THE RESTRAINING POWER
by Bill Burns
P. O. Box 1148
Kremmling, Colorado 80459
The purpose of this teaching is to examine the power that God has given that restrains Satan's ability to completely rule over this world. I have chosen to call this power "the restraining power." This power is the power of the Holy Spirit that intervenes on three levels and restrains Satan's ability to exercise his power according to his will.
When we are born again, our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Holy Spirit indwells us and empowers us to resist Satan's devices. It is our responsibility to use this "restraining power" to resist the works of the flesh.
Romans 8:13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.
The works of the flesh (Galatians 5 and Colossians 3) are those areas through which Satan promotes temptation and entices us. We are told to resist him.
1 Peter 5:8-9 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.
We have a promise from God that Satan will flee from us if we will resist him. We must, however, submit to the rule of the Holy Spirit who indwells us. If we do this, then we are empowered by the Spirit, and we can resist Satan effectively.
James 4:7 Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
This is the first level of the use of the restraining power. It is for personal use by which Satan is restrained from his ability to rule over the believer. If we use the power that we have been given, then we will live the victorious overcoming life. This is the Master's promise to His people.
Luke 10:19 "Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
The second level is the corporate level. It is the use of the restraining power by the Church to use the power of the Holy Spirit to bind Satan's works here on the earth and to loose the captives who are bound by hell's gates.
Matthew 16:18-19 "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven."
The Church has been commissioned to wage war in the spirit realm (heavenlies) against the rulers of darkness.
Ephesians 6:10-12 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
The corporate Church is what is restraining the revealing of the man of sin (antichrist) and his dominion over the affairs of this earth for seven years.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-9 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders.
The antichrist is spoken of in this passage of scripture as an individual by three titles. They are: the son of perdition (destruction), the man of sin, and the lawless one. These titles describe his character and the nature of his work. Verses 7 and 8 tell us that this man cannot be revealed until the restrainer is taken out of the way (caught away, raptured).
Some have tried to use verse 3 to say that the antichrist must be revealed before the Church is removed from the earth, but that interpretation does not fit with the context of the whole passage of scripture. Verse 8 tells us when the antichrist will be removed by the use of the word "then." The word "then" is referring to verse 8 and to the Holy Spirit (He) in the Church being removed (from the earth) with the Church.
There are also those who say that there is no such thing as a person who will be the antichrist. They only acknowledge a "spirit of antichrist." But, again, they violate the clear meaning of the scriptures.
1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.
In this scripture John tells us that the spirit of antichrist (1 John 4:3) has influenced many people who left the truth (1 John 2:19) and went out and away from the teaching of the Holy Spirit (1 John 2:26-27). But, he also identifies a singular person who will have the title of "the antichrist." The book of Revelation calls this person "the beast," and is revealed in Revelation chapter 13.
It is the "catching away" (rapture) of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17) that removes the restraining power from the earth. The restrainer is the Holy Spirit abiding in and empowering the Church to resist Satan's dominion. It would be impossible for the Holy Spirit to be the sole restraining power that is removed, thereby leaving the Church on earth without any power.
The third level of restraint is governmental. Throughout the scriptures God used nations to restrain other nations according to His will. He did this by orchestrating certain events (by the power of His Spirit) that brought about governmental change. He used kingdoms to punish other kingdoms and even (at times) to punish His own people.
In other words, God uses nations of His own choosing to restrain Satan's use of nations to promote evil in this world. God will even use nations that are not totally righteous to be His restraining force on an international level. This concept will help us to understand America's present role in this world.
America is not sin-free, but America was founded one nation under God to be His restraining force in these last days. America is the only nation in the world that has the power to resist the forces of evil that desire to destroy mankind.
It is very evident that America is that nation chosen by God to restrain the evil intentions of mankind operating through governments. Consider World War I and II. It was America that provided the power and means of victory in those two events. Without the restraining power of America the outcome of those wars could have been much different.
At this time in history we have a Christian President who I believe will be led by God to make the right choices. This will certainly be so if the Church will restrain the powers of darkness in the heavenlies. We should stand our spiritual ground and resist the enemy as well as pray for our leaders to be led by God.
It is unfortunate that many in the Church have chosen to be a voice of opposition against the President instead of praying for him. This opposition actually releases a curse against President Bush and gives Satan a place to work against him. We should, instead, be a restraining force against the evil one's intentions for the President and our country.
America will become more involved as a restrainer in these last days. This is God's purpose for this nation, and He has equipped this nation to do His work. We must understand this commission and stop crying, "Peace and safety." God has a divine purpose for this nation, and that is to be an international restraining force against terrorism. Terrorism is Satan's plan of destruction for these days. It is his way to destroy Israel and the American way of life. It is his method of opposition to the pursuit of the freedom to worship our Creator.
America has been chosen by God to be a defender of Israel. We are quickly moving towards the fulfillment of Ezekile chapter 38. I believe that this war will come before the antichrist is revealed and actuallly set the stage for his appearance. I also believe that America will be the "young lions" that challenge those who would destroy Israel.
These are the three levels of the "restraining power" that God has given His people. May we each use that power personally so that we can be used corporately. And then, corporately we may do our part in the spiritual war so that our nation can fulfill its destiny as one nation under God's purposes for these last day.