What did the cross achieve? – Part 2

So yesterday we looked at the fact that the cross is a “penal substitution” – all this really means is Jesus took the punishment we rightly deserve, so that we aren’t punished. This morning I want to look at how the cross provides victory over Satan.

Hollywood loves us to believe that good and evil are equal forces, and that while good will ultimately win, it’s a hard fought battle, and they almost lose. This is not the biblical view at all. The bible says it may look like evil can have appearances of putting up a good fight, but the devil and evil have already been defeated. This can be seen in two ways no more death and no more guilt.

No more guilt

 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”  And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by. (Zech. 3:1-5)

This is a vision of what the cross would enable from the Old Testament. Satan is seen to make Joshua feel guilty and accuse him of his sins (dirty clothes), but all his iniquity is taken from him and he is made pure. This means that guilt can no longer be used against him. We see this reiterated in the New Testament:

And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister. (Col. 1:21-23)

You are no longer able to be accused and therefore are released from guilt, we are holy and blameless through the death of Jesus.

No more death

Death was also defeated at the cross:

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Heb. 2:14-15)

This passage is showing us that through Jesus’ death, the devil was defeated. The devil had power over death, and we were held captive through the fear of death. Now we are freed from this slavery, we need no longer fear death for it has been defeated. Christ rose from the dead so that resurrection may come to many:

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1 Corinthians 15:20-26)

Jesus’ resurrection has defeated death and always provides reassurance for the Christian that death is not the end for them, but that when he returns, Jesus shall resurrect all who belong to him into eternal life. Death is no longer final, it is now described as falling asleep.

Yesterday we said that death was not just physical though, but also that, at the Fall, spiritual death occurred. The great news of the cross is that through Jesus, we are not only going to be physically resurrected, but we are also spiritually resurrected:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by cancelling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (Col. 2:13-15)

We can now see that our sins (trespasses), which caused our spiritual death, have been forgiven. We can now be alive together with God. Specifically he did this at the cross, through the penal substitution we discussed yesterday.

Satan has no hold over God’s children

We can read passages like Ephesians 6 and think that the devil still has the power to thwart God’s plans:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Eph 6:10-17)

This is certainly how it can feel, that its a constant battle, and the devil may win at any moment. We can see here though that we are given everything we need to stand firm, and that he has no real power now. We have the truth, righteousness, the gospel of peace, faith, salvation, the Spirit and the word of God. Through God, we can now extinguish all that Satan throws at us (with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one).

We are not left to fend for ourselves, but God has already won, we are now armed so that the devil cannot defeat us. The Spirit equips and arms us, and we put on God’s armour. We stand in the strength of the Lord, not our own strength. We can stand firm, for the Lord protects us, he does not leave one aspect of our bodies and lives unprotected.

Prayers for Today

Today, I want to thank God that I know however hard life gets that Jesus is victorious, and evil has already been defeated. I want to ask him to help me feel free from guilt and enjoy the pleasure of knowing I am holy and blameless in God’s sight. I want to thank Jesus that died so that I could have life even though I do not deserve it. I shall praise God that there is no enemy that he has not defeated, and ask to feel assured that I cannot be pulled away from him by anything.

 

(All scripture quoted from English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK)

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. )

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