2 Peter 2:4-9
OK, we’ve spent the last few days studying the nature and work of the good angels, but unfortunately that’s not the entirety of the spiritual realm. When Satan rebelled against the Almighty, he (Satan) managed to recruit a certain number of angels to side along with him (based on Rev. 12:4, some say it was a third, but this is somewhat shaky). These we call demons, basically the Enemy’s henchmen. They carry out his will on the earth, just like the good angels carry out the Lord’s.
But before we get to the specifics of the demons walking the earth today, there’s a mysterious passage that we should confront. Its importance is underscored from the fact that both this passage and Jude reference it. Let’s take a closer look at what they say about the fallen angels and (as always) see what practical lesson we can learn from the information.
The passages in question say that these angels fell from their former position when they allied with the Devil. But what does it say about them? It says basically that God threw them into “hell,” “gloomy dungeons” where they are held in “chains” (per Jude) until the day they’re judged and finally condemned.
Wait a minute. These demons are in prison and in chains until Judgment Day? Now? Then what are they doing running around serving Satan and causing havoc in the world?
Here’s the only explanation I’ve found which makes any sense at all. Apparently near the beginning of time when Satan attempted his coup, some of the demons who joined him were cast into “prison” (remember that we’re using human metaphors for spiritual realities) and are being kept in “chains” until their final court hearing. The rest were let free—relatively speaking—to do as they will for the time being. Which of course means that they’re opposing God, and trying to hurt us, at every turn. Why did he imprison some demons at the outset and let others wander around freely? Scripture doesn't tell us, so it'd be useless to speculate.
So what can we learn from this? Please keep in mind: All theology in Scripture is supposed to bring about a practical change in your life. I can think of two practical applications. First and foremost let’s take the application which Peter (and Jude) want us to immediately pick up. The whole point of both passages is that God is perfectly capable of separating the redeemed righteous from the rebellious wicked. He didn’t spare the angels who sinned, he didn’t spare Noah’s generation, and he didn’t spare Sodom. They all faced his wrath, while Noah and Lot were rescued out of it.
We—as Christians with an American background—are so used to thinking of God as our friend. It’s almost like he’s our buddy. Instead of our Father in Heaven, he’s more like our Grandfather in Heaven: always passing out special treats and overlooking the faults of his precious kids with a wink and a nod.
Yes, he’s our friend. He’s the greatest Friend we’ll ever know. But he’s also our Lord and our Boss. His feelings towards sin haven’t changed in the slightest since the cross. And to those not under the blood of Christ, he’s going to turn out to be the worst enemy they’ll ever know. He’s the Almighty Sovereign Lord. Heaven and earth will flee before the face of this Judge. Please let’s not forget that.
And I think there’s another lesson which comes to mind here. There’s a certain percentage of demons who are shut away in prison chains until the Judgment. But the rest are relatively free to do as they please. They roam the earth, destroying all of God’s work as much as they can. But there’s an aphorism I read over and over in Matthew Henry’s commentary: God’s reprieves are not pardons. Just like with demons, the relative freedom which humanity has right now is no indication that the Lord has no issue with it. We should keep in mind the only reason why the human race (and each individual) has as much time as it does: “He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
If you’re a believer in Christ, then now would be a perfect time to thank him for your salvation. You’re saved, forgiven, cleansed, restored, adopted, and redeemed. But if you’re not, then the clock is ticking. I’ll say it again: His reprieves are not pardons. For more on this subject, read this.
Lord Jesus, thank you. When I see someone in front of me who’s a lost soul, please help me speak the truth in love.