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Question #143

If Satan is in the lake of fire, then why is there evil in the world today?

We are in a bible study and trying to get through revelations. This is a community Christian church study and the minister does not have a real handle on this particular subject. The question was ask, if the devil is cast in the lake of fire and bound then why is his evil still being worked in the world today? Thank you for your help. Please send hints as to the study of Revelations.

The Answer:

Revelation is one of my favorite books in the Bible, and I am glad that you are studying it. It is a beautiful book that, sadly, many neglect. We have a complete commentary on Revelation available on this website, and I encourage you to look there for a more complete answer than we can give here. For a general introduction to the end times, you can see our special lesson on that topic.

Now on to your question. The book of Revelation was written primarily to address a first century audience with a first century problem. In particular, the church was undergoing a severe persecution from Rome, and it appeared that the church was hopelessly mismatched in that battle. The book of Revelation was written to give hope and comfort to those first century Christians, and to let them know that although the battle was mismatched, it was mismatched against Rome rather than against the church. In fact, Rome had already lost and been judged --- and the same was true for Satan, the power behind Rome's attacks on the church.

Satan's total and complete defeat with regard to Rome is depicted in many ways in that book, with one of the most vivid being the casting of Satan and his minions into that lake of fire. Did that defeat mean that Satan would never try again to defeat the church? No. In fact, we know that he is trying to do that even today. But what it means is this -- if Satan could not defeat the church when it was in its infancy and when Satan had at his disposal the most powerful empire the world had ever known, then what chance do you suppose he would ever have to defeat the church? None! He has no chance! The eternal kingdom prophesied by Daniel will sweep away all the temporary kingdoms of this world -- including the kingdom of Rome, which it swept away long ago.

God's Plan of Salvation

You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)

You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)

You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)

You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)

Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!

Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)