1 John 3:8 (NKJV)
8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
For the first three Sundays in Lent, we addressed our three chief enemies as Christians: the world, the flesh, and the devil. When we are outside of Christ, these forces dominate our lives and compel us to sin; they drive us away from our Creator. So having identified each of these enemies, we have begun to highlight the way that Jesus, through His death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave, has conquered each of them. Last week we heard John’s announcement that Jesus was manifested to take away our sins. He died and rose again to free us from the guilt and power of sin. This week John reminds us that not only did Jesus die and rise again to conquer our sinful nature, he also died and rose again to conquer the devil. Listen again to John’s words: He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
John’s words remind us that though Satan is alive on planet earth, he is far from well. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection Satan’s power over the world has been fundamentally broken. He can no longer enslave the nations as he once did. Momentary victories he may have but his ultimate defeat is sure for his power is broken.
Consider, for example, the power he once had over death. Paul writes in Hebrews 2:14-15 – Inasmuch then as the children [we] have partaken of flesh and blood, [Jesus] Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. Jesus broke Satan’s power. He did, in John’s picturesque imagery in Revelation 20, chain Satan that “he no longer deceive the nations.”
This is why, therefore, our due sense of caution in the presence of the devil and his minions must always be tempered by a robust and profound scorn of his weakness – not his weakness in relation to us but his weakness in relation to God, the God who has promised to protect us and who has entrusted all authority in heaven and on earth to the Lord Jesus Christ. He holds the keys of death and hades. So we can remind one another, when fearing the devil, “Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.” Even as John writes in 1 John 2:14 – I have written to you, young men, because you are strong and the Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the wicked one.
So as we enter into the presence of our Lord today, let us confess that at times we have failed to fill our hearts with the fear of God in our fight against the Wicked One and have instead fallen prey to his schemes and stratagems and intimidation. And as we confess, let us kneel.