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3rd after Pent. (B)
(References to Mark 3)

I John 3:8b
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”

A popular writer named Larry Christiansen once told this story of a certain landlord… Suppose you live in a rundown apartment. The walls and ceilings have holes. The carpets are threadbare. The windows leak cold air in the winter and bugs in the summer. Each month, though, the landlord comes to collect. He warns of an increase in the already high rent. When you hesitate, he threatens fewer services and even higher rent. You’re miserable, but since you have nowhere else to go, you keep on paying.

One day there’s a gentle knock at the door. Opening it only a crack, you discover a nicely dressed and smiling young man. He explains that he just purchased your building. As your new landlord, he asks permission to come in and inspect your rooms. He’s appalled with what he sees and promises to begin repairs immediately, canceling all your debts. You can’t believe your ears!

Shortly later another knock comes at the door. It’s the old landlord glaring at you and demanding extra rent immediately. Should you give in to his intimidation? You’re too weak to fight him yourself. But wait! The building isn’t his any more. It belongs to the generous new landlord. Why argue with the old one? You can tell him to take it up with the new owner, and you don’t owe any further explanation!

Like the old landlord, Satan is always accusing, attacking and demanding from us. Let’s consider him and his works, Christ’s victory over him, and handling the daily battles that we wage with him.

Luther wrote concerning him, “The first thing is to hold firmly that the devil exists and is closer than our shirt!” (He may be likened to the “strong man” to whom Christ’s parable refers in Mark 3:20-35.)

Our ultimate fight isn’t against other human beings (flesh and blood) St. Paul says, but against “principalities…powers…rulers of this present darkness…spiritual hosts of wickedness…” He’s the “Old Evil Foe who MEANS deadly woe,” as the hymn states! And, although he’s the “Father of Lies,” we may often allow our weak consciences to be intimidated, because the things he points at and accuses us about are perhaps usually true. He’s no friend, and Scripture aptly describes him as a “Roaring Lion seeking whom he may devour.” He truly aims to destroy us all and deprive God of every soul possible, and what are some of his tactics?

He makes allies with our own already evil inclinations. He’s smart enough not to attack our strengths in the first place, but weakness, the selfish things in us that we like to indulge! His aim is to use the fallen part of our natures to return us to full enslavement in serving him.

He likewise works to rob the treasures of God’s Word from our hearts, our faith and security and joy, to make us feel or finally believe that our salvation is in question. That doesn’t require paranormal phenomena or spectacular displays of things that may terrorize or mesmerize people. More to be feared are the things that please and feed our self-serving natures. Satan comes as an “Angel of Light!”

The Bible is full of examples of Satan’s desire to control, dominate and possess us. It claims that he “entered” the heart of Judas. Mark 3:20-35 shows his will to discourage people away from Jesus by slandering both His Name and power, calling Him one of Beelzebub’s and prompting the Scribes to claim that the power was from Satan. That was all a big smokescreen, though, to keep people from recognizing that Satan’s own kingdom was even at that time being attacked and destroyed by Jesus!

Perhaps the devil’s boldest move was to directly approach Jesus Himself. In the desert wilderness he tried in vain to tempt Jesus away from the road to the Cross. He tried again through Peter, when Jesus clearly explained to His disciples that He must be humiliated and killed. As Peter objected, Jesus then replied, “Get behind Me, Satan!” On several occasions he attempted to bring about Christ’s death before its time by having indignant mobs try to stone Jesus. The main thing we need to know and cling to, though, is that, despite his cunning and destructive power, the devil is completely subject to God’s power in Jesus Christ!

Immediately after His Baptism in the Jordan River by John, Jesus began His years of public ministry by being led into the wilderness by God’s Spirit, and He defeated Satan concerning the strenuous temptations set before Him. He did it by the power of God’s written Word which is also available to us, but He also did it in perfect context, while Satan used that Word out of context. Two encouragements for us from that episode are that: 1)- Jesus is able to completely feel and sympathize with us in our temptations, and 2)- Christ’s own withstanding of temptation is counted as ours. HIS victory is ours to claim!

Right after that initial encounter in His ministry, Jesus immediately began performing countless exorcisms and healings. Mark chapter 3 presents a number of them, which is what led to the Scribes’ illogical claim that Jesus was possessed by Satan. In reality, though, the Lord’s actions and healings were intended to display to people that He was there to toll the deathbell over Satan’s kingdom! Since the Scribes wouldn’t acknowledge that, Jesus explained about Satan’s demise parabolically. The entrance of His Kingdom meant the end of Satan’s!

Going to the Cross was the decisive blow, however. After suffering everything Satan could throw at Him there, and without His Heavenly Father’s presence or help, Jesus was finally able to announce, “It is finished!” Jesus was saying that payment for the wages of our sin and the defeat of the devil and sin and death were now totally over, done, completed and accomplished! He descended into hell to shout it and rose again from physical death, then ascending to His Father’s right hand where He still maintains that absolute power over all that Satan would seek to do.

All this is what God meant by crushing (or bruising) the serpent’s head back in Genesis 3. All this was entailed in Jesus suggesting that HE would tie-up (or bind) the “strong man” to rob, plunder and take souls away from him!

So, Jesus did already win the entire war, and we know what the final outcome of all our ongoing battles is to be. It’s kind of like knowing the happy ending to a suspenseful movie ahead of time. But, what about all those battles in the meantime?

Jesus crushes Satan again and again each time the Gospel is proclaimed and/or received into anyone’s heart, or each time a person is baptized in His Name. He continues to rob and plunder the kingdom of darkness, reclaiming souls that were hellbound and lost.

Jesus wins and Satan loses each day and time we use the power of our Baptisms, confessing our sins and “drowning the Old Adam.” Whenever we’re found on the receiving end of Word and Sacrament! As we truly live by FAITH! “GREATER is HE that is in you than he who is in the world.” “Resist the devil and he WILL flee from you,” Scripture says.

Did it ever catch your notice that, after Jesus did defeat Satan in the wilderness temptations, Satan DID leave Him? Satan had to ask permission to strike Job with his trials and to “sift (Peter) like wheat.” There “being no (longer any) condemnation for those who are in Christ,” Satan’s accusations against us CANNOT STAND!

You have been bought with a price! You now belong to Jesus, the new landlord. Whenever Satan reminds you of sins you’ve already confessed or tries to force you into serving your evil desires, tell him to “take it up with the new landlord.” Regardless of how often he keeps coming back, send him packing and trust the great promises of your new Owner, Jesus Christ!

As we exercise faith in that way, Scripture assures us that “in all…things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us,” and “the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”

Some years ago in the backyard of a home I had in Mississippi, I once observed a cat attack a small rattlesnake. With lightning speed it pounced and clamped its teeth right through the snake’s skull, immediately killing it. There’s a picture of Christ, the “Lion of the tribe of Judah,” rendering the serpent, Satan, utterly harmless! The snake could have gone unnoticed by me and struck and bitten me. I was glad to have been defended by that cat. Even so, our only help and hope in our struggles against Satan is found in the Name and power of Jesus Christ. Through HIM, then, we can KEEP Satan bound and crushed!


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