Why Couldn’t Old Testament Saints Handle the Truth About Satan?
Only New Covenant Spirit-Baptized believers can handle the full truth about Satan. Jesus once started to share how the coming Holy Spirit would reveal how Jesus had “judged” and defeated Satan’s dark Kingdom and his pervasive influence in this fallen world. But, Jesus had to stop because they could not bear the enormity of this truth because they had not yet been Spirit-Baptized. John 16:11-12.
The New Testament exposed and judged Satan. (Col. 2:15; Jn. 16:7-15). We have now been equipped (transformed, enhanced and enriched) to be the executors of that judgment. (Matt. 16:19; Heb. 2:6-12; Lu. 10:19; Ps. 149:5-9; Rom. 8:14; 16:20; Rev. 12:11). The best way to judge Satan is to completely remove him from our image of God. There must be no more confusion between them in our minds. They are day and night, oil and water, fire and rain. They do not mix— at all!
The Old Testament saints couldn’t handle the meat of truth, only the milk. (Jn. 16:7-12; Gal. 4:1-7; Heb. 5:12-14). The Old Testament view of Satan and evil was dim and partial. Jesus came to reveal the truth about Satan’s evil (1 Jn. 3:8) and God’s goodness (Jn. 1:18; 10:30; 10:10; Acts 10:38; Lk. 9:51-56).
We must be careful to always read the Old Testament through New Testament eyes. The Old Testament always said that all things, good and evil, come from God. The New Testament says not so: evil comes from Satan or man. Good only comes from God and God is only Good. (Jn. 10:10; Jas. 1:12-17).
It is not that the Old Testament is wrong, but it was written by spiritual children for spiritual children. In some areas, especially with regard to Satan and the problem of evil, it needs to be transformed, enhanced and enriched by the New Testament anointing.
“Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” Matt. 11:11. No Old Testament saint was greater than John the Baptist, but he was least in the New Testament.
Why? The Old Testament saints had Moses’ Law. They also had supernatural experiences and miracles galore. They even had both the Ark of God’s presence and the Temple of His glory. If they were able to receive all this from the Lord, then why could they not handle the truth about Satan?
Simply put, they were NOT Spirit-Baptized.
As radical and different as Jesus’ teachings were, He nonetheless affirmed the prophetic value of the Old Testament Law. “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Matt 5:17-18.
Jesus knew that His teachings and actions APPEARED to conflict with Old Testament teaching. He wanted to assure the Jews that any apparent conflict came from their “hardness of heart” which kept them from properly processing God’s word. (Matt. 19:8). Jesus’ anointing fulfilled the law by elevating its truths from literal to spiritual. Only Jesus had the righteousness to “fulfill” the Law, to “fill it full” with God’s Spirit in other words.
The unavoidable conclusion is that the Old Testament can be misused when it is read with unspiritual eyes. Satan misapplied the literal meaning when tempting Jesus in Lk. 4:9-12. The Old Testament cannot be fulfilled by always reading it literally “on its face.” It must be spiritually transformed, enhanced and enriched by New Testament eyes enlightened by the indwelling Holy Spirit. This is not easy, yet it is mandatory for meat eaters. (Heb. 5:14).
The Old Testament must be excavated, elevated and renovated. In Jn. 1:18, we are told that Jesus came to earth to “declare” (explain) the Father because nobody really knew Him— His nature, His character, His true personality.
Hallelujah, Jesus came to explain what the Old Testament fully meant, who is the author of evil and how perfectly good His father is. He allowed the indwelling Spirit to bring to light the Old Testament shadows (Col. 2:17; Heb. 8:5; 10:1). Shadows lack three dimensions and are often hard to identify what exactly they represent until we look at the actual object in the light which is casting the shadow.
The New Testament Kingdom of God is the actual object casting the Old Testament shadows. Let’s not get trapped in the dark shadows of doubting God’s goodness. Instead, let’s allow the spirit of Christ within us to fulfill the Old Testament law by transforming, enhancing and enriching it into the New Testament Kingdom of God.
Consider the well known “Boogey Man” principle: We don’t expose our young children to dark, scary images of devils, monsters, vampires, etc. because they don’t have the emotional equipment to handle it. They would be overwrought with continual fear and nightmares, scared of the dark, scared of being alone, etc. As they mature, they are able to better process fearful images constructively and courageously. God did the same with the Old Testament saints (Gal. 4:1-7).
Because they walked in their “own” righteousness, as opposed to walking in the righteousness which is “of” God (Romans 10:3-10), the Old Testament saints lacked the fortitude, faith and authority to cast out devils or rebuke Satan. The “ondwelling” Holy Spirit allowed them to do miracles, defeat physical enemies and build the temple, but no Old Testament saint ever rebuked demonic enemies directly. In fact, the few encounters with evil spirits recorded in the Old Testament inaccurately claim the evil spirits were “from” the Lord. In fact, Old Testament saints were largely ignorant of demonic enemies existing on a large scale. To quote a famous movie line, Old Testament saints “couldn’t handle the truth” about Satan as the prince of this world.
Jesus began to tell them about the realities of the Spirit realm in John 16:7-11, but then had to stop because they had yet to receive the indwelling Holy Spirit. “I have yet many things to say unto you, but YE CANNOT BEAR THEM NOW. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” Jn. 16:12-13.
For Old Testament saints, their enemies were physical, not spiritual. But when Jesus came, He imparted to us His righteousness through the “indwelling” baptism of the Holy Spirit. Now, we are capable of maturing quickly and grasping the following truth:
“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” Eph. 6:12-13.
God protected the Old Testament saints from the dark truths about Satan by allowing them to assign all things, good and evil, as coming from the sovereign will of God. Just as a young child holds a parent responsible for all things – – bad weather, bad news, bad circumstances, bad toys – Old Testament saints held God responsible for all things that happened – the good, the bad and the ugly. They had to blame evil on something or somebody, and since they couldn’t handle the truth of the Satanic realm, they assigned evil to God.
Satan was out of the loop altogether, or at best was seen as a servant of Jehovah fulfilling his role in the heavenly act. Seen in this light, God and Satan played “good cop/ bad cop” with mankind. God was the good cop trying to protect suspects from His evil partner Satan. Satan was a mean and ugly angelic officer who wanted to beat and abuse suspects into confessing their unworthiness and guilt. God, as the good cop, would restrain Satan as long as the suspect cooperated. Otherwise, God would let Satan have a few minutes alone with the suspect to coerce cooperation through the use of sickness, destructions, disasters, or oppressions.
From this angle, God and Satan were both working on the same side. They just used different techniques. Jesus lambasted this view by stating His purpose in coming to man was to destroy the works of Satan, not to work with Satan in any kind of alliance.
The Holy Spirit is the key to all this. Because we are indwelt with and baptized by the Spirit, we CAN handle the truth of Satan as the prince and god of this fallen world. And not only can we handle it, we can take dominion over all his evil and rebuke it to oblivion. The whole earth, according to Romans 8, is groaning for the mature sons of God to manifest on the earth. “Behold, I have given you the authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall in any wise hurt you.” Luke 10:19.