What is triumph? A great victory or achievement. A second definition is “the processional entry of a victorious general into ancient Rome”. The latter definition was exactly what St Paul had in mind when he wrote to the Christ-followers in Colossae: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15 NIV). It was obvious that he was using an analogy that the first century recipients of the letter would have understood: the triumphant processional entry of a victorious Roman general into the city of Rome after a successful conquest over some faraway country. As he enters in triumph and grandeur with his legion, to the adulation of thousands of people, he would have in the procession the chained, disarmed and defeated generals and rulers of the defeated country. They would be openly shamed and humiliated, while the glory of Rome and the victorious general would be magnified and celebrated.
What then, in Paul’s mind, were these “powers and authorities”? To him they were the spiritual enemies of God: Satan and his lieutenants. They had been defeated “by the cross”: by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Satan had been stripped of his most potent armament. He has been disarmed of lethal weapons. The kilotons of power (sin and death) that Satan had over human beings have been nullified by the megatons power of the cross. Now all he can do is to deceive and influence people (including Christians) to believe his lies instead of being freed by God’s truth. In the end, Christ triumph will be manifested for all to see, and every knee that has now bowed shall bow before him.
As followers of Christ we can share and participate in this triumph over the enemy. We no longer need to fear the two weapons of the spiritual forces of darkness. We declare by faith that sin’s power has been nullified. “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:18 NIV). The devil tempts us into sin like he did with Adam and Eve, but Jesus has disarmed him of this weapon through the forgiveness of sins, and through setting us free from the power of sin in our life. This is vital triumph.
His other weapon is death, and Jesus broke its power and freed all believers from the fear of death. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death- that is the devil” (Hebrews 2:14 NIV). The resurrection of Christ is both proof and promise that God will also raise all followers of Christ to a resurrection of life when Jesus returns. This is triumph – beautifully poetic, powerfully effective, complete and final. All because of the finished work of Christ! Praise God!
This is part of a planned series of writings on the topic, “The A to Z of Christ’s Finished Work”. I am writing it alphabet by alphabet. Thus far the others that I have written can be found HERE.