Can Satan still enter Heaven to accuse God's people? I heard an evangelist who said that he could no longer do this. Where do you stand?
UK Apologetics Reply:
Job 1:6-12 records a time when Satan was free to accuse even Job before God:
6. One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them.
7. The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.”
8. Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
9. “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied.
10. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.
11. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”
12. The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD. (Job 1: 6-12).
So Satan - effectively - has been able to present accusations against God's own servants before God Himself. The big question is: Does this still happen?
Let us look at Revelation 12, especially verse 10:
9. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
10. Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Messiah. For the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
11. They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.
12. Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you! He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short.” (Revelation 12:9-12, NIV throughout).
So Satan has been able to accuse God's people before God, which he has done unceasingly as verse 10 makes clear. Of course, this does not mean that Satan could ever actually stand directly in the same company as God but that - effectively - he has been able to bring accusations against God's own elect before God in Heaven. As an angelic being of authority (given that authority by Adam and Eve), he has had certain rights of approach to God.
But Revelation 12 makes it clear that that right was removed from Satan when Christ's mission was accomplished. In fact, Luke 10 makes the timing abundantly clear:
17. The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
18. He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.
19. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.
20. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20).
When the Gospel was first preached, the Apostles were given power over the demons. This is plainly the time referred to in Revelation 12:10. But what about Satan himself?
Satan's banishment from Heaven is clearly tied in with the revelation of the Christ upon the earth. Christ's victory occurred at the cross and resurrection, although the world will not fully witness it until the Second Coming. Indeed, as Jesus was going to the cross He could say the following:
31. Now is the judgment of this world. Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.
32. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to Myself. (John 12:31-32).
So the point when salvific victory was satisfied was when our Saviour was 'lifted up from the earth' - the resurrection! This was - necessarily - when Satan was expelled from Heaven. Let us not forget that Jesus had said,
28. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.
29. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house and spoil his goods, unless first he binds the strong one, and then he will plunder his house. (Matthew 12:28-29).
Almost every major Bible commentator of note agrees that this was a reference to Jesus binding the power of Satan prior to the calling out of the Church.
The temptation of Jesus in the wilderness also reveals that Satan could get pretty close access to God's people - even to Jesus! - but only before Jesus Christ overcame him and conquered him at Calvary.
So the answer seems to be (and admittedly we speak here of matters which we can currently only 'see through a glass darkly,' as Paul wrote), that Satan can no longer get such close access to God as he had once enjoyed; he had enjoyed certain rights as ruler of this world, but he is dethroned in Christ. This suggests that it is now harder, or even completely impossible, for Satan to actively accuse the brethren before God's throne in Heaven. He now appears to be restricted to roaming the earth, looking for the weaker members of God's flock whom he can entice into sin. See Ephesians 6:10-18.
To summarize, Satan started to be defeated with the preaching of the Gospel, and was fully defeated at the cross of Calvary, even though he may - very loosely - still be referred to as 'the ruler of this world,' or even 'the god of this world' (NIV: 'the god of this age') by Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:4, during the period in which the nations continue in disarray, and prior to the return of Christ in fully visible power and glory.
Robin A. Brace. July 12th, 2011.