What threatens the Devil’s plans is a church conformed to the Cross of Christ that trembles at God’s word.
Satan offers a smorgasbord of deceptions, and he cares not which one we choose. Only, do not venture in the “wrong” direction. And regardless of which lie, we prefer, common to them all is the goal of steering us away from reliance on the Word of God and living a life conformed to the cross of Christ.
To borrow a phrase, Christ crucified is the “canon within the canon” of Scripture, the measuring rod that separates truth from falsehood, and light from darkness. Any teaching or practice that is contrary to Calvary is not of God.
Through Isaiah, the Maker of heaven and earth declared, “All these things have my hand made, and so all these things came to be. But to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and that trembles at my word” – (Isaiah 66:2).
The prophet’s description certainly fits Jesus of Nazareth. Materially, he was poor in this life. “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay his head.” He was a man from a small village of no consequence, one with no social standing or political power – (Matthew 8:20).
He was the suffering “servant of Yahweh,” the man who was “despised and rejected, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” He did not raise his hand against another either to defend himself or to advance his world-changing agenda.
“He shall not strive nor cry aloud. Neither shall anyone hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench until he sends forth judgment unto victory” – (Isaiah 42:1-3, Matthew 12:20).
And he demonstrated his humility and obedience to God on more than one occasion. When Satan taunted him to turn stones into bread, he retorted that rather than give priority to his own desires, man must learn to “live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
Moreover, when Satan tempted the very one Yahweh appointed to rule over the nations with political power, Jesus chose submission to his true messianic calling by submitting to the way of the cross. Is it not written in His Word, “You will give homage to God, and Him only will you serve”? Obedience to the word rather than self-promotion.
During Christ’s ministry, Satan did not comprehend God’s plan until it was too late; otherwise, he would never have conspired to kill the “Lord of glory.” Thus, in obedience to the word of his Father, Jesus triumphed over the “powers and principles” on the cross, not through political power or military conquests.
And because he poured out his life “unto death” on a Roman cross rather than seek to seize the divine likeness, God has “highly exalted him” and made Jesus the “Lord” over all things.
But the Devil is no fool. He learns from his mistakes. Ever since that blunder, he has devised one new scheme after another to get around the Cross. While he no longer has access to Jesus, he targets his schemes against the men and women who follow him.
As the Apostle Paul attests, God’s “power and wisdom” are found in the proclamation of “Christ crucified,” the “word of the cross.” His victory over sin, Satan and death has been achieved on Golgotha, the very thing that virtually every deception launched by Satan works to resist, twist, and divert.
[Photo by BBC Creative on Unsplash]
In Christ’s death, the nature of God and His redemptive plan, the “mysteries of God” hidden since the foundation of the world, are revealed. The “word” by which all things were made has been “made flesh,” and in him alone, we behold the divine glory and discover “grace and truth.”
THE SLAIN LAMB
In the book of Revelation, it is the “slain Lamb” who qualifies to open the “sealed scroll,” not the roaring “lion of Judah.” All Creation declares him “worthy” to possess all power and sovereignty because “by his blood” he is redeeming men and women from every nation. His death at the hands of Rome was not failure, but victory!
And so, also, the Lamb’s “brethren” overcome the Devil “by his blood, the word of their testimony, and because they love not their lives unto death.” Through obedience to God’s revealed will and lives lived in conformity to Christ’s sacrificial death, the church defeats the works of the Devil on the earth.
Jesus is the true and ultimate “word” that God has spoken, the one who has “achieved purification of sins,” and therefore, he sat down at the “right hand of the Majesty on high” whence he now reigns. In this crucified Messiah, all God’s promises find their “yea” and “amen.” The “mysteries hidden in the past ages” are unveiled in him. Christ cannot be known or understood apart from Golgotha.
This is the one dish you will not find served in Hell’s Kitchen. The “Dragon” does not care what you do or believe, as long as you do not seek revelation, wisdom, and understanding at the foot of the cross or in God’s word.
Jesus exhorted his disciples to deny themselves, take up his cross, and follow him “wherever he leads.” This is all found in Scripture, and this is what Satan fears most – a church that will follow its true Lord by emulating his self-sacrificial service and sticking like glue to his words.
The Devil understands that if we follow Jesus and heed his teachings, his ‘goose is cooked.’ Therefore, he works overtime to trick us, so we evade the cross or look outside God’s word for revelation and understanding. Anywhere and anything other than Christ crucified, the “word made flesh.”
A people conformed to the cross, a church that trembles at the “word of Yahweh,” is a force that will drive back the works of the Devil and radiate the truth and light of the gospel in this sin-darkened world.