Back to Victory Over Temptation
F. J. Huegel
CHRIST'S VICTORY OUR VICTORY’
(Taken from Bone of His Bone) pdf
At no time in the Christian's pilgrimage is he free from peril. Temptations of every hue beset his path. The farther along the road, and the greater the grace, the more subtle the snares, and the more intense the opposition. It was at the end of the road in the hour of greatest achievement, in the moment of loftiest spiritual attainment, that the Saviour experienced the sharpest and grimest conflict; and so it is with the Christian. He will never know how determined and how mighty the foe is, how cruel the enemy, how potent the opposition, until he forges his way to the highest spiritual attainment. It is when he asserts his claim to a place with Christ in the Heavenlies, that the great Adversary, the Prince of Darkness, begins to employ his subtlest tactics, and brings into action his most telling weapons.
It is quite possible to doubt the existence of his Satanic majesty while one is still dominated by the "flesh-life." One simply does not see. The spirit is not yet released. Satan has no great controversy, no real quarrel with those who are content to go along professing to be Christ's, while "self" in one form or another sits, so to speak, upon the throne. So long as the "old life" is not displaced so long as the Cross is simply looked upon as a distant symbol, so long as no inner crucifixion takes place releasing the spiritual faculties and entailing a vital union with Christ in the power of His ascension-life, the Enemy is not greatly alarmed. It is when the Christian realizes his position of death-identification with the Divine Head, rising with Him in spirit to a place of real power, that he comes to appreciate the meaning of Paul's: "For we wrestle not with flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wicked spirits in Heavenly places" (Revised Version margin). It is then that he begins to grasp the deeper significance of the Saviour's Cross.
Jesus not only came to reveal the Father's love, to express in terms of human life the Divine purpose; He not only came to heal and to teach; it was not simply to give His life as a ransom for many there upon the Cross. In the strictest sense, those were secondary objects. There was one supreme purpose of which little was said, because man in his blindness would not understand. Behind the scenes there was being enacted a mighty drama. Jesus saw Satan fall as lightning from Heaven. He saw the real enemy. Not for a second was He deceived. Back of life He saw vast hordes of demons as thick clouds enveloping the world. Men were under the dominion of the powers of darkness. The Master's supreme glory, His prime value as Redeemer, lay in the fact that He was able to break that power. He cast out demons. He faced the enemy in the desert and came forth victor.
It is significant that on that last night the Saviour should have interpreted His Cross in terms of conflict with the Satanic dominion. He said: "Now is the judgment of this world: Now shall the prince o f this world be cast out" (John xii. 31) . Paul had insight into this fact for he wrote that Jesus, through death, had destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb. ii. 14). Elsewhere in speaking of the Saviour's Cross he declares that it was there on Calvary that He spoiled principalities and powers and made a show of them openly triumphing over them in it (Col. ii. 14-16) . It would seem that even in spiritual realms whereof we have no cognizance, when conflict takes place (in Revelation we read that there was war in Heaven) the forces of light in their efforts to overcome, appeal to Calvary, and on the basis of Christ's victory there obtained, are able to triumph. "And they (Michael and his angels) overcame him (the Devil) by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" Rev. xii. 11).
But is not God omnipotent? Why could He not with one stroke have upset the whole Satanic hierarchy? He could have, but that would not have answered His purpose nor solved the problem. Man had sinned. Man had been deceived by the great Father of lies. Man had made common cause with Satan. More or less unconsciously, yet how effectively a sin-besmirched world reeking with crime testifies, man had lent himself to the great plan of the fallen Prince. God was ruled out. Rebellion broke out in the primitive camp. So it was necessary that man of his own free will should break with Satan and return to the Father. Christ as man must overcome Satan. Herein lies the virtue of it all. It was Man, "the Son of Man," employing weapons which man might use, triumphing. It was Man challenging the usurper's authority and standing for God. It cost the Saviour the ignominy and shame of the Cross, for Satan fired the Jew with a diabolic hate. No man was ever hated as was Jesus-just as no one was ever loved as was He. Any explanation of this hatred on any other basis than that of demonism simply cannot satisfy. Why the best man who ever lived (perfect Man) should have been hated, as probably even Nero never was-the One who befriended thousands, communicating treasures of priceless value-remains the greatest enigma of history until we accept the Scriptural postulates. We read that "Satan entered into Judas." It was Satan who fired those hearts with the wrath of hell.
But to come to the point of interest for us. What has all this to do with participation? Much, every way. We are not only baptized into Christ's death, and raised with Him in the power of an endless life; we are the participants of His Victory over the forces of hell. When the Son of Man achieved, we potentially achieved in Him. The humblest believer may trample the "dragon" under foot. The weakest disciple who realizes his oneness with Christ, may in His Name "bind the strong man" and spoil him of his goods.
It had to be through death for this reason: The "selflife" and the Satanic spirit are in unconscious affinity. However polished the former-it may shine with the culture of the ages and bear the religious glow of the best in natural religions-it is still "self," it is still "flesh-life." It has the curse of God upon it. It has the smell of infernal associations about it. It stinks. "The carnal mind is enmity with God" (Rom. viii.). It hates Him while it pretends to love Him. Where "self-life" dominates, be the religious professions what they may, Satan finds plenty of ground on which to work. The rails over which he runs his engines of war, are laid. Just as there are affinities in the natural world, i.e. lighting and electricity-how they coalesce; sunlight and the green of nature-how they fuse and intermingle, and are made one for the other; the glass and light-how the latter penetrates the former. The glass does not lose its character because the light passes through it. So just as there are affinities in the natural order, so there are in the spiritual. If the "self-life" is supreme, Satan does not have to be invited in. The lines are already set for the "electric" current to flow. Satan is master of ceremonies, though he be apparently non-existent. The ground is all his. That is why the Scriptures speak of that wisdom which does not descend from above as being "earthly, sensual, devilish" (James iii. 15) .
So, I repeat, it had to be through death. The Son of Man through death,-the utter, absolute uncompromising, all-inclusive negation of "self-life" which the Cross entailed -destroyed him who has the power of death, that is the devil. The Christian has been planted into that death. He is grafted into the Cross of the Son of God. "Our old man is crucified with Him." In Christ he dies. He shares the Saviour's tomb. And, as in Christ he dies, Satan's dominion over him is destroyed-destroyed because the "flesh-life" with its Satanic affinity is destroyed. In all realms God works according to law, and in none more strictly than the spiritual. And it is law that where the carnal mind which is enmity toward God is given free play, the Satanic hierarchy which is based upon the same principles that govern the carnal mind, and which necessarily stands in closest relation to it, has no difficulty in asserting its authority and in maintaining its power. Even Christ Himself could not set a soul free from Satan's power which failed to avail itself of the efficacy of His death, and in the power of that death failed to renounce the "flesh-life"-the socalled "old Adam-life." If He did He would be untrue to the Universe. It respects even the rights of Satan. He respects the laws of the Universe. He can only save man in ways wholly in keeping with the highest claims of morality. In other words, He must be true to Himself. Ile cannot violate His own Nature.
I once saw this very principle at work. A missionary of my acquaintance suffered a strange break-down which had all the earmarks of demon possession. The missionary soon comes to know the derangement which, as Dr. White of China, who has made an exhaustive study of demonism, says, has symptoms absolutely distinctive. It fell to my lot to hear the blasphemy which issued from the lips of this dear comrade-those lips which had for years proclaimed Christ. One cried out within one's soul: "This is none other than a demon from hell." Prayer finally prevailed; though there were days of agony before it did. Not even a missionary is exempt, if inadvertently, or otherwise, he gives ground to Satan by some form of "self-life," or by accepting some lie or some counterfeit emanating from the pit.
Then, too, the Authority of Christ over wicked spirits is delegated to the believer. I once happened upon an incident in Mexico City which threw light upon what has been called the "executive authority" of the Christian. The boy scouts were taking their places at street corners to learn how to deal with traffic. I watched a lad on the stool of a "gendarme." The boy signaled and the traffic obeyed. If ten thousand cars had been lined up on Avenida de La Re f Reforma, that lad could have held up the entire procession with a single wave of the hand. And why? He stood at his post vested with all the authority of the Republic of Mexico. It was the Magic Wand-law. That was sufficient. Said Jesus to the disciples: "I give unto you power over all the power of the enemy." They returned amazed and cried out: "Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through Thy name."
Helen Montgomery in Prayer and Missions, tells of a Chinese lad casting out a demon. A poor grief-stricken father came to the home of a Christian pastor beseeching aid for his demon-possessed daughter. The pastor was not at home. His boy taking in the situation at a glance said "I'll go with you. I've seen father do it. I know how." Afterward the lad stated that while on the way he confessed his sins and called upon the Lord for help. Upon arrival he was conducted into the presence of a poor maid writhing and foaming at the mouth. The lad immediately turned upon the unseen spirit, in whose grip the maid had fallen, and said: "In the Name of Jesus Christ, I say, go forth." The spirit obeyed. The maid was instantly restored.
The humblest believer who realizes his oneness with Christ, is invested with the very authority of the Son of God. As members of His Body we share His executive authority. Shall we not judge angels? If God be for us who can be against us? Yea, verily l mountains do move and are cast into the sea at our bidding. The Apostles exercised this power and we may exercise it. Christ stands ready to make effective the command of the humblest lamb of His flock, if that lamb is obedient. But, we cannot have all that Christ has for us in this regard until He has all of us. A bit of "self" may seem insignificant enough to us, but God sees it in the light of the Cross: "self" placed the Son there. The true measure of "self" is the Cross. Pilate knew that for envy the Jews would have Christ crucified. After Calvary who ever could think lightly of envy? Envy's hands are red with the blood of the king. "Self" is still a monster and until we dethrone him (not wheedle him secretly, or, fondle him in some deep hidden love), dethrone him with the actual slaying of the Cross of Christ, we rob ourselves of infinite wealth and power; we feed on the husks with the swine.
God grant to us a disposition to die with Christ that with Him we may reign. In which case the very devils will be subject unto us.
WE are all very much at sea as touching this dark subject. Among present-day Christian leaders, teachers, and preachers none seem to be willing to risk their reputation by entering into this matter. Yet, there is no greater need in the Church today than that of light on this intricate question. Witness the "isms" springing up, all under the eaves of the Church. Strange doctrines that have to do with the gifts of the Spirit, and that seem sound enough, and sufficiently grounded in the Scriptures, are causing fatal convulsions in the Body of ,Christ, and plunging earnest Christians, seeking fuller light, into the abyss of fanaticism. "Doctrines of demons" which according to Paul would, in the latter days, come as a flood upon the Church.
I look back over the years of my ministry as a missionary of the Cross, when Satan's dark wing oppressed me, and shudder. A missionary, and oppressed by Satan-the irony of it. Oh! the agony of the prolonged conflict when, assailed by the hosts of hell, they saw me escaping from their hands. Had it not been for the faithful Shepherd, who seeing my plight, came to my rescue; had it not been for the light which He shed upon the subtle workings of the Adversary, and the patient training which He gave me in the use of the weapons which "are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds," the outcome of this warfare with the powers of darkness would have been a very different matter.
However, it is not only in heathen lands where the missionary comes to grips with demon forces for ages entrenched, as it were, in their strongholds. How many Christians there are in so-called Christian lands, who feel the weight of the murky spirit, who have been sidetracked by the great Deceiver, and who secretly groan under the thralldom of "the powers of darkness"! How few Christians there are who are enjoying that complete freedom from Satanic oppression which Jesus came to make possible! Little is being said of the "Rulers of the darkness of this world" (it is the fad of the day to pooh-pooh the idea of a personal devil-like Voltaire, who said he did not believe there was such a thing, and who nevertheless lived in mortal terror of this very monster; even the preachers of our day vaunt their scepticism in that which has to do with this Prince of darkness). Little is being said, I repeat, of that which was so real to the Saviour, in His conflict with evil; yet, Satan stalks with his millions of cohorts through the land oppressing, deceiving, murdering, inciting to evil, and plunging souls into the abyss of unutterable estrangement from God.
His chief strategy, at present, seems to be an adulterated Christianity. In a thousand and one ways he is draining out the essence-he is removing the savour from the salt -he is watering down the pure wine of the true Christian life. As has been so often said: he will float any number of truths to get into circulation one lie. He causes all our divisions. He is the father of so many counterfeit "isms." He will even give you a revival if only you keep it all in the realm of the "flesh-life." A revival which does not exalt the Cross, and which brings no soul to co-crucifixion, to a deep realization of an inner oneness with Christ in death and resurrection, simply fails to register in Heaven. What is more, Satan may put across some of his choicest strategy under cover, in the heart of the revival, itself in the form of truth out of relation with other truths, in the stressing of some strictly sectarian view-point, in the injection of passion for the triumph of some system of theology, in an over emphasis of emotionalism, in the setting in motion "the wheel of nature" (stirring up of "flesh-life") through some "counterfeit." He is willing that men shall follow Christ so long as it be in the energy of the "self-life." He is not afraid of religion. In fact, it is absolutely essential that men be religious (i.e. bow in submission to the supernatural), for he can use to so much greater advantage souls that are open to the supernatural. The greatest crimes of history have been committed in the name of religion. Satan only fears one thing-the Cross of Christ. I do not refer to a mere symbol. I refer to all that Calvary signifies: Christ's victory over the powers of darkness-His substitutionary death for the sin of the worldthe believer's oneness with Christ in death-in a word, the power inherent in what we have elsewhere, borrowing Dr. Mabie's term, spoken of as the "death-resurrection-mid-process." This is the "Rock cleft for me," in which if I hide, I shall find shelter from the wiles of the wicked one, against which the gates of hell shall never prevail.
For those who feel themselves-and there are millions of professing Christians who in their secret souls know, so far as their life and walk are concerned, that the power of Satan is not yet broken-still victimized, who, in a word, are not wholly free, I would offer the following suggestions.
First: You must "remove all ground." We give "ground" to Satan when we accept any of his lies. He often paints his lies with all the colors of the Christian faith. He quotes the Word. Witness the temptation of Jesus. We give "ground" when we fail to avail ourselves of the power of Christ's Cross for the displacing and removal of "self-life." If the "old life," the "flesh-life," is in the ascendency, a thousand unconscious lines of communication are all set for Satan's use. We simply have got to burn our bridges behind us and get over into God's camp. We give "ground" when we sin. We give "ground" by the abuse of any organ or faculty. A doubt will give "ground" to the Evil One. That is why Satan tried to get the Master to doubt. "If thou art the Son of God." Had Jesus accepted that "if," it would have entitled Satan to a considerable patch of "ground," so to speak, in the Saviour's life. If, under cover, he gets us to accept what looks like an innocent sort of doubt as regards God's perfect faithfulness and goodness, from the vantage point given he soon forges his way into further "ground."
The "ground" is removed by an assertion of our right to a full participation in all the fruits of the victory of Calvary. We must deliberately take our stand with Christ on victory ground; affirm what God says is true as regards our oneness with Christ in death and resurrection; deliberately refuse all "ground" to Satan, and in the Name of the Victor of Calvary take back the "ground" that may have been lost. We must claim in Jesus' name the "ground" which belongs to the rightful King. Satan is a pretender prince. He is the usurper. He can maintain his authority over us only on the basis of lies and half-truths. We must displace these lies with the Word of God. We must take up the shield of faith "wherewith we shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one." It is a fight. Paul says that we wrestle with unseen foes. They are crafty; they are subtle; they are quick to discover the weak spot in our armour; they strike when we are down; they can entrench themselves in a constitutional weakness (witness 2 Cor. xii, Paul's thorn in the flesh which was, the Apostle says, a messenger of Satan to buffet him) ; they oppose and hamper and bind in a thousand ways. Of the woman with an infirmity, whom He healed, the Saviour said: "this woman whom Satan hath bound."
But we have been made the participants of Christ, and we have an invincible claim, a blood-bought right, a glorious right springing from our oneness with the Victor of Calvary a perfect right to freedom. Are not these the good tidings which Jesus came to proclaim in the acceptable year of the Lord? Does He not proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening o f the prison to them that are bound? Did He not cry out from the Cross "it is finished"? Is it only, if I may so speak, a ten per cent., or a fifty per cent., or a ninety per cent. salvation which He wrought out at so great a cost; or, is it all inclusive, one hundred per cent. Simon-pure salvation? The salvation which so many professed Christians have got is not worth the price the Saviour paid-the trip from glory; the infinite humiliation of the Incarnation; the ignominy of the Cross. It does not represent the victory of Calvary. It leaves Satan, if not in full control, the cruel oppressor and possessor of great fields of the spirit.
Oh! may Christians arise and take their place with Christ in the Heavenlies "far above principalities and powers." Their right to the air they breathe and the water they drink is no more inalienable. They are members of Christ's body and by the Word of God, the Covenant of Calvary, they are the legal possessors of all that which Christ Himself rose out of the grave to inherit. When God raised His Son from the dead and "set Him at His right hand in the Heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion and every name that is named not only in this world but also in that which is to come, and put all things under His feet," you, too, O Christian member of the body of Christ you, who believe in Him and who have been grafted into the Vine, you, of whom Jesus said: "I in them and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in One," you, too, O Christian, were raised to sit at the right hand of God; all things have been placed under your feet. Will you not assert your right to freedom, and throw off the abominable yoke? Will you not remove, on the basis of the Calvary victory, every faculty, every power, every phase of your life whether of the spirit or of the soul, or of the body, from Satan's blighting, stultifying, deadening, damning dominion, so that in the fullest possession of your faculties you may serve God in holy freedom and joy?
Many have unconsciously come under the oppressive thralldom of the Enemy. They have given ear to his lies; they have become passive. Passivity lays us liable to demon intrusion. It is fundamental to Spiritism. The medium is passive-the "spirit" takes control. "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light." We are not to let go of a single faculty and expect God to control us as if we were machines. Union with Christ does not signify any such things. After coming into deepest union with Christ, so that like Paul we say: "I am crucified with Christ . . . Christ liveth in me," we do not become passive. We do not give up self-control. As never before we live. Personality is vastly enhanced. The will is greatly fortified. The mind is marvellously illumined. The memory is gloriously strengthened. We are free as never before to choose, to will, to reason, and to act. We are now to act in perfect harmony with God, every faculty energized by the Holy Spirit. No, it does not lead and never should to passivity. If a single faculty has fallen into disuse and through passivity has come under Satan's baneful sway, let us in Christ's Name break the shackle, take back the ground ceded, and in full possession of our God-given faculties be free.
Finally, ground taken must be held. Satan returns in ever more subtle ways, even as he did in the case of the Saviour. And so we must be ever prepared for battle. The victory of today may be the cause of tomorrow's defeat, if it results in any glorying in the "flesh." Uncrucified "flesh-life" gives advantage to the enemy. During the World War, there were a few Germans in the American army secretly in touch with the enemy. At a critical moment these spies were at the point of betraying positions of responsibility. Had they not been discovered and shot down in time, grave consequences might have ensued. That patch of "flesh-life" may seem innocent enough, but in the hour of conflict with the powers of darkness if it is not brought under the Radium of Calvary, it will be the unprotected breach through which the enemy will pour in like a flood.
Our modern theological proprieties may forbid the use of such terms as Peter used when he wrote: "Resist the devil and he will flee"-our superior ecclesiastical airs may make those who believe in standing against the wiles of the devil feel most uncomfortable, but out on the battle-field of life where grim facts are the only things that count, it is the Christian who knows how to buckle on the armour of light and who stands against the forces of darkness that comes forth victorious, crowned with the Crown of Life.