25 Sep Quarter Three Lesson Eleven
Overcoming Through the Cross
We’re in a battle (1 Corinthians 14:8), a life-long wrestling match (Psalm 13:2, Ephesians 6:12), a fight to the death (2 Timothy 4:7). These are all words the Bible uses to describe our struggle against Satan, against the world we live in, and against our own flesh and wrong desires.
In 1 John chapter 2, John describes a “young man” as one who has learned to “overcome the evil one” through the Word of God (1 John 2:12-14). In order to overcome as we should, we need to understand how Satan operates and how we can overcome him and thwart his efforts to do us harm. In this lesson we specifically want to see how the cross of Jesus Christ helps us to overcome in the battle against Satan.
To start, let’s examine Satan’s schemes so that we may better know how to recognize and avoid them:
Satan hinders the work of God. When the gospel is preached Satan is there to spread doubt and unbelief in the minds of those who hear it (2 Corinthians 4:4). He does not mind “religious” preaching with all of its moral exhortations, as he knows that will only cause people to focus on themselves. But he does hate the gospel and seeks to come against it with all his forces, thereby hindering the work of God.
Satan oppresses the people of God. He puts thoughts of doubt, fear, anxiety, and discouragement into our minds. He plants thoughts of pride if we are doing particularly well with some sin struggle and discouragement if we fall. He tries to discourage us or distract us so we will not live for God.
Satan tempts the people of God. He tries to deceive us into thinking that it would not be wrong for us to do certain things. As Satan tempted Eve in the garden so he tempts us today. His temptations are described as “fiery darts” (Ephesians 6:16) which can make our flesh burn with wrong desires, and set our souls on fire with lust, greed, anger, or any number of other emotions or desires.
Satan accuses the people of God. After he tempts us to sin and we fall, Satan then accuses us of sinning. He is called the “accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10) and he can paint bold, 3-D pictures in our minds to remind us of the wrongs we have done, and then he seeks to convince us that we are no longer acceptable to God because of our failures.
Question 1. Of the above four things that Satan does, which have you felt the most intensely in your own life?
This work of Satan makes for a very intense battle for the people of God (see Revelation 16:14). But even though we are in a battle daily, it is imperative that we remember this: Jesus has already won! We know this sounds strange; that we are fighting a battle that has already been won, but it is the truth, and the truth that Jesus triumphed over Satan can give us tremendous energy to keep fighting.
Let us look at how Jesus has already won the battle for us, the battle that we are called to fight:
“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:15 (NIV)
Question 2. Colossians 2:15 tells us three things that Jesus did to Satan and the evil authorities (demons). What are these three things?
Through Jesus’ death on the cross, He disarmed the evil powers and authorities, made a public spectacle of them and then triumphed over them.
How did Jesus disarm Satan and his demons? The previous verse tells us:
“…having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” Colossians 2:14 (NIV)
Question 3. The “written code, with its regulations” is a reference to the Old Testament Law which condemned every human being who ever lived. What does Jesus death on the cross, and His canceling of the Law have to do with disarming Satan and evil authorities? What are your thoughts?
Through Jesus’ death on the cross Satan has no more ammunition to use against you. Satan, as “the accuser of the brethren” (Revelation 12:10) has nothing with which to accuse you: your sins are all forgiven and the document which accused you has been nailed to the cross, both of which have the effect of shutting Satan’s accusing mouth. This is how Jesus disarmed the evil one for you.
Despite how things seemed at the time, Jesus’ public humiliation on the cross actually made a public spectacle of Satan and all the powers of evil. Satan was publicly shown for who he really is—a murderer—one who hates goodness and light and love. The one who would kill the Prince of Peace. At the cross, Satan was revealed for who he really is and was himself put to open shame.
At the cross Jesus triumphed over Satan. The Seed of the Woman crushed the head of the Serpent (Genesis 3:15). Our David defeated the Giant (1 Samuel 17:50). God crushed the head of Leviathan (Psalm 74:14). The rod of God’s strength ruled in the midst of His enemies (Psalm 110:2). Our Samson stretched out both hands, and defeated all our enemies through His death (Judges 16:29-30).
When Jesus died on the cross it looked like an absolute defeat. It looked like He was hanging there as a criminal, being mocked and gaped at, as a public spectacle of shame, in complete and utter ruin. But Jesus endured this public exhibition of shame, condemnation and defeat, so that you would enjoy public exoneration, justification and victory.
As Jesus hung there in darkness under the wrath of God, bleeding from head to toe, literally deserted by both God and man, He was actually winning the battle for you, triumphing over Satan for you.
Satan is pictured in Isaiah 14:3-7 as “the king of Babylon”, and look what happened to him!
On the day the LORD gives you relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage, 4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has come to an end! How his fury has ended! 5 The LORD has broken the rod of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers, 6 which in anger struck down peoples with unceasing blows, and in fury subdued nations with relentless aggression. 7 All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing. Isaiah 14:3-7 (NIV)
Question 4. From Isaiah 14:3-7 above, please list the results of God “breaking the rod of the wicked” and bringing to an end the king of Babylon:
The good news of the Bible is that Jesus triumphed over Satan through the cross, and brought victory over sin and death to all who believe. In doing so He gave us “relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage” (verse 3). Now we are at rest and have peace, and we worship (“break into singing”—verse 7).
The results of the cross can be pictured by a victorious general returning home to loud cheers from the people who are beneficiaries of his victory. He is dragging dead bodies behind him; those rulers that he conquered in battle, to show to his people that he was victorious and they are now safe from their enemies.
This is the truth of the Bible that Jesus triumphed over Satan by the cross. He won the victory over your lusts, your anger, your deception, your weaknesses, your frailty and your failures. As the great Defender of His people, He won the battle over the Accuser of the Brethren. As He hung there on that cross, Jesus literally gave His life for your victory.
And yet we must still fight the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7). We saw in the last lesson that we are told to crucify our lusts and put to death our love of this world. The battle often gets intense, and there are times when we seem to be losing. But all we have to do is look up on that hill called Mt. Calvary to know that while we fight the battle, Jesus has already won the war.
There is a beautiful and powerful picture of this in the Old Testament. Let us look at it together:
“The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” 10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up–one on one side, one on the other–so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.” Exodus 17:8-13 (NIV)
Question 5. God’s people were fighting the Amalekites, a very powerful nation of fighting men. According to Exodus 17:10, how many men went to the top of the hill?
Question 6. According to Exodus 17, what happened when Moses held up his hands? What happened when his hands fell?
Question 7. According to Exodus 17:13, who won the battle?
This is an amazing story of a very intense battle being fought. We can easily picture this story in our imagination. Joshua (the young man who was to succeed Moses as leader of God’s people) was in the valley, in the very heat of the battle, fighting against the enemy of God’s people. The battle is intense. Sometimes God’s people were winning, other times the enemy was winning.
God brought about a great victory for His people by a very interesting way. Three men—Moses, Aaron, and Hur—went to the top of a hill, where Moses began interceding (praying) for the people. When Moses’ hands were outstretched and raised up in victory, God’s people were winning the battle; but when Moses got tired and his hands lowered then the enemy began winning the battle. So Aaron and Hur held up Moses’ hands for him, and the Israelites were ultimately victorious.
Isn’t it amazing that God made the outcome of that battle totally dependent upon what the man in the middle did? If his hands were raised in victory God’s people were winning, if they were lowered the enemy was winning.
We might imagine the soldiers down in the valley fighting with all their strength. Suddenly they turn and look up on that hill and there they see three men. The man in the middle has his hands outstretched and raised up in victory, and it gives the soldiers strength to fight on, knowing Moses is interceding for them.
And one of the most interesting statements in Exodus 17 is the summary in verse 13: “So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.” Through Moses’ work on the hill Joshua overcame the enemy.
Question 8. How does the story in Exodus 17 describe Jesus triumphing for us by the cross?
Oh friend, we are in a real battle. The fight is very intense, our enemy is very strong and cunning. We are told to fight and resist him, yet often we get weary in the battle and find it difficult to keep fighting. Sometimes we lose the battle, and when that happens we can become greatly discouraged and feel entirely defeated.
Question 9. Have you experienced this before? Please share your experience:
It is in times like this that we can turn to that hill called Mt. Calvary, and there we look and see three men. The man in the middle has His hands outstretched and raised in victory. What the Man in the middle is doing is winning the battle for us. He is “triumphing over them through the cross.” And now, because of the cross, what was said of Joshua can be said of every believer: “Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.” Jesus destroyed the devil, and his work, and we overcome Satan through the sword of the Word (the gospel):
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.” 1 John 3:8 (NIV)
We hope you are keenly aware of and thoroughly appreciate what Jesus has done for you on the cross. Most of all know this: how you are doing in the battle does not change how Jesus did in the war. Whether you are winning or losing in your fight against your flesh, the world and Satan, Jesus has already secured our final victory. Just as it was with the Israelites, sometimes we are winning, sometimes we are losing, but always our triumph is secure in Christ. What Jesus did on the cross brings ultimate victory over each and every one of your enemies: discouragement, doubt, fear, anxiety, impurity, immaturity, drunkenness, gluttony, selfishness, greed, etc.
We must understand though that victory is not the same thing as annihilation. The devil still exists (though he knows his time is short—Revelation 12:12) and he still wreaks havoc among God’s people today, even though Jesus triumphed over him by the cross. But the truth is, we are fighting a defeated foe.
The story is told of Wilson Mizner who was a very talented fighter. One night Mizner and boxer “Mysterious” Billy Smith visited a San Francisco bar, where Mizner started a fight with some longshoremen. At the end only one longshoreman was left standing. Although Mizner rained punches at him, the longshoreman stayed obstinately upright. Suddenly, Smith noticed what was happening. “Leave him alone, Wilson!” he shouted. “I knocked him out five minutes ago.” On investigation it turned out that a punch from Smith had indeed knocked the longshoreman out cold, but had also wedged the man vertically between two pieces of furniture so that he appeared undefeated.
This is a somewhat accurate picture of our already-defeated but still standing enemy, Satan. We must go on fighting him, crucifying our passions and wrong desires, resisting him and standing firm in our faith, overcoming the evil one through the Word of God (1 John 2:12-14). And this is true, even though Jesus has already triumphed over him by the cross.
In the next lesson we will study the resources that God has given us to fight. These resources are called “the armor of God” and are designed to protect us in the battle and give us the victory.
Question 10. From this lesson do you have a better understanding of what happened at the cross? Please put into your own words how Jesus defeated your enemy at the cross, and how that can affect you today.