Victory/Defeat

 

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In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The devil knows his time is short, so he comes down in great wrath. Cast out of heaven by Michael and his angels, it’s only another in a long string of defeats, stretching back to the very beginning. Every time the devil thinks he has a victory, say, over Eve and Adam, God turns it into a defeat. There is no victory for the devil at any time. There cannot be. The victory remains always and forever with the Lord.

He attacks in wrath God’s holy ones, because he knows his time is short. He comes down to attack and devour, but he comes up against Jesus and His victory. He sends Herod’s soldiers to destroy the child in Bethlehem, but God tells Joseph, and they escape. He tempts Jesus in the wilderness and Jesus refuses to submit, refuses to be any other God in the flesh except the God in the flesh that the Father has given Him to be. By the word of His testimony, He overcomes the devil in the wilderness. At the cross, the death of Jesus appears to be defeat for Him and victory for the devil, but it is exactly the opposite. Just as God turned the sin of Adam and Eve into the promise of Christ, the resurrection of Jesus proves that the victory was never the devil’s.

A long string of defeats. First, the resurrected Jesus is victorious. Then His angels are victorious. Then all His holy ones are victorious. We call this St. Michael and All Angels, but this is not really a celebration of them. This is a celebration of their Lord and ours. The angels are around His throne. They are the angels who ministered to Him in the wilderness and in the garden of Gethsemane. Those angels who served Him in the days of His flesh on earth, He now sends to serve us in the days of our flesh. They watch and protect, as the servants of our resurrected Lord.

Let Thy holy angel be with me that the evil foe may have no power over me. He will answer our prayer and deliver us fully and finally from the Evil One. There is no victory for him, just a long string of defeats. Defeat in the wilderness, defeat at the cross, defeat on the third day, and defeat every single time a sinner is washed with the water of Christ’s promise and the Name of God is put upon another person. A defeat every time another redeemed sinner says, “I renounce the devil. I renounce his works. I renounce his ways. And I believe in God the Father. I believe in God the Son. I believe in God the Holy Spirit.” Another in the long line of defeats.

And because of that Name of God on us, not even our death will be a victory for him. Our victory over the devil is by the blood of the Lamb, the word of our testimony—which is really the testimony of Jesus—and we do not love our lives even unto death. Because we know that our strength is not in us. Our life is not in us. Our victory is not in us. It is all in Christ. Christ Himself is our life, so death is no loss. Just as Jesus’ death appeared to be defeat for Him, but was actually His glory and victory and salvation, so our death appears to be our defeat, but will actually be our victory. When we die, we are free of sin and death and the devil. And we will have our true life after that in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting. We are in Christ. He is our true life. And because He is risen from the dead, the devil cannot touch Him. The devil cannot harm that life or take it away or defeat it. He will deliver us from the Evil One.

Until that day, we have to face the devil’s wrath. He does prowl around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But he is limited even now by the Word and will of God. He is limited now until that last day. Then, the Revelation tells us, he must be released for a short time. But why will he be released? So he can roam and devour freely? No, he will be set free so that he can be cast out of God’s creation forever and always—he and all those who belong to him will be thrown forever into the lake of fire.

He will have no victory at all. His wrath is hot, but his teeth have been broken. He cannot win anything and he cannot have victory over you who have been bought and claimed and cleansed and named by God in Christ. His time is short. He knows it and we know it. He will have only a long string of defeats. And today we celebrate the victory of Christ over him and sin and death. Today we eat the meal of victory and celebration. Today we hear again that the victory has been won by the blood of the Lamb and the testimony of what Christ has done. Death and hell and the devil are finished. We have only to wait to see Christ’s victory, which is ours today and now by faith. His time is short, but Christ’s is eternal.

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7, ESV). Amen.

Pr. Timothy Winterstein, 9/27/19

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