What the Cross Meant to Satan
The Meaning of the Cross
What the Cross Meant to Satan
Colossians 2:15
 
We are about halfway through our series on the meaning of the cross.  We began with what the cross meant to God.  And we discovered that God came away from the cross knowing that His Holy wrath had been satisfied, His righteous justice had been met and His divine grace had been extended to lost mankind. 
 
Then we moved to what the cross meant to Jesus.  It was essential that the perfect, sinless Son of God die on that cross and that’s what happened.  And when Jesus died, He Who knew no sin became sin for us and this divine transaction took place so that our sin was transferred to him and His righteousness was extended to us.
 
This morning I want to take us to the other end of the spectrum and think about what the cross meant to Satan.  Did you ever wonder what must have gone through the mind of Satan when Christ died?  I’ve heard preachers speculate on the parties that went on in hell and the rejoicing of the demons. 
 
I’ve always resisted the temptation to do that because I don’t think hell and the dwelling place of demons knows anything about partying and rejoicing.  But I have allowed myself to think about what Satan might have thought.  From the very beginning of His rebellion He has desired to upend God.  That rebellion began in heaven and has continued through the history of mankind. 
 
And at some point, he must have come to realize that Jesus really must have died and there lay his dead body in a grave.  And I have to wonder what kind of thoughts that knowledge generated.  Satan had three days and nights to savor the moment.
 
What he had attempted to accomplish for 1,000s of years had now come to pass.  What he had tried to do through evil Herod when Jesus was just a baby was now done.  What He tried to do with Jesus face-to-face in the wilderness temptation had now come to pass.  Jesus Christ was dead.
 
And as I said earlier, I don’t think they party in hell, but if a demon can feel joy and know rejoicing, those three days must have been the happiest moments Satan had known since his rebellion against God before the world was created.
 
But then, as the songwriter said, “Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes” and  just as quickly as the joy came it disappeared as the news arrived that Jesus, in fact, was dead, but had risen from the dead.     
 
Hell’s rejoicing was short-lived. And while we might contemplate what Satan thought for those three days and nights, even more important is what he knows know.  So what did the cross mean to Satan?
 
I would suggest at least five things. 
 
First, the cross means to Satan
 
 
 
 
1. His Head Was Crushed
 
The first promise God made to Adam and Eve after they messed up in the Garden of Eden was a promise to one day crush Satan’s head.  Listen to it in
 
Genesis 3:15
 
Theologians call that verse the proto-evangelium.  It is the first mention of the gospel. So what we have here is the very first promise of redemption given by God in the Bible. In fact, everything else in the Bible either roots back to or flows from this one verse. 
 
The reason is because Christ is in that verse and the Bible and history and eternity are all about Jesus.  He is the ultimate Seed of the Woman who would one day crush the serpent’s ugly head. In the process his “heel” would be bruised on the cross.
 
And in this one little verse, we have a prediction, a prophecy that Jesus would win the victory over Satan and in the process be wounded Himself. 
 
That is exactly what the prophet Isaiah said would happen.  “He was wounded for our transgressions.  He was bruised for our iniquities.”  And when Christ died on the cross, Satan struck his heel. But what appeared to be mortal wounds were actually not.
 
Now don’t mishear me.  Jesus really did die.  His life really did end.  His breath and heart really did stop.  He was sure enough graveyard dead.  They really did take his dead, lifeless body and place it in a tomb and seal it up. 
 
And from an earthly, human, even satanic point of view, it appeared that Satan had won the battle. But my Bible tells me early on Sunday morning, some women came to give His body an appropriate burial and there no body was there!  Don’t miss what I said:  NO body was there. 
 
I don’t want to minimize what happened at the cross.  Satan delivered a terrible blow to Jesus.  No doubt he thought he had thrown a knockout punch. But he was wrong. All he did was strike Jesus on the heel. As painful as it was, that suffering was nothing compared to what Jesus did to Satan.
 
And even though the literal fulfillment still awaits him, Satan now understands that the cross means his head has been crushed. 
 
Second, the cross means to Satan
 
2.  His Works are Destroyed
 
That’s exactly what we read in
 
1 John 3:8
 
Savor that for a moment.  The reason Jesus came was to destroy the devil’s work. The word “destroy” is best understood as “render powerless.” Like a mighty machine that has lost its power, when Jesus died on the cross, he “pulled the plug” on Satan.
 
In this present age Satan seems to be very powerful, but he can do nothing without God’s express permission. He is like Samson shorn of his locks, unable to do anything on his own.
He may strut and brag and try to convince you he’s something, but the day is coming when his absolute powerlessness will be revealed to the universe and those who followed him will discover that they were following a toothless lion.
 
Third, the cross means to Satan
 
3. His Power Over Death is Gone
 
Hebrews 2:14-15
 
Of all the fears we have to deal with, none is greater than the fear of death. We don’t like to talk about it.  We don’t like to think about it.  We don’t like to read about it.  In fact we will do anything we can to try and avoid it. 
 
That’s one reason so many people turn to alcohol, drugs, sex, pleasure, and power. It’s the reason we become fanatics about our health and take medicine and exercise and try to eat right. Down deep in the human heart there is a fear of death that Satan uses to keep us enslaved.
 
But I want you to understand something:  Satan has no power to kill you or anyone else. The days of our lives are in the hand of God and God alone.  That area is off-limits to Satan. 
 
However, he loves to take advantage of our fear of death to keep us in the chains of sin. That’s why the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 15:56 that the sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law. 
 
 
When a lost person dies, they die with their sins still intact.  They lay like a heavy burden, a great weight upon their soul that pushes them down to hell.  They die miserable, angry, frustrated, and fearful because they don’t know what to do, there is nothing they can do with their sins.
 
But what a difference it makes to die with your sins forgiven. Listen:  Death is hard enough to face if you are a Christian, but it is absolutely unbearable without the Lord. And yet every day countless thousands march into eternity with the tremendous weight of sin hanging around their necks.
 
The Bible says that death is the last enemy that shall be destroyed (I Corinthians 15:26). John Wesley used to say of the early Methodists, “Our people die well.” Dying well is a lost art, but in the old days Christians spent much time preparing for their own departure.
 
They understood that the way you die is a final opportunity to give a strong testimony for the Lord Jesus Christ. And not to minimize what anyone has gone through or the grief you are experienceiing, you need to know when a child of God dies, death ain’t no big deal!
 
Jesus said, “whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:26). And here is where our faith really gets real.  Do we believe Jesus or not?   I’ve watched some Christians lose a loved one and their behavior and response is an embarrassment to the Christian faith!  In fact, I’ve seen lost people that respond better to the death of a loved one than some Christians. 
John Stott said that for the Christian, death has become a “trivial episode,” a minor inconvenience and nothing more. If we know Jesus, death is like closing our eyes and one moment later opening them in heaven.
 
Unbelievers don’t have that privilege nor do they understand our confidence as we enter death’s door. For them death is the end–or so they think. For us it is the next step in our eternal life with God. 
 
And one of the things Satan must deal with because of the cross is that the child of God, firmly rooted and grounded in his faith, can no longer be enslaved by him.  We don’t have to be intimidated.  We don’t have to cower before him.  Because of the cross, his power over death is gone. 
 
Fourth, the cross means to Satan,
 
4.  His Prisoners Were Set Free
 
Luke 4:18 tells us Christ came to set the captives free and to release the oppressed. Who are the captives Christ came to set free? We have already seen that the lost are enslaved to the devil through their fear of death. Christ came to open for us those prison doors and set the captives free.
 
And it may go even deeper than that.  The Bible teaches us that during His hours in the tomb, sometime between the crucifixion and the resurrection, Jesus descended into the very depths of Hades.  He didn’t go there to suffer.  He didn’t go there to be punished. His punishment and suffering all took place on the cross. 
Nor did He go there, as some suggest, to offer some kind of post-death salvation to people in hell. That simply is not a biblical idea. “Behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Corinthians 6:1-2). It is appointed to all of us to die once and after that to face the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).
 
Instead, he went there for two reasons.  First, before the cross, paradise and Hades were in the same region.  You’ll remember the rich man could see Lazarus being comforted by Abraham.  There was a separation established that kept those on one side from traveling to the other. 
 
And one of the reasons Christ descended, according to Ephesians 4:8-10 was to lead captivity captive.  In other words, He went to liberate those Old Testament saints and pre-cross saints and take them to heaven for all eternity. 
 
He also went there, according to 1 Peter 3:18-19, He “preached to the spirits in prison”.  I would submit to you His message was not a message of repentance and faith but one of victory and conquest as He announced to those in hell their fate was forever sealed. Colossians 2:15 says those disarmed principalities and powers there are awaiting a time of public humiliation when they will be paraded before the universe as a public spectacle. 
 
All of that to say the death of Christ brought startling changes in the spirit world, most of which remain hidden to us. I think the Bible gives us hints and glimmers of the truth, just enough to let us know that something monumental happened “behind the scenes” as a result of Christ’s death.
 
And at it’s very core, the cross means freedom.  Jesus came to set His people free and Satan knows, because of the cross, His prisoners have been liberated.
 
There is a final thing the cross means to Satan and that is
 
5. His Doom is Sealed
 
In John 12:31 Jesus declares that “the ruler of this world will be cast out.” In John 16:11 he adds that the “ruler of this world is judged.” And over in Revelation 20:10 we read, “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone” where he will be “tormented “day and night forever and ever.”
 
And with that, the story comes full circle. What God promised in Genesis 3:15 will one day come to pass.  Now don’t miss this:  What was prophesied in the past and will be fulfilled in the future all hinges on what happened at the cross. At the cross Satan was disarmed, disgraced and defeated.
 
Listen to how Martin Luther described that:
 
And though this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,  we will not fear, for God hath willed his truth to triumph through us.
 
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure;
 
One little word shall fell him.
 
What is that “one little word” that brings the devil down? It is the name Jesus. He fought the fight, he stood his ground and on the cross he utterly defeated Satan, then proved it by rising from the dead.
 
If you have been following my sermon thus far, there is only one question left unanswered, but it is a big one: If Christ defeated Satan, why is there so much evil in the world?
 
It certainly seems to me that Satan is alive and well and very active on planet earth. He doesn’t look very defeated to me. In fact, he seems to be at the top of his game.  How else do you explain the terrible crime and violence and hatred we see around the world, and even in our own cities and homes? 
 
If Satan is defeated, he either doesn’t know it or else he’s taking the news very well. I put the matter that way because the New Testament presents the truth about the devil in two different ways.
 
On one hand, we are told over and over again that at the cross Satan was defeated as completely as anyone can be defeated. On the other hand, we are warned about the devil who roams about as a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  And we are told to put on the armor of God so we can stand in the evil day.  It seems like a contradiction, doesn’t it? 
 
There is no contradiction, but we need to make sure we understand what it all means. What happened at the cross was indeed the total defeat of Satan. In legal terms he was tried, found guilty, and sentenced to ultimate, eternal destruction.
However, that sentence has not yet been executed.  He can’t escape it, but it hasn’t happened yet.  To put it in terminology we can understand, Satan is out on bail and doing all he can to destroy as many as he can before the day when he will be cast into the Lake of Fire once and for all. Until then he is destroying lives, breaking up homes and disrupting God’s work as much as he can.
 
So if Satan is defeated but still dangerous, how should we deal with him? Here are a few quick suggestions:
 
First, learn to stand and fight
 
Ephesians 6:11-17 tells us to “put on the whole armor of God,” and lists each piece of our personal equipment. We are to put on this armor by faith so that when the day of battle comes, when temptation stares us in the face, when we feel like quitting, instead we can stand our ground, and “having done all, to stand,” meaning to stand victorious at the end of the day.
 
We are instructed to “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). This is both a command and a promise. If we will submit to God (the first part of the verse), we may be sure that when we resist the devil, he will flee from us. We have no power in ourselves against the devil, but he has no power to use against us when we fight with God’s power. By ourselves we can’t win; with God’s help, we can’t lose.
 
Second, do all you can to avoid temptation.  We are instructed to flee youthful lusts and sexual impurity.
God has promised to make a way for us to avoid the temptation.  One of the best weapons you have for avoiding temptation is prayer.  My mind goes to that moment in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus wrestled with His fate.
 
Knowing that he would soon bear the weight of the sin of the world, he prays in agony, sweating as it were great drops of blood. So great was his abhorrence of sin that he even asks God to take the cup from him. But even as he said the words, he knew that his Father could not grant that request.
 
Then came the great relinquishment–"Not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus won the victory in the Garden precisely because he poured out his soul to God. Let us not think that our battles will be won any other way. If the Son of God must agonize in prayer, how much more must we cry out to God.
 
Third, confess Christ.  Christ promised that whoever confesses him openly, he will acknowledge before the Father in heaven, and whoever denies him he will deny before the Father (Matthew 10:32-33).
 
In the early days of the Christian church, baptismal candidates were asked, “Do you renounce the devil and all his works?” That same question is still asked today in many churches before a believer is baptized. It is entirely biblical and should be asked of ourselves on a daily basis.
 
I don’t believe in praying to or talking to the devil or rebuking the devil, I do believe it is entirely proper that when we pray we should renounce the devil and pray for God’s help.
Jesus taught us to do that very thing in the Lord’s prayer.  He said, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the Evil One” (Matthew 6:13).
 
I want you to know there is great hope for all those who struggle against sin and it’s all because on Easter Sunday morning the word came down from heaven to the devil and all his demons saying, “Turn out the lights, the party’s over.”
 
Do you feel defeated? Stand and fight. Do you feel discouraged? Get on your knees and pray.  Have you been tempted to give in? Resist the devil and he will flee from you.  Are you wavering between right and wrong? Choose Christ! 
 
And remember this:  Jesus has already won the battle. Satan can harass you but he cannot destroy you. Lo! His doom is sure, one little word shall fell him.
 
Let’s pray.
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