He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.
I believe in the devil. I believe in the existence and activity of demonic spirits, I believe them to be powerful and destructive. I believe that spiritual warfare is real, necessary and that we must be aware and discerning of the “schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11). I believe that as believers we are required to, “put on the whole armour of God” as we are in a battle for the souls of people.
We are to take seriously Paul’s reminder that our primary battle is not against “flesh and blood, but is against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).
All of this makes Paul’s statement found in Colossians 2:15 all the more amazing and remarkable. That these very enemies against whom we fight have been disarmed, displayed, and defeated by the cross of Christ!
Paul is not contradicting himself, confused or in error about the status of Satan and his army of demons. He is simply reminding us that we fight a defeated enemy.
Our enemy has received a deadly blow, his judgment has come, his doom is sealed. Though still prowling about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8), his authority and power have been checked and his days are numbered.
Yes, we are engaged in a war, the outcome of which however, has already been decided in our favour. He cannot and will not win. We fight an enemy over whom we have complete authority and from whom we need fear nothing. He has been convicted, sentenced to death, and is for a season out on bail.
We must never fail to recognise, ignore or treat lightly the existence of the demonic realm. We do so at our peril. Ignorance of Satan’s schemes and a reluctance to confront the enemy in biblically appropriate ways have opened the door to untold damage, oppression, and spiritual bondage in people.
The trouble is the church has become culturally relevant, sophisticated, clever and respectable. The demonic has either been denied altogether or, at best, relegated to a pre-scientific medieval mentality that is beneath the dignity of forward thinking folk of 2022. In doing so, many in the professing church have opened wide the doors to demonic oppression and are now suffering its debilitating effects.
But before you accuse me of bias, there is an equally unbiblical obsession with the demonic that virtually attributes to it a power that is reserved for God alone. For some believers it isn’t the comforting assurance of Christ’s gracious presence that thrills them, but the frightful prospect of “a demon under every sofa” that terrifies and paralyses them. Everything seems to be a demonic attack, from falling over to the loss of a job and of course sickness (we won’t go into that one here)!
It isn’t to the Lord Jesus Christ that they pray in times of trouble and distress, entrusting themselves to his promised and loving care, but the devil whom they proceed to bind, denounce and shout at! Please understand I am not making light for any moment that we are commanded to resist the evil one.
It is my experience that for some their first instinct is not to turn to the Holy Spirit and the word of God to enable them to overcome the lusts of their own fallen, sinful flesh, but to blame most things on a demon from whom they need to be delivered.
In Colossians Paul makes several important points that help our thinking and direct our behaviour when it comes to this crucially important issue.
Satan and his demonic hosts are among those “thrones” and “dominions” and “rulers” and “authorities” that were created by the Son of God (Colossians 1:16). Of course, he did not create them evil. He made all things good, but their rebellion is a well-documented biblical fact. Put simply, Satan is “God’s Devil.” All demons are subject to the one who made them and even now upholds and sustains them in being (Colossians 1:17).
Satan and his hosts are active and will continue to be until the coming of Christ. Paul warns the Colossians about “the elemental spirits of the world” (Colossians 2:8) and elsewhere acknowledges the wicked “designs” of Satan himself (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Lastly, and most important of all, the forces of darkness have been dealt a fatal blow at the cross of Christ. This is Paul’s point in the text before us: “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” This glorious truth must govern our faith and undergird all our encounters with the enemy.
We engage in spiritual warfare with this truth fixed firmly in our hearts and minds “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
The words of Jesus to the seventy-two disciples are as true today of you and me as they were then to them: “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you” (Luke 10:19).
What Paul describes in Colossians 2:15 was invisible to those standing at the foot of the cross. No one could see this remarkable phenomenon with their physical eyes. All they saw at the moment of Christ’s death was the crucifixion of a man.
Yet what is true is that in Christ’s death a great and glorious victory was achieved. In that cross the enemy was disrobed and disarmed and put to shame. It was at Calvary that our Lord triumphed over every demonic being. What was invisible to man was the reality in the spiritual realm. This is our strength and our greatest weapon. More next time.