Sunday, 3 January 2016

Where will we be standing?

Paul makes several staggering statements in his writings. One of them is found in Romans 16:20 where he says that the God of peace will soon crush the devil under the feet of believers. What is staggering about this prediction is that when the victory was first announced in the Garden of Eden it was a prophecy of what the Messiah would accomplish.

The apostle may have included this encouragement in his letter because he was aware of some attempts by the devil to disturb the church in Rome. Or he may have assumed that in one way or another the devil would be working to disturb the church there. Whatever the case, he reminded the believers of their ultimate victory over the powers of evil.

How should we as believers respond now to sharing the guaranteed victory of Jesus in the future? One way is to remind ourselves that his victory has three aspects. The first is that on the cross Jesus defeated the devil by removing the grounds by which he accused God’s people of their sins. Jesus did this by paying the penalty when he offered himself as an atoning sacrifice.

The second aspect of the victory is that Jesus defeats the devil day by day by exercising saving power as, through the gospel, people are brought to a knowledge of their sins and turn to God for mercy. Each conversion is a defeat of the devil, which means that heaven has many victories. When a sinner trusts in Jesus, Satan has been defeated and a captive has been rescued from his grip. The defeat of the power of the devil continues throughout a believer’s life as he resists temptations to sin and instead is enabled to live a holy life. Each act of obedience is evidence of victory over the power of the devil.

The third aspect will occur when Jesus will defeat the devil at the second coming in the sense that he will be banished into the lake of fire forever. At the same time, believers will inherit the new heavens and new earth and will never again have a single wrong thought or temptation. The victory will be complete.

On that day, the victory will also be rapid. The word that is translated ‘soon’ can also mean ‘quickly’. When this day comes, God will deal very quickly with the devil – it will take him less than a second to show the difference between omnipotence and the strongest creaturely power.

The comforting words of the apostle detail for his readers the determination of God to have this final victory after a long campaign. Billions of lost sinners who found the Saviour will participate in the triumph. It will be a marvellous sight to see. The question that arises is, where we will be standing when that day comes?

(reflections after evening service)

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