Revelation 12:11

Sermon preached on January 12, 2014 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

I once read about book about secret codes. It was,
The Code Book by Simon Singh. Part of the book focused on the code breakers in England's Bletchley Park during World War 2. They focused on breaking the Nazis secret code—and they were very successful. Under Alan Turing they constructed machines called bombes to decipher the German Enigma machine generated codes. Near the beginning of their work, there were 159 quintillion combinations to check. But Turing's work enabled them to exploit weaknesses in the Enigma machine and before long, on good days, the code breakers at Bletchley were finding the daily Enigma key within an hour and after that were sometimes decoding Nazi messages in real time. Turing's work so superior to the other code breakers that one of them, Jack Good, said that the war would have been lost with him. (p. 177) Some have estimated that the code breakers at Bletchley shortened the war in Europe by 2 years. But the point that I want to make is that there was a very strong connection between the work of the code breakers and those who were fighting on the front line. This was especially true with regard to the Battle of the Atlantic, with those who were protecting Allied shipping, the convoys, and those who were hunting the U-boats that were sinking Allied ship. The work at Bletchley enabled the U-boat hunters to pinpoint where the submarines were so they could tell the convoys how to avoid them and the hunters where to find them. Many of the people on the front lines weren't aware of their connection with the code breakers—but some of them were. When they were told to go to a certain position and they found U-boats there—and this happened time after time—they had to guess that something was up. But whether people knew it or not, there was a strong interconnection between the code breakers and the people on the front line. The code breakers really helped them do their jobs better.

In our text we see some connections like that. One of the themes we see here is that

there is an interconnection in what Jesus did, by dying and rising from the dead and ascending into heaven, and the war in heaven in which Satan is hurled down to earth, and the saints overcoming here on earth.

The point is that we should be aware of these interconnections and use them in our daily living.

Verse 11 is somewhat surprising. Verses 7 and following have to do with the war in heaven, with Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon and how the dragon was hurled down to earth. In verse 10 we have a loud voice in heaven celebrating Satan being cast to earth. It says,

"Now have come the salvation
and the power and
the kingdom of our God,
and the authority of his Christ.
For the accuser of our brothers,
who accuses them before our God
day and night, has been hurled down."

Then verse 11 begins with the words,

"They overcame him…"

At first we might think that the 'they' refers to Michael and his angels overcoming the devil and casting him out of heaven. But that's not who is in view. It's not referring to the angels. Verse 11 refers to Christians and says,

"They overcame him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives
so much as to shrink from death."

That's not about the angels, it's about faithful Christians. John moves from the child being snatched up to heaven to the war in heaven to Christians doing battle with Satan and overcoming him here on earth.

The truth that we see here is that the facts of Jesus' work have dramatic and real implications for our overcoming Satan.

We know that we can do nothing without Jesus. It is through our connection with Him that we are able to overcome. In John 15:5 Jesus said,

"I am the vine;
you are the branches.
If a man remains in me and I in him,
he will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing."

We are related to Him. We get our power from Him.

But here something more is in view. We see that
our overcoming is related to Christ's work and that our overcoming is essentially rooted in His work. G. K. Beale writes, (Revelation: NIGTC, p. 663)

"Now the decisive redemptive-historical victory of Christ on earth (vv 5, 10), and of Michael in heaven (vv 7–9) is identified as the basis of the victory that suffering Christians on earth win over the serpent throughout history."

Our victories over Satan on this earth are rooted in Jesus' death, resurrection and ascension. His work has great implications for you and your battle.

How is this so?

First of all, it means that if you're a Christian

your status in heaven has been authenticated.

Your place in heaven has been secured. In John 14 Jesus told us that He was going away to heaven to prepare a place for us. He said, (John 14:3)

"And if I go and prepare a place
for you, I will come back and take you
to be with me that
you also may be where I am."

Heaven is our true home. It's where we belong. It's where Jesus wants us to be. He would not prepare a place for us there and not come back for us.

One of the great scriptural truths is that we Christians have been united with Christ in various parts of His work. We see this in Romans 6:8 which says,

"we died with Christ,"

And Colossians 2:12 says,

"having been buried with him
in baptism and raised with him through
your faith in the power of God…"

Colossians 3:1 reads,

"Since, then,
you have been raised with Christ,
set your hearts on things above,
where Christ is seated
at the right hand of God."

And Ephesians 2:6 says,

"And God raised us up with Christ
and seated us with him
in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,"

Those verses show that there is a great bond between Christ and His people. We were united to Him in His death, and raised with Him in His resurrection and seated with Him in heavenly places in His exaltation. John Frame writes, (Systematic Theology, p. 913)

"Jesus saves us by uniting us to Himself."

Because we were united to Christ when He rose again and ascended into heaven—we have a status in heaven. G. K. Beale writes, (Revelation: NIGTC, p. 663)

"The saints' status in heaven has been legitimized finally by Christ's suffering on the cross. All believers, past, present and future, 'have overcome him [the devil] because of the blood of the Lamb.' "

Robert H. Mounce writes, (Revelation, NICNT; p. 239)

"The primary cause of their victory is the blood of the Lamb. The great redemptive act that freed them from their sins (1:5) and established their right to reign (5:9) is the basis for their victory."

Simon J. Kistemaker writes, (Revelation p. 364)

"John's perspective is not from earth—still without victory—to heaven, but rather from heaven—triumphant in victory—to earth. He sees the triumph of Christ with all the heavenly saints who overcame Satan and share in that victory."

Heaven is our true home. We Christians have a right to it. We have a certain status there as God's children.

Two years ago I became a U.S. citizen. Not long after I became a citizen we went over to Canada and on the way back, as we were coming over the bridge, returning to the U.S. — I was surprised that I felt differently. I had never felt nervous about entering the United States in the thirty years that I lived here and had a Green Card. I never had any trouble at the border. But the first time that I re-entered the U.S. after I became a citizen, and every time I've re-entered since then—I've felt a peace that I never had before—because I know that they can't refuse to let me in. I have a right to be in this country. I have a status here that is much higher than that of the status that a Green Card gave me.

In the same way, with Christ's ascension into heaven, He entered the heaven itself, with His own blood and this had dramatic effects for us. (Hebrews 9:24). It says, (Hebrews 9:12)

"He did not enter by means
of the blood of goats and calves;
but he entered the Most Holy Place
once for all by his own blood,
having obtained eternal redemption."

G. K. Beale writes, (Revelation: NIGTC, p. 664)

"How have they 'overcome' the devil? Through Christ's death they have been declared not guilty of the accusations launched against them. Therefore, they are exempt from the ultimate punishment. Satan's accusations are unable to unleash the infliction of the 'second death.' And just as Satan's and the world's guilty verdict on Christ was overturned through Christ's resurrection, so Christ's followers have their verdict reversed in the same manner through their identification with Christ's resurrection."

The second thing we see from our text is that

you should realize that your opposition—sinful men who persecute you, as well as Satan and his forces—that they are a defeated enemy.

Jesus has won. By rising from the dead and ascending into heaven—He has won the victory for us. G. K. Beale tells us that verse 11 summarizes the idea of the whole chapter. He writes, (Revelation: NIGTC, p. 663)

"The single intent . . . is to assure those who meet satanic evil on earth that it is really a defeated power, however contrary it might seem to human experience."

Beale continues, (Revelation: NIGTC, p. 663)

"Christians can be assured that the serpent begins to battle against their bodies only after he has lost the battle over their souls. This expresses one of the major themes of the book: the suffering of Christians is a sign, not of Satan's victory, but of the saints' victory over Satan because of their belief in the triumph of the cross, with which their suffering identifies them."

What Stephen was killed because of his testimony in Acts 7—was that a victory or defeat for Stephen? It was a victory. His face was like the face of an angel. Heaven was opened for Him. He saw Jesus at the right hand of the Father. What a welcome he received in heaven.

I'm sure that those who killed Stephen thought that they had won. They thought that that was the end of Stephen.

But we need to look at things as they really are. Our success is not measured in earthly terms. If you're faithful to Jesus—you never lose. Even though Stephen was stoned to death—his witness was a victory.

The implications of this are tremendous. We never have to fear persecution or threats. We never have to fear death. We never have to compromise with evil. We never have to judge things by earthly means. We are to walk by faith and be faithful to Jesus in all things.

The third thing we see in our text is that

we also overcome Satan by the word of our testimony and not loving our lives so much as to shrink from death.

The word of our testimony—our testifying about Jesus. Again, this is related to Christ's death and resurrection. Our testimony is the gospel.

What we should realize about this testimony of ours is that it is God's testimony. In 1 John 5:9–10 the apostle wrote,

"We accept man's testimony,
but God's testimony is greater
because it is the testimony of God,
which he has given about his Son.
Anyone who believes in the Son of God
has this testimony in his heart."

So our testimony is powerful. We overcome Satan by it. Satan's forces killed Jesus. Did that stop His testimony? No. It's still going today. Satan's forces killed Stephen—did that stop his testimony? All of the apostles except John, tradition has it, were killed for their testimony. Did that stop it? No. Because it's God's testimony. Satan can't stop it.

Christians, don't compromise with the world. Don't keep silent about Jesus. He's why you're here. You're here to be a witness for Him.

Christians, how important to you is your testimony for Jesus?

We overcome Satan by not loving our lives so much as to shrink from death.

G. K. Beale writes, (Revelation: NIGTC, p. 665)

"The mark of genuine "overcomers" is that they love their Lord more than their own earthly welfare (cf. Matt. 16:24–26)."

Beale continues, (Revelation: NIGTC, p. 665)

"The second clause of v 11 develops further the concept of "overcoming." "They did not love their life unto death" is a negative way of saying that they persevered in their testimony to Christ, despite persecution. To persevere in the faith to the end is to "overcome to the end" and to defeat the dragon (cf. also Rev. 12:11, 17 with 13:3 and with b. Kiddushin 29b, which speaks of a rabbi who prayed continually when threatened by a demon in "the guise of a seven-headed dragon," and every time he prayed, "one head fell off")."

G. K. Beale writes, (Revelation: NIGTC, p. 666)

"The suffering of believers in 12:11 fulfills part of God's decree in 6:11 that there must be more suffering before history ends. The saints can be assured that their suffering is not only part of God's plan but also part of Christ's victory in that it brings nearer the close of history and the consummate victory over Satan."

Christians—victory is yours. Jesus' work has ensured that. Be faithful. Testify about Jesus. Don't let anything stop you from doing it.

Lastly, if you're not a Christian, what you should understand from this is that

you have nothing with which you can overcome Satan.

The devil, the dragon hates you. He wants to put you in hell forever. On your own you cannot overcome him.

You need Jesus. You can only overcome Satan by going to Jesus. May God give you grace to do so.