The Doctrine of Christ
Triumph And Deliverance
The first man sinned: and in him the whole race. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned …” A two-fold effect resulted from the first man’s sin: he became guilty before God; and he became subject to Satan (Rom. 5:12).
When Adam sinned, he suffered spiritual death. In the day that he sinned there entered sorrow, and tears, and trouble, and pain. His whole existance was enveloped in death, for he was without God, without life, without hope, dead in sins; but he was also a child of disobedience and therefore under the righteous condemnation of God; a child of wrath facing an eternity of judgment.
He was also in bondage to Satan. He had been taken captive by the devil at his will. Because he now loved sin, he was no longer able or willing to resist the temptations of the devil, for he was in his power. Satan became the god of this world: “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” The whole world was under his domination. The character of the devil began to be manifested in the lives of men, until it had to be written: ‘And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart … for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth’; and though God destroyed man from the face of the earth, his corrupt nature reappeared after the judgment of the deluge (Gen. 6:5-6, 12).
God’s Declaration of War Upon Satan
The word which the Lord God addressed to Satan after the entrance of sin was actually a declaration of war: “Because thou hast done this …I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel.” This was the first prophecy. The devil “…was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh the lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” True to his nature, he lied to Eve; and in spite of God’s warning, both she and Adam believed the lie and found themselves in the bondage of corruption. Instead of being loved, God came to be hated by His creatures. Then the judgment of God was pronounced: firstly upon Satan; then upon the woman; and finally upon the man (Gen. 3:14-15; John 8:44).
But at the same time God revealed the plan of redemption. Since by man came death, by man must come life from the dead. The first man failed-utterly. Being under the authority of Satan, he had neither the will nor the power to return to God. Then for God’s purpose there must be a second Man who would not fail: One capable of suffering death without being subject to it. God therefore ordained the incarnation of His Son, for He alone could fulfil all the obligations of the Redeemer. The Son of God must become Son of Man.
The Second Man the Lord from Heaven
When the time had fully come. God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons… For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil’ (Gal. 4:4-5, RSV.; 1 John 3:8).
The Lord Jesus Christ was fully aware of this aspect of His coming for from the beginning of His ministry He began to destroy the works of the devil. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him.” The powers of evil were also aware of His identity and purpose, for in the synagogue at Capernaum He opened His attack upon them. “And there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with Thee, Thou Jesus of Nazareth? art Thou come to destroy us? I know Thee who Thou art, the Holy One of God!” And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him! And when the unclean spirit had torn him, and cried with a loud voice, he came out of him. And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth He even the unclean spirits, and they do obey Him. And immediately His fame spread abroad throughout all the region round about Galilee” (Acts 10:38; Mark 1:23-28).
When the Pharisees accused the Lord of casting out demons by Beelzebub, He used the occasion to announce His power over the forces of Satan and to foretell by implication the mighty work which He was about to do against the devil and his hosts: “…if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house… When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace; but when a stronger than he shall come upon him, and overcome him, he taketh from him all his armour wherein he trusted, and divideth his spoils” (Matt. 12:25-29; Luke 11:21-22).
From the time of His coming into the world, the Lord Jesus Christ was the object of Satan’s enmity. Every evil means at his disposal was used against God’s holy Son. This enmity was foretold by God Himself. Satan’s attacks were of two kinds, characteristic of his nature: he used corruption and violence. Satan sought to corrupt His soul, as he had done so successfully in the case of the first Adam. By direct attack upon Him in the wilderness he sought to tempt the Lord by appealing to the three lusts: the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life; but as there was no sin in Him, Satan was repulsed and rebuked. Then he sought to discredit His teaching, and he even tried popularity; but the Lord was proof against all these. Then he resorted to violence. He made several attempts to bring about His death prematurely. Finally, when God’s time had come, Satan loosed all the iniquitous forces of his power against Him: resulting in His sufferings and culminating in the Cross (Gen. 3:15).
The Lord’s Power Over Satan
The Lord Jesus Christ was the one man over whom Satan had no power. From the beginning the Lord resisted all the onslaughts of Satan — as might be expected of the Holy One of God — with divine dignity; but when the sufferings of the Cross were about to begin He said, ‘Father, the hour is come…’ From then on He yielded to His enemies. His attitude towards what He was about to suffer was that of submission: “No man taketh it (His life) from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of My Father.” Peter, who was a witness of His sufferings, wrote: “Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously …” (John 10:18; 1. Pet. 2:21-24).
On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit revealed through Peter that, in spite of the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ had been crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men, His death was according to the predetermined plan of God. They nailed Him to a cross, yet, in that moment of utter weakness, when the powers of darkness seemed to be victorious, God the Omnipotent was, by that very act of suffering death by crucifixion, rendering the devil himself powerless and working deliverance for every one who was in bondage to him. After the Lord’s death, God displayed “the exceeding greatness of His power” by raising Him from the dead, thereby fulfilling His master plan of redemption: the bringing into being of an entirely new creation: holy in character as Himself (Acts 2:23-24; 2 Cor. 5:14-18).
The Lord’s Triumph
The means whereby the Conqueror overcame Satan was two-fold: by enduring the judgment of God against sinners and delivering them from sin’s bondage: by His blood and by His power: by His death and by His resurrection. As He approached the Cross He said: “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all unto Me. This He said, signifying what death He should die.” God’s righteous judgment was executed against His beloved Son on behalf of sinners; and as Satan derives his power over men from their sin, the taking away of that sin deprives him of his authority (John 12:31-33).
The Second Man, the Lord from Heaven, He against Whom we have sinned, became answerable for the sin of the world and put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself; as it is written: “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 deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” “… and you, being dead in your sins, and the circumcision of your flesh hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 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 His cross; and having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it (the Cross)” (Heb. 2:14-15, 9:26; Col. 2:13-15).
Having fully and finally dealt with sins, the Lord rose from among the dead and thereby delivered His own from the kingdom of darkness and translated them by a new creation into His own kingdom. Now for them death has lost its terror, for He has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light. Satan and sin have dominion over them no longer for they have passed from death to life. Those who were once slaves to sin now serve the Lord Christ. “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Col. 1:12-14; Rom. 6:1-18).
Moreover, “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” has been cast out and replaced by Him for Whom His own were originally created — the Holy Spirit of God. Satan usurped power over the creation; but he can have no power at all over God’s new creation; for it is in Christ: “far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” The Holy Spirit Himself is in possession of the hearts of His redeemed ones; and from those hearts, once full of enmity against God, flows the love and worship and praise for which God in love created man in the beginning (Eph. 1:21).
By the Cross the world and its god have been judged, and God had declared that the execution of that judgment will surely come to pass. It is written: “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Rev. 20:10).