I have referred many times to this subject, but, since my overall aim in this blog is to glorify God, and exalt the Lord Jesus Christ, it is inevitable that I should return to it from time to time. It is a vitally important subject, though I can only give the briefest of sketches here.
Since he succeeded in bringing about the fall of our first parents in the very beginning, Satan has been seeking to promote the lie that he is still victorious, when he is actually a defeated foe. I believe that he knows this very well, but is still determined to retrieve something from the debris of his false kingdom.
If we glance at the character and works of the protagonists, we see that Christ's victory was inevitable from the outset. Christ, the Son of God in our nature, rides 'prosperously because of truth and meekness and righteousness' (Psalm 45:4), whereas Satan, no more than a creature, though a great one, pursues power by means of lies, arrogance, and murderous hatred of God and all that is good. Whoever first said that evil is self-destructive spoke a great truth. It is inevitably so. But the power that is destined to rule the world is self-sacrificial love.
This brings us to the works of the two contenders. Satan sought success by lies, blandishments, and outright violence. From Cain onwards, he sought to break and destroy the godly line that was to culminate in the coming of the Saviour. Christ, on the other hand, humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:7, 8), for the love that he bore to his Father and to the sinful children of men. Which of these would the God of truth, justice, and love favour? We have our answer: 'Wherefore God also has highly exalted him [Christ] . . . that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord' (verses 9-11).
The practical outcome of all this matters profoundly to every believer. We are to give no ground at all to the devil (Ephesians 4:27). He still tries to overawe us, especially, I believe, when we are at our weakest; but if we resist him in Christ's Name, he will flee from us (James 4:7). We will overcome him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11).
John Newton understood these things well. His hymns deserve to be sung more often, such as these lines:
Approach, my soul, the mercy seat,
Where Jesus answers prayer;
There humbly fall before His feet,
For none can perish there.
Be Thou my Shield and hiding Place,
That, sheltered by Thy side,
I may my fierce accuser face,
And tell him Thou hast died!
O wondrous love! to bleed and die,
To bear the cross and shame,
That guilty sinners, such as I,
Might plead Thy gracious Name.