Christians are involved in a tremendous conflict that spans the whole universe, from heaven to earth. The battle is between God and the forces of good on the one hand, and Satan and the forces of evil on the other. The devil is an archangel who, because of pride, led his angels in rebellion against God and set up a rival kingdom. The Scriptures picture him as a dragon, a serpent, a murderer, a liar and a thief. Satan opposes God, God’s purposes, and God’s people, and in his opposition to us he has three objectives: to steal, to kill and to destroy.
Fortunately, the good news of the gospel is that through Jesus’ death on the cross, He defeated Satan on our behalf in two primary ways. First, He made it possible for us to obtain forgiveness of pasts in. Second, He made it possible for us to receive God’s righteousness by faith without having to observe the law. In this way Jesus deprived Satan of his chief weapon against us, which is guilt.
Jesus has also put spiritual weapons in our hands with which we can administer His victory over Satan. In 2 Corinthians 10:4–5 we read, “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh [they are not physical or material], but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses” (NASB). Our spiritual weapons supplied by God are divinely powerful—literally translated, they are “powerful through God.” As we operate these weapons that God has given us, in faith and in dependence upon Him, the very power of God Himself is available to us.
We are not to be on the defensive in our battle with the enemy, wondering where Satan is going to strike us next, but we are to be moving out on the attack against his fortresses to destroy them with our spiritual weapons. We must not remain passive. We may tend to say, “I am so weak; I am so unworthy. How can I fight?” But it is the devil who puts these words into our minds. In a certain sense, we are weak. However, listen to these words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:27–28:
“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.” (NIV)
In His infinite wisdom, God has chosen weak and unworthy people like us to overthrow “the things that are”: Satan’s kingdom. Our confidence is not in ourselves, but in our weapons.
What are our spiritual weapons? One passage that describes them is Revelation 12:10–11, which immediately follows the passage describing Satan as the drag on and the serpent:
“Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down. They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” (NIV)
The crucial statement here is this: “They overcame him.” Notice the direct, person-to-person conflict of believers with the enemy. Their weapons in the fight were the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. In addition, they were totally committed to the battle, even to death.
I interpret this text in a simple, practical way: We overcome Satan when we testify personally to what the Word of God says the blood of Jesus does for us. When we use these three weapons together—the blood of Jesus, the Word of God and our personal testimony—we make them effective. But to do this properly, we must know what the Word of God says about the blood of Jesus.
The Passover Lamb
In 1 Peter 1:18–19 we read:
“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (NIV)
Here Jesus is compared to the Passover lamb.
Under the old covenant, the blood of the Passover lamb was applied to the homes of Israelites. The father of each family killed the Passover lamb, collected the blood in a basin and transferred the blood from the basin to his home with a simple instrument—a little bunch of hyssop. He dipped the hyssop in the blood and then sprinkled it on his home. So the hyssop was essential because the blood remaining in the basin gave no protection. But the blood placed on the home by the use of the hyssop protected the family.
Our hyssop is our testimony. When we testify about what the Bible says the blood of Jesus does, that is like taking the blood from the basin and sprinkling it over the place where it is needed—the place where we live.
Redemption and Forgiveness
In Ephesians 1:7 Paul says, “In him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace”(NIV). Paul here states two things that are provided for us by the blood of Jesus: redemption and forgiveness of sins. In order to make these provisions effective in our lives, however, we have to make the appropriate testimony. This is the message of Psalm 107:2:“Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy” (NKJV). We have to declare boldly, “I am redeemed from the hand of the enemy”—that is, from Satan.
To redeem means “to buy back.” We were once sinners, displayed in Satan’s slave market for sale. But Jesus walked into Satan’s slave market and bought us back out of the devil’s possession with His own precious blood. This redemption from the enemy is based upon the forgiveness of our sins. To make Christ’s redemption and forgiveness effective in our lives, then, we must use our personal testimony, saying, “Through the blood of Jesus, all my sins are forgiven. Through the blood of Jesus, I have been redeemed out of the hand of Satan.” That testimony, when we make it with our own lips, is like the hyssop. It transfers the power of the blood of Jesus from the realm of the potential into our practical daily living.
Yet another vital provision of the blood of Jesus is cleansing from sin. This provision for cleansing from sin is stated in 1 John 1:7: “But if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (NASB). If we walk in the light, then, the first result is fellowship with one another, and the second result is that we are cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
All three verbs—walking, having fellowship, being cleansed—are in the continuous present tense. They do not just happen once; they must goon continually. We must continually walk in the light to continue having fellowship one with another and for the blood of Jesus to continue cleansing us.
Although we may claim the cleansing of the blood of Jesus, if we are not meeting the conditions, we will not really be cleansed. The blood of Jesus does not cleanse in the dark, but only as we walk in the light. The first test of whether we are walking in the light is whether we are having fellowship with one another. If we are not enjoying fellowship with our fellow believers and with the Lord, then we are not in the light. And if we are not in the light, the blood of Jesus does not cleanse us.
The next question, then, is how we walk in the light. The first condition is that we must walk in obedience to the Word of God. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and alight for my path” (NIV). The second requirement is that we must have fellowship with one another.
This is summed up by Paul in Ephesians 4:15 where he says,“ Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (NIV). In this passage, walking in the light is defined as relating to our fellow believers in truth and in love. We must be willing to act out the truth in our relationships with one another, but we have to do it in love.
Walking in the light consists of two actions put together: walking in obedience to the Word of God, and walking in truth and love with our fellow believers. When we meet those conditions then we can say with full assurance that the blood of Jesus is cleansing us from all sin.
Today we are very conscious of the physical pollution of the atmosphere around us. But the spiritual atmosphere around us is also polluted—by sin, corruption and ungodliness. In order to be kept clean, we need the continual cleansing of the blood of Jesus.
Having made sure that we are meeting the conditions for cleansing, we are in a position to make the appropriate confession. Our testimony should be this: “As I walk in the light, the blood of Jesus is cleansing me from all sin now and continually.” If we believe that, we will begin thanking God. And as we thank Him, we will feel pure and clean in a new way.
A further provision of the blood of Jesus is justification. This is made clear in Romans 5:8–9:
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (NIV)
The key phrase is “justified by his blood.” Justify and justification are keywords in the New Testament. To justify actually means “to make righteous, to acquit from sin, to hold guiltless. ”The best definition of justification that I have ever heard is this: Through the blood of Jesus, I am justified—“just as-if-I’d” never sinned. How can we say that? Because we are justified through the blood of Jesus, we receive the righteousness of Jesus Christ, not our own righteousness—and Jesus Christ never sinned.
In 2 Corinthians 5:21 Paul says, “God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (NIV). Notice the exchange. On the cross, Jesus became sin with our sinfulness, assumed the penalty and the judgment of our sin, and paid the full price of redemption by shedding His own blood. In Him we become the righteousness of God—not our own righteousness nor any kind of human righteousness, but the very righteousness of God Himself. God has never known sin. He has never been defiled with sin. That is the righteousness we receive through faith in the blood of Jesus. Through the blood of Jesus, then, I am justified, made righteous with God’s righteousness. I become just-as-if-I’d never sinned.
This, then, is the answer to Satan’s accusations against us. Why is he accusing us? Because he wants to prove us guilty. Therefore the primary testimony that overcomes Satan’s accusations is this: “Through the blood of Jesus I am justified, made righteous, just-as-if-I’d never sinned.” For that reason I can stand before God without shame or fear, and I can answer Satan with total boldness: “Satan, it is vain to accuse me, because I am not meeting you in my own righteousness. I am meeting you in the righteousness of God which is without spot, without sin, without stain.”
The next provision of the blood of Jesus is sanctification. To sanctify means “to make holy,” and to make holy means “to set something or someone apart to God.” A holy person is someone who is set apart to God. Hebrews 13:12 says, “Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate” (NKJV). In other words, He was crucified outside the city to sanctify the people through His own blood.
The use of blood for sanctification is clear in the Passover. The blood of the Passover lamb set Israel apart to Godin a specific way. In Exodus 11:4–7 God’s intention to set the Israelites apart is revealed:
“So Moses said, This is what the LORD says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborns on of the slave girl, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal.’ Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.” (NIV)
The Lord made a distinction between those who were His people and those who were not His people. Wrath and judgment came upon those who were not God’s people, but God’s people were so totally protected that not even a dog would bark against them. The basis of this distinction, this separation, was the blood of the Passover lamb. Any home that had the blood on the outside was sanctified, or set apart to God. No evil power could invade that home because the Lord had made a distinction between His people and those who were not His people. The distinction was made by the applied blood of the lamb.
In the same way that we have applied the other provisions of Jesus’ blood by giving an appropriate testimony, we can apply the provision of sanctification with these words: “Through the blood of Jesus, I am sanctified, made holy, set apart to God. The devil has no place in me, no power over me, no unsettled claims against me. All has been settled by the blood of Jesus.”
A Continual Plea
There is another precious provision made for us by the blood of Jesus, one of which many Christians are not aware. Hebrews 12:22, 24 says, “You [all true believers] have come to Mount Zion... to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (NIV). In the heavenly Mount Zion the blood of Jesus was sprinkled in the Holy of Holies, before the very presence of God, on our behalf. He entered there as our forerunner, having obtained eternal redemption through His sacrifice, and He sprinkled the evidence of that redemption in the very presence of Almighty God the Father.
We should notice an important contrast here. Early in history Cain murdered his brother, Abel. He then tried to disclaim responsibility, but the Lord challenged Cain and said, “There is no way you can conceal your guilt, because the blood of your brother that you shed on the earth is crying out to Me for vengeance.” (See Genesis4:10.) In contrast, the blood of Jesus sprinkled in heaven cries out, not for vengeance, but for mercy. The blood is a continual plea in the very presence of God for His mercy.
Once we have testified personally to the power of the blood of Jesus, we do not have to repeat those words every few minutes, because the blood of Jesus is speaking all the time on our behalf in the very presence of God. Every time we are troubled, tempted, fearful or anxious, we should remind ourselves: “The blood of Jesus is speaking in God’s presence on my behalf right now.”
In our fight against Satan we must move out actively in faith to attack. Jesus has supplied us with the weapons of His blood, the Word and our testimony, and our personal testimony is the key to employing the other two weapons.
The blood of Jesus has made provision for redemption, forgiveness, cleansing, justification, sanctification and intercession on our behalf. By testifying personally to what the Word of God says about Jesus’ blood, we can apply these provisions to our lives. In this way, Satan is deprived of his primary weapon against us—guilt—and we are enabled to live in the victory Christ accomplished long ago on the cross.