The Powers of Darkness
1. Paul continues to speak of the awesome effects of the cross… where Christ defeated all our foes.
a. At the cross Christ defeated our old self life. He is dead and buried. (vs. 12)
b. At the cross Christ defeated another adversary: the handwriting of ordinances which was also against us… namely, the Law. It has been rendered idle and powerless because its demands were met and paid in full. (vs. 14)
c. At the cross Christ defeated yet more adversaries: principalities and powers: the powers of darkness. (vs. 15)
d. All of these enemies have been defeated for the believer through the work of Christ at Calvary.
2. Christ’s victory over the powers of darkness was COMPLETE.
a. Christ spoiled them, made a show of them openly, and triumphed over them.
b. And we are complete in Him. We share in His victory!
c. This is the main point of the passage at hand today.
Principalities and Powers
1. These are terms for different ranks of angelic beings, and in particular, the hierarchy of Satan… the powers of darkness.
a. Titus 3:1 – principalities and powers in this context speak of positions of power and authority in the realm of men. (Human governments)
b. But in Colossians, Paul is speaking of the angelic realm.
c. Paul speaks of this subject because the false teachers had introduced the idea of the worship of angels.
2. Col. 1:16 – Paul gives a longer list of titles for the angelic realm.
a. This list speaks of the various ranks in the angelic realm.
• Perhaps we could liken these terms to mayors, senators, governors, and presidents…
• The angelic realm is well organized… orderly.
• This is true of both the holy angels and the fallen angels.
b. Christ is Creator of all principalities and powers and the entire realm of the spirit world were created by Christ.
c. Christ is not one of them, but Creator of them.
3. Col. 2:10 – principalities and powers refer to the angelic realm, both good and evil. Christ is HEAD over them all—not one of them.
4. So how does Paul deal with the heresy of angel worship in Colossae?
• He exalts the Lord Jesus Christ… He is HEAD over all principalities and powers…
• He is the firstborn of all creatures—including angels.
• He is the Creator of the angels…
• He is the image of the invisible God and He alone is to be worshipped—not angels!
5. PRINCIPALITIES: arche = first one; chief;
a. Dan. 10:12-13, 20 – the prince of Persia was a demon – a fallen angel.
• Daniel prayed, and God sent the Angel of the Lord in response to his prayer. (vs. 12)
• The Prince of Persia (a demon) withstood the Angel of the Lord sent to Daniel. (vs. 13)
• This angelic “prince” had as his special realm of influence, the earthly principality of Persia.
• Dan. 12:1 – Michael was the name of the prince… the holy angel assigned by God over the principality of Israel.
• Angels (good and evil) were assigned (by God or Satan) particular regions of influence—principalities.
• That principality became associated with a particular angelic being. He was thus called the “prince” (principality in New Testament) of that region.
• The term for principality in Col. 2:15 = arche = chief. In the New Testament, Michael is called the “arch angel” or chief angel. He was the chief angel assigned to the nation of Israel. He was their defender.
• Evidently, Satan has also assigned particular demons to various regions of the world.
• There are wars in heaven between the good and evil angels we never see or hear. There are influences exerted by the spirit world in our physical world that we never see nor hear.
6. POWERS: authority
a. This evidently speaks of different ranks of authority given to different angels.
b. Some angels are given authority over various regions…
c. In Revelation 16:4, some angels are assigned to rivers and waters; others to the winds… (Rev. 7:1) and other forces of nature.
d. In the gospel, some angels seem to have authority over certain demonically inflicted diseases…
e. Remember, Satan is called the god of this world in II Cor.
f. Satan DOES have authority in this realm.
g. Luke 4:5-7 – He offered to Christ power/authority (same word as powers) over the kingdoms of the world if He would fall down and worship Him. Jesus never called His bluff.
h. God gave authority over the entire world to Adam and Eve as co-regents in the Garden of Eden. Man had that authority. It was usurped by Satan.
i. Satan and the powers of darkness have had genuine authority over this world for centuries.
j. Satan is the Prince of the power of the air—the aerial region above the earth.
k. The powers of darkness have inflicted pain, disease, suffering, and evil influence of every vile sort upon this world for many centuries.
l. In many parts of the world, men live in fear of the spirit world… through demonic activity and idolatry.
m. In more “civilized” parts of the world, the powers of darkness have influenced men in ways other than fear: ignorance; oblivion; unbelief; the idol of covetousness and materialism… and the doctrines of demons.
n. There isn’t one square inch of earth on this planet that is not influenced by demonic activity.
Christ Made a Show of Them Openly
1. Made a show defined:
a. Strong’s: to make an example of, to show as an example.
b. Dictionary of Biblical Languages: disgrace publicly, expose to public disgrace, to make spectacle of.
c. Used in Matt. 1:19 – ?Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. (expose her to public disgrace as an immoral woman)
2. Tense: aorist, active, indicative.
a. This is the main verb in the verse… the main action… which is why we are looking at it first.
b. The other two participles (having spoiled and triumphing) are descriptive of this main thought.
c. The main thought of the verse is that at the Cross, Jesus exposed Satan and his fallen angels as liars… He made a spectacle of them… publicly disgraced.
3. In His death followed by resurrection, Jesus exposed Satan and the powers of darkness as well as all the earthly human ministers of darkness as liars and deceivers.
a. Satan was behind the crucifixion of Christ.
b. And what were the charges?
He claimed to be the Son of God…
He claimed to be the King of Israel…
• He was put to death as an imposter and deceiver.
• Satan KNEW that the claims of Christ were true—but Satan was a liar and a murderer from the beginning.
• The cross and resurrection exposed the true character of our adversary the devil: he is a liar!
c. The resurrection proved Christ to be TRUE and exposed all of His accusers—including Satan who was behind this movement—as liars.
d. Rom. 1:4 – by going to the cross according to the will of the Father and by rising again, Christ was publicly DECLARED to be who He claimed to be: the Son of God!
e. Satan attempted to take advantage of Christ in His earthly ministry, a period of mortality and humiliation.
• Satan saw that in that time, Christ was made LOWER than the angels.
• Yet in His resurrection, He was raised up far above all principality and powers! (Eph. 1:20-21)
f. By submitting to the awful death of the cross, Christ fulfilled the Father’s plan to provide salvation for sinners AND in the process defeated all our foes… exposing Satan and his host as liars.
1. Spoiled Defined:
a. Dictionary of Biblical Languages: undress, take off, strip off, disarm.
b. Strong’s: to strip off for one’s self or for one’s own advantage.
c. Greek English Lexicon: used in contexts of battle as – the stripping away of weapons and hence the removal of authority and power.
d. Some translations translate this word as “disarmed.”
2. Having Spoiled: aorist participle.
a. This participle speaks of PAST action… completed.
b. The work of spoiling the powers of darkness has been completed—2000 years ago on the cross.
c. The powers of darkness have already been stripped of their powers with respect to the believer in Christ.
d. Having spoiled the powers of darkness, Christ exposed them!
3. The power that Satan held over us has been stripped away from him…
a. Satan is like a disgraced general whose stripes and metals are taken away… and he loses his position, authority, and power.
b. Satan’s power over us is SIN and DEATH.
c. Satan is the ACCUSER of the brethren. (Rev. 12:10)
d. But the cross answers all of his accusations for the believer! (I John 2:1-2)
• Christ’s work as the Propitiation for sin (satisfied God’s justice) deflates completely the accusation of the devil.
• “I paid for that sin. The wages of that sin IS death, but the wage has been paid in full.”
• By paying for human sin in full, the grounds of death and condemnation were removed… leaving Satan’s accusations quite hollow and empty…
• Part of his power lay in his ability to accurately accuse believers of sin… and use sin to keep the believer away from a holy God.
• But Christ REMOVED the law that was against us because of our sins… and He paid the penalty for our sins. Hence, there is no charge the devil can level against a believer in Christ… none that will stick.
4. Satan held the power of death and kept men under the bondage of the fear of death. (Heb. 2:14-15)
a. But by dying for us, Christ ROBBED Satan of his authority over death.
b. Death—Satan’s greatest weapon against us—was stripped away from him by Christ! (I Cor. 15:55-57) Victory in Jesus!
c. The worst thing the devil could do is inflict DEATH upon a believer. But when he does so today, he ushers that believer into the glorious presence of God in the heavenly city to enjoy eternal rest… where there are holy pleasures forever more!
d. The cross has so turned the tables on our enemy, that the worst thing he could do TO us is in reality, the best thing he could do FOR us!
e. Death, his greatest weapon against us, has been swallowed up in victory! The sting of death has been removed! Satan greatest weapon has lost its sting!
5. Heb. 2:14 – By becoming a Man and dying for our sins, Christ DESTROYED the devil by removing his power.
a. This Does Not Mean Satan Has Been Annihilated
• I Peter 5:8 – Satan STILL seeks to devour us! (contrary to the teaching of our Reformed friends!)
• Eph. 6:11-12 – we are engaged in a spiritual battle for the truth.
• II Cor. 11:13-15 – Satan is busy engaging his ministers to pose as ministers of righteousness and seduce men into false doctrine.
• II Cor. 4:3-4 – Satan is still blinding men to the gospel message. He is still the god of this age!
• The devil is anything but destroyed in that sense. He is alive. He is active. He is out to do as much damage to us spiritually as he possibly can.
• Reformed theology does its adherents no favor in offering the false hope that the devil is bound today… and throughout the age.
b. Destroyed Defined
• Destroyed: to render inoperative; to cause a person or thing to have no further efficiency; to deprive of force, influence, power…
• This is the same term as is used in Rom. 6:6 – that the body of sin might be destroyed – rendered inoperative.
» The body of sin certainly has not been annihilated.
» But it has been rendered inoperative. Its power over us has been inactivated by the cross.
» He breaks the power of canceled sin!
» You might liken it to pulling the plug on an electric chain saw. The power is still there… and the chain saw CAN still hurt us. But it has been unplugged. As long as it remains unplugged, it cannot harm us.
» The powers of darkness cannot harm us unless we allow them! We must say YES to sin before Satan or our sin nature can exert any power over us!
c. Christ became a man that He might die on the cross, and as a result, He rendered Satan’s power over us inoperative
• Satan still exists. He still seeks to devour us. He is still powerful.
• However, he cannot harm us unless we ALLOW it to happen!
6. This participle (having spoiled) explains HOW Christ exposed the powers of darkness as deceivers and phonies.
a. At the cross Satan and his hosts were rendered inoperative… stripped of their power over the believer.
b. Eph. 6:16 – Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one – Satan.
c. Satan will still hurl his fiery darts at us—but our shield of faith renders all of his weapons inoperative… ineffective…
d. As long as we walk by faith, we are safe indeed. There is nothing our adversary can DO. He can seek to devour us. He can roar against us. He can hurl his fiery darts—but all of his weapons are absolutely ineffective when we walk by faith. Faith is the victory!
1. Defined: triumph over, conquest over opposition; to lead the defeated away as a conqueror.
2. Tense: aorist, active, participle.
a. This participle is also descriptive of HOW Christ exposed the powers of darkness: by triumphing over them!
b. After He triumphed over them, the powers of darkness were exposed… stripped of their powers against the believer…
c. Having triumphed over them, He spoiled them by exposing their weakness.
3. Roman Triumph Parade:
a. When a Roman general was victorious in battle against a foe, and gained new territory for Rome, he would take away the captives and the spoils of the battle.
b. The Roman Empire appreciated military leaders when they expanded their territory and increased Rome’s coffers and power.
c. And upon arrival back in Rome, he was honored by an official parade known as “the Roman triumph.”
d. He would march triumphantly through the city to the cheers of the people…
e. He would parade his captives and put them on public display before the people… exposing them as defeated ones… their weapons were taken away and piled up on large carts… demonstrating that they were no longer a threat to Rome.
4. This Roman Parade is likely the scene Paul has in mind.
a. Paul used this same illustration in II Cor. 2:14 of a Roman Triumph Parade.
b. In the cross and resurrection, Christ won a decisive victory over Satan and his hosts.
c. He stripped them of their authority and power over the believer… demonstrating that they have no more authority or power over the believer.
5. It at first appeared that Satan was the VICTOR at the cross.
a. Luke 22:53 – The powers of darkness conspired to have Him put to death and were successful.
b. On the cross it appeared that darkness triumphed and would reign.
c. Matt. 27:44-46 – Darkness came over the earth as the Light of the world was extinguished.
d. The cross at first seemed like a great victory for Satan and the powers of darkness. Christ was put to death! His Kingdom was not established! His ministry was cut short!
e. Satan must have gloated when Christ cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!”
f. It first appeared that Satan would have control over all the earth by himself… with no opposition from Christ.
g. Satan had been working toward this goal – the death of Christ!
• Satan moved Herod to have all the children 2 and under killed… (Rev. 12:4)
• Satan tempted Christ to kill Himself! (Luke 4:9)
• Satan moved angry mobs to kill Christ. (Luke 4:28-29) (cf. vs.13) Satan could not get Christ to kill Himself, so he moved in the unsaved Jews to kill Him.
• Satan moved the Sadducees and Pharisees to plot His murder. (John 8:40,44) Jesus said of those who tried to kill Him, Ye are of your father the Devil.”
• Satan entered into the heart of Judas to deliver Christ to be killed. (John 13:2)
• Clearly Satan’s aim was to put to death the Lord Jesus.
h. The death of Christ gave every appearance of ultimate victory for the devil…
6. In reality, Satan and his demonic host were DEFEATED at the cross.
a. Genesis 3:15 – Satan’s apparent victory actually spelled Satan’s doom!
• The bruising of the heel of Christ in his sufferings meant the crushing of the serpent’s head.
• If you were going to try to step on a deadly snake, you would use your heel… for added force.
• If you did want to kill him, you would not step on his tail, but his head!
• And if you did step on his head, and he bit you, it would be on your heel!
• AS Messiah is bit by the serpent (picturing His death on the cross) Messiah crushes his head… the end for the serpent!
• The wounding of Messiah on the cross was the defeat of the devil!
b. John 12:31 – As Christ faced the cross, He said, “Now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”
c. The cross spelled out an irreversible defeat for Satan.
d. They were condemned at the cross, stripped of their power over us, publicly exposed as liars, disgraced, and ultimately, to be led away into captivity.
e. Application at Colossae: What folly therefore, to WORSHIP spirit being… fallen angels… which is what the cultists in Colossae were doing. Why worship those defeated spirits which have been disgraced, judged, condemned, and await final captivity in the Lake of Fire?
7. What an awesome victory is ours because of Calvary!
a. There our old man was crucified. (Rom. 6:6)
b. There our fleshly nature was condemned. (Rom. 8:3)
c. There the world was crucified unto me and I unto the world. (Gal. 6:14)
d. There the curse and condemnation of my sins were paid in full. (Gal. 3:13)
e. The law (handwriting of ordinances) was nailed to the cross. (Col. 2:14)
f. There Satan and the powers of darkness were exposed, stripped of their authority over me, and led away as defeated foes… awaiting execution in the Lake of Fire. (Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14)
g. Everything that was against us has already been defeated and rendered inoperative by the finished work of Christ at Calvary.
h. No wonder Paul writes: But God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!
8. Our enemies are still alive and active… but judged, condemned, and defeated—awaiting execution… and stripped of their authority and powerless over the believer walking by faith.
a. Satan still walks about to devour us (I Peter 5:8).
b. We still wrestle with principalities and powers… (Eph. 6:12)…
c. But they have no power to defeat us. They CANNOT ultimately be victorious.
d. WE who are in Christ are the conquerors!
9. Nay, we are more than conquerors through Him!
a. His victory over Satan and the powers of darkness is OUR victory!
b. For the believer in Christ, principalities and powers no longer have any power over us. They CANNOT separate us from the love of God.
c. They have been stripped of former powers by the death and resurrection of Christ.
d. Having defeated our foes, a victorious Christian life is available to EVERY believer… who really wants it.
e. If we will walk by faith, there is nothing the devil can do to us… apart from God’s permissive will.
f. Eph. 6:10-17 – as we by faith CLAIM Christ’s victory, we EXPERIENCE Christ’s victory in our daily lives.
g. We have all the equipment and armor necessary to walk in newness of life.
h. We need not live in fear of the spirit world… of Satan… of demons. We are more than conquerors!
• We are complete in the One who is the HEAD over all principalities and powers!
• Christ, who was made lower than the angels for the suffering of death, has been raised far ABOVE them all… and we have been raised with Him to share in this victory.
• In His death and resurrection, we have been set free from everything that was AGAINST us!
• We have been raised up into heavenly places in Christ Jesus—and from this new position—nothing can harm us… nothing can touch us… except with God’s permissive will and for our spiritual good.
i. In many charismatic circles, the emphasis is on the spirit world.
• They emphasize the Holy Spirit rather than Christ…
• The talk of demonic activity constantly…
• They blame their sins on demons—the spirit of jealousy, the spirit of anger, etc. (how do they deal with such sins? Cast out the demon!)
• That is tantamount to the old comedian of the 60’s who used to say (every time he got in trouble)—the devil made me do it! It’s not my fault!
• Paul makes it clear that we CANNOT blame the spirit world for our sins. Satan and his hosts are defeated foes… stripped of their power and authority over us and they CANNOT make us sin.
• Demons can influence us and set up temptations for us, but they CANNOT force us to sin.
• Sinning is our choice—and thus our personal responsibility! We can’t blame it on the devil.
• Our focus is not to be on angels and demons but on Christ—the One who is HEAD over them all—who has triumphed over them all—and the One who has stripped them of all power.
• The spirit world (good and evil angels) all bow before the Risen, glorified Savior! (I Pet. 3:22)
• We should not walk in the fear of the spirit world. We should walk in the fear of God—with reverence… looking unto Jesus… occupied with Him, not angels or demons!
• How simple is the Christian life. Just trust and obey… and we can then whistle through life that little chorus: Safe am I; safe am I; in the hollow of His hands!
IF YOU ARE NOT BORN AGAIN, Christ invites you to come to Him in faith and receive NEW LIFE… an abundant life… None who come are ever refused!