12“Buried with Him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. 13And you, being dead in your sins and uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross; 15And have spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
The writings of many theologians in the first thousand years after Christ suggested that they saw the work of Christ on the cross had “another world” view—the world of demons and the devil. You see it in their art, their ideas and their theology.
When it comes to the devil and demons there are usually three false extremes.
· The extreme of Fascination. The Gothic crowd seems strangely attracted to evil and darkness.
· The extreme of Superstition. In Haiti approximately 90 percent of the people practice some form of voodoo, called black magic, which is essentially devil-worship.
· The extreme of Rejection. One man arrogantly proposed, “It is impossible to use electric lights and the wireless, and to avail ourselves of modern medical and surgical discoveries, and at the same time believe in the New Testament world of demons and spirits,” Rudoff Bultmann, Kerugma and Myth, 1953, pp. 4-5.
There are some very strange ideas that people have regarding what Jesus’ death on the cross did and how Satan was involved.
There is a teaching floating around some, mostly among the charismatic/word of faith circles, that when Jesus died, he descended into the torments of hell, fought the devil and his demons, in order to claim our complete salvation. Some have even gone so far as to say that Jesus’ death on the cross did not gain salvation for man, it took Him going to hell and spending three days in the torments of hell.
Some medieval theologians taught that the death of Christ constituted a ransom payment to Satan for sin. Origen (185-254), who was a leader of the Alexandrian School in Egypt, suggested that as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve Satan had acquired a formal dominion and ownership over all of humanity and the rest of the world. Origen taught that in order to free people from the grip of Satan, God agreed to arrange the death of Jesus, His Son, as a ransom price to be paid to the devil. This would formally compensated for Adam and Eve's sin, and would release humanity from Satan's grip. Origen wrote: "The payment could not be [made] to God [be]cause God was not holding sinners in captivity for a ransom, so the payment had to be to the devil." C. S. Lewis held to a “Ransom-to-Satan” theory of the atonement–which can be seen clearly in his book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. This idea is clearly unbiblical, for the ransom was not paid to Satan, but to God the Father. Satan is not God’s equal nor is God obligated to pay him anything but judgment for his rebellion. Satan does not have a legal right over mankind, but only the power to accuse us before the Father and tempt us to disobey God. Dr. Robert Morey explains that “Christ did not pay a ransom to Satan...but, rather, Christ’s ransom was paid to God to remove sin for it is by sin that Satan holds us captive. By removing our sins through the death of Christ, God delivered us from the power of darkness.” We are indeed set free from the bondage of sin for we read in Titus 2:14 that Jesus is the one “who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity.” The work of Christ brought sinful men out of slavery and purchased their freedom.
Another strange idea is that there was a three-day party in hell when Jesus was placed in the grave. Dancing, drinking, even singing, a wild celebration of the death of the Son of God went on inhell. But early Sunday morning the party was cancelled when Jesus rose from the dead. It makes were interesting reading, but it is not in the Bible.
“The three great achievements of the cross...saving sinners, revealing God, and conquering evil,” John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.17.
There has been an on-going “Cosmic Conflict” since the beginning of creation. Satan took his stand against God and fell through pride. One-third (1/3) of the angels followed him in rebellion, Revelation 12:4. Satan led in the temptation of Eve and Adam in the Garden of Eden. Satan even tried to kill Jesus at His birth, Matthew 2:13. “But, preacher, that verses says Herod was trying to destroy or kill the child Jesus.” That’s right, but the one behind Herod, moving him to such evil was Satan. Read about it in Revelation 12:1-5. There the “woman” is the nation of Israel, the baby is God’s Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the “dragon” is Satan.
Satan was on “high alert” in the last hours of Jesus.
· Satan was working “in” Judas, entering into his heart, John 13:2, Luke 22:3; John 13:27.
· Satan was working “on” Peter, “sifting him as wheat,” Luke 22:31.
· John 12:31 “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”
· John 14:30 “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.”
· John 16:8, 11 “And when He (the Holy Spirit) is come, he will reprove the world...of judgment, because the prince of this word is judged.”
· And on the cross, Jesus was waged war with Satan. Probably the most overlooked attendee at the cross is Satan. Psalm 22:21, “Save me from the lion’s mouth.”
I love the way John Phillips says it. “Satan could not harm him (Jesus), for He came. Satan could not halt Him, for He conquered (demons, disease, death and disaster). Satan could not hinder Him, for He controls. Satan will do his worst, but his plans will be foiled,” Exploring Revelation, p. 157.
What did the cross mean to Satan? A survey of the biblical evidence suggests four answers to that question.
1. The Devil was Defeated on the Cross.
The long-awaited fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 occurred through the cross. God said, “I will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman, and between thy (Satan’s) seed and her seed; it (the woman’s offspring) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise is heel.”
This is the first promise given after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. It is also the first gospel sermon ever preached. Theologians call it the “protoevangelium,” or first gospel. These words spoken by God contain the first promise of redemption in the Bible. Everything else in the Bible flows from these words in Genesis 3:15.
Satan delivered a terrible blow to Jesus on the cross. God said, “Thou” shall bruise His heel. Satan was behind the crucifixion. No doubt he thought he had thrown a knockout punch. But he was wrong. All he did was strike Jesus on the heel. As painful as it was, that suffering was nothing compared to what Jesus did to Satan. Jesus would win this battle over evil and crush the head of the ugly Serpent.
· 1 John 3:8 “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifest, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
The word “destroy” doesn’t mean to annihilate, it means to “render powerless.” Like a mighty machine that has lost its power, when Jesus died on the cross, he “pulled the plug” on Satan. In this present age Satan seems to be very powerful, but he can do nothing without God’s express permission. He is like Samson shorn of his locks, unable to do anything on his own. The day is coming when his utter impotence will be revealed to the universe and those who followed him will discover that they were following a toothless lion.
2. Death was Destroyed at the Cross.
· Hebrews 2:14-15 “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And delivered them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
Of all the fears that grip the hearts of modern men and women, none is greater than the fear of death. We don’t like to talk about death, and in fact we will do anything to change the subject. That’s one reason we turn to alcohol, drugs, sex, pleasure, and the pursuit of power. It’s also one reason why we become fanatics about our health. Down deep in the human heart there is a fear of death that Satan uses to keep us enslaved.
· “Man must be a coward or a liar who could boast of never having felt a fear of death,” Duke of Wellington.
· “No rational man can die without uneasy apprehension,” Dr. Samuel Johnson.
Don’t mistake the point. Satan has no power to kill you or anyone else. He can do nothing without God’s permission. But he plays upon our fear of death to keep us in the chains of sin. That’s why the Bible says the sting of death is sin, 1 Corinthians 15:56. When the unsaved die, they die with their sins still upon them, like a heavy burden, a vast weight bearing them down to hell. They die miserable, angry, frustrated, and fearful because they don’t know what to do with their sins.
Death reigns because of Adam’s sin, Romans 5:12-14. And death brings judgment. And the thought of judgment brings fear. But now through Jesus Christ we have his infallible Word that “whoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die,” John 11:26.
John Stott comments that for the Christian, death has become a “trivial episode,” a minor inconvenience and nothing more. If we know Jesus, death is like closing our eyes and one moment later opening them in heaven.
Unbelievers don’t have that privilege nor do they understand our confidence as we enter death’s door. For them death is the end–or so they think. For us, it is the next step in our eternal life with God.
· Jesus stand in victory over death and the grave,1 Corinthians 15:55-57.
· 2 Timothy 1:10 says Jesus Christ “abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.”
3. Demons were Disarmed at the Cross.
· Colossians 2:14-15 “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
To “spoiled” someone means to take from them the means by which they might hurt you. If a man has a gun pointed at you, he’s not disarmed until you take the gun away from him. As long as he has the gun (and sufficient ammunition), you’re in big trouble. When Jesus died on the cross, he took the guns and the ammo out of the hands of the demons. And he publicly humiliated them. Picture the Roman legions returning from a successful war. As they enter the city, vast throngs of woman and children line the streets. On and on they march, a seemingly endless parade. Then come the victorious generals, each one accompanied by singers, dancers, and musicians. Finally at the end of the procession you spot a long line of weary, dirty, emaciated men. Their hands are tied, they shuffle one after another. They are the defeated soldiers, now brought back to be displayed as proof of Rome’s invincible power.
When Jesus died, something stupendous happened in the spiritual realm.
Although demons have great power, they have been disarmed and cannot harm us unless we “re-arm” them by our sinful compromise. Though they attack us, if we will use the “shield of faith” provided for us, every fiery dart will be quenched. Some Christians live in unnecessary fear of the demonic realm because they have never understood the victory Christ won for them. On the other hand some believers suffer oppression because they nurse wrong attitudes and dabble with evil. That’s like giving the devil a loaded gun and saying, “Why don’t you go ahead and shoot me?” He’ll always be glad to oblige you.
4. Disciples are Delivered through the Cross.
Revelations 12:11 declares, “And they overcame him (the great Dragon, the Devil, Satan, v. 9) by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.”
According to Acts 26:18 the great work of our Savior on the cross for the Gentiles was “to open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in” Christ.
- Two Fathers...God and the devil, John 8:44.
- Two Worlds...God’s kingdom and the devil’s kingdom.
- Two Deaths...Physical death and spiritual death (the second death).
- Two Eternities...Heaven and hell.
- But there is only One Saving Gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ...His death,
burial and resurrection for our sins according to divine Scriptures.
Confusion: Why is the devil still doing his dirty deeds? If you have been following my sermon thus far, there is only two questions left unanswered,
The first one is a big one: If Christ defeated Satan, why is there so much evil in the world? In the words of a popular Christian book, Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth. He doesn’t look very defeated to me. Certainly the devil seems to be having a field day. How else can you explain a woman suffocating her own children? How else can you explain three white men dragging a black man to death in Texas? How else do you explain evil in the White House, Satanism on the rise, and pornography like a filthy river flowing over the Internet?
If Satan is defeated, he either doesn’t know it or else he’s taking the news very well. I put the matter that way because the New Testament presents the truth about the devil in two different ways. On one hand, we are told over and over again that at the cross Satan was defeated as completely as anyone can be defeated. On the other hand, we are warned about the devil who roams about as a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). And we are told to put on the armor of God so we can stand in the evil day (Ephesians 6:10-17). Is this not a contradiction?
I think the answer is obviously “no,” but we need to do some careful thinking at this point. What happened at the cross was indeed the total defeat of Satan. In legal terms he was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to ultimate, eternal destruction. However, that sentence has not yet been executed. There is no way for Satan to escape it. Perhaps we should say that Satan is currently out on bail, wreaking havoc left and right, waiting for the day when he will be cast into the Lake of Fire once and for all. Until then he is destroying lives, breaking up homes, and disrupting God’s work as much as he can.
If you would prefer a military analogy, the cross was what D-Day was to World War II. Once the Allies came ashore in Normandy, the German defeat was certain. Although much fighting would ensue, and many soldiers would die, the Allies won the war on June 6, 1944. Satan’s D-Day happened when Christ died on the cross. Since then his defeat has been certain, his ultimate surrender guaranteed. Meanwhile, he fights on in his desperate battle, a defeated but still dangerous foe
“The three great achievements of the cross...saving sinners, revealing God, and conquering evil,” John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p.17.
God has revealed Himself in the cross.
God has conquered evil through the cross.
The only question that may remains for some to answer is, “Has His dying work saved my soul?”