It was probably the most unlikely statement to be made during the entire Gulf War. Within hours after the cease-fire was declared, a badly beaten Saddam Hussein emerged from his bunker and announced his victory. Here was one of history’s most convincing and lopsided battles; seldom has an enemy been so largely out-gunned and handily whipped. Yet, he has the audacity to declare that he had won. How odd of him to say that.
In one way there may have been some truth to his unusual claim. Due to the fact that his Republic Guard had retreated so quickly, it dodged the bullet of a direct confrontation with Allied forces. As long as this unit remained intact, Saddam could retain his ruthless power over the Iraqi people. In spite of heavy casualties and widespread destruction, evidently this is the victory of which he spoke.
What is the greatest blessing of Easter? Is it not the fact that our enemies were completely defeated? Not partially, not mostly, but absolutely. The Easter victory is so final that none of them can rise up and claim a triumph after the fact. Jesus won convincingly and He won entirely. By faith in Him the victory is ours.
If you care to assess the damages inflicted upon your enemies, then open your Bible to the second chapter of Colossians. By divine inspiration the apostle leaves no questions unanswered.
One By One — Defeated!
“He has made us alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses” (Col. 2:13).
ENEMY NUMBER ONE: Sin. Defeated. All trespasses forgiven. Every sin, every failure, every slip, every shortcoming, every act of disobedience, every impure thought, word, or deed — paid for in full. None escaped. None can return to haunt us. There are no exceptions. Jesus paid the price on Calvary. His empty tomb on Easter means: “Paid in full.” He who was delivered for our offenses was also raised again for our justification.
“Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us” (Col. 2:14).
ENEMY NUMBER TWO: The demands of the Law. Fulfilled. Defeated. Jesus did not fulfill 99% of the Law with the hope that you would fulfill the remaining 1%. Contrary to the claims of ancient Pietists or modern Evangelicals, God did not start a process that you yourself would have to complete. The Gospel is not a new Law with a new set of rules that Christians must follow to attain righteousness before God. The Gospel means that every requirement, down to the smallest jot and tittle of the Law, was fulfilled by Christ for us. Jesus had said: “I have not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it.” With a clear voice on Calvary He announced: “It is finished!” There are no exceptions. The victory is complete.
“Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it” (Col. 2:15).
ENEMY NUMBER THREE: The devil. Defeated. The devil’s power is his ability to accuse us before God. But the Bible addresses this in Romans chapter 8: “Who shall bring a charge against one of God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died and furthermore is also risen.” Need we say more? Satan is disarmed. Defeated. “One little word,” Luther so eloquently stated, “can fell him.” “If anyone sins,” Scripture assures us, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.”
We are “buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Col. 2:12).
ENEMY NUMBER FOUR: Death. Defeated. Death did not conquer Jesus and therefore cannot overpower us. The grave may be where life’s journey ends, but don’t be fooled. Scripture explains that “this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. . . .then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.'” “Because of Easter,” one writer puts it, “a Christian can drive past any cemetery, can shake his fist and laugh!” The victory could not be more complete.
Beware Of Counterfeits!
But there is one danger. Beware of people who attempt to minimize the full conquest of Easter morning. In Paul’s case, they were Judaizers who wished to add conditions to the Gospel, like the observance of certain festivals and Old Testament rituals. So, the apostle warns: “Let no one judge you in food or in drink, or regarding a festival or a new moon or sabbaths. . .” (Col. 2:16). He also said: “Let no one defraud you of your reward, taking delight in false humility” (Col. 2:18). Watch out for those who proclaim a Gospel that looks like, but is actually a counterfeit of, the real thing. They may seem more pious, more sincere, more dedicated, but such are they who place sanctification ahead of justification; who confuse Law with Gospel; who make the above-mentioned victory somehow contingent upon you.
The account of Jesus’ victory on Easter morning always arrives with an element of surprise, doesn’t it? After six weeks of Lent, Easter morning fills us with a delightful awe and wonder. It is almost as though the victory were in question until His tomb is discovered empty. But this victory was never in question. It was God’s plan from eternity. It was His way of conquering completely the enemies His people face. Any surprise on Easter morning came because His promise of rising again on the third day sounded too good to be true in our world of sin.
But the victory was true, it is true, and will always be true. So final is this conquest that none of our enemies will ever be able to emerge and announce a late victory. Praise God.
— Pastor James Albrecht