Why The Present Church Age is Not the Millennium: The Devil is on the Loose, Not Fettered

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7).

We need to be aware that the devil is a force to be reckoned with—otherwise, why would James give us this warning to resist the devil? This command to resist the devil requires that the devil is loose. It makes no sense to resist the devil if he is restrained.

Yet, this is what amillennialists teach. Let me explain. Revelation 20:1–3 says,

“Then I saw an angel descending from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the abyss and a huge chain. He seized the dragon—the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan—and tied him up for a thousand years. The angel then threw him into the abyss and locked and sealed it so that he could not deceive the nations until the one thousand years were finished. (After these things he must be released for a brief period of time.)”

Perhaps one of the best known supporters of amillennialism is Dr. Anthony Hoekema who defines the sense in which he believes Satan is bound during the church age:

“This [binding of Satan] does not imply that Satan can do no harm whatever while he is bound. It means only what John says here: while Satan is bound he cannot deceive the nations in such a way as to keep them from learning about the truth of God” (Hoekema, The Bible and the Future [1982, p. 228]).

In other words, Satan is bound in the sense that he is only able to keep people from understanding the gospel. However, the New Testament at every point contradicts Hoekema’s conclusion. Peter explicitly talks about the activity of the devil: “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him” (1 Peter 5:8–9).

John says: “We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1 John 5:19).

And Paul says: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places….In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Eph 6: 11–12, 16).

So the diverse testimony of Scripture shows that the devil is on the loose and bent on our destruction. This is in stark contrast to the situation when Christ comes back.

“Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. (2) And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, (3) and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he might not deceive the nations any longer,” (Rev 20:1–3).

If language has any meaning at all, Satan is not bound at this moment in the sense that amillennial theology teaches. Satan was not bound and chained up in a pit at the first coming of Christ in any sense whatsoever. Certainly, the victory of Christ was won on the cross, which provides the believer the basis to resist the devil. But only when Christ comes back will the prowling devil be fettered in any meaningful sense.

 

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