misquoted) that scripture to Eve.

Obviously, then, Satan does know what the Bible declares about his future. That’s indisputable. But as for the question of whether or not he knows specific future events that aren’t mentioned in the Bible, I would have to say that he doesn’t have that much knowledge. Putting it simply, his knowledge of the future isn’t limitless. For example, does he already know that you are going to say a cuss word after you hit your hand with a hammer tomorrow? No. Does he already know that you are going to be involved in a car accident next week? No. Does he already know that you are going to buy a new house next year and what house you will buy? No. Only God has perfect foreknowledge of all future events (Isaiah 42:9; 46:9-10). That’s one of the things that makes God unique.

I will say that Satan has been around a long time and has been observing human tendencies for thousands of years. This makes him very good at predicting our behavior. He also has virtually unlimited access, through his vast network of demons (fallen angels), to incredible amounts of information, much of it supposedly secret or private. This explains how clairvoyants, fortune tellers, psychics, and seers can on occasion predict future events with incredible accuracy. These people are indeed channeling into a very real current of information, but it’s a current created by Satan and his demons based upon conversations, writings, etc. in which they’ve either heard or watched people engage. This explains why God’s word strongly warns against dabbling in the dark arts (Leviticus 19:31; 20:6; Deuteronomy 18:9-14). As a matter of fact, in ancient Israel being a soothsayer/medium/psychic/interpreter of omens was actually a death-penalty offense (Leviticus 20:27)!

In the end, I don’t know with certainty why Satan goes ahead with all his anti-God plans even when he knows full well that his prophesied future is:

  • a second failed attempt to take over heaven (Revelation 12:7-9)
  • a failed attempt to prevent Jesus from returning to this earth and establishing His 1,000 year reign over it (Revelation 19:1-21)
  • a thousand years of imprisonment in God’s bottomless pit during Christ’s 1,000 year reign (Revelation 20:1-3)
  • a final failed attempt to overthrow the reign of Jesus immediately following his release from that bottomless pit at the end of the thousand years (Revelation 20:7-9)
  • a formal sentencing to spend eternity in God’s lake of fire (Revelation 20:10; Matthew 25:41)

One possibility is that Satan hates God so much that he’d rather play out a doomed hand rather than submit to Him. Another one is that Satan is arrogant enough to think that he can still somehow beat God and in so doing rewrite prerecorded history. Another one is that despite the fact that Satan loves to think of himself as the ultimate rebel, even he must play his assigned role in God’s great plan for the future.

I myself like the thought of that last possible interpretation. Sure, Satan and those other rebel angels once went rogue by their own choosing, but once they had done that God said, “Alright, now that you’ve made your choice, not only am I going to seal you eternally in that choice, I’m also going to use you in your rebellious state in my far-reaching plan for the human race.” You see, under this interpretation, Satan and all his rebel angels must dutifully do the bidding of God even if they know that bidding won’t end well for them. This means that even though Satan does know the future — at least what the Bible says about his future — he really has no say whatsoever in doing anything to change it. He’s just a captain who sails a doomed ship, even if he does seem to be a captain who is immensely enjoying his limited time at the helm.

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