Sunday 19 September 2021

What does it mean that Satan has 'already lost' the spiritual war with God?

It is often said that Satan has 'already lost' the war with God; and this is certainly true in one sense, but not in another. 

The sense in which Satan has already lost is that since Jesus Christ established Heaven and opened it to anyone who genuinely wants to go there after death; there is an eternal realm where Satan has no influence. 

So - after death and eternally, Satan has lost.

But Satan keeps fighting the spiritual war because there are billions of individual souls who may choose to reject the gift of resurrection to eternal life; and in the billions of individual battles of that war of salvation - the outcome remains undecided. 

For those souls who have rejected Heaven - there are presumably short-term satisfactions (spiteful pleasures) to be attained in the work of tormenting and damning other souls in the realms outside of Heaven, including this earth. And it seems quite likely that - on this temporary earth and among mortals subject to entropy - the Satanic powers are winning (or have won) the spiritual war, overall. 

But, again, in the other direction; these gratifications are temporary; because at some point the mortal life on earth 'school' will come to an end; and then the damned souls will face a bleak prospect of inevitable decline towards some kind of solitary state of resentful misery, eternally. 

Therefore, Satan has probably won the war for earth, overall; but the battles continue for the fate of each individual soul; while in Heaven, Satan has already been defeated finally and forever. 

It is the complexity of this situation - with different answers from preferences for different timescales, and priorities relating to different locations - which is why some people have chosen (and still choose, in apparently increasing numbers) to ally with Satan.


Doktor Jeep said...

"...then the damned souls will face a bleak prospect of inevitable decline towards some kind of solitary state of resentful misery, eternally. "

Are there bonus points for those whose life on earth is already like that? A friend is asking.

Bruce Charlton said...

@DJ. For some people, the experience of hell on earth is what they need to enable them to discover that they instead want Heaven. They will then choose Heaven.

Lucinda said...

I'm interested in hearing what you think about "The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde" as an example of hell on Earth leading to repentance. Is it pretty straight forward, or is it subtly flawed?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Lucinda - It's too long since I read it - I don't recall.

Lucinda said...

I read it for the first time only a couple days ago.

The description about how Mr. Hyde's love of life was "wonderful" makes me think of the situation you describe in the post. Satan knows that if he destroys too much, his power to destroy will come to an end. In the end of Jekyll and Hyde, Hyde is so desperate to find a way to revive Jekyll, even though he hates him, because he can't stand the thought of his own death.

There seems to be an element of this with Satan, his conquests have no lasting satisfaction, he fears the cessation of Creation because it will forever dry up his hate-motivated 'life'. For Satan to finally win is no win for him, his best outcome is a continuing stream of fresh, uncorrupted souls, which he has no way of producing.

Mr Hyde 'outlives' Dr. Jekyll, he ends with final control, but it is no real victory, for his enjoyment of life relied on Jekyll's continuation.

Kristor said...

An analogy that has occurred to me from time to time is that Satan has already lost in the same way that one loses a checkers game against an infallible adversary with the very first mistake one makes. The same holds for chess, although that is harder to see in the moment.

Satan is headed inevitably for checkmate. He may even see that. But he refuses to stop playing, because the game is all he has left.

That Satan is headed for checkmate does not mean he can't take a lot of the white pieces off the board before he goes down.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Kristor - Yes, that works as a metaphor. Of course, modern Man cannot, will-not look beyond death; so the ultimate victory of God means nothing to him.

Modern Man dwells (spiritually) in a world ruled by Satan, where Satan wins one victory after another; and mostly assumes that his task in life is to adjust to that fact, and make the best of it.