Thursday, July 14, 2016

Christ's Victory over All Powers of Evil: Already But Not Yet!

In AD 451 Church leaders, gathered at an ecumenical conference in the city of Chalcedon, discerned and affirmed together an extremely important understanding of Jesus Christ. This understanding came to be known as the Chalcedonian Formula. They affirmed that Jesus Christ, as both Son of God and Son of Man, was both fully divine and fully human, with no separation of his divinity from his humanity, with no mixture of his divinity and humanity, and with his existence as Son of God before time having right priority over his incarnation as a human being.
In other words, Church leaders at Chalcedon affirmed that we rightly understand the biblical witness to Jesus Christ only through (what we may call) paradoxical logic. This differs significantly from the sensate logic of what is called the scientific method. Sensate logic states that A cannot be non-A at the same time. Paradoxical logic states that, when it comes to rightly understanding God, whose ways are not at all our ways, we need to affirm both A and not-A at the same time.
Using the paradoxical logic of the biblical witnesses, as affirmed by representatives of the whole Church at Chalcedon, we rightly affirm that the victory of Jesus Christ over all powers of evil is both wholly accomplished and yet not finished, without separation, without mixture, and in the right order.

Wholly accomplished! The apostle Paul happily proclaims the Good News of the victory of Jesus over all powers of evil accomplished through his crucifixion and resurrection. Paul reminds us that, with Adam, sin once ruled us all through death. Now, with Jesus Christ, grace now rules us all through righteousness leading to eternal life (Romans 5:21). Again, once we were slaves of Satan and served his wicked purposes which end only in death. Now we have been set free from him so that we may be slaves of righteousness and serve its holy purposes which lead to eternal life (Romans 6:15-23). Paul rejoices that Jesus disarmed all powers of evil by making a public spectacle of them at the cross and, having died with Jesus, we are free of them (Colossians 2:15, 20). While the Devil held the power of death, and kept us all in slavery to him through our fear of death, Jesus destroyed the Devil and set us free (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Not yet finished! At the same time, Paul acknowledges that, while our new Christian personality knows what is right and wills to do it, the Flesh still lives within our old Olympian personality and drives it to do evil so that we do not always do the good we know and will (Romans 7:14-25). Satan still manages to blind the minds of Olympians to prevent them from affirming the Good News of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4). He still likes to trick Christians into serving him as well. We need armor from God to resist Satan and the other powers of evil through whom he works. The Devil and those powers are our real enemies—not other human beings (Ephesians 6:11-13). In tempting Jesus to become a political savior, Satan claims control of all the governments of the world and their glory which Jesus does not dispute (Matthew 4:8-9). Although Satan rules the world, Jesus Christ has given us understanding of the one true god and made us his children (1 John 5:19-20).
Without separation! We cannot simply affirm that the victory of Jesus Christ is definitive. Biblically, theologically, and experientially, we witness the evil that still exists, in ourselves and in our societies and cultures.
We cannot simply deny that the victory of Jesus Christ has taken place. Biblically, theologically, and experientially, we witness Jesus speaking words of truth that free us and others to love and lead us into fullness of life.
Without mixture! We are not to think of Christ’s victory over all powers of evil as important but still questionable. We are not to think that Satan might still respond with an even greater assault that reverses all that Jesus accomplished. No! Jesus defeated Satan and his minions once and for all, beyond all question, forever. There’s no going back. He put Satan and his minions on the doomed defensive.
In the right order! The victory of Jesus Christ is complete. Nothing needs to be added to it. He defeated all powers of evil—Satan, false gods, Flesh, demons—and doomed them to destruction. They have no future.
Jesus gave each of us humans a new Christian personality which is our future. He condemned our old Olympian personality which can only remain our past even as it haunts our present.
Jesus overcame the world: all societies, cultures, and personalities opposed to his Kingdom of Freedom. His Church is to serve as an alternative society and culture based on freedom rather than on power.
In conclusion! In the beginning, Yahweh created the Kingdom of God with two realms: Heaven and Earth. With the rupture of humankind’s relationship with Yahweh (Genesis 3), Satan took control of Earth and spoiled Heaven with his constant accusations against all humans (see Job 1-2).
Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that all changed. Jesus decisively defeated Satan and his minions. They all got tossed out of Heaven. Satan’s powers to deceive, bully, and bribe got broken on Earth.
When Jesus returns on the Last Day, he will make his decisive victory a definitive one. On that day all societies, cultures, and personalities will pass through the judgment of God’s fiery love (1 Corinthians 3:11-15). All that witnessed to the truth, freedom, love, and vitality of Jesus will enter the New Age. All will be included in the Kingdom of God in which both Heaven and Earth will be fully restored. All that witnessed to the falsehood, power, indifference, and death wielded by Satan will, with Satan and his minions, come to an end (Revelation 20:10, 14).
Our task, as faithful witnesses to Jesus, is to freely share each day, as clearly as possible, all the light, love, and life that are now ours—and everyone’s!—made possible and real by the victory of Jesus Christ over all powers of evil.

Copyright © 2016 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved.