With no small effort God redeemed sinners through the cross of Christ. Disarming, disgracing, and triumphing over the enemy of our souls, He won us the victory with His outstretched arm.
by David Gatch
“He disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly; He triumphed over them by Him.” Colossians 2:15
In 168 BC, Roman General Aemilius Paulus rode on a gold chariot into Rome in triumph over King Pereus of Macedonia. Along the boulevards of Rome great scaffolds were erected for seating and all of Rome turned out dressed in festive white. The three day celebration began with a procession of 259 chariots loaded with statues, pictures, and colossal images taken from the Macedonian kingdom. The second day was the procession of innumerable wagons of the armor of the Macedonians of arrows, swords, and bits of their war horses followed by 3,000 men carrying the enemies’ silver in 750 vessels and other treasures. On the third day, the captives were paraded preceded by 120 sacrificial oxen decorated with gold, ribbons, and garland. Next came the Macedonian gold, the king’s chariot, crown, and armor. Then came the king’s servants, weeping and begging for the crowd’s mercy, followed by his children and then King Perseus, clad entirely in black followed by endless prisoners. Finally, came the victorious general, adorned magnificently in a purple robe interwoven with gold, holding in his right hand a laurel branch. His massive army followed the chariot of their commander, singing songs of triumph and praise of Aemilius’s battle and victory.
Certainly this was the imagery Paul had in mind when he stated that God “disarmed the rulers and authorities and disgraced them publicly, having triumphed over them” redeeming us by Christ Jesus. However, there is something striking here. With no small effort God redeemed sinners through the cross of Christ. Disarming, disgracing, and triumphing over the enemy of our souls, He won us the victory with His outstretched arm. It was with no small effort with which God saved us. What I mean is that the Bible does not reveal God as performing salvation with effortless ease, but rather as putting forth a strong effort to redeem His people. Certainly, with His great power and strength, we may think that God would give only a small glance or spoken just one word and accomplished the same feat. However, He chose to display His great power and go full-force in the matter of redemption. Why? It was because of His great love for His people that the Lord “displayed His holy arm in the sight of all the nations.” (Isaiah 52:10) This was God’s way of redemption, to use His full power to win the victory. To Israel He promised in Exodus 6:6, “I am Yahweh, and I will deliver you…I will redeem you with an outstretched arm…” In Jeremiah 50:34, the Lord declares, “Their Redeemer is strong; the Lord of Hosts is His name. He will fervently plead their case…” In His great effort, He demonstrated His love for His people to all the nations.
This full-forced effort is seen in that God disarmed, disgraced, and triumphed over the enemy. Just as we picture a general winning complete victory and displaying that great triumph, so God demonstrated His great power in an all out assault and winning victory over our enemy. Look at how He redeemed us by Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. He first, disarmed the enemy. We sing the song, “It is Finished,” in which we declare that the battle is over. A battle indicates a fight and a struggle. God sent His only Son to die to save sinners. He held nothing back in this fight. The battle is over because the enemy has been disarmed. That is God took their weapons by force. They were disarmed of their power or authority, which the enemy exercised over us as we lived “according to the ruler of the atmospheric domain, the spirit now working in the disobedient.” (Ephesians 2:2) We were held in sins sway and spiritually dead. Sin and death enslaved us. “But God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah…” (Ephesians 2:4-5) He disarmed the enemy and stripped away their power and authority over us. He set the captive free.
He not only disarmed the enemy, but He also “disgraced them publicly.” Having divested them of their power and authority, He made known to the entire world their utter helplessness and inability to enslave any more. They held no power over us. We were set free and it was more than just being released from prison. A prisoner of war may be freed from the prison, but not from the horrors of war. We may say you can take the prisoner out of the prison, but you can’t take the prison out of the prisoner. God does more than just break the captive out of prison. He takes the prison out of us. He really does “break the power of cancelled sin, He sets the prisoner free; His blood can make the foulest clean; His blood availed for me.” The Christian really can live in complete victory. God disgraced the enemy publicly by revealing their true character – they are completely helpless against our God’s great redemption. Through Him we have victory over our sin. There is nothing we lack. He gives to us “everything required for life and godliness.” (2 Peter 1:3)
Finally, “He triumphed over them.” This was no small victory or half-way job. We are not left with anything short of complete and full victory. He decimated and crushed the enemy at the cross. He broke their power over us. The author of Hebrews lays it out clearly, He through His death “that He might destroy the one holding the power of death – that is, the Devil – and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death.” So complete was the victory that it secured full freedom and liberty for those held in slavery and removed even the "fear of death.”
With no small effort God disarmed, disgraced, and triumphed over the enemy of our souls and won us the victory. He did it – He Himself. “Everything is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them…He made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19, 21) We are free, liberated and empowered to live a life free of sin’s power, full of godliness and righteousness, and with no fear of death – all because our God gave no small effort.
is pastor/teacher at BIBC ~ Big Island Baptist Church in Deville, LA.
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