The Banner Of Truth 2014
Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. (Psalm 60:4 )

"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
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The Works that Jesus Destroyed
By Al Stoner
 
“For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (I Jn. 3:8).

 

There is much confusion in the church world regarding the nature of the defeat and demise which our adversary the Devil suffered when sins were put away by Christ. From the earliest times the doom of the old serpent had been foretold, as it is written, “I will put enmity between thee (Satan) and the woman, and between thy seed and her Seed (Christ); it (the seed of the woman, Christ) shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise His heel” (Gen. 3:15). The more precise entailments, however, of that double bruising (namely, of Christ’s heel and Satan’s head) remained to be later enlarged upon and elucidated by the Lord and His Apostles.
 
The Destruction of Disobedience. The works that Jesus came to destroy were the works of disobedience to God. Paul spoke of “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Eph. 2:2). Everyone that is outside of the Lord Jesus Christ is presently influenced by and, even subject to being, animated by Satan, the world’s prince (cf. Jn. 14:30; 16:11).   And in many instances, men “are taken captive by him at his will” (II Tim. 2:26).  The Devil is subtly, yet busily, at work among the sons of men stirring them up to disobedience against the living God with a great arsenal of schemes and “devices” (II Cor. 2:11) that are calculated to bring men down to perdition and condemnation with himself (cf. Mt. 25:41; Rev. 12:12; see also I Tim. 3:6).  Whether men fall by covetousness, or seemingly innocent pleasures of this life, or by involvement base wickedness, or even by outright rebellion against the living God, is of no consequence to the old serpent. 
 
Satan is presently at work in “the children of disobedience” (men and women who have not obeyed the gospel), and wherever and whenever there is any recalcitrance toward, and disregard for, the Lord and His Christ, there the Devil has left his distinctive mark. It matters not who the individual is.  But every time a man, woman, boy, or girl obeys “from the heart that form of doctrine (baptism) which was delivered” them (Rom. 6:17) and continues in the faith, grounded and settled therein (cf. Col. 1:21-23), it can be truly said that some more of the works of the Devil have been effectively destroyed. The same also is true regarding those who are in Christ, whenever they confess sins, repent of sins, and, from time to time, recover themselves from sinful involvements (cf. I Jn. 1:8-10), the works of Satan have been destroyed in such ones as well (cf. I Jn. 3:8). Let us praise God for this! This is, no doubt, some of the cause for the rejoicing among the holy angels when a sinner repents (Lk.15:7, 10).
 
On the Spoiling of Satan. “That through death He (Christ) might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the Devil” (Heb. 2:14). The word “destroy,” as it is generally used in Scripture, does not mean to annihilate, but rather to spoil, or plunder, or neutralize the effect of. Satan has obviously not been annihilated, for he is yet walking about as a roaring lion, “seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8).
 
But wherever men today are living in submission to God, and are drawing near to Him through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, they are exhorted to “resist the Devil, and he will flee from” them (Jas. 4:7). (We do not read of Satan fleeing from men in the time of Moses and the prophets, nor do we see instances where individuals of that former era were consistently successful in resisting him.) But the very fact that he has to flee from men who resist him today is, in itself, unequivocal evidence of his having been spoiled, or destroyed.
 
Satan and the Power of Death. Comparing Scripture with Scripture, it can assuredly be said that the Devil never had the power to kill in the sense the God unquestionably does (cf. I Sam. 2:6). However, sin, when it is not repented of and forsaken by men, will certainly eventuate in death and condemnation.  “Sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (Jas. 1:15), the Scripture declares. Thus, “the power of death” that Satan has is indirect and it is consequential. He entices men to sin, and, if they yield to his allurements, sin will inevitably result in death and condemnation, when it is not earnestly repented of and forsaken.  Let us make no mistake about this!
 
A Current Day Error. In this connection, let us not fall into the snare of putting all of the blame on Satan when we sin. “The Devil made me do it,” has become a popular slogan among the people of our generation. But James clarifies this matter for us when he states that “every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (1:14). Therefore when we sin, though we have been tempted, yet the blame must be placed squarely upon our own unmortified (cf. Rom. 8:13; Col. 3:5) sinful lusts. If this were not the case, there would be no need for confession and repentance, in order to obtain forgiveness. And if we were not the ones at fault, then there would not even be any need to seek forgiveness. Let us see that we judge this matter aright!  Let us also give unto ourselves that we are calling sin what the Word of God identifies as being sin.
 
Why Christ was Manifested. “And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins; and in Him is no sin” (I Jn. 3:5). Christ was manifested that He might destroy the Devil’s works and, as the Apostle had just declared in almost the same breath, He was manifested to take away our sins. The way that Christ destroyed Satan’s works was by the means of taking away sins. He “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself” (Heb. 9:26)! He triumphed over satanic principalities and powers in His Cross (cf. Col. 2:14-15)! Christ Jesus was “crucified through weakness” (II Cor. 13:4), and yet, even at this point of great weakness, our Lord was triumphing over Satan! Let us ever give thanks unto God for His great wisdom and mercy that has been demonstrated to usward in the spoiling of these evil principalities and powers by our Lord Jesus Christ!
 
That He Might Destroy the Works of the Devil.  The word “might” here is not expressing a possibility as though Jesus might, or might not, destroy the works of the Devil.  The word is rather expressing great certainty, having the sense of should, or being at liberty to do so, which sense also can be expressed by this word.
 
Sin, the great Alienator. Sin had always been the great alienator of men from God: therefore all of Satan’s works, in one way or another, had, and still have, the intent of either provoking or enticing men to sin. (And whenever we behold men sinning, it can truly be said that this is the work of the Devil (cf. I Jn. 3:8).  But now that Christ, the Lamb of God, has taken “away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29), sins can only alienate men from God when they are not confessed and repented of, and where the gospel is not obeyed from the heart.
 
God is For Us. The New Covenant, also, with its associated inscribing of God’s laws upon the heart and mind, effectively enables men and women, who have obeyed the gospel, to regard sin in the same way and with the same mind that God does.  This, of itself, is a great advantage (cf. II Cor. 2:11) that we have been given of God over the Devil! And not at all to make excuse for our transgressions, but when we sin, praise God, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous” (I Jn. 2:1)! The provision of the writing of the law of God upon the heart and, as well, that of the Advocate unequivocally demonstrate that God is for us (cf. Rom. 8:31)!          
 
The End of Satan. “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). This shall be the ultimate destruction, or spoiling, of the old serpent and his works. When he is finally cast into the lake of fire, he will no longer be able to deceive (cf. Rev. 12:9; 20:10), tempt (cf. Mt. 4:3; I Th. 3:5), murder (Jn. 8:44), devour (I Pet. 5:8), or harm the children of God in any sense of the word.
 
Let us, in conclusion, praise God that Apollyon (Rev. 9:11), the destroyer of men, has been effectively plundered by the Savior at the present time, and that the complete and total spoiling of both Satan and all his works is but a “short time” (Rev. 12:12) away! As the Devil fiercely engages the sons and daughters of God, enticing and provoking them to sin, because he knows that he has but a “short time”, let us also renew the battle each day and hour against sin, rejoicing that the conflict for us also can last no longer than a “short time”, as well.  And let us give thanks for the Lord Jesus, who was “manifested” to “destroy the works of the Devil”!Al Stoner



"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;  and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).