Victory Over Satan
Tuesday of Pentecost 12
9 August 2016
Jesus conquers Satan and binds him through His death and resurrection. Just how this occurred has been a subject of intense debate since the second century of our era. Was a just debt owed by God to Satan for the souls of those under his sway? If so, wouldn't that place God under the power of Satan and call into question God's almighty power over all things, Satan included? Wouldn't this view implicitly endorse a dualistic view of the universe in which God and Satan are equal opponents squabbling for control of mankind? Perhaps.
 
Yet there is a strain of biblical thought that sees God snatching from Satan's control those who through sin became subject to death. But not as equal opponents. Christ triumphs over Satan. No doubt. We can see the outlines of the conflict, like the war correspondent standing on the edge of the field of battle. We know when the battle is over. We know that our Lord has triumphed. And even though Scripture speaks of the weapon of His blood, a precise accounting of the weapons He used and the strategy by which He conquers unseen opponents are not as important as the fact of His victory. To that we will testify. The victory is won.
 
God hides His weaponry and power under meekness and humility. God does not unleash His power to conquer death, as He undoubtedly could, but by taking the weak form of human flesh into God, Christ became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Christ places Himself under debt to Satan, even though Christ Himself owed nothing. He who had the power to throttle Satan, permitted himself to be hung up to the ridicule of the satanic hordes only to be able to parade triumphantly in Satan's domain (1Pt 3:19). Bound by our enemy, He burst the bonds of death so that he who sought to bind by death was bound by His dying. We who were bound now are loosed, so that we are free from the second death, having died the first death with Him who is death's death.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Augustine of Hippo
 
"It is not difficult to see that the devil was conquered when He who was slain by the devil rose again. It is something more, and more profound of comprehension, to see that the devil was conquered when he thought himself to have conquered, that is, when Christ was slain. That blood, since it was His who had no sin at all, was poured out for the remission of our sins. This occurred because the devil deservedly held those whom, as guilty of sin, he bound by the condition of death, that he might deservedly loose them through Christ, whom, as guilty of no sin, the punishment of death undeservedly affected. The strong man [Satan] was conquered by this righteousness and bound with this chain, that his vessels might be spoiled (Mk 3:27), which with himself and his angels had been vessels of wrath while with him, and might be turned into vessels of mercy (Rm 9:22-23).
 
"For the Apostle Paul tells us the words of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself that were spoken from heaven to him when he was first called. For among the other things which he heard, he speaks also of this: 'I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles-to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me' (Acts 26:16-18). And hence the same apostle also, exhorting believers to give thanks to God the Father, says: 'He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins' (Col 1:13-14).
 
In this redemption, the blood of Christ was given, as it were, as a price for us, by the acceptance of which the devil was not enriched, but bound. He is bound that we might be loosened from his bonds, and that he might not with himself entangle in the meshes of sins, and so deliver to the destruction of the second and eternal death (Rev 21:8) any one of those whom Christ, free from all debt, had redeemed by pouring out His own blood even though He was not obligated to offer it. Instead, those who belong to the grace of Christ, foreknown, and predestined, and elected before the foundation of the world (1Pt 1:20) would only so far die as Christ Himself died for them, that is, only by the death of the flesh, not of the spirit." 

Augustine, On the Trinity, 13.15
Hebrews 2:14-18

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. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.   (ESV)
Prayer
Lord Christ, You have been death's undoing. Grant us so to live that we might every day die to sin and live unto righteousness. Send Your Holy Spirit that we might continually believe and confess that such dying is life. Amen.
 
For all those who are deployed to foreign fields in service to the country, that they might know the gratitude of their fellow citizens
 
For all who live in the married estate, that husbands and wives would love and cherish each other
 
For those who are preparing to be married, that they might rejoice in the gift of the lifelong union of own man and one woman in the estate created by God at the beginning
Art: Durer, Albrecht   The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
©  Scott Murray 2016