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HOW SATAN IS TO BE VANQUISHED
Revelation 12:11. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb.
THE establishment of Christianity, whether in the world at large, or in the souls of individuals, is, by means of a warfare, carried on between “the god of this world,” and the God of heaven and earth. Such is the representation given of it in our text. “There was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not, neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth: and his angels were cast out with him [Note: ver. 7–9.].” By this I understand, that whilst our blessed Lord sought, by means of faithful ministers and active saints, to establish his kingdom upon earth, the devil, through the agency of persecuting emperors, and idolatrous priests, and heathen philosophers, laboured to the uttermost to counteract this gracious design. During the three first centuries the conflict was severe: but at last the Lord Jesus prevailed, so that Christianity, under Constantine, became established through the Roman empire, and idolatry was in a great measure destroyed. “Then was heard in heaven a loud voice, saying, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night: and they over-came him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death;” that is, this victory was gained, not by the sword, but by the faith of believers, the fidelity of ministers, and the constancy of all.
The words which we have taken for our consideration at this time belong more particularly to believers, who maintained their steadfastness, and were useful in the diffusion of the truth, by the simple exercise of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. They were accused before magistrates continually, through the influence of Satan; but “they overcame their great adversary by the blood of the Lamb.”
Let us consider—
The character of the adversary with whom we have to contend—
He is called “the accuser of the brethren:” and this name justly belongs to him at the present day: for he accuses all the Lord’s people,
To God himself—
[We are told how repeatedly and how confidently he accused Job [Note: Job 1:9-11; Job 2:4-5.]: and that, “when Joshua the high-priest stood before the angel of the Lord, Satan stood at his right hand to resist him [Note: Zechariah 3:1-2.],” To the same effect, in the words immediately before our text, it is said, “He accused the saints before God day and night.” How far that wicked fiend may be permitted to prosecute his impious course in the presence of the Most High, we will not undertake to say: but whatever efforts he made in former days, he uses still: and by whatever means he sought to injure the saints of old, ho still has recourse to them for the purpose of offecting his murdorous designs.]
To their fellow-men—
[Here we can speak without hesitation. We see how this deceiver accused God’s people of old, to Artaxerxes, to prevent the re-building of the temple [Note: Ezra 4:12-16.]; and to Ahasuerus, in order to effect their utter destruction [Note: Esther 3:8-9.]. In like manner he accused the Apostles as ring-loaders of sedition; and oven our Lord himself as a blasphemer and a demoniac, And what is there that he does not lay to the charge of the saints at this day? Through him they are still, exactly as they were in the apostolic age, “a sect that is every where spoken against [Note: Acts 28:22.].” Our blessed Lord taught us to expect that mon would “speak all manner of evil against his followers falsely for his sake [Note: Matthew 5:11.]:” and so it is, and so it will be, as long as “the accuser of the brethren” retains his influence in the world.]
[Few, if any, of the Lord’s people are altogether strangers to the wiles of Satan, Exceeding powerful are the suggestions, whereby he tempts and harasses the souls of men. They are justly compared to “fiery darts,” which penetrate the inmost soul, and which nothing but “the shield of faith can quench [Note: Ephesians 6:16.].” Sometimes he insinuates that we have committed the unpardonable sin, the sin against the Holy Ghost; and that we can therefore never be forgiven. At other times he suggests, that we are not of the number of God’s elect; and that, consequently, it is in vain to seek his face, At other times, he would make us believe, that we have sinned away our day of grace; and that therefore our state is remediless and hopeless. Now though the world at large are “ignorant of these devices,” the Lord’s people know them by bitter experience [Note: 2 Corinthians 2:11.]; and find, that, whilst this subtle enemy, by accusing them to others, creates to them many “fightings without,” so by accusing them to themselves he generates many “fears within [Note: 2 Corinthians 7:5.].”]
But, formidable as this enemy is, my text informs us,
By what means we may be sure to overcome him—
Of the saints in glory we are told, that “they evercame him by the blood of the Lamb:” and we in like manner shall overcome him also, if we regard the blood of the Lamb,
As the ground of our hopes—
[It is “the blood of the Lamb” which has procured our reconciliation with God: and if we be sprinkled with it, as the houses of the Israelites were sprinkled with the blood of the Paschal Lamb, no enemy whatever can prevail to hurt us. Thousands may fall beside us, and ten thousands at our right hand, but destruction can never come nigh us. There is in that precious blood a sufficient atonement for the sine of the whole world; so that, if we had the sins of the whole world upon our own souls alone, we need not despair: we need only to plunge into “the fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness,” and we shall be pure, even as an angel is pure; “our sins of scarlet or of crimson dye shall instantly become as wool, yea, and as white as snow itself.” In vain will Satan then attempt to accuse us: for God, who seeth our secret reliance on the blood of Christ, will “behold no iniquity in us:” and in vain will he attempt to distress our minds; for, “being justified by faith in that blood, we shall have peace with God,” and peace in our own conscience. That plea, the death of Christ for us, will be sufficient to silence every accusation, and to defeat every assault of our great adversary.]
As the source of our strength—
[That precious blood has purchased for us all the blessings both of grace and glory; and relying on it, we may be assured that “our strength shall be according to our day.” What is there that God will not de for these who are reconciled to him through the sacrifice of his dear Son? Will he not come down to them, and dwell in them, and be a Father unto them; and deal with them as sons? But there is one promise which comprehends within it every thing that our hearts can wish: “I will be a God unto them [Note: Hebrews 8:10.].” Consider what is implied in this. If it had been said only, I will be a friend, or a father unto them, it would have been most encouraging; because it would have secured to us all that might reasonably be expected from persons standing in such relations to us. But, when it is said, “I will be a God unto them,” it secures to us the exercise of infinite wisdom, and almighty power, and goodness, and love: and with these on our side, we may defy all the assaults whether of men or devils.]
As a stimulus to our exertions—
[Sweetly encouraging was the testimony given to Abel, when he offered a firstling of his flock to God; insomuch that Cain, who understood its import, was filled with rage at the distinguishing grace shewn to his pious and believing brother [Note: Genesis 4:4-5.]. But the blood of Christ sprinkled on our souls “speaks infinitely better things to us [Note: Hebrews 12:24.],” And shall not his love in shedding it for us influence our minds? Shall it not “constrain us to live unto him who died for us and rose again [Note: 2 Corinthians 5:14.]?” What will be able to stop us when impelled by gratitude to him? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No: in all those things we shall be more than conquerors through him that loved us [Note: Romans 8:35-36.].” None of these things will move us: we shall “be ready not only to be bound, but also to die,” for our adorable Benefactor; and shall never cease to fight against our adversary till he is overcome, and “bruised under our feet.”]
Seeing then that our victory over this great adversary is to be gained by the blood of the Lamb, let us exercise faith in that blood,
[This is the precise idea contained in our text. The redeemed overcame by a simple reliance on the blood of Christ as the only ground of their hopes. And in this we must resemble them. We must not blend any thing else with this. We must not endure the thought of uniting any work of ours in any degree whatever with Christ’s meritorious death and passion. We must make Him our only foundation, and glory in him alone — — —]
[It is added, that they overcame Satan by the word of their testimony. No doubt they all testified of Christ where-ever they went: and by their testimony they prevailed on thousands to embrace the faith, and to burst the bonds in which they had been held. You are not all, it is true, called to be ministers of Christ, but you are all to be witnesses for him in the midst of a dark benighted world. With the heart you may believe unto righteousness; but with the mouth you must make confession unto salvation. By this you will give the deathwound to Satan: for let light only shine, and the kingdom of darkness will be utterly destroyed — — —]
[To the honour of the saints in glory it is recorded, that “they loved not their lives unto the death.” This is the sure way to conquer. Jesus himself, “by death overcame him that had the power of death, that is, the devil:” and in the same way must we triumph also. If we would vanquish Satan in the world, or in our own hearts, it must be by shewing that death has no sting for us; and that we can welcome it for Christ’s sake. “Be ye then faithful unto death, and Christ will give you the crown of life” — — —]
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Simeon, Charles. "Commentary on Revelation 12". Simeon's Horae Homileticae. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Sunday after Epiphany