These verses cut into the latest drama in John's vision. Satan has been thrown out of heaven, without any legitimate authority (Revelation 12:7-9). At seeing that, John hears a loud chorus of rejoicing. The work of Christ is salvation for all who repent and trust in Him: He takes rightful authority (translated in NIV2011 as 'power') on behalf of God to establish a kingdom that cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:28). The praise song is heard and recorded by John in the Greek tense which means that the work of salvation, with its authorised kingdom-building, has been accomplished and cannot be undone.
It is likely that the voices are angels who have observed the conflict between Satan and God which was decisively won by Jesus Christ on the cross. They have also seen how men and women of faith stood firm for Christ, despite the accusations Satan has continually made about them to God. The word 'devil' means 'accuser' or 'slanderer'. As a legalist, he takes the sins and weaknesses of believers to the court of heaven as prosecuting counsel – wanting God to denounce His own children. Satan is also eager that the believers with sensitive consciences should overhear those accusations and become weighed down with guilt – even though Jesus has already been punished for all their sins.
But the Accuser is now the accused. Heaven already holds the evidence of full and free salvation through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Heaven also sees the faith of the martyrs (the word means witnesses) who lost their lives because they would not keep quiet about the guilt-free salvation that comes through the blood of Jesus (Hebrews 9:14). In a way, they share in the victory of Christ (Colossians 1:24). Their fearless testimony further affirms Satan's culpability, as they refuse to believe his wicked lies (John 8:44). However, at the same time that heaven is well rid of Satan, he occupies the earth. The devil is very angry and seeks to cause as much trouble as he can in the limited period before Jesus returns.
Christians under pressure need to know that Satan is a real intelligent being who has no legitimate authority, but pretends to be God. He accuses our consciences, as well as ridiculing us before God. But his evil words have no power, unless we believe the lies. The salvation, the power and the kingdom of God has already been established by Jesus in His death, resurrection and ascension. Nothing can undo that: not even Satan. But that does not stop him creating the circumstances of temptation and testing through some people who do believe his lies. So, believers are now living in God's kingdom between the finished work of salvation and the time when Satan will be destroyed. During this period, Satan may try his worst to unsettle us. But the wise Christian will choose to trust in the powerful authority of Jesus Christ, refusing to accept the devil's lies. They follow the example of Jesus: "When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly." (1 Peter 2:23). Is that true about you too?
© Dr Paul Adams