Jesus’ Victory Over Satan
by: Fr. Pablo Carlin – Catholic Exchange
In the New Testament the chief adversary is identified with the Devil (1 Pet. 5:8: “your adversary the Devil”) and with the “great dragon and ancient serpent” that was expelled from Heaven, took refuge on earth (Luke 10:18; Rev. 12:9; 20:2), tempted Jesus Christ (Matt. 4:1–10), and is still tempting man (Acts 5:3; 1 Cor. 7:5; 2 Cor. 11:14; 12:7) and producing physical illnesses in man (Luke 13:16).
Satan, moreover, has his own kingdom (Matt. 12:26; Mark 3:23ff.), which is in open warfare with the kingdom of Christ (Luke 22:31; 1 Thess. 2:18; 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev. 2:9–13; 3:9) and also spreads clever and false doctrines (Rev. 2:24). Judas, Christ’s betrayer (Luke 22:3, John 13:11), and other followers of Christ (1 Tim. 5:15) become Satan’s prey. At the end, Satan will be crushed by Christ’s faithful (Rom. 16:20).DOWNLOAD THE BULLETIN
When thousands of years have passed, Satan will be temporarily liberated from his prison and will seduce many nations, including Gog and Magog, and he will fight the last battle against the City of God, but he will be defeated and wiped out forever (Rev. 20:7–10).
There is a considerable amount of information regarding demons in the New Testament. Much of it is derived from titles attributed to Satan: the liar; the Devil, the one that divides; Beelzebub, the lord of the flies; Belial, the enemy. Other terms used are: the unclean spirit, the Evil One, the great dragon, the ancient serpent, the Antichrist, the prince of this world, the armed strong man, the father of lies, and the murderer from the beginning.
There is little information about the nature or description of the Devil, and nothing is said about what form he has. Rather, he is presented as the one who sows discord, who wishes to distance Christ and His disciples from their mission. His power is superior to men’s, and he does not fear placing snares before Christ or Peter. His actions can be physical (causing illnesses) or moral (inducing sin), but his power is totally subject to Christ.
Jesus came to destroy the works of the Devil (1 John 3:8) and to reduce to slavery the lord of death (Heb. 2:14). Jesus is the “stronger one”; He has conquered the evil sovereignties and ruling forces (Col. 2:15), and He has the power to judge the Devil (John 16:11).
The Gospels announce the great and joyous event of God becoming man, who has taken the name Jesus (Joshua: “God saves”) and who has wrought our redemption in order to liberate humanity from the power of Satan and from sin. Satan succeeds by binding men to him through temptation that is unresisted, becoming sin and an offense to God.
Christ Exorcising Demons
During the years of His public life, Jesus frequently chased demons from the bodies of the possessed. The Gospels include descriptions of Jesus’ exorcisms and the conferral of power and the mandate that He entrusted to the Church to expel demons in His name.
Jesus Himself reveals the significance and fundamental importance of the exorcisms when He says: “If it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20). With these words, Jesus affirms that His expulsion of demons is the sign of the coming of the Kingdom of God among men and of His mercy (Matt. 12:28), which men could once again accept, unlike the demons, who definitively refused Him.
In the New Testament, there are numerous passages that relate the exorcistic activity of Jesus and His struggle against the Evil One. Jesus works these miracles as a sign of His power against the kingdom of Satan and as a partial realization of the Kingdom of God, which will be completed in a perfect way in the eschatological epoch with the Second Coming of Christ.
Jesus commands demons in the same way as God. Although His formulas are brief, the demons obey without resistance. At times, when it concerns cures, their obedience is immediate and instantaneous. Sometimes the demons confess the identity of Christ, “the Holy One of God” (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34).
Power Over Demons
Jesus does not do extraordinary things. It is only His word that makes the demons go out of the obsessed, and He gives this power to His disciples: “He called to him the twelve . . . and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. . . . So they went out and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many that were sick and healed them” (Mark 6:7, 12–13).
When these seventy-two, who cast out demons, returned, Jesus said to them: “I watched Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Look, I have given you power to tread down serpents and scorpions. . . . Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you; rejoice instead that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:17–20).
Expelling demons is a sign that identifies the disciples: “In my name they will cast out demons” (Mark 16:17). It does not involve magical acts: it requires faith and the practice of virtue. Faith in Jesus, prayer, and an orderly life are the indispensable conditions for the efficacy and success of the cures (Mark 9:28–29).
The coming of Satan will be manifested with every type of trick, but St. Paul does not speak of the Devil; rather he speaks of Christ, who conquered him with His death and Resurrection. Powers, principalities, dominions, angelic powers, and thrones are submissive to Jesus Christ, the Risen One (see 1 Cor. 15:24; Gal. 8:38; Col. 1:16; 2:3–20; Eph. 1:21; 2:2).