You have no doubt heard stirring messages from the pulpit about the supposed battle between Jesus and Satan in the heart of the earth after Jesus died on the cross. But did that battle happen?
I submit for your consideration the original Passover, which established the pattern for fulfillment of Jesus' final week. The original Passover week in Exodus 12-17 shows Israel came up out of the 'grave' of the Sea untouched by the enemy. There was no battle between Pharaoh and Israel in the 'grave' of the sea-bed. Israel came out of the grave, the enemy did not.
I would suggest the cross was a legal transaction, rather than a military conflict.
What happened on the cross?
Colossians 2:14-15 Amplified Version:
"...having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of legal demands which were in force against us and were hostile to us. And this certificate He has set aside and completely removed by nailing it to the cross. When He had disarmed (spoiled) the rulers and authorities...He made a public example of them... having triumphed over them through the cross."
"Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world." Sin, singular, not sins, plural. (John 1:29)
Here is Colossians 2:14-15 in the Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB):
"Having erased the hand signed sefer of guilt cholv (debt), the heavenly indictment against us in the maleh chukat haTorah (full statute requirement of the Torah), which was against us. Moshiach has done away with this opposing record, having nailed it to Moshiach's Etz*. Having disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, having triumphed over them by Moshiach's Etz*." (*Messiah's cross)
In other words
First notice 'having triumphed over them through the cross' or 'through Messiah's cross'. That means the battle was won right there on the cross, not in the heart of the earth. No battle.
Second, notice what the verses state: Your individual sins were not nailed to the cross, it was the legal requirement of God's perfect law that we could never fulfill that was nailed to the cross. It was the sin of the world, not your (individual) sins.
"Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through (that) sin, so death spread to all people (no one being able to stop it or escape its power), because they all sinned." Romans 5:12 Amplified Bible
Jesus was the only man ever to live completely and fully without sin within God's requirements which un-did what Adam had allowed in to the earth. That made Him legally qualified to be the last sacrifice to fulfill those requirements which shut the door on sin's further influence over man.
No mention of a battle is described
In fact there is nothing in the New Testament that describes a battle in the earth between Jesus and the devil. As you can see, the issue with the devil was secondary. It wasn't about him, directly.
Having nailed to the cross the "full statute requirement of the Torah", Jesus disarmed Satan. He un-did what Adam had done. Satan's power over us was sin and with those requirements met and taken out of the way, it shut the door he had on us. One thing led to the other. That's why Satan* never saw it coming. (*See I Corinthians 2:8)
With God's requirements taken out of the way, the Father is now free to offer the new birth to mankind. That which had stood between God and man was taken from between us, allowing God to recreate man in his spirit by His Spirit. Man could now be born again by the Spirit of God because the requirements had been met!
The fact the devil is in the world through sin*, was secondary. By taking sin out of the way, He took the devil out of the way by shutting his access door (sin) into the lives of people. *II Corinthians 5:17-21, Romans 5:9-12
What is means for us, day to day
This means life with God is a process through which we learn what He provided for us in the cross, because though legally the shackles of sin have been removed, people by their choice, remain in those shackles. We could say it this way: Sinners sin because it is their nature* to do so; Christians sin by choice. *Ephesians 2:3
His grace is perfected* in our human frailty, we have this treasure in earthen vessels** that we may discover the unfathomable depths of what that transaction accomplished. Indeed, it is because of that transaction on the cross that Ephesians 2:6-7 says we are now seated in the heavenly places SO THAT IN THE AGES TO COME the Father can continue to show forth the riches of His grace which is towards us in Christ Jesus. *II Corinthians 12:9, **II Corinthians 4:7
The cross was about dying for all under sin, so He didn't die for Himself. That means the only sin not covered on the cross was the rejection of Him. That is the unpardonable sin. Because the agent of salvation is the Holy Spirit, to blaspheme (reject, reject the work of) the Holy Spirit is to reject Jesus as Lord. He died for others so He could not die for Himself.
Once you understand your sins were not what was nailed to the cross, but rather God's statutes in the Torah for you to keep, then you understand the freedom of the new birth in Christ, and the deep responsibility.
For the Law only measured action, but grace measures the heart. Therefore grace is much harder than the Law, demanding we actually walk with God so He can show us from our deepest motives how to live within each day, each situation. Jude said in v4: Don't turn the grace of God into a license for sin as some have done." He made us new creations in Him so that from the inside out we can walk in holiness with Him. Amazing grace!
Next week, what Jesus did after His death on the cross in the heart of the earth. Until then, blessings,
John Fenn, www.churchwithoutwallsinternational.org and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org