The Triumph of Christ Over Satan
April 9th, 1990 @ 12:00 PM
THE TRIUMPH OF CHRIST OVER SATAN
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-9-90 12:00 p.m.
It is a gladness to welcome you here for the seventy-fourth consecutive year that we have conducted these pre-Easter services. I cannot but comment on the reverential attention of our First Baptist Academy that fills this balcony, these several years. It is an inspiration to me, just to see you and to feel your attentive presence. And for the rest of us, remember this is a busy lunch hour, and if you have to leave in the middle of a sentence, we understand. You willl not bother me, you will not bother anyone else. When you have to leave, you are privileged to do so. We will try to encompass the messages within a thirty minute period, beginning at twelve o’clock; we will be in our benedictory prayer at 12:30.
The subject this year is “The Triumph of Christ”: tomorrow, The Triumph of Christ over Sin and Hell; the next day, The Triumph of Christ over Death; the next day, The Triumph of Christ over the World; and the last day, The Triumph of Christ on the Cross. Our general background is from the possibly the greatest chapter in the Bible: 1 Corinthians 15:
O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin,
But thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
[1 Corinthians 15:55-57]
And the title of the message today, The Triumph of Christ over Satan.
We are presented two characters in the fourth chapter of the First Gospel of Matthew. One is the Son of God. He has just been baptized; He has just been presented as the Messiah of prophecy by John the Baptist. There has been an affirmation of His sonship in the descent of the dove that lighted upon Him, and the voice from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, the Son of the Father God in heaven; this is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." [Matthew 3:16-17] The other character is Satan; it is the devil, "Then Jesus was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil" [Matthew 4:1].
So there is a kingdom of evil and a kingdom of darkness; and there is a personal head who presides over it, his name is Satan. Jesus, in this passage, calls him by his name, “Satan.” And these two have known each other from the years and the years and the centuries and the ions past. For example Satan says, "If Thou be the Son of God," then those three separate temptations. That’s not a good translation, "If Thou be the Son of God" [Matthew 4:6]. In the original language it is indicative, "Since You are the Son of God." Satan knew Him and all of those centuries past they had confronted each other.
You are familiar with the fall of the devil, of Satan, depicted, the story, in the fourteenth chapter of Isaiah, and the twenty-eighth chapter of Ezekiel. Satan is the crown prince of glory, next to God Himself. And the Lord God gave to him the direction and the care and the rulership of all of His creation in heaven above and in the universe below. And the pride that came into Satan’s heart induced him, encouraged him to seek the throne of God itself. And there was a vast confrontation in heaven. And Satan, in his pride, was dismissed; he was thrown out. But in his fall, he carried with him the destruction of the universe of God and the establishment of an evil kingdom in the earth.
The power of Satan is beyond description. In the Book of Jude [1:9], Jude says, "Michael the archangel dare not accuse him, but said, The Lord rebuke thee." And in the twelfth chapter of the Book of the Revelation [12:7], at the great consummation of the age, there is a violent war between Michael the archangel and Satan and his minions. Do you remember Peter said? "Your adversary the devil goeth about the earth like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour"? [1 Peter 5:8]. Now these are the two characters who face each other, not only in these eons past, but here as Jesus begins His ministry.
The fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew begins, Tote – tote, that is an adverb of time, "then". It refers to a very definite moment; and the moment is at the baptism of Jesus. He is beginning His messianic ministry. He is presented by the great Baptist preacher himself. He is affirmed by the descent of the Holy Spirit. And He is confirmed by the voice of God the Father from heaven, "This is My beloved Son." And isn’t that a dynamic picture of the alternations of human experience? Baptized and then tempted of the devil. Affirmed by God the Father, and then turned over to Satan. Standing at the inauguration of His incomparable messianic ministry and then forced in the wilderness to face the battle with Satan himself. And yet, that is the experience of all human life. At the time of our greatest convictions, at the time of our greatest avowal of faith in the Lord, at that very time you will experience the questions that seemingly devastate our very lives.
But we are to remember our baptism is not invalidated by the questions that are thrust upon us and by the trials and temptations of evil. This is a part of human experience. Jesus was no less the Son of God when He was tried in the wilderness than when He stood in the waters of the Jordan with the affirmation of God’s love and grace upon Him. And you are no less the true son of God in the trials that you face than when you accepted Jesus as your Savior and gave your heart and your life to Him. It is a part of human experience that at the time of our greatest consecration, at that time you will experience some of your greatest trials and temptations.
Will you notice again the nature of this struggle? It says here, "Then was Jesus led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be peirazo, peirazo," translated here, "tempted of the devil" [Matthew 4:1] peirazo. A good translation of peirazo is "to be tried," is "to be proved." And the word is used for both God and Satan: God peirazo, God tries us, God tempts us, God proves us, God Himself does. The twenty-second chapter of the Book of Genesis [22:2-10], telling the story of Abraham, begins with that very word, “Then God,” peirazo, “God tried Abraham; God tempted Abraham." And the story follows, you remember, on Mt. Moriah, when he was commanded to take a knife and thrust it into the heart of his son. God tries us.
I turn here to the eighth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy. The entire eighth chapter of the Book of Deuteronomy presents the trials by which God led His people through the wilderness. And it says here He humbled them and caused them to hunger. And it said, continuing, He led them through great and terrible wildernesses, with fiery serpents and scorpions and drought, where there was no water, in order that He might prove them. God does that for us. We are tried by the Lord.
We are also tried by Satan. The difference is, Satan tempts us and Satan tries us to evil, while God tries us to prove our worth in His sight, and in His grace and mercy. Now, all of us go through those trials and those provings and those temptations. There is no escape. It says here in the fourth chapter of this Book of our Lord, that He was led up. The Book of Luke [4:1] says, ekballo, He was driven into the wilderness. It is a part of the plan of God; and you will be tried, and you will be proved, and you will be tempted.
Sometimes we have a futile imagination thinking that we will with soft sandals and velvet slippers, we’ll slip by Satan’s den, we will elude the tempter, we will catch him when he’s asleep; and maybe when we’re miles away we’ll laugh at him. Not so. To live is to be in the devil’s hands. To exist is to be in a world of trial and temptation. You will not escape. It will come to you as certainly as you breathe, as you exist in the pilgrimage of this earth.
The only thing to remember is the trial proves your worth in the sight of God. God has a Son without corruption; but God has no son without trial and temptation. And the more holy the saint is, the more he will be buffeted by the tempter who seeks his destruction and his cursing. You find that in the life of our Lord. He was the purest and the dearest and the sweetest who ever lived; but He was tried beyond anyone who ever sought to do the will of God in the earth. It says here at the conclusion that the tempter left Him for a season [Luke 4:13]. All through the life of our Lord, not only was He tried here in the wilderness, but throughout His ministry He was assailed by the evil one. Don’t you remember when He came to His hometown of Nazareth? "They sought to cast Him headlong down, that they might destroy Him" [Luke 4:29]. Do you remember the little phrase in the story of the life of our Lord? "They laughed Him to scorn" [Matthew 9:24]. Do you remember the vigorous opposition of the Pharisees and the Sadducees? Do you remember He was derided by Herod the king, and was accused before Pontius Pilate? The dearer and the saintlier, the more the vicious opposition of Satan, our adversary and our enemy; but that is the invitation for the angels to come and to minister to us, "And angels came and ministered to Him" [Matthew 4:11].
Do you want to walk with angels? Then face temptation and trial in human life, in human experience. If you are away from God and indifferent, He’ll not bother you. But if you draw close to the will of our Savior in heaven, you will be tried, and you will be tempted, and you will be assailed, but out of those tragic experiences come the ministering angels. If you want to walk with the hosts of heaven, then endure and bear the trials and temptations and the frustrations of life and you will know what it is to have the companionship of the Lord God Himself. That’s Jesus. That’s you. And that’s everyone who places life and trust in Him.
Our Savior, when those times come in our lives, help us to be faithful, to endure as looking unto Him who alone is able to deliver and to save. And may every trial and temptation we experience in our pilgrimage but bring us closer to Thee, fellowshipping with angels, and with the hosts of God in heaven. We give Thee, Lord, our lives, every step of the way of this pilgrim journey. And may we grow in Thy grace and in the love, and goodness, and likeness, and image of our precious Lord. Thank You, Savior, for these days, and these who attend in deepest reverential attention, listening to the Word of God. So dismiss us, Lord, in Thy love and goodness and grace, and in Thy dear and precious name, amen.
OF CHRIST OVER SATAN
4:1-11, 1 Corinthians 15:55-57
I. The characters
A. The Son of God (Matthew 3:16-17)
B. The devil (Matthew 4:1)
There is a kingdom of darkness, presided over by Satan
and Satan know one another (Matthew 4:6, 10)
lies back of this story (Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28, Jude
9, Revelation 12:4, 7, 20:10, 1 Peter 5:8)
II. The time (Matthew
A. "Then" refers to His
entrance upon His messianic work
2. The witness of
John the Baptist
3. The Spirit of
God coming upon Him in the form of a dove
4. The voice from
heaven (Matthew 3:16-17)
B. The experience
of human life
the time of our greatest consecration, we experience greatest trials and
III. The nature of the struggle
A. Peirazo – to
try, to prove
used for both God and Satan (Genesis 22:1-2,
Vast difference between trial, tempting of God and the tempting of Satan (James 1:1-2, 12, Job 2:9, Luke 22:31)
C. We must all go
D. Trial indicates
our worth (Luke 4:13, 29, Matthew 9:24)