"Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings...."
Isa. 14:12ff and Eze. 28:11ff are passages that have been interpreted (perhaps wrongly) to refer directly to Satan and his rebellion against God. If they do not refer directly to Satan (as they seem not to - note these comments), they certainly do indirectly, as Satan seems to have been not only among those angels who sinned (2 Pet. 2:4; 1 Jn. 3:8) but to have been their leader (Rev. 12:3,4, 9). Satan appears to have been the first "sinner," as Jesus refers to him as the "father"of those who are unable or unwilling to receive the truth He speaks. (Jn. 8:44) So Satan rebelled against God, and now incites it in others, as he did with Adam (Gen. 3).
But here we run into the first real problem of wrong teaching by those who do not let the Bible speak for itself, but impose upon it their own belief-system. In order to demonstrate this, I will refer to one well-known contemporary work in particular, which reflects the wrong teaching I want to discuss. The book in which it is contained is Paul E. Billheimer's "Destined for the Throne." In Chapter 5, "The Legal Basis of the Authority of the Church," Billheimer writes, "To the world at large and to many believers, Calvary appears as a defeat. In spite of our professed faith, many of us are hounded with the sneaking suspicion that Satan was, after all, the victor there. An examination of the forensic aspects (legal phases) of the conflict between Christ and Satan proves conclusively the triumph of the Crucified. The legal aspect of that victory is the theme of this chapter." The problem with Billheimer's statement is that any "examination of the forensic aspects (legal phases) of the conflict between Christ and Satan" is irrelevant - a total waste of time. Why? Because it is meaningless from God's perspective - the Bible itself states nothing concering any "forensic aspects" of Calvary, it gives over no space whatsoever to that consideration. Is it recorded in Acts that the disciples went about declaring that God had won a "great legal victory over the enemy"? Of course not. Instead, they declared, "God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact." (Acts 2:32). From God's perspective, the death and resurrection of His Son were of primary importance, not any "legal victory." Why? To answer that, let us continue our examination of what Billheimer writes.
"In order to understand what happened at Calvary, one must first comprehend what took place legally in the fall in Eden." Unfortunately, again we are getting off entirely on the wrong foot here, but let us continue for the sake of discussion, primarily because what Billheimer writes reflects wrong thinking in the church that has been going on for many hundreds of years - thinking that falls into the context of the "tradition of men" the apostle Paul warned about in Col 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ."
I have placed my emboldened comments below where I deemed appropriate:
"Man was originally made for authority (No, he was made for relationship, from which "authority" derives. Matt. 22:36-39 & John 13:34). He was created and fashioned for dominion. When he came from the hand of God he was given rulership of the earth, the kingship of its life, and the control and mastery of its resources......The entire universe is governed by law (by God, actually - Hebr. 1:3; Col 1:17). Redemption from beginning to end is based upon a system of divine jurisprudence. It has a legal foundation. (The Bible says nothing about 'divine jurisprudence' or about any 'legal foundation' - but it has much to say about God's wondrous love - John 3:16) God's grant of authority and dominion over the earth to man was a bona fide gift. This authority and dominion became legally his. What he did with it was his own responsibility. (Actually, 'Dominionship' biblically involves stewardship and accountability to God. Matt. 25:14-30 - God never gives up His own sovereign control over His creation.) If, so to speak, he 'fumbled the ball' and lost it, God could not lawfully step in and repossess it for him. Without doubt, Omnipotence had the power to void Satan's conquest of Adam and his heritage, but this would have violated His own moral principles of government. If God had gone over man's head and forcibly repossessed the title to the earth from Satan, that would have been without due process of law." (It is really very hard for me to believe that any 'Bible scholar' would be capable of such sloppy thinking as this, but as I said this is representative of thinking that has been expressed for hundreds of years. I had the privilege of visiting Paul Billheimer and his wife in their home in the '70s before they went to be with the Lord, and greatly enjoyed their hospitality. I respect Paul Billheimer, but what he has written here is not supported by the Bible. We know that Adam did 'fumble the ball' - though it would be more accurate to say he believed a lie instead. In any case, God is still God and the Bible clearly shows He is sovereign in all that He does. He is omnipotent, yes - and what He does is on the basis of His own free choice, his own 'good pleasure' [Isa. 46:10; Phil. 2:13;Col. 1:19] - NOT because of any 'moral principles of government' or 'due process of law. Is the Law greater than the Law-giver? Definitely NOT! If it were, it would be god instead of God!)
"When Adam chose to obey Satan, he became Satan's slave......As a slave of Satan, Adam lost all of his legal rights, not only to his person but also to his domain. This gave Satan legal authority to rule over man and the earth. If Satan's dominion was to be revoked, a way had to be found to redeem fallen man and recover his lost authority without violating universal principles of justice. Since Satan was now the legitimate possessor of Adam and the legal ruler of the earth, God had no moral right, under His code of justice, to arbitrarily annul it......."
(What nonsense! None of this can be found anywhere in the Bible! What 'rights' does a person have before God who is a rebel against Him, and does not trust and obey Him? Neither Satan nor Adam had any rights, Biblically-speaking, other than those which God freely chose to give them. Satan only has 'authority to rule over man and earth' because God has freely chosen for his own purposes to allow him that 'rule.')
"Thus a member of Adam's race had to be found who could qualify to enter suit in universal court and wrest Adam's lost heritage and dominion from Satan....." (Actually the real problem, biblically speaking - from God's perspective, was not some fictional legal battle but the fact that man had sinned and had spiritually died - that was the problem that needed a solution. Man was spiritually dead and therefore needed LIFE - something no 'legal' victory could provide him. But man could not save himself, could not make himself alive - he needed a Savior.)
(I will not reproduce all of what Billheimer writes here as that is really unnecessary and would make this far too lengthy. I will only refer to what I think is actually relevant.)
"Jesus came as an authentic member of the human race. Since He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and virgin born, Satan had no legal claim upon Him. In order to establish a legal basis for authority over Him, it remained for Satan to attempt to induce some moral flaw or imperfection in His character or conduct....." (Why is Billheimer ignoring what the Bible says and substituting his own theology? God told Adam, ".....in the day that.....you shall surely die." Adam put his trust in a source other than God and died as a result. It was not a matter of "inducing some moral flaw or imperfection" but trying to tempt Jesus successfully, as had been done with Adam. Why all this legal jargon?)
"Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. 'All this I will give you,' he said, 'if you will bow down and worship me.' Jesus said to him, 'Away from me, Satan! For it is written: "Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only."'" (Matt 4:8-10)
"In the wilderness, Satan offered Jesus a shortcut to world dominion if He would fall down and worship him - just once. Satan alleged that authority over all the kingdoms of the world had been delivered unto him and that he gave it to whomsoever he chose. Jesus did not challenge his claim, for He knew Satan's legal basis for it."
This particular temptation of Jesus probably symbolizes more than any other that which lies at the heart of the challenge facing man - what or who is his god? "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt 16:26) But Billheimer, and others like him, completely misses the focus of this temptation. Has Satan, the "father of lies," suddenly started telling the truth? But whether Satan did or did not have any "legal basis" for his claim to "authority over the kingdoms of the world" was irrelevant. The fact Jesus did not "challenge his claim" had nothing to do with the question of whether Satan had any "legal basis" for it. As a matter of fact, Satan's claim was at God's discretion (or "pleasure") only, as discussed above. Jesus answered Satan according to the true focus of the temptation: "Go, Satan! For it is written, " YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY." Matt 4:10 - NASU. The issue here was NOT if Satan had a claim to 'the kingdoms of the world,' but IDOLATRY. The offer of the earthly kingdoms to Jesus was a ploy by Satan to entice Jesus, the "last Adam," to worship him instead of God. It seems that whenever I hear this verse taught, the belief that this verse shows Satan’s ownership of the earth is emphasized – and that is all! Not only is this wrong theology, but it entirely ignores the principal declaration – the assumption by the creature (Satan) that the Creator should fall on His face in worship to him!!! How relevantly this verse speaks to the world’s situation today! In so many ways man is in effect telling God that he is better qualified to be “god” than God is.“Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man….” (but then of course along came the additional lie by “scientists” which said that man had his ancestry in lesser creatures from which he “evolved”) and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.” Rom 1:22-23 How foolish, indeed, the world is in its thinking – what folly it engages in as it races headlong into destruction it its rebellion against God and the truth He speaks.“For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” Rom 1:25
I stated above that the concept that Satan is owner of the earth is wrong theology. There are those who say he possesses the "title-deed" to the earth, giving him ownership. There is nothing in the Bible to support this. Satan may indeed be the “ruler of the world” (John 14:30), but only at God's discetion and for His sovereign purposes - God is the sole owner (Ps. 24:1, 50:10, and many other verses throughout the Bible – including such parables of Jesus as Matt. 21:33-41). Whoever “rules” (man or Satan) does so only with God’s permission and for His purposes (Job 1:6-12; Luke 22:31). Actually, Satan is a usurper, pretender - he has no more legal right to the "kingdoms of the world" than he had to God's throne (Isa. 14:13)! When Satan tempted Him with the "kingdoms of the world," Jesus knew they were His to rule by divine right (Rev. 11:15; Phil. 2:10) anyway, not Satan's. Satan's "rule" was only temporary, with God's permission, for His purpose.
Instead of reviewing and commenting on what Billheimer has to say about Jesus' death and resurrection, I recommend a more thorough and carefully written scholarely work, "From Death to Life" written by Ray Shelton.