Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith.
The cross of Christ is the centerpiece of the human story. That's where Jesus atoned for sin and defeated Satan, our mortal enemy. Today we see Satan the serpent's doom made certain by the sacrifice of a suffering savior.
From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. We've come to the midpoint in our eight-part series on God's Devil, the incredible story of how Satan's rebellion serves God's purposes. Pastor Lutzer, tell us what you mean when you say the serpent is crushed. You know, Dave, I love the entire Bible, but there's one passage I have often pondered that blesses my soul especially, and that's in Colossians chapter 2 where the Bible says that Jesus disarmed all principalities and powers. Now, I can imagine that some people are asking, well, why then is he still allowed to roam the world?
Well, the answer is this. It's as if somebody has already been commuted. The sentence has been commuted.
He's been found guilty, but he is still out on bail. But make no mistake, the devil has already been crushed, and that is why we are able to walk in victory. This sermon series entitled God's Devil can be yours so that you can listen to it again and again.
Here's what you do for a gift of any amount. You go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the series God's Devil, and now let us listen carefully. And so it came about that the serpent's head was crushed. Centuries earlier, God had said to the serpent, I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed, and it, that is the seed of the woman, will crush your head, and all that you will be able to do is to nip the seed of the woman's heel. That's all. And it happened.
It's finished. When Jesus Christ came to earth, Satan, first of all, tried to destroy him, kill him, kill all of the boys who were born in the surrounding area of Bethlehem so that he might be put to death. Kill him. Couldn't destroy him. Didn't work. Corrupt him. Take him to a high mountain and say to him, all the kingdoms of the earth that are under our disposal, I will give to you if you bow down and worship me.
But that didn't work either. He spoke through Peter and said, no, you will not go to the cross. Strategy, get Christ to avoid the cross. But when Satan saw that it was inevitable, he decided to join forces and said, since it's going to happen, I want to be a prime player so that I get the satisfaction of thinking that it is because of me that he hangs there for those few dark hours. In fact, we read in the Bible that Satan entered into Judas. No other place, really, do we have people indwelt by Satan. People indwelt by demons, yes, but Satan probably will not happen until possibly the Antichrist rules. Not only that, Jesus said to the high priests and to those who were with him that day, he said, this moment of darkness and evil is yours.
These hours belong to you. And then lest we should ever doubt that the cross was the pivotal battle between God and the devil, let it be remembered that Jesus said in John chapter 12, now is the judgment of this world and now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And that could be another title for this same message, Satan cast out. What I want you to do today is to turn to two passages of scripture, one we shall only read and the other look at in more detail. The first one is in the book of Zechariah and the other is in the book of Colossians. Zechariah generally is difficult to find, but remember it is the second to last book of the Old Testament. It's the prophet who wrote about the destruction of Jerusalem as well as the coming Messiah.
And Colossians chapter 2, of course, is in the New Testament and those are the verses that we shall look at in more detail. In Zechariah chapter 3, we have a picture of Joshua and this is not to be confused with the Joshua the warrior of the Old Testament. This is Joshua the priest. It says in chapter 3 verse 1, then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, the Lord rebuke you Satan indeed the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you.
Is not this a brand plucked from the fire? Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, filthy rags, standing before the angel. And he spoke and said to those who were standing before him saying, remove the filthy garments from him. Again he said to him, see I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes. And so there was Joshua.
They put a clean turban on his head, verse 5, and clothed him with the garments while the angel of the Lord was standing by. Now Colossians chapter 2. Colossians chapter 2. And what we'd like to do is to look at this passage of scripture remembering that the Apostle Paul is speaking about the victory of Jesus Christ over Satan in the victory of the cross. We pick up the text in verse 13. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive together with him having forgiven us all our transgressions. Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us which was hostile to us and he has taken it out of the way having nailed it to the cross when he had disarmed the rulers and authorities, he made a public display of them having triumphed over them through him. Now in order to understand this passage I'd like to isolate some of the key ideas. First of all I want you to recognize the accusation that was against us. Here he says in verse 14, cancel out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us.
That really is the law. It is the accusation of the law that you and I are sinners. And Satan who has access to God today, he is still has access to heaven. There will come a time when he'll be thrown out of heaven as we shall see later on in one of the messages in this series. But for now he still stands and has access before God as we see even in the book of Job and he comes to accuse. And he comes to tell God that the soul that sinneth it shall die and God is redeeming sinners and Satan says to God in effect these people deserve the same hell that you have committed me to be in for eternity because the soul that sins it will die. The wages of sin is death. And I have to say that at this point God and the devil are agreed. There may not be much that they are agreed about but one thing they are agreed on is the fact that we are sinners and God knows more about us than even the devil does. You see in a human court of law you cannot be brought to the court system legitimately unless you actually committed a deed.
The police can find you standing beside the open window but if you didn't actually steal anything if you didn't go through the window you cannot be brought to court. God knows not only what it is that we do he also knows what is within us. He sees the covetousness. He sees the desires of our heart. He sees all of the sins that we would like to commit if we had the opportunity. He sees what we would do if we had a chance to do it and God sees all that within us and God knows that we are indeed sinners. Now here's what Satan says in effect to God. He says first of all if you were to accept these people into heaven heaven would be defiled.
Secondly your word and your character and your reputation of holiness would be smudged and Satan says to you and to me don't you realize that you are such a great sinner and God is so mad at you and you have committed so many sins you are so far from him because of all of your failures that there's really no hope trying to get to know him or be in fellowship with him. That's the accusation that is made. It is a decree that is contrary to us because every mouth is stopped and we all admit that yes we are sinners. Big sinners. Well now let's look at the text and see the penalty. What is this certificate of debt verse 14 that consists in decrees?
How much do we owe? Will we owe God righteousness? Do we have righteousness? No we do not have righteousness and yet justice demands it and may I say very clearly that God's love does not cancel his need for every bit of justice to be taken care of and so what Satan says in effect to God is that if you're going to be just all of these people must suffer even as I suffer because they are sinners but God has another way. That's the purpose of the cross as we shall see.
God has another way. God says that when it comes to human beings yes they deserve death and that that would be just and they deserve hell and that is just too but in the case of human beings one man can die for another or to speak more accurately one infinite man can die for a group of finite people and so the Bible says that Jesus Christ took upon himself the iniquity of us all. You know for years liberal theologians have criticized the doctrine of the atonement because they've said it isn't fair that God would take an innocent man and make him guilty and consider him to be punished for other people's sins. That is not justice but the answer of course is that Christ was not innocent. Christ was not innocent. Christ was guilty. He was made sin for us. He was not a sinner in the sense that he personally committed any sins but he became sin.
He was everything that we are. You know there's a verse in the Old Testament that clarifies when this happened. When Jesus was in Gethsemane he was not making atonement for us. When Jesus had the crown of thorns that were placed upon his brow and the blood was running down his neck and onto his body he was not making atonement for us. You see the scripture says in Deuteronomy chapter 21 verse 21 it says that if a man commits a capital crime he should be crucified. He should be hung on a tree and then it says cursed is everyone who hangs on the tree and the apostle Paul says in the book of Galatians that Jesus Christ was made a curse for us because it is written cursed is everyone who hangs upon a tree. My dear friend it was when Jesus was hanging on the cross it was that that unleashed God's curse and the anger of God against sin and the wrath of God against sin spilled over onto Jesus Christ and he bore it and he became such a man who was constituted a sinner he became so awful that even God himself said that he had to turn his back and Jesus said my God my God why has thou forsaken me. Well might the sun in darkness hide and shut its glories in when Christ the great redeemer died for man the creatures sin.
Now let's look at how Paul describes it here. It says that this decree that was against us the law that we could not keep and which was hostile to us because there was nothing that we could do to meet the requirement he has taken it out of the way having nailed it to the cross. You know in ancient times when a man committed a crime his crime was nailed above the cross.
That's why Pilate said that he wanted to have that placard put above the cross. He claimed to be the king of the Jews. They just put up the words king of the Jews and it was written in Hebrew and Greek and Latin so that everyone who walked by knew what the crime was.
They said oh he claimed to be the king of the Jews and they walked by and they sneered. I want you to know today that Paul says that God had a different placard up there and the placard that God had up there was that Jesus was not guilty of being king of the Jews that was that was small matters. It was that Jesus was guilty of our sin of our sin and invisible to the human eye above the cross as Jesus Christ hung there in the cosmic universe. There was the placard that listed our sins and you can imagine how long that list really was because that includes mine and that includes Daryl's sins and Joe's sins and all of our sins and the sins of all who would someday believe on Jesus. What a list of sins and it was there and it was nailed to the cross and that's what Christ was guilty of. Now I want you to know that we have talked about the accusation which is just which is just. We've spoken about the penalty and that was that Jesus Christ died in our place.
What is the verdict? What is the verdict now that Christ nailed all those sins to the cross? Well the answer is in the last part of verse 13 having forgiven us all our transgressions that's God's verdict and then if that isn't enough verse 15 this all happened now when Jesus was on the cross he had disarmed the rulers and the authorities.
That's Satan. He disarmed him. He stripped him of his weapons and he made a public display of them having triumphed over them through him. You know in ancient times the Romans used to have those parades after they were in a war and they won a victory and the Romans would then bring all of the captives home and they would make the march in the presence of all of their peers, in the presence of all of the Romans who had gathered in the great stadiums and here were the officers and here were the soldiers all of them coming head-bound oftentimes shackled in incredible humiliation a public display of having brought them into the dust and that's what the cross did to Satan. All of the accusations against us were wiped out and as a result of Jesus Christ's death on the cross Satan has been stripped clean humiliated and forever now has to confess that he is defeated. What I'd like to do in the next few moments is to give you five ways in which the cross defeated Satan.
Five ways in which the cross now becomes the pivotal point and the serpent's head was irrevocably crushed. First of all, which I've already alluded to, is number one sinners were permanently reconciled to God. Sinners were permanently reconciled to God. The text says he forgave all of our transgressions. It was as if Jesus Christ went into Satan's territory, the prince of this world, and purchased out from under his nose and did it legally and justly purchased out from under his nose those who would belong to God and they would now no longer belong to Satan. They would be translated from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God's dear son and it would be done forever.
Notice what the text says. He has forgiven us all our trespasses. Wait on that for just a moment with me. How many sins that you have committed were still future when Jesus Christ died on the cross? Well, you know that all of them were future. All of them were future. When Jesus was dying on the cross, you weren't here, I weren't here, I weren't here, yes, I weren't here, yeah. I wasn't around to make grammatical errors plus a whole lot of other things that I've done. Were those sins that Erwin Lutzer was going to commit, were they nailed to the cross? Well, bless God, the answer is yes. Those sins, I had not yet done them.
I had not yet had a chance to think about them. Lutzer already anticipated all that and said, I take those sins as well and I nail them to the cross. Well, what about the sins that I am still going to commit?
Because I still plan on living. What about the sins that I still commit? Were they also nailed to the cross? Well, yes, bless God, they also were nailed to the cross and they were taken away.
The debt was canceled because he forgave all, underline that little word, all our transgressions, all of them. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Lutzer. The message that you have just listened to, I'm sure, is a great encouragement to you.
It'll give you strength for today. Many of you have missed some of the messages in this series. We'd like to make the entire series available to you.
For a gift of any amount, it can be yours. Here's what you do. Go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. I'm sure that you have friends and relatives who would like to listen to this series of messages. You might like to listen to them again. As I've already mentioned, you perhaps missed some of them.
That's why we are making the entire series available to you. Thanks in advance for helping us with this ministry, but right now, go to rtwoffer.com or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Ask for the sermon series, God's Devil, the incredible story of how Satan's rebellion has served God's purposes. It's time now for you to ask Pastor Lutzer a question about the Bible or the Christian life. As we know, the Bible warns us about following false prophets, and sometimes this issue becomes personal.
Eddie listens to our program in West Palm Beach, Florida. This is his story and his question for you today. My wife is following a prophet who claims that she became a prophet when a light shone down from heaven and pointed to her Bible. This woman never went to school and claims that God separated her from her husband. Could she be a real prophet?
Eddie, I'll give you a very brief answer, not a chance. From what you have written, it seems very highly unlikely that a woman is going to be called by God to be a prophet simply because light shines on her Bible. There are all kinds of experiences in what we generally call the occultic world, where clearly there may be some intervention from the spirit world, but oftentimes we don't know which side of the spirit world those interventions come from. And the very fact that this so-called prophetess says that God told her to separate herself from her husband, I think should be a final proof of the fact that she is self-deceived, and now she wants to deceive others. I would greatly encourage your wife to no longer follow this particular woman, but to get into the word, get into a good church that teaches the word, and don't be beguiled by the false promises and the false statements of those oftentimes who claim to be prophets or prophetesses who lack both a character, the understanding, the wisdom, and the lifestyle that we would expect from a man or a woman of God. Some wise counsel for Eddie and for all of us from Dr. Erwin Lutzer. If you'd like to hear your question answered, go to our website at rtwoffer.com and click on Ask Pastor Lutzer, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, IL 60614. Running to Win is all about helping you understand God's roadmap for your race of life. At times, that race is hard. Trials and temptations block us from the victory we long for. But the cross of Jesus allows us to run life's race right up to heaven, leaving behind a vanquished Satan to suffer eternally in a lake of fire, a lake prepared especially for the devil and his angels. Next time on Running to Win, the amazing story of Satan's complete defeat. This is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
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