And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
After warning God’s people concerning those who bring false doctrine into the Church Paul now interjects with a note of encouragement in relation to the crushing of Satan. This is a timely reminder as to the nature of the conflict in which we are engaged and that promised conquest of which we are assured in Christ.
1: The Conflict
There is a spiritual struggle continuing in which Satan is is battling with God. As the Church is the Body of Christ comprising God’s children it is inevitable that we will be in the front line of this conflict. The name “Satan” signifies adversary. He is our adversary, our opponent, with whom we are called to do battle. There is no escaping this struggle, the Christian is called and chosen to be a soldier wrestling not against flesh and blood but powerful spiritual enemies who aim their fiery darts not at our bodies but at our minds and our souls (Ephesians 6:12). Satan is the prince of the power of the air emphasising his influence and authority in the world. We do not have to look far to see the evidence of his machinations upon the world of men (Ephesians 2:2).
This warfare is as much historic as it is present. It commenced in the Garden of Eden when Satan in the guise of the Serpent enticed Eve to partake of the forbidden fruit. It continued through the Old Testament as Satan endeavoured to destroy the emerging Hebrew people and when that failed he attempted to corrupt and dismember Israel as a nation. Satan used various means to destroy Jesus in his infancy and ministry until eventually he inspired the chief Priests to campaign for his crucifixion. This warfare has continued through centuries as the Devil has used such means as persecution, worldliness and heresy to destroy and corrupt Christ’s body.
A return to Eden and to the first appearance of Satan in scripture will quickly reveal the principles by which he operates. He questioned the wisdom of God in prohibiting Adam and Eve from eating of the fruit of one tree. There is in the human heart a rebellion against a command which forbids a certain mode of behaviour. Prohibitions and warnings are detested by our nature because sin disapproves of God’s law. Satan also questioned God’s trustworthiness by claiming that they would not die if they ate of the tree. Today he tempts us into trusting our own opinions or questioning God’s Word. Finally he said that by disobeying God Eve and Adam would reach their full potential in becoming like gods knowing good and evil. Using the same strategy in a different contest Satan is still in the business of snaring souls.
2: The Conquest
The words are unequivocal; Satan would be bruised under the feet of the Roman Church. When one is trampled underfoot by another total victory has been claimed. While the Christian experiences this victory the triumph has been given by God. The God of peace bruises Satan under the feet of his people. He is the God of peace in that he first of all conquers us, so that we become prisoners of grace. He brings us into a state of peace with himself. Therefore he also gives us the peace of victory in all of our struggles with the devil. While Satan is the author of despair and confusion God produces hope and harmony. This conquest is God given in that it is blood bought. In Eden God promised a Messiah who would be bruised in his feet but who would in so doing defeat the serpent (Genesis 3:15). Satan was comprehensively defeated by Christ in his death therefore the Church enjoys total victory (Hebrews 2:14-15).
According to Paul this triumph would come “shortly” to the Romans. How are we to understand these words? Certainly in relation to time there is triumph for the church over the Devil. Where the Gospel visits a society demon possessions and other signs of Satanic power are minimised. Also in this age we can take the Gospel to the nations knowing that Satan’s power over them was not what it was in Old Testament times (Revelation 20:3). There is also victory for the Christian over every form of temptation and discouragement that Satan would cast in our path. Victory is not only promised but it is near at hand.
While victory over Satan is granted by God he empowers us in this battle. Satan is trampled under the feet of the Church. In Revelation 12:11 the victory of the Church in two fold. The Church overcomes Satan by “the blood of the Lamb” first of all. This is victory on the basis of the cross. They also won the conquest by “the word of their testimony”. This is victory through our faith, our prayerfulness, our dedication and our conviction. This how we testify to the truth of God in a corrupt world. If we are faithful servants God promises that through our witness Satan will be not be merely defeated but crushed.