5th Nov 2012. By Rev Dr Steven Kau –
Every time I come across a cartoon on the devil or hell, I cannot but get the impression that Satan is the ruler in hell or at least he seems to be in charge. The picture of a red, demon-like character with small horns protruding from his head, an arrow-head pointed tail and a pitchfork in his hand comes to the minds of many when they hear the word devil, Satan or hell. In fact, many of the cartoons that depict Satan in such images also show him enthrone as a king in hell, determining where each person will go and the type of punishment meted out to those who are lost eternally. This picture is absolutely ridiculous and far from the truth. But we have been exposed to this type of image of Satan that most people who read Matthew 10:28 misunderstand what Jesus meant.
In the context of Matthew 10, Jesus warned His followers that wicked men would persecute them unjustly. As He sent them out to preach, He admonished them to boldly speak the truth without fearing the repercussions. In the course of His forewarning, He said, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:4-5). Many Christians who read this passage of Scripture, incorrectly assumed that Jesus was saying that Satan has the power to destroy the soul and body in hell. They have mistakenly attributed to Satan power that he never has had.
Let me set the record straight, Satan is not the king or ruler of hell and he does not have the power or ability to cast or drag anyone into hell. All the cartoons and movies that shows Satan in a powerful posture or able to control the destinies of men are a lie. He and his demonic hordes can sure mess up your life if you insist on intruding into his domain and seek the taste of evil. But his influence and power is limited by God. The classic example is in the case of Job, where he was authorize to afflict Job as horribly as he can with every conceivable pain and lost but he cannot take his life. Life and death does not rest with the devil but God.
In fact, when we read about Satan’s ultimate end, we see that God is the being who will cast Satan also called the devil, into the “lake of fire and brimstone” (Revelation 20:2, 10). Furthermore, the apostle Paul explained to the Christians in Rome that no “angels nor principalities nor powers” could separate them from the “love of God which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:38-39). Those in Rome could choose to reject God of their own free will but no power in existence, including Satan, could pluck them from God’s hand and cast them into hell.
In truth, God will cast Satan into hell at the end of time in the same way that He will cast all those who have lived unrighteously and rejected Him (Matthew 25:46; Revelation 20:15). There is no indication in the Bible that suggests that Satan will be “in charge” of hell anymore than any other unfaithful creature of God. Hell is not the devil’s “happy hunting ground” where he sits comfortably on his kingly chair and watches the suffering of lost souls. That is only a figment of many people’s imagination and bad theology and false teachings.
Satan will find no delight in his eternal second death and he will not enjoy any type of authority or special privileges there. He is not in hell to rule but to suffer like everyone who ends up there.
Jesus’ admonition to fear the one who can cast both soul and body into hell was designed to encourage His followers to rely on God, be strong in the face of persecution and trust that as long as they are right with God and no force in the spiritual world has the power to harm them.
Rev. Dr. Steven Kau is the pastor of Faith Covenant Church ( FCC ). The church address is at 1-1 Jalan Putra Mahkota 7/5B, 47650 Putra Heights, Subang Jaya, Selangor. Sunday service in English starts at 10 am. His email contact – firstname.lastname@example.org
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