To destroy the works of the devil. [So that the fruit of the Spirit might grow*]
Who or what is the devil. The devil is that which causes you to generate wrong thoughts and then wrong actions.
What are “the works”. Principally these works are all those things that are bad and wrong and which hurt people and prevent them from taking the next step of entering into God’s life. [See “works of the flesh” Romans 1-24 to 32, Gal 5-19 to 21]
Did He succeed, how did He destroy those works. Yes He first destroyed them within himself and then He destroys the same works in others by communicating to them that God forgives these works by bringing people to a knowledge and appreciation of what He himself has done in order for forgiveness to be a reality in them. In other words, He is always willing to accept from people the state of their abandonment of these works and their further production. It is called “repentance”, and is available because He loves us..
What is the relationship between what he did and what we “do”. He suffered greatly in confronting and overcoming what was within him, as a human like us, by his power of being Holy, unlike us. So we cannot? do not? do what he did. What we should do is to deny the devil his power any longer, deny that he has the right to accuse us of anything at all, because Jesus bore the penalty for being in the human condition, which we are. So we now have the choice, option, of either following the “dictates” of the devil, of obeying him because he previously had the power of death over us, or deny him any power at all because his power has been destroyed by the cross, by Jesus, by God, and their love for us. In fact it was love that did the confronting and the destroying of the power of the devil. Where there is permanent forgiveness which is what permanent love is, “the works” (sin) have no power to claim us as anything less than completely forgiven.
What does forgiven mean. Imagine a murderer on “death row”in a prison. He is due to be killed at a certain time, but the Governor grants him a pardon because someone has intervened on his behalf, arguing and winning the case for innocence. The pardon means that he is completely forgiven from that moment on, but unless the message of this pardon reaches the executioner in time, the man will die anyway, even though he was granted a pardon. If the message of forgiveness fails to reach that which can stay the executioner’s hand, even though forgiven, the person is still “in death”. Also If the person refuses to leave the death prison, he remains in death. Release from prison in this case equates to entering into God’s life. People may hear the message of forgiveness yet not be moved by it. They are still “forgiven” but will not benefit because they refuse to claim the benefits. The acceptance of forgiveness disables the debt and also releases the debtor.
Did He destroy the devil. In his own body he destroyed the devil, but the devil is something that comes with every man as a part of him, so all people have this problem of an internalised devil. Paul in Romans chapter 7 explains it as his “flesh”, which simply means that which is naturally inherent in the physical body. (Revelation also calls it satan, dragon, devil). Human kind by recognising that “the devil” has been “killed” on their behalf, and who accept that God is all loving and forgiving, enter into the “commitment” (covenant) of faith and trust that this is so, and by the promise that this new life is eternal, follow Him and their new life found through Him. So the devil has lost his power, has been “thrown down” from the high places of authority, has lost “the war”, and all those who find themselves in “conflict” with him have the advantage of knowing that he has no power over them at all. He is a defeated enemy who continues to deceive most people, until he is finally removed from the scene altogether. (When Jesus returns). Jesus had the power to overcome the devil for us, and we have the power to do so because his loving forgiveness will always remove our weakness by having removed its penalty. [Destruction of the old is also synonymous with the birth of the new]
The comparison with baptism. People are said to “die with Christ” in baptism. And then rise with Him. It is like the flood of Noah which destroyed the evil of people by destroying them. By joining with Jesus who destroyed devil and death for us, we always have his power to deny the power of evil over us because his love keeps us in relationship with him. He destroyed evil itself, and we destroy it by refusing its authority and instead, allowing Jesus’ authority to win for us. He has given us the right and authority to do so, because we have agreed with Him that goodness deserves to triumph over evil, as demonstrated by him. [“Baptism is an appeal to God for a clear conscience”].
Final product. Are people who by trusting God’s love as demonstrated in Jesus on the cross, treat devil satan sin flesh as defeated enemies whose designs on us are obvious and to be rejected as those who are selling products of death and who seek to tempt us into their world, a world already proclaimed and seen as in death and defeated, without power. The guarantee of which lies in God’s love for us in Jesus, who has already suffered all the penalty of sin and death Himself so we will leave its influence and cleave to Him. While “the devils” works are still currently to be seen in physical death, his power to choose our spiritual outcome has been curtailed…
*[Fruit of the spirit see Gal 5- 22 to 24][later edit – the work of the devil is death]