Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at roger@preachitteachit.org.

Dear Roger,

I’m just confused on one point, where does it say that Satan has open access to Heaven? And, there are scriptures that say no sin can dwell in the presence of God, so Heaven isn’t where God is right now?

Sincerely, Seth

Dear Seth,

We hear all the time from people that there is no sin in Heaven! Who says so!? Most people don’t realize that Satan has open access to Heaven even now. We think of Heaven as a place of perfection and peace where there is no more sorrow and no more sin. We are thinking of the permanent Heaven and not the present Heaven. God will one day erect a new Heaven and Earth because the present Heaven is soiled with sin.

Unfortunately there is pain and suffering in the present Heaven. For example, in Revelation 6 we see in the present Heaven a group of martyrs who are weeping as they plead for God to wreak vengeance on their persecutors.

God does not remove all the tears from Heaven until Revelation 21 (when He puts the permanent Heaven into place.).

We must be careful not to confuse the present Heaven with the permanent Heaven. At the "end time God" will create a new permanent Heaven and a new Earth where there are no longer any tears or sins.

Don't misunderstand me. The present Heaven is intimacy with Jesus Christ and all that implies. I can hardly wait to talk to Jesus--and see Jessie and mom and dad again! I want to kneel before the Savior and declare, "Jesus Christ is Lord” with countless millions. Jesus has work for me to do based on how well I managed the resources that He gave me to work with while I was alive on Earth. I am looking forward to my new responsibilities and getting to work!

Let me answer your questions succinctly.

Three times the Bible shows us Satan in Heaven. In Isaiah 14 he was living in Heaven when He rebelled. God cast him out of Heaven. Then, in Job 1 and Job 2 Satan is allowed back in Heaven where he argued with God concerning Job's righteousness and loyalty to God. Finally, in Revelation 12 God will cast Satan permanently out of Heaven and down to Earth where he fosters Great Tribulation on the Earth.

By the way, I don't know the answer to your question about reconciling Satan being in Heaven with the fact that God will not allow sin in His presence. This is a mystery to me. I think that we will just have to ask God when we get to Heaven.

In terms of practical application, let me tell you why your question is more important than you probably realize. These passages make clear that we are involved in an intense spiritual battle with Satan here on Earth. He blinds the eyes of unbelievers so that they cannot see the glory of Christ. He can bring us pain, suffering and devastation. He is out to steal, kill and destroy our abundant life in Christ. We are the "pawns" in the game of Heavenly chess as God and Satan fight over our loyalty and commitment to Christ.