IN THE DAYS OF HIS POWER SERIES.
TOPIC: DESTROYING THE WORKS OF SATAN
Rev. Innocent Peace-Udochukwu
President Living Fountain Ministries Int’l LIFOM
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
— 1 John 3:8.
This very strong expression is descriptive of sin; for the preceding sentence so interprets it. I will read the whole verse:— “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the work of the devil,”— that is, that he might destroy sin.
This name for sin is first of all a word of detestation. Sin is so abominable in the sight of God and of good men that its various forms are said to be “the works of the devil.” Men do not like the idea of having any connection with the devil, and yet they have a most intimate connection with him until they are made anew by the Spirit of God.
He that is in league with Beelzebub has forfeited all right to honour. Yet let every man know that if he lives in sin his actions are called by the Holy Spirit “the works of the devil.” Satan is “the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience.” Think of that, ye ungodly ones, the devil is at work in you, as a smith at his forge. Is it not a shocking thought that if I am living in sin I am the bondslave of Satan, and I am doing his work for him? If the devil be in the heart the whole life will be more or less tainted by the presence of that arch-enemy of God and man. Do not laugh at sin, then; do not dare to trifle with it, for it is dangerous and deadly, because it is of the devil, from whom no good thing can ever come. Oh, if men could but see the slime of the serpent upon their pleasurable sins, the venom of asps upon their dainty lusts, and the smoke of hell upon their proud and boastful thoughts, surely they would loathe that which they now delight in! If sin connects us with the devil himself, let us flee from it as from a devouring lion. The expression is a word of detestation: may it enter into our hearts and make sin horrible to us.
Next, it is a word of distinction: it distinguishes the course of the ungodly man from the life of the man who believes in the Lord Jesus. For he that is of God doeth the works of God— his life is the work of God, it is a life which has much that is God-like about it, and he is upheld by the power of God, the ever blessed Spirit. But the ungodly man’s life is very different— he lives for himself, he seeks his own pleasure, he hates all that oppose him, he is up in arms against the Lord, and his truth, and all that is pure and good: his spirit is not the spirit of God, but of the evil one.
There is a radical distinction between the gracious and the graceless, and this comes out in their works: the one works the works of God and the other the works of the devil. I know that this doctrine is not pleasant, but it is true, and therefore it must be plainly stated. I hear one say, “Look at me; am I a child of the devil? I may not be much of a saint; but I am no worse than many of your professing Christians.” I answer, that such may be the case; for professing Christians are sometimes horrible hypocrites, but what has that to do with you? Ah, my friend, their perishing will not help your salvation. If you are not trusting in Christ and living under the power of his love, you may be as good as a hypocrite, or even better, and yet you may be widely different from a real Christian. If you have not the life of God in you, you cannot do the works of God.
Look abroad in the world and you see atheism: men made by God deny his existence. They could not stand upright and speak if he did not enable them to do so, and yet they cry, “There is no God!” Into what a condition must an intelligent mind be brought ere it can vent such folly! Surely this must come from that arch-fiend who above all things desires that there should be no God! See, also, how much there is of ignorance abroad, a leaden night of ignorance of God and of his Son. Is not this the work of the prince of darkness? Note also the abounding unbelief of truth which would be believed at once if men’s minds were pure, of truth which is salvation to those who accept it, and yet is rejected by many as if it were injurious to them. Whence comes all this indifference to God and his grace, and what is the origin of all this plague of doubting which is now upon us? Is it not of the same character as that which abode in the serpent’s heart when he whispered, “Hath God said?” and, again, “Ye shall not surely die.” Here is the Bar that is from the beginning still producing a host of lies against God himself. What is idolatry, which we see everywhere abroad, not only among the heathen, but among those who call themselves Christians,— the worship of visible symbols instead of the spiritual adoration of the unseen Spirit? It must have come from Satan, who has made himself the god of this world, setting himself up to be God’s rival.
Things offered to idols are offered to devils, for a mere idol is nothing in the world; its evil lies in its representing a principle which is opposed to the one true, invisible God. The superstitions which degrade humanity, which are an insult to our manhood, all these are most pleasing to Satan, and approved of by him, and so they are fitly described as “the works of the devil.” And what, my brethren, is blasphemy— that common profanity which pollutes our streets? Who could have taught men wantonly, and for no purpose whatever, to use the foul and filthy language that is so common nowaday? This must be the speech of pandemonium, the dialect of hell.
And what is pride, my brethren, pride in a creature that will die? pride in a sinful worm?— the pride of dress, the pride of life, the pride of talent? What are those haughty looks? what are those presumptuous words? what are those contemptuous glances,— what are all these things but works of the devil? He whom Milton describes as thinking it “better to reign in hell than serve in heaven,” he surely is the great fomenter of all pride among mankind. As for deceit, so current everywhere, and, worst of all, religious deceit, formalism, and hypocrisy, whence come these but from the bottomless pit— from him who transforms himself into an angel of light? Are not all liars his dear children? My list is long enough: but I see a numerous brood hatched beneath the wings of hate: envy, strife, wrath, bitterness, malice, revenge. These are as fiery flying serpents in this wilderness, inflaming men’s blood. I see these accursed evils rousing nations into war, dividing communities with discords, embittering families that else might be full of love; yea, making men to be the worst enemies of men. These come from him who is a murderer from the beginning, and is the aider and abetter of all hatred and strife. What a busy being he has been! How he has toiled incessantly day and night to set up a kingdom of hate in opposition to the empire of eternal love! With what diligence he has smothered the world with a pall of darkness, so that men sit down to weep and rise up to torment one another. Ah me, what mischief this unclean spirit has wrought! His works are evil, only evil, and that continually. He has led the human race to become accomplices in his treason against the majesty of heaven, allies in his rebellion against the sovereignty of God Most High. The works of the devil make up a black picture: it is a thick darkness over all the land, even a darkness that may be felt.
But now, secondly, and much more joyously, let us consider THE PURPOSE OF GOD— “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
Ring out sweetly all the silver bells of earth, and all the golden harps of heaven; God has purposed that the terrible work of the devil upon the earth shall be every atom of it destroyed. Yes, mark that word “destroyed,” not limited, nor alleviated, nor neutralized, but destroyed. Oh, men and brethren, what could you and I do against such a power as Satan; so malicious and so strong, and withal so cunning and subtle, and apt to deceive? Who among us can loosen his works, and cast his cords from us? But if God has purposed it, verily the purpose of Jehovah shall stand! If this be the divine decree, tremble, O Tophet, and thou, Beelzebub, for there shall come an end to all thy works, if God hath purposed to destroy them!
The work which lies in this purpose is assuredly a divine work. The Lord who can create can certainly destroy. Destruction lies in the hand of Omnipotence, and is a prerogative of the Eternal One. Destruction of forces so terrible must come from the Lord alone. What could you and I do in this business? Ourselves originally under Satan’s power, ourselves destroyed, could we destroy the destroyer? The image of God in us has been marred by the work of Satan; could we restore that image? Enmity to God has been created in our hearts by Satan; could we while yet enemies tear out that enmity? No, another hand must make us friends, a hand outside of us. That which has been done by the powers of darkness must be undone by the eternal light, or else it will remain for ever. It is a divine work, this destruction of the works of the devil, and herein lies our hope of its being accomplished.
This means also a complete work. The product of evil is not to be cut down for a time and left to grow again. The tree of the forest is felled by the axe, but the root remaineth, and at the scent of water it will bud and send forth branches; but the purpose of God is utterly to destroy the works of the devil, and destroyed they shall be. In the heart of man, when God begins his work, he does not cease till he hath utterly destroyed all sin, yea, the very tendency and possibility of sin; and then he conducts the purified spirit up to his right hand, having neither spot or wrinkle, nor any such thing. In the world, also, do not doubt it, oh ye soldiers of Christ, who are ready to turn your backs in the day of battle, he will yet drive sin out of its entrenchments; the habitations of cruelty shall become the temples of adoration: all people shall bow before the Lord, and there shall be a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness. Up from this poor planet there shall ascend, like smoke from a great golden altar of incense, the perpetual hallelujahs of a ransomed race, redeemed by blood and power from all the rule of the enemy. Glory be to God, he hath purposed it, and he will accomplish it.
It is a complete work and a conclusive work; for the Lord Jesus will so break the head of the old dragon, that he shall never wear the crown again. Christ has come, not to fight a battle with Satan which shall continue throughout all ages, but to win a victory which shall so crush the power of evil that it shall not molest the world again. The powers of darkness upon this earth hang out their flags and ring out the clarions of victory, but they are too fast. Wait a little while, and he that will come shall come, and will not tarry; and when he cometh he shall lead captivity captive; and the reign of goodness, and truth, and love shall be established for ever and ever. Rebellion shall not rise up a second time. Oh, how glorious is the text:— “For this purpose the Son of God was manifest, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” Sin in every shape and form the Lord shall destroy from off the face of the earth for ever.
Thirdly, our text plainly tells us how this is to be done: By THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SON OF GOD. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested.
Lastly, on this point, our blessed Lord is manifested in his eternal power and kingdom as enthroned, in order to destroy the works of the devil; for “the government shall be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, the mighty God, the Father of the ages.” He is such a father, and the age is made to feel his forming hand. Kings, presidents, parliaments, poets, leaders, and such like— these are powers visible; but there is over them all a power invisible.
Oh, brethren, there is to be in every true believer the ultimate abolition of sin. What a prospect this is! The cutting up of the very roots of evil! The sooner the better. The day shall come when every child of God shall be transformed and transfigured into the likeness of Christ, and shall be without fault before the throne of God. This is already foreshadowed upon us, for the outlines are drawn in the fact that we hate all sin, and long after perfect holiness. The great Father has put his mark upon the lump of clay, and we can see from the rough draft that he will fashion it and form it into the perfect image of his dear Son. After that image we are struggling. It is begun in us by the power of the Spirit of God, and he will not fail nor be discouraged till the purpose of God shall be accomplished, and all the works of Satan in us shall be destroyed. This robs death of all dread: the prospect of being totally free from sin makes us welcome even the grave, if by that road we are to come to the home of the perfect. Meanwhile, let us seek after sanctification; let us labour after holiness, and let us abound in it to the glory of God. Despite our failures and mistakes let us pursue holiness! Taking it by the heel, let us keep close to it. So may the Lord enable us for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
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