How did Jesus destroy the works of the Devil?

Q. I need help understand some of the things that John says about sin, Jesus, and the works of the devil in 1 Jn. 3:8, particularly the last part which reads: “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.”

Here is the context of John’s statement:

1 Jn. 3:4-10
4 ¶ Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness. 5 You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin. 6 No one who abides in Him sins; no one who sins has seen Him or knows Him. 7 Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; 8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. 9 No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10 By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.

Most people understand the statements in verses four and five. Almost everyone agrees that to practice sin is to practice lawlessness and that the reason Jesus came to this earth was to take away sin, he himself being the sinless one. Where some go astray is in verse six where he says, “No one who abides in Him sins.” Some report that they no longer sin. Look at what John says in 1 Jn. 1:8

1 Jn. 1:8
8 ¶ If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.

What is indicated here in 1 Jn. 3 is the secret of a “sinless” life for the Child of God. “No one who ABIDES in him sins.” This is the way John describes the Christian life. It’s total commitment. As long as our actions are controlled by our commitment to Christ WE DO NOT SIN. The instant we forget His presence in our lives and begin to seek our own will we commit sin.

One who is a Christian must be totally committed to God’s will and must not have sin as a habit of his life. John has already said that we have sin (1Jn. 1:8), but our manner of life must NOT be characterized by habitual sin. As long as we are “walking in the light” (1 Jn. 1:7) we are without sin.

That’s what is being said in verse seven. According to the apostle John righteousness is not a theory but a practice. Whoever does righteousness is righteous. This does not imply moral perfection as exemplified by Jesus, but it does imply the same kind of commitment to doing God’s will as was seen in Jesus.

A number of very interesting things are said in verse eight.

1 Jn. 3:8
8 the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.

One of the interesting things taught here is that “the Son of God appeared.” This certainly implies that the Son of God had a previous existence and that he “appeared” here on earth for the purpose of destroying the works of the devil.

Paul says in 2 Cor. 8:9

2 Cor. 8:9
9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.

The Word became flesh

We know that Jesus was never rich while on this earth so He must have existed pervious to his life on earth. John tells us in John chapter 1

John 1:1-5
1:1 ¶ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it

John 1:14
14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The “Word became flesh” in John 1:14, and “the Son of God appeared” in 1 Jn. 3:8 mean exactly the same thing. Jesus, a member of the Godhead, left heaven and came to earth to take on the form of a man (Philippians 2), that through death in the form of a man he might destroy the works of the devil. Here is how the Hebrew writer puts it:

Hebrews 2:14-15
14 ¶ Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

The Scripture says “The Son of God appeared for this purpose….” the purpose is stated right here, to destroy the works of the devil.

There was PURPOSE involved in the coming of Christ. He either accomplished His PURPOSE or he did not.

Matthew writes: Matthew 20:28

Matt. 20:28
28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Here is the purpose and the method of accomplishing that purpose. The Son of God knew before he left heaven that he had a PURPOSE in coming here to earth. He came with the full intention of carrying out His PURPOSE. That PURPOSE was to destroy the works of the devil.

The devil began his work against man in the garden of Eden when he tempted Eve. His “work” was to get Adam and Eve to sin. He accomplished his “work” and caused man to sin. Every sin that has ever been committed may be looked upon as the work of the devil. It’s the devil’s “work” to cause man to sin. Every evil committed in the world can be traced to the plans and purposes of the devil. The devil wishes to lead all men to rebel against God.

Look at Hebrews 2:14-15 again:

Hebrews 2:14-15
14 ¶ Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

Look at Romans 5:12

Romans 5:12
12 Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned–

Death is a work of the devil since it entered into the world through sin and sin is a work of the devil. The apostle paul says that death is the last enemy that is to be destroyed:

1 Cor. 15:26
“The last enemy that will be abolished is death.”

Jesus came to destroy death

Therefore, Jesus came to destroy DEATH and to deliver man from the fear and bondage of death.

Now the question is, “Did Jesus accomplish what he came here to do?” The answer is a resounding YES.

We no longer have to live in the fear of death because Jesus lived and died and paid the penalty for our sins and was RAISED FROM THE DEAD demonstrating God’s power over physical death. The devil can kill a Christian, but he can’t hurt him because a Christian is freed from his sin in obedience to God and his continual “walking in the light.” There will come a time when even the power of death will be taken away from the devil, as Paul says “the last enemy will be abolished.”

Sin no longer holds us captive. As long as we “walk in the light” we are overcoming the works of the devil. He has no power over the Christian.

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