“Conquering the Enemy”

“Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”

(Revelation 12:10-12)

In Revelation 12, God pulls back the curtain separating heaven and earth to show John a great battle taking place. In a grotesque image, the devil, described as a ferocious, enraged dragon, is seen standing between the legs of a woman waiting for a child (Jesus) to be born so he can devour it (Rev. 12:4). Historically, this played out in Herod's slaughter of the innocents in Bethlehem attempting to destroy Jesus as a child to prevent him from becoming king. Later on in Jesus' life, the "dragon" was at work in those who tried to push him off a cliff (Lk. 4:29) or pick up stones to throw at him (Jn. 8:59; 10:31, etc.).

It looked as though the dragon had finally won as Jesus was being crucified. However, three days later he was "thrown down" hard to the earth as Jesus was raised from the dead and enthroned as king. Because Satan (which means "accuser," see Rev. 12:10) has suffered such a devastating and humiliating defeat, he turns his attention on the people of God.

This is the reason for all the hostility and challenges that the  people of God face today. Satan has already been fundamentally defeated through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Now he rages against the church. But why does he even bother? The voice from heaven says it’s "because he knows that his time is short!" (Rev. 12:12) He continues to fight not because he thinks he has a good chance of winning but because he knows he has already lost! The war is over in principle just not in practice. Until Jesus returns in the ultimate Day of Judgment, the devil is doing his worst "because he knows that his time is short.”

In 1944, the Russians were pressing in on Germany from the East, while the Western Allies came from the South through Italy. In the spring, 1.1 million men were dumped onto the beaches of Normandy, France in the course of 3 days. Anyone who could count knew the war was over. Though there were many hard battles left to fight the outcome was already settled. And how did Hitler respond? Not by conceding defeat and going quietly! Instead, there was the Battle of the Bulge, Germany’s last major offensive, the largest and bloodiest single battle the American’s fought in WWII. The defeated foe fights all the more fiercely. So it is with Satan. Backed into a corner by his defeat on Calvary, he wages an all-out war in view of his impending doom.

But the Lord says that the people of God have conquered him in three ways (Rev. 12:11). We triumph over Satan “by the blood of the Lamb.” Though he accuses us by sowing doubt in our minds about our salvation or God’s love for us, our only reply is, “I have no other argument, I need no other plea; it is enough that Jesus died and that He died for me.” We triumph over Satan by “the word of [our] testimony,” by living and proclaiming the truth about Jesus’ victory that we share in by faith. Finally, we triumph over Satan by not loving our lives, “even unto death.” Death has been stripped of its power by Jesus’ victory through his resurrection to eternal life. We share in that victory when we stay faithful to our risen Lord and king (cf. Rom. 16:20).

“And though this world with evils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us; Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also; The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever.” (A Mighty Fortress, Martin Luther).