I John 3:1-8
November 13, 2016
St Paul’s Anglican Church

“Destroying the Works of the Devil”

We have before us this morning one of the greatest statements in all of the Bible. Verse 8 of I John 3:

For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
This is a fabulous verse because it is so hard to misread. It is so clear! So understandable! It tells us why Jesus entered this realm in which you and I live. It has personal application for each of us… but it also has historical application! And a cosmic outcome! It merits thoughtful consideration!
Why was He manifested? Not to be popular with this world… not to unify mankind…not to make the world a better place (though this He certainly did)… not to be served by others… not to amass great physical treasures and wealth! He entered our realm in order to destroy the works of the devil! That was His mission from the start!
The Greek term translated by the English word destroy literally means to loosen… to untie… to unbind! Jesus told two of the Twelve on the day of His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem that they were to go to a certain place where they would find a donkey and her colt. They were to unloose them! The very same word! That is, they were to unbind them (untie them) and bring them to Him.
The conflict between our Lord and the Evil One was identified and foretold as early as when our first parents had their “moral fall” in the Garden of Eden! The outcome, we are told, would be determined in favor of our Lord!
Satan used God’s righteous laws to tie sinners captive to their sins! They were bound tight with the clear promise of God that the souls which sin shall surely die! Mankind thus sat tied and gagged, as it were, awaiting execution! But…
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy [untie, unbind, loosen] the works of the devil [and set us… and others… free].
Those who sat in darkness, the Scriptures announce to us, saw a great light when Jesus arrived on the scene!
By willingly taking upon Himself the sins of the world – and paying God’s required penalty of death – He unbound and dismantled Satan’s plan!
One of the greatest among story-tellers, C. S. Lewis, vividly points this out in the first volume of his Chronicles of Narnia… when Aslan (a Christ figure) similarly dies a substitutionary death… and explains it invoked a deeper “magic” which the white witch did not understand!
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
The word translated devil we should note is the Koine Greek term diabolos. This term offers a great key to God’s people helping them unlock what is being said here – and help them find their way through life! Please hear the wisdom of Didymus the Blind!
Didymus the Blind is still a great source of knowledge for Christ’s Body today – even though 1700-years removed! Born in the year of our Lord 310 and dying in 395 (at the age of 85), he was the head of a famous Coptic Christian school in Alexandria, Egypt for half a century (and a marvelous example for the rest of us)! Having lost his vision at the age of four, he never sought the restoration of his physical vision, but begged the Almighty for an enlightened heart… and vision of mind.
And so he listened carefully and ceaselessly, like the Biblical prophet, Ahijah of old! And he learned more than you might imagine possible! His prodigious contemporary, St. Jerome, never spoke of Didymus as “the blind” – but as Didymus, “the seer” (the one who could see what others could not). And the orator Libanius wrote to an official in Egypt: “You cannot surely be ignorant of Didymus, unless you are ignorant of the great city wherein he has been night and day pouring out his learning for the good of others.”
And regarding the occurrence of the Greek term diabolos in our lesson, Didymus the Blind (Didymus the Seer) stated that the devil entered the world (and I quote)… “in order to lead people astray, for that is where his name comes from.”
The name diabolos thus means seducer (from his beguiling of Eve)… deceiver… accuser… of mankind!
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works [destroy the power and appeal of the seductions… the deceptions… the accusations] of the devil.
Our Lord has given us His perfect example to emulate, that in following His steps we might avoid the pitfalls… the landmines… the fiery darts… the dangers… the hazards… the destructions of the devil!
We have one more Sunday before crossing the threshold into a new Church year! The Reformers had an important design in employing St. John’s famous text this morning.
We are about to enter the Advent season in which we prepare for the Coming of the Christ Child at Christmas. This is a reminder to us that we might look for Him Who entered our benighted sphere to destroy the works of the devil. To unbind us from the consequences of our sins. To unbind us from the delusions of the Evil One. To welcome Him at His all-important Coming.
For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.
World without end. Amen.

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