Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.”… Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” —Matthew 26:36-39 ESV
My favorite scene from the Passion of the Christ is in Gethsemane when Jesus stomps the head of the Serpent. Genesis 3:15 is where God makes this promise:
And Romans 16:20 says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.”
The Larger Picture of Satan’s Defeat
So let’s step back here and get the larger picture of what the New Testament says about the defeat of Satan. In Genesis 3:15, God promised that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent: “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Jesus comes to fulfill that promise. First John 3:8 says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” So we can sum up the work of Christ as destroying Satan in three stages.
1) Satan has been decisively defeated in the death and resurrection of Christ; 2) he is being defeated now by Christ through Christians who speak the word of God and put on the whole armor of God; and 3) he will finally be vanquished and thrown into the lake of fire never to deceive or torment the world again.
1. Satan Has Been Decisively Defeated in the Death and Resurrection of Christ.
Paul puts it like this in Colossians 2:14-15, “[Christ cancelled] the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” By nailing our sins to the cross he took all the damning weapons out of the devil’s hands. Now he can rage against us, but he cannot condemn. It is God who justifies, who is to condemn (Romans 8:33-34)? (See also Hebrews 2:14-15; 1 John 3:8; Ephesians 1:22; John 12:21; 16:11.)
2. Satan Is Being Defeated Now by Christ Through Christians Who Believe and Speak the Word of God and Put on the Whole Armor of God.
Ephesians 6:12-13, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” (See also Revelation 12:11; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6). So we today embrace and apply the victory of Christ by faith in our battles against the devil—mainly by believing and wielding the word of God (cf. 2 Timothy 2:24-26).
3. Satan Will Finally Be Vanquished and Thrown into the Lake of Fire Never to Deceive or Torment the World Again.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:25, “[Christ] must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” The defeat was decisive in the cross and resurrection, but the final blow will be delivered in the future when Christ puts all things manifestly under his feet. There’s the link with Romans 16:20—“under his feet.” Only here it’s under your feet: “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” And the reason it’s your feet is that we are in Christ and his triumphs will be our triumphs.
This is as certain to happen as the fact that Christ already came and died and rose again. That’s why Ephesians 1:22 speaks of all things as already under Christ’s feet. “God put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church.”Romans 16:20 is a glorious promise to beleaguered saints in times and places where it seems as if evil has the upper hand and Satan is devouring the world. And it is a warning not to give up and change sides. It is an encouragement to keep on being vigilant against falsehood and idolatry and to “be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil.”
Grace for the Battle
And in the meantime—till the final victory comes and Satan is vanquished—there will be grace for long battle. Verse 20b: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” It arrives every day in just the right amount for the battles we face. It is new every morning. Great is his faithfulness.