Chapter 40 The Conquest Of The Devil

Now shall the prince of this world be cast out (John 12:31).

In Revelation 5:5 the Apostle John was told not to weep because “the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” And when John turned to see the Lion, he saw “a Lamb as it had been slain”—which means that the Lord Jesus had won a complete victory over “that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan” (Revelation 12:9; 20:2); and He did so on the cross as the Lamb of God.

The world is full of sin, and only God’s Word gives us the fact of how it entered. The devil, in the form of an enticing and seducing serpent, that is “a shining one,” deceived our first parents and, by prevailing over them, changed their nature.

The moving cause of our being born in sin, and living in sin, is clear. It is the devil. He is a mighty, skillful, and malignant power. He is “the prince of this world” (John 12:31). His sway is worldwide. All men, by the derivation of their life from Adam, are born the slaves of Satan, to whom Adam had yielded himself, and soon they begin to do his evil works.

Nor can men free themselves. His fetters are strong. “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.” So said our Lord in John 8:44. And that devil is “the god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4). He has attractive idols and decks them with great show. The world is full of them. Multitudes worship at their shrines. Because the devil is a spirit, he has access to the secret places of the human heart.

The first promise of God was that the promised Seed of the woman (Christ) would bruise Satan’s head. As soon, therefore, as man was ruined, he who ruined him was also doomed to ruin. The devil’s temporary success was to end in his own final defeat and despair. In the fullness of time the Saviour came. Our Lord went unto the death of the cross to meet this great enemy in his own stronghold. At that cross the Lord Jesus not only defeated Satan and stripped him of his power as a personal victory, but He did so on our behalf, so that we might share that victory.

The Natural View

To the natural eyes of men, the cross would not have appeared a victory for our Lord. It would have been impossible for any natural man to look at the cross and think of Jesus as a conqueror. He had been rejected by His own nation, betrayed by Judas, denied by Peter, deserted by His disciples, condemned by pagan Rome, seized by evil men, nailed to a cruel cross; then He bowed His head and died. It would surely have appeared that even Jesus was now held in Satan’s prison of death, and that He would be detained there.

The conquest of Satan was costly to God’s beloved Son. The first promise in Genesis 3:15 spoke of it—that the serpent would “bruise Thy heel,” that is, the lower part of His being—His body. That became true when our Lord’s “visage was so marred more than any man” (Isaiah 52:14). The detail of His sufferings is written largely in Psalm 22, and includes the awful words: “All My bones are out of joint” (verse 14). This was His bruising!

The battle was first joined when the Son of God came into the world as the Son of man. In the days of His ministry on earth, His authority over the powers of hell was manifest in His casting out of demons. There were evidences of the evil one’s retreat from the Lord. In each of such cases the Lord Jesus was plundering the strong man’s palace and was taking his goods.

The Divine View

The Bible insists that the Lord won a complete victory in the cross over all the powers of hell. The final battle was joined in the cross. The categorical statements of Colossians 2:15 and Hebrews 2:14 make this clear: “And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it [the cross].” “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.”

The Lord disarmed Satan so that never again did he have a weapon to raise against the Son of God, which fact is manifest in our Lord’s postresurrection days and in His ascension. The devil dare not approach Him.

In His dealing with Adam’s race, the devil brought the whole race under his power. Then, when the Son of God became Son of man, the strategy of Satan was to wait until the Lord was “crucified [in] weakness,” and then to fling all the powers of hell at Him, hoping to overcome Him. But the Lord flung them off, “triumphing over them.”

The end of the combat shows where victory is! Our Lord burst the doors of death, came forth from the dead, showed Himself alive, ascended in triumph to the throne of God, and is now proclaimed “the LORD mighty in battle” (Psalm 24:8).

The word “destroy” does not mean to annihilate. The Lord Jesus did not annihilate Satan. The word means “to render idle” or “ineffective.” It also means “unproductive.” The devil does indeed retain power over those who are his slaves, but he has been stripped of all power over the Lord Jesus and those who abide in Him.

A mighty fortress is our God,
A bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He, amid the flood
Of mortal ills prevailing.
For still our ancient foe
Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great,
And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide
Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side,
The Man of God’s own choosing.
Dost ask who that may be?
Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His name,
From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

Martin Luther