This teaching includes a free sermon outline to download for personal use, message preparation or Bible study discussion.
What the Cross Did to Satan
If you stay long enough with me you’ll learn some things about me. One is that I am a great believer in review. And so we’re going to begin with a brief moment of review about the five ways to apprehend God’s Word. So I’m going to hold up my fingers one at a time and I’m going to expect you to tell me what is represented by each finger.
Hearing. All right.
Wonderful! All you have to do is do it!
Now we’re going to continue with our outline and we’ve come to a very crucial place in our studies. The word crucial is probably the appropriate word because you know what crucial means. It’s from the Latin word crux, for the cross. So “crucial” is that which relates to the cross, but we use it because anything that is crucial confronts us with some kind of important decision, which the cross always does. We’re going to speak about what the cross did to Satan.
Now, there’s one person that really doesn’t want you to get this message. You know who that is? Satan, that’s right. So you’re going to have to be alert, and you’re going to have to resist any kind of distraction or pressure that would hinder you from receiving.
First of all, we need to look at the picture of two kingdoms, which is presented to us very clearly in the New Testament. And it’s one of the great basic revelations of the New Testament—that there are two spiritual kingdoms. One is a kingdom of light and the other is a kingdom of darkness. And every one of us has to be involved with these kingdoms; we have no choice. In fact, every one of us by nature was born into a kingdom of darkness. But through the cross we have the option to escape from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light.
Let’s look at the teaching of Jesus, first of all, in Matthew 12, and we’ll look at verse 26–28. The background of this teaching is that Jesus had been dealing with somebody who was blind and dumb and His way of dealing with it was to cast out the evil spirit that caused the blindness and the dumbness. Now, most of us confronted by somebody who was blind and dumb probably wouldn’t think of that solution. But I want to tell you—of course, it doesn’t apply to everybody who’s blind and dumb—but it is a very real solution.
When we were in Pakistan, less than two years ago, we announced (“we” being a team of seven of us)... we announced that we would pray for the sick. And there was never any shortage of sick people to pray for. I would say 90% of the people who came to the meetings were sick. And that’s about the average percentage of sick people in Pakistan.
And I won’t go into all the details, but... well, I will just say this: We had the greatest difficulty in controlling the Pakistani women. I am definitely not a woman-hater, but I got provoked with those women, because they were totally undisciplined. They’d never had any discipline anywhere. The men had had some kind of discipline, but the women wouldn’t sit where they were told, they wouldn’t stay where they were told, they’d get up in the middle of the meeting, go to the pump and wash their baby, they’d fight over where they were going to sit. So, something rose up in me which could possibly have been the old man, I don’t know, but I said to them one morning, I said, “Now, you women have been very disobedient, and we’re going to punish you. This morning we’re not going to pray for any women. We’re only going to pray for men.” Well, I’ll tell you, they got the message!
So, when we came to the end of my teaching session, we had two or three hundred men lined up in front of the seven of us (and we were three couples and one brother on his own [Mahesh Chavda]) and we just plunged into this river of people and started to pray. It was about the only time in Pakistan we laid hands on people. Generally speaking, we just prayed a collective prayer.
So I found myself opposite this man and he put his fingers in his ears and then he touched his mouth and I understood he was telling me he was deaf and dumb. Well, I remembered this incident here and I knew, theologically, the right thing to do. So, I said to myself, “Well, I’ll do it and see what happens!” So, in English, I said . . . I didn’t say to him, I said to someone else: “You deaf and dumb spirit that’s in this man, I’m commanding you in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, come out of him!” And then I said to the man, “Say, hallelujah!” And, to my surprise, he started to say it! I don’t know who was more surprised, the man or me! I said to myself, “It works!”
Well, they got him up to the platform and demonstrated that he could hear and he was beginning to speak, and I tell you, that impacted that crowd. Then, knowing that it worked, I just went around for the next ten minutes, Ruth and I went around looking for deaf and dumb people—and there’s no shortage of them in Pakistan. And I think in the next ten minutes we probably saw ten totally deaf and dumb people instantly healed.
So I just want to say, this is not out of date, this method of dealing with dumbness and in this case, with blindness. But when Jesus dealt with it that way and delivered the person from the blind and dumb spirit, the Pharisees accused Him of being in league with Satan. They said the reason why He can cast the spirits out is that he is in league with the chief of the spirits, Beelzebub (which is one of the names of Satan). And Jesus then proceeded to give this answer. So this is the background. And we’ll read now Matthew 12:26–28. The reason I’m reading these verse is they bring into the open the two kingdoms we’re talking about. And we have the authority of Jesus Himself.
“And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.”
You see there in verse 46, He says, “How will Satan’s kingdom stand?” demonstrating that Satan has a kingdom which is in being. And then He says, “But if I cast out demons,” that’s the evidence that the kingdom of God has come to you. So there we have the two kingdoms in opposition to one another. Two spiritual kingdoms, not physical kingdoms—one is the kingdom of Satan, the other is the kingdom of God. And it’s interesting that it’s in the ministry of casting out evil spirits that the two kingdoms are brought out fully into the open. And the supremacy of God’s kingdom is demonstrated when the evil spirits have to obey the representative of the Lord. This brings out the fact of the spiritual realities that we are all confronted with, and in particular of these two kingdoms—the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan.
Now, Satan’s kingdom includes people, as I understand it—or beings—on two levels. I’m telling you what I believe, what I believe the Bible says, but I invite you to make your own determination as to whether you believe this is what the Bible really says. I believe Satan rules over beings on two levels. On the earthly level, he rules over all those who are disobedient to God—all human beings who are disobedient. And on a higher level, in what the epistle to the Ephesians calls “the heavenlies,” he rules over a kingdom of rebellious angels who followed him in his initial rebellion against God. We’ll see both of these are referred to and specified in Ephesians. We’ll look, first of all, in Ephesians 2 and we could read the first three verses. Talking about what God has done through Jesus, Paul says:
. . . You He made alive[that’s put in to make the sentence complete], who were dead in trespasses and sins
Now that’s very obvious that’s not physically dead, but spiritually dead, cut off from the life of God by trespass and sin. And then, speaking about how those people lived before Jesus made them alive spiritually, Paul goes on to say:
. . . trespasses and sin, in which you one walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.
Now, you’ll notice that in the middle of verse 2 Paul refers to a person whom he calls “the prince of the power of the air.” “Prince” is rather an Old English word. The modern versions, I think, use “ruler.” “The ruler of the realm of authority designated by the air,” which is, I believe, the surface of this globe. I think I have to say this, I wanted to avoid it, but . . . there are two Greek words for air. One of them is aer, the other is aithere. I won’t write it in Greek letters, but this is the first one; the second one is aithere. Now, each one of them gives us an English word. This gives us the English word “air,” and this gives us the English word “ether.” That doesn’t mean that’s the exact meaning of them.
Now, in Greek aerdenotes the lower air, contiguous with the earth’s surface; aitheredenotes the higher, rarer air. So, when it says that this person is the ruler of the realm of authority defined by the aer, it means the ruler of the surface of the globe. Who is that person? Satan, that’s right. He’s the ruler of the realm of authority of the air. He is the spirit (he’s ruling as a spirit, not as a physical monarch) . . . the spirit who now is at work in the sons of disobedience; that is, all who are disobedient to God, irrespective of race, or creed or church membership. He is the spirit who is at work in all those who are disobedient or in rebellion against God. Those who are rebellious against God have no choice. God has consigned them to the rulership of Satan, you see. It’s God that gave authority to Satan to rule those who are in disobedience. And then the next verse describes the way these people lived. But at the beginning of verse 3, Paul says, “among whom also we all once conducted ourselves.” “We all” includes Paul, the apostles, Derek Prince, and everybody here. That’s where we all once were. We were in the kingdom of Satan because we were disobedient. Does anybody disagree with that statement? We were all “sons of disobedience.” And we lived this way, fulfilling the desires (or the lusts) of the flesh and of the mind. Some people sin primarily in the realm of the flesh; lots of others sin primarily in the realm of the mind, which is just as sinful. Pride. Arrogance. Haughtiness. Criticisms. Self-righteousness. It’s just as sinful as sexual lust or immorality or drunkenness. And some of us, like me, sinned in both when we were there.
I have to say “we all”—that includes me. You can put my name on that list. I know where I was. That’s where I belonged. I was in the kingdom of darkness. I was under the control of a spiritual power that was much stronger than I was. And I didn’t even know my condition.
You see, when you’re in the kingdom of light, you know where you are. Because you can see. But when you’re in the kingdom of darkness, you don’t know where you are. You don’t know what’s controlling you. You don’t know what’s motivating you.
So that’s Satan’s kingdom. The key word is disobedience or rebellion and you remember what Isaiah 53:6 says: “We have all gone astray. We have all turned to our own way. And God has laid on Him the iniquity [or the rebellion] of us all.” Rebellion is our problem. And let me say again: Any version of religion that doesn’t deal with rebellion is inadequate.
All right. Now let us turn on to Ephesians 6 and look at verse 12. Now, Ephesians 6:12 is one of my starting points for a whole series of teachings and I’ve got to be careful that I don’t “get in the groove” and just go on. I’m just doing it as a point of reference.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
Somebody commented once that the Church, by and large, has punctuated that verse wrong. I don’t know whether you’ve ever heard this. The Church says, “We do not wrestle, period.” That’s not what Paul is saying. He says we wrestle, but it’s not against flesh and blood. It’s not against (and this is The Living Bible) “persons with bodies.” (That’s a very vivid translation.)
We are in a wrestling match. We are in a conflict. But we’re not wrestling with persons with bodies. It’s in a different realm. It’s in the spiritual realm.
What are we wrestling against? It’s a stupendous thought. Paul says, “principalities and powers.” You’ll find the modern translations say, “rulers and authorities.” The Prince version says, “rulers with various areas and descending orders of authority.” That’s the Prince amplified version. If I took time to justify it, we wouldn’t get anywhere today, so you can just either take it or leave it.
But we are dealing with rulers who have authority in different areas. Like in the book of Daniel, there was the Prince of Persia, who was a satanic ruler. And then there was the Prince of Greece, who was another satanic ruler. They were rulers with different areas of authority. But their habitat is not on earth. It’s in the heavenlies.
And then it says, “against the rulers of the darkness of this age.” Or, my translation is: “the world dominators of this present darkness.” I use the word dominate, because I think that is characteristic of Satan. Satan’s ambition and purpose is to dominate the entire human race.
And then it says, “spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly regions or heavenly places.” Now, we could spend hours on this, but I’ll just offer you my understanding of it. I believe that’s the upper echelon of Satan’s kingdom, and it refers to the angels that joined him in his rebellion against God. They were cast out of the heaven of God’s presence and set up a rival kingdom in another area of the heavenlies. I think there are many Scriptures that demonstrate that. But I don’t have time . . . it’s not my theme . . . to go into that. But in actual fact, I would say, just to take an example from my own background, the gods of Greece and Rome (Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Venus, and all the rest) are just names given by humanity to satanic angels who are in the heavenlies, you understand. They claim to be the gods of humanity. The Bible has a whole lot to say about false gods and I believe the false gods are the angels that joined Satan in rebellion against God, set up a rival kingdom in the heavenlies.
If you look at the book of Daniel, you’ll find that when Daniel started to fast and pray, God sent an angel with the answer. But it took the angel 21 days to get there. That’s not because he was slow traveling. It’s because he encountered opposition from satanic angels on the way. You’ll find this in Daniel 10—we’re not going to turn there. So, somewhere between the heaven of God and our plane on earth, there is this other spiritual kingdom of evil angels—rebellious angels who set themselves up as gods. I don’t think you can really understand what’s happening in our contemporary culture unless you understand this. Because what is happening is those evil angels are claiming to reestablish their dominion over the human race wherever it has been challenged by Christianity. Many, many different countries. New Zealand is one conspicuous example. The resurgence of what they call the Maori culture, that’s simply reinstating the old gods. It’s done in the name of culture in many different places. But what that “culture” is is a satanic order of worship that existed before Christianity challenged it.
All right. So we’ve got a picture of Satan’s kingdom. I hope I’ve succeeded in making it clear to you. And listen, brothers and sisters, whether we like it or not, we are at war with that kingdom. When it says, “we wrestle,” it’s not saying, “we apostles wrestle” or “we pastors wrestle” or “we evangelists wrestle.” But all of us are involved in this wrestling match. We have no choice.
You see, I’m a citizen of the United States. If the United States declares war on another nation, let’s say Japan (which, God forbid!), I don’t have any choice. I’m at war with Japan. I can’t be a citizen of the United States and not be at war with a nation that’s at war with the United States.
So if I’m a citizen of God’s kingdom, and God’s kingdom is at war with Satan’s kingdom, I am at war with Satan’s kingdom. I don’t have an option. All I have an option is to win or to lose. That’s the only option I have. And if you don’t know you’re at war, you’re rather liable to lose.
All right. Now, what did the cross in respect of these two kingdoms? What I’ve been saying is to establish a foundation for what I want to follow up with.
I want to turn to Colossians 1. This is a very key Scripture. Colossians 1, beginning at verse 12, which is in the middle of a sentence, which is characteristically where I tend to begin.
giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.
God has made provision for us through our faith to become partakers of an inheritance that’s in the light. The contrast is within the darkness.
How has He done that? Now the next verse is absolutely crucial, in every sense of the word.
He [that’s God the Father] has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. . . .
Now, where my version says, “the power of darkness,” I think the NASB says, “the domain of darkness.” The Greek word is the standard Greek word for authority, exousia. We have been delivered from the “authority” of darkness, which enforces what I said that Satan has authority. You need to know that. He has authority over all who are disobedient to God. If you choose to be disobedient to God, or if you are disobedient to God without choosing it, you are under Satan’s authority. You may not know it, because he’s the prince of darkness, he conceals what he’s doing. But that’s your situation.
So there is a domain of darkness, but through what Jesus did on the cross, God has delivered us from the domain of darkness and translated us (the modern translations say “transferred us”), carried us over into the kingdom of the Son of His love. The kingdom in which the Son whom God loves, Jesus, is King. And if you want to be righteous, you have to be under the kingship of Jesus. Because He’s God’s appointed ruler. If you’re not under the kingship of Jesus, you’re rejecting God’s authority because it’s vested in Jesus.
And then it says in the next verse:
in whom we have redemption [some of the versions say “through His blood,” some leave that out—but it’s not important because it’s stated elsewhere) . . . the forgiveness of sin.
So, our being delivered from the domain of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God comes through redemption. Redemption means “being bought back.” We were in the kingdom of Satan, but Jesus bought us back, that we might be transferred into the kingdom of God. This is very, very important.
You see, the real message of the gospel is not just the gospel, it’s the gospel of the kingdom of God. We have truncated the message and we tend to say, “What is the gospel?” The gospel is, “If you believe in the death of Jesus on your behalf, you can be forgiven, you can be saved, you can have eternal life, and you can go to heaven when you die.” That’s wonderful, but it’s not the whole gospel. The whole gospel is “the gospel of the kingdom of God”—that you’ve been in Satan’s kingdom but through redemption you can be transferred out of Satan’s kingdom into the kingdom of God and then you become a ruler with God in His kingdom. You see, that’s been left out. We are a kingdom of priests. We’re called to rule as priests.
This became vivid to me . . . I was in Zambia, which is . . . through which the beautiful Zambezi River passes and I was talking to a group of Africans, and I was trying to communicate to them what I’m trying to communicate to you, and there in the background was this beautiful river. And I said to them, “Now, listen. Suppose here we’re in one kingdom, but on the other side of the river there’s another kingdom. And we want to get out of this kingdom and into that kingdom. We need a bridge. And God has provided a bridge. The bridge is the cross. Through the cross, you can get out of the kingdom of Satan, cross the river, and get into the kingdom of God. But,” I said to them, “the problem with most Christians is, we’ve got out of the kingdom of Satan, but we’re still hanging around on the bridge. We have never discovered what it is to be in the kingdom of God. We have never taken our role as kings and priests. We’re not ruling, we’re just happy if we can get by.” Yes or No?
A lot of Christians have the attitude: If the devil doesn’t bother me, I won’t bother him. I want to tell you something: he’s a bully. And where he meets timidity, he’ll always exploit it. It’s not a safe attitude. My attitude towards Satan is: If he tries to make trouble for me, I’m going to do my best to make him sorry that he ever thought of doing it. And I discovered he respects that attitude. It doesn’t mean I’m always successful, but I’ll try.
So, the cross is the bridge. Out of one kingdom, into another kingdom. Out of the kingdom of darkness, where you’re dominated and manipulated and enslaved by a dark, evil ruler whose name is Satan. And you’re brought out of that kingdom by this wonderful bridge and it’s such a powerful bridge that it doesn’t matter if millions of people cross over, it can hold them up. You’re brought into a kingdom where Jesus is the ruler, the Son of God’s love, a kingdom of light, a kingdom where the law is love. And you’re offered the privilege of sharing the rule with Jesus.
Listen, I think I need to convince you of that. Turn to Ephesians chapter 2 for a moment. Ephesians 2:4–6, which follows on immediately the description of the people who are in Satan’s kingdom. You remember we were all by nature “sons of disobedience . . . and the sons of wrath,” I didn’t bring that out, but disobedience provokes God’s wrath. So we were under the wrath of God. Now we come to one of the beautiful “buts” of the Bible.
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us [the only motive of God is love], even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. . . .
I want you to notice that when we receive the sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf, by faith, and when we say, “Jesus died my death [that’s the crucial statement] that I might share His life.” You see, there’s a double identification. First of all, Jesus identified Himself with me as a sinner. He took my sin upon Him, He bore my guilt, He paid my penalty, He died my death. Now, to avail myself of that I have to respond by identifying myself with Him. I have to say, “That’s where I died. My old man was crucified.” And when I identify myself with Him in His death, I have the right to follow through everything that came after His death.
The next scriptural step is what? To be buried, that’s right. How are we buried? By baptism, that’s right. And when you’ve been buried with Him, then, Paul says, three more things: (verse 5) God made us alive together with Him, (and verse 6) God raised us up, resurrected us with Him. But don’t stop there. God made us sit together with Him in the heavenly places. What kind of a throne, (I gave you the answer!)... What kind of a seat is Jesus sitting on? A throne, that’s right. The New English Bible says, “God has enthroned us with Him.” That’s a very vivid translation.
So through our identification, we pass through death and burial, we’re made alive (that’s wonderful), we’re resurrected (that’s tremendous), but don’t stop there. We are enthroned with Him. We’ve come out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of God’s love. We are called to be rulers, priests, kings. That’s our destiny. And it’s been made possible only through the cross. The cross is the only bridge out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light.
Now, not merely did God make provision for us to be delivered from the kingdom of darkness, but through the cross God totally defeated Satan. He administered to Satan a total, eternal, irreversible defeat. There is no way that Satan can ever undo the defeat that was afflicted on him by the death of Jesus on the cross.
Let’s look now in Luke 11:21–22. This follows immediately on Luke’s description of the incident that we looked at earlier of the blind and dumb person being delivered of the evil spirit, and it’s in that context and the context of the two kingdoms that Jesus goes on with this little parable. Luke 11:21–22:
“When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are in peace. But when a stronger than he comes upon him and overcomes him, he takes from him all his armor in which he trusted, and divides his spoils.”
Now there’s two main persons referred to there: the strong man and the stronger man. Who’s the strong man? Satan. Who’s the stronger man? Jesus. That’s right. We need to say Jesus for this one. Okay.
What does the stronger man do? (verse 22:) He overcomes him. He takes from him all his armor. And he divides his spoils. That’s a tremendous statement. Not merely has Jesus defeated Satan, He’s taken his weapons from him. And in doing that, He’s released his captives and all his ill-gotten gain. A lot of resources that Satan had grabbed are up for liberation by the Church when we realize that Jesus divided the spoil. He said, “Help yourselves! Move in and take it! It doesn’t belong to him! He’s a liar! He’s a thief! He has no right to it. I own it. I’ve taken it. It’s for My people.”
Then again, in John 12:31–32, Jesus is now predicting His death on the cross and He says:
“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples [or all men] to Myself.”
The second verse makes it clear He is talking about His death on the cross: “if I am lifted up from the earth.” And in that connection, He says two things: It’s the judgment of this world. It’s the final revelation of the world’s enmity against God, that it took the Son of God and put Him on a cross. That’s the ultimate condemnation of this world. And second, He said, “now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” Who’s the “ruler of this world”? Satan. Jesus calls him that three times in John’s gospel.
We need to pause for a moment and consider what is meant by the word “world” in the New Testament. The Greek word is cosmos, from which we get such words as cosmonaut, and so on. But don’t let that confuse you, because the meaning is different.
In the New Testament, the word “world” refers to a certain sociological order, an order of human life and culture and system on which humanity is based. It doesn’t refer to the earth, you understand. It doesn’t refer to the universe.
To take an example: it says that “in the days of Noah when the flood came the world that then was perished.” Now the earth didn’t perish. But that whole social order of humanity perished. So we’re not saying that Satan is the ruler of the earth—that’s another issue. He’s the ruler of the present order of human life on earth and the reason why he’s the ruler is because this whole order of life today is based on disobedience to God. It rejects the righteous government of God and therefore comes under the rule of Satan. It’s very, very important to understand that. I find that today most Christians really don’t have a very clear idea of what is meant by “the world” in the New Testament. In fact, to be honest, it’s very hard to distinguish between the world and the Church. I’ve said sometimes, you may have heard this, it’s a little parable:
A ship in the sea is all right
The sea in a ship is all wrong.
The church in the world is all right
The world in the church is all wrong.
I think there’s going to be a tremendous crisis in the Church not far ahead, where we will have to determine our real relationship and attitude to the world. I often ask Christians this: Who has had more influence whom? Has the church influenced Hollywood more? Or Hollywood influenced the church? I’ve never yet had anybody tell me that the church has influenced Hollywood. But Hollywood has certainly influenced the church—to an extent that most of us don’t even appreciate.
So, when Jesus calls Satan “the ruler of this world” He’s talking about a world order that we were all born into, we’re all used to, we’re accustomed to, we can find our way around in it, but the essence of it, in the sight of God, is it is not submitted to the righteous government of God. It’s in rebellion against God. We come back to that verse, that word, rebellion.
Now, Jesus said, referring to His death on the cross, look now in John 12:31:
“Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.”
His territory comes to an end. Where? At the cross. That’s the boundary. He cannot go beyond the cross. That’s the absolute limit, the area of his dominion and control. You and I have to decide on which side of the cross are we living. Because if we’re living on Satan’s side of the cross, we haven’t escaped his dominion. We’re still under his control.
Now we come to a tremendously important Scripture in Colossians 2, which explains how the cross terminated Satan’s control. How the cross freed us. And I’m probably going to spend a good deal of time on these verses because if we don’t understand them, we lose our authority and our right to operate as sons of God. Colossians 2. We’re going to read verses 13–15. But notice verse 12, which says, “buried with Him in baptism.” Bear in mind that that’s the real point of identification with Him, is being buried with Him in baptism. Once we’re buried we have the right to go all the way up. Let’s look now then in verse 13, 14 and 15:
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh [and that’s reminiscent of the words in Ephesians 2, isn’t it? It’s exactly the same.], He [that’s God the Father] has made alive together with Him [Jesus the Son. So actually we’re speaking now about something God the Father did through the death of Jesus on the cross.] having forgiven you all trespasses
. . . or all (what other words do we have) transgressions, iniquities, sins—actually it means acts of disobedience. That’s the real . . . A transgression means stepping over a line that was set as a boundary, you understand. It’s deliberately disobeying something that you know is there. Sin is just doing the wrong thing, maybe not even knowing that it’s the wrong thing. All right. Verse 14, this is the center of it:
having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. [Verse 15:] Having disarmed principalities and powers [which principalities and powers? Which are we referring to? Satan and his kingdom.]
Having disarmed [I think the old King James says, stripped, spoiled—taken everything from him]
Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.
The word “triumph” refers to the culture of the Roman Empire in that day. A triumph was more than a victory; it was the celebration of a victory that had already been won. If a Roman general was particularly successful in the wars of Rome, defeated major enemies, or added territory to the Roman Empire, when he got back to Rome the Senate of Rome would vote him a triumph. And the triumph consisted in this: He was placed in a chariot drawn by I think one white horse (it may have been two) and he was then led in this chariot through the streets of Rome. And the people lined the streets on either side applauding him. But to demonstrate the scale of his victory, behind his chariot in a long, long row were led the evidences of those he defeated: kings, generals, or others, soldiers, and then even wild beasts from the territories. And they were all led as captives, in chains. This, for instance, is what happened when Titus destroyed the city of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. When he got back to Rome, he had a triumph and the last remnant of the Jewish defenders were led in chains behind his chariot. When the triumph was finished, they were led off and executed. So that it’s a very vivid picture.
What does it tell us? It tells us that through the cross Jesus not merely defeated Satan, but He took all his enemies and led them in triumph behind him, demonstrating their total defeat.
Now, this is a little extra, but I think if you keep your finger in Colossians and turn to 2Corinthians 2 and verse 14, which is the verse that Ruth and I recited for you yesterday. It says:
Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
The NIV says, “leads us in triumphal procession in Christ.”
But, what can mislead you? Now I want you to give me your careful attention for a moment. Picture this scene: Here’s Jesus in the chariot, all His defeated enemies are being led behind Him, the inhabitants of the universe are on either side of the street applauding him. Where do we fit in? Where do we belong? Are we amongst the defeated enemies being led in chains behind Him? No. That’s right. We’re in the chariot. We need to bear that in mind. We are in the chariot with Him. How do we get into the chariot? That’s right. By faith. You have to believe that’s where you are. Is that the picture?
Then it says there (and we’re near the end of this session so I don’t want to go back to Colossians. We’ll start Colossians again . . .) Through us He diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. This is a most beautiful picture. When you take your rightful position with Jesus in the chariot, you diffuse a beautiful aroma.
You know, a lady’s scent, or perfume, is a fascinating thing. And the human nose is a remarkable instrument. Because it can pick up fragrances that no scientific instrument can measure. And when a beautifully attired lady walks in her evening gown to whatever it may be, a party, a ballroom, and she has on her expensive Parisian perfume (of course, that doesn’t apply to any of us here—but I mean, this is just an example). Afterwards she leaves something behind her. A fragrance. And you’re not quite sure where it came from at first, but there’s something left in the atmosphere. A fragrance.
And that’s how it is when we live in the victory of Christ. When we pass through a place, we leave a fragrance behind us. People may not know where it comes from, they may not understand.
This was made so vivid to me in 1979 when Ruth and I spent about three months studying at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and we chose to rent a room in a small Jewish home near the university. We chose a home where the couple who owned it didn’t really speak any significant amount of English. And we had a room that was 10 feet by 13, a bathroom next door, which was a typical construction (every time you wanted to use the toilet, you had to walk through the shower), and Ruth had one shelf in a small refrigerator and the right to use the kitchen at certain hours. And there we lived for three months.
It was a house that was all terrazzo; very few, if any, carpets, so every time you moved a chair, the whole house resounded. And both the couple and we kind of tip-toed around, trying not to get in other people’s way. And this went on for about a month. And then something happened. I don’t quite know what. But there was a breakthrough. And the man asked me why I was like I was. You know, they had been observing us closely for a month. And I was able to give him my personal testimony of how I had met the Lord Jesus in a barrackroom and He had changed me. And then we became real warm friends. Later Ruth was able to give her testimony, which was very significant because she was Jewish, you see. You may not know it, but that’s a very controversial area to touch on.
And then this lady, she was in her 60s I suppose, she said one day to us. She said, “I knew you were special people.” And that’s one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received. But, you see, it was the fragrance that came out of the chariot. They said, “We can’t understand how you can have such peace living in such a small room in the circumstances in which you are.” Amen.
All right. Next session we’ll really go into Colossians 2.