Christ's Victory Over Sin and Disease

How did Christ's earthly ministry secure victory over sin, misery and disease?

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One of the ways that Christ's work is described in the New Testament is that he wins victory over Satan and the powers. We talk about this as a "Christus victor" theme — the victory of Christ. It's an important theme that goes all the way back to that initial gospel promise in Genesis 3:15. As sin comes into the world, Adam and Eve fall under the temptation of Satan, you have that initial gospel promise that's developed through the Old Testament, that the head of the serpent will be crushed, that in the context of Genesis 3, sin and evil will be overturned, Satan will be defeated, and it will come through the seed of the woman. As you trace that out through the Old Testament and move to the New Testament, the New Testament says that in the first coming of the Lord Jesus, he comes to do that work.

In his life and ministry we begin to see Satan put to flight. We see that in his exorcising of the demonic, his healing of diseases; all of those diseases eventually are tied to sin and the Fall and all of the corruption that has taken place. And so we begin to see that foretaste of the coming of the kingdom, that which will be culminated on the cross. The cross is the key moment. You think of Colossians 2, which speaks of the powers being stripped, or Hebrews 2 describing Christ's victory over death by his death defeating Satan who holds the power of death. In the cross we see Satan's power defeated. We see it defeated, it's important to say, because sin is defeated.

So death is defeated, and then the power of the Evil One is broken over us, so that in his coming, in his cross, in his resurrection. The resurrection is a great demonstration that death can no longer hold him, that Satan's power is gone. In that, he has now won the victory. It is a kind of, obviously, a foretaste of the end. The World War II imagery is often used, of a kind of D-Day, V-Day, where the allied troops at D-Day, you know, basically the war was done, yet there was still more to take place. Well, Christ's cross has defeated Satan's power. It has now been broken, yet there's still the intervening period as his people come to salvation, as the gospel goes to the ends of the earth. He will come back and he will bring to completion what he began in his first coming. That is the way the New Testament describes the victory of Christ over sin and death and the Devil himself. 

Answer by Dr. Stephen J. Wellum

Dr. Stephen J. Wellum is Professor of Christian Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.