GOD CAME NEAR
God came near to destroy the works of the devil
1 John 3:8
Jerry A Collins
vWhat are the works of the devil?
How did Jesus destroy the works of the devil?
What difference does this make in our lives?
Last week I watched the video of Usama bin Laden as he casually explained some of his planning for the destruction of the world trade center. As I listened to him chuckle and calculate how much destruction he expected I could only say to myself, here is evil personified. I was speechless and appalled. We call him a terrorist but all I saw was a murderer, a cold-blooded killer who justified his evil deeds in Godís name. An insane man who does not deserve to be understood just eradicated. We watch something like this or many other kinds of evil, like the two young teenagers accused of killing their father or the mother who drowned her 5 children or the indiscriminate killing between Israelis and Palestinians and because of our inability to stem the tide of this corrupting and pervasive evil we ask, what is behind all this? Legislation cannot help. Counseling cannot help. Behavioral modification cannot help. We have to admit that there is something deeper, more troublesome behind this. We cannot clean it up fast enough and we are powerless to prevent it. John tells us very plainly that He practices sin is of the devil because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil 1 Jn 3:8. John declares that then problem behind all of this modern-day evil is the existence of an evil being subverting every human effort to counter his activities. He is pouring out a flood of evil into the human life. This whole passage from 4-9 deals with the larger problem of evil. 4-7 is parallel to 8-10.
(1) Each has a word to say about sin. 4 says everyone who commits sin is guilty of lawlessness, sin is lawlessness. 8 says he who commits sin is of the devil. One describes the nature of sin, lawlessness, the other declares the origin of sin, the devil.
(2) In each passage is a word about Christ and his appearing. 5 says you know that he appeared to take away lawlessness and vs 8 says the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.
(3) There is a logical conclusion then. 6 says no one who abides in him sins and 9 says no one born of God commits sin. The one as a result of fact Christ came to take away sins and the other that Gods nature now dwells in us.
All NT writers agree that we can never adequately explain the problem of evil if we never come to terms with these unseen forces and recognize their existence.
1. THE ORIGIN OF HUMAN SIN AND EVIL
Here John discusses the origin of human sin. He says it originates from Satan himself.
A. The devils sin (8a) the devil is sinning from the beginning. If you want to learn the truth (in this case about sin) go back to the beginning when Satan sinned (Isa 14, Eze 28). We can determine that in the beginning, Satanís sin was a desire that was based in pride. It was a desire to be like God in his power but not to be like God in his character. What does it mean for us to be like God? It is a virtue to imitate certain attributes of God and a sin to imitate others. Satan imitates the attributes we are not to and ignores the ones we should. For instance, we are not to be like God in His omniís, sovereignty or infinity but that is the sense in which Satan wanted to be like God. The ones we are to pursue, Godís justice, truth, holiness love all lead to humility in our lives (Micah 6:8, Isa 66:1-2). Pursuit of the other attributes leads to the pride of Satan.
B. The devils works (8b) destroy the works of the devil. The works are logical result of the sin of Satan. A mind of the flesh which results in lawlessness. A disregard for the authority of God. A mindset which opposes God and is hostile toward God leading to the works of the flesh (Gal 5:19). I will run my own life on my own terms. Jn 8:44 Satans works include murdering and lying. John 10:10 calls Satan a thief killing, stealing and destroying. This rebellious spirit is from Satan and reflected in man. The works of the devil will follow as well. When we repeat what Satan has been doing we are guilty of that same sin and those same works. We have repeated the sin of the devil. Independent, lawless we reproduce his character and John says the one who practices sin is from the devil. This has been evident from the very beginning of the human race with Cain/Abel, David, Annnias/Sapphira each wanting to be a law unto themselves to get what they wanted apart from Godís law and character. All sin is like that and we get the consequences too. So, what is the answer to all of this?
2. GOD CAME NEAR TO DESTROY THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL
This is what Christ came for. To bring an end to, abolish or do away with the devils works. The word means to undo or loose. Like untying a knot. Satanís works have tied people up in knots of sin and Jesus came to untie those knots once and for all! Satan is not omniscient. What he could not know and did not count on was Godís love, i. e., Gods willingness to sacrificially give His Son to satisfy His justice as a judgment for mans sin. Satan had no comprehension of that and in Godís sovereignty, Satan became a willing participant in our own release from the bondage of sin that Satan is enslaved too. Dr. Paul tournier said that when we know the grace of God we find that the problems we were facing in life because of sin are not always soled. What happens to them is that they are dissolved. They simply disappear, they fade away like the morning mist. You do not find specific solutions so much as you simply find them disappearing, as Godís grace enfolds and surrounds us. The Son of God has come to untie, to loosen the bonds of the devil, the works of the devil in human life, to dissolve them and set us free! This is what we remember and celebrate at Christmas! How?
(1) He replaces imitation with reality. Devil always imitates and cannot originate. He imitates God with phony, cheap imitations. Since Satanís works are against God, when Godís program changed so did the Devils. Because evil cannot exist w/o good, Satan is forced to change his perversions when God changes His administration. When God has prophets, Satan had false prophets. Since God has Christ, Satan has antichrists. But cannot have a false prophets w/o prophets or antichrists w/o Christ. So Satan will attack whatever is Gods plan for that age so in age called innocence, Satan attacked Eveís innocence. During age of law Satan tempted to people to break it with other laws. Jesus imitates the true character of God and calls us to follow him
(2) He sets aside false and restores true. The works of Christ counter the works of the Devil and by looking to that work in faith for the truth we become set free, delivered, and empowered not by the devil but by the Son of God. That is when life begins to make sense and we know of victory over sin and evil and if the Son shall set you free you will be.