Why did Jesus come? Why did the Word become flesh and dwell among us?
Many would say, “to die on the cross to save us from our sins”. Amen!
This, however, is not the only reason. If this is the only reason we know of Jesus coming, it’s actually a limited view of what Jesus has come to do. I do not say this to take away from Christ’s work on the cross because that is the sign all other signs he performed were pointing to and that is the hour all the other hours of his life were pointing to.
Jesus, you see, came not just to deal with our sins, but to deal with the devil. Or better said, to destroy the works of the devil.
Tucked away in 1 John 3:8 are the words, “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the work of the devil.”
Full pause. Jesus (the Son of God) came to destroy the devil’s work.
Image bearers, post Genesis 3, have a sin problem and a temptation problem. One of the names we attribute to satan is the “tempter”. History shows, our experience agrees, and Scripture overwhelmingly proclaims we are too weak to deal with the temptations the tempter throws at us.
Consider the first humans in the garden. They were offered something outside of God. The temptation of the fruit for being good for food, pleasing to the eyes, and to make one wise overwhelmed the first humans to the point they waved the white flag and gave in to temptation.
Consider the Son of God in the wilderness with Satan in Matthew 4. Jesus was offered everything and more from satan. But it was outside God’s word and the Son of God, not only thwarted the advances of the devil, he convincingly won the battle.
Again, Jesus came because we have a sin problem and a temptation problem. It’s in the victory of Jesus over Satan, in the wilderness, on the cross, and his soon coming return that gives us the victory.
We image bearers are weak and inconsistent. The one in whose image we are made is not weak and inconsistent – he is strong and faithful. Therefore, upon receiving Christ as our Lord, by trusting in his work, we can confess 1 Cor. 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
Our all, our heart, soul, mind, and strength, belong to God, not satan. This is what Jesus teaches us in his life, what he won for us on the cross and what he secured for us in his resurrection. This is one reason the Word became flesh.
So while the battle rages and spiritual warfare is real, deep, and deadly. If we know our position in Christ, if we know his victory, if we are trusting in his work – we are not rogue waves in the sea constantly assaulted by satan, we are more than conquerors because the one we follow, the one we believe in is the conqueror over satan, sin, and the grave.
To learn more about Spiritual Warfare, it is the theme of our current book in our “OneBook Club” at Nashville UMC. For more information about the study call the church office: (252) 459-7178.
Luke is Pastor of Discipleship to the community of saints, in Christ, at Nashville UMC.