The Bruising of Satan
Intro: Do you know where the first O.T. prophecy concerning Jesus is found? Genesis 3:15-15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.”
- When we read it we may not be able to easily recognize it as messianic, but these words speak far into the future of Adam & Eve and the human race. They point to the resolution of the fierce struggle between God and Satan that was so evident that black day. Ironically the first words spoken about the coming Christ and His solution to sin were spoken to Satan Himself.
- God would create enmity (separation, hatred) between Satan and the woman; between his seed (Satan’s followers and her Seed. We notice as Paul points out in Galatians, that the word Seed here is singular, and thus speaking of only one person. The Seed of woman was not a group or nation, but a single individual person. Although Satan would be able to bruise the heel of this person (as a serpent would naturally attempt to do in a moment of self-preservation), the Seed of woman would successfully bruise the head of this serpent. This head bruising was a fatal blow to a serpent. God’s words point forward to Jesus’ ultimate victory over the Serpent, the sin he introduced, and the impact of the sin upon man.
I. Note them… There is a NT passage that point back to that prophetic statement. Interestingly it is not contained in a discussion of the cross or salvation. It is a warning against the encroachment of the false teacher. Romans 16:17-20 – 17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. 18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. 19 For your obedience has become known to all. Therefore I am glad on your behalf; but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil. 20 And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen. Paul’s last words here are clearly a reference to the Genesis prophecy. He pictures the Christians in Rome actually participating in the victory of Christ over the serpent, Satan. He will be bruised under your feet.
A. Notice that Paul, just like Jesus, pits the child of God against Satan Himself. He is real and he is our enemy. I am convinced that Paul’s words are designed to connect the influence and activity of the divisive false teacher to Satan because the false teacher so reflects the intention and actions of Satan Himself.
1. Satan deceives with the intention of dividing and thus destroying God’s church- 2 Corinthians 11:14 – 14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. 1 Peter 5:8 – 8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
a. As the Christians faced the danger and deception of the false teachers they were facing Satan, and God promised them a clear victory. Vs. 20– And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly. But how would Satan be crushed under their feet?
B. The defeat of Satan was not some future eschatological event. Paul envisioned the defeat of Satan when the Roman church rejected the divisive work of the false teachers and remained faithful and at peace.
1. vs. 17 – Paul admonishes the Roman church to “mark”, or “note” those who would attempt to divide the church. Whiteside commented thus: “Do not shut your eyes to what they are doing, nor make excuses for them, nor for any others who cause divisions and occasions of stumbling contrary to the gospel, but turn away from them. This means that the brethren should have no fellowship with them” . Satan’ efforts would not be deterred through coddling the divisive brother or compromising to appease him.
2. vs. 17 – “the doctrine which you learned…” They were encouraged to hold on to what was originally delivered as the truth. There is a standard of objective truth, and all teachers must be compared to and validated by this standard.
3. The reason why this drastic action must be taken is because the divisive false teacher is doing the work of Satan himself.
a. Notice how well vs. 18 describes Satan himself (vs. 18 – For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.) They appear to be serving Christ, but their motivs are purely selfish (own belly). They take advantage of the naïve and less experienced Christians by smooth words (telling people what they want to hear) and flattering speech (building themselves up before others).
- 2 Tim 4:2-4 – Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
b. The threat of false teachers was clearly pointed out by Jesus Himself. Matthew 7:15-23 – 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them. 21 “Not everyone who says to Me,’Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ The minister, or other teacher, who scatters the flock is a wolf, regardless of his pretensions. His sheepskin garb and pretended piety cannot disguise his true status as an enemy.
III. “For your obedience has become known to all” – Paul rejoiced that the Roman church had preserved harmony and unity among themselves and been obedient. Obedience is the key to victory over the efforts of Satan.
A. “I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil.” This statement seems a little ambiguous as applied to Paul’s argument here and has been explained in various ways. It would seem that Paul references the false teacher’s modus operandi, when they claimed special advanced knowledge. They claimed to know the “complicated truth” and denounced the simplicities of apostolic teaching. Paul wanted the Christians to not be swept up in this delusion. Truth is simple, and we should not be drawn away from God’s wisdom.
1. Again, the scene in Genesis 3 is recalled. In that ancient sin, there existed the same element of the false wisdom still being promised by Satan and his workers. Satan promised Eve that she should be “as God, knowing good and evil” (Gen 3:5).
a. In retrospect it certainly would have been better for Eve to have remained “simple” to the wisdom Satan offered. Her desire to “know” more led her to be taken advantage of and deceived. Paul also warned the Corinthian church in the same thought: 2 Cor 11:3-4– But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.4 For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted — you may well put up with it!
IV. And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. Consider Burton Coffman’s comments here: “Thus, the bruising of Satan is not something here promised for the remote future, but is a triumph over him to be won immediately and speedily by the Roman Christians who would have the effectual aid of God in maintaining the unity and peace of the Christians when they would be attacked by the false teachers. The entire thrust of this whole passage is not forward to the eternal judgment, but retrospective to Gen 3:15.”
A. “God of peace” in this place clearly has reference to God’s maintaining peace in the church. Satan is defeated when peace is maintained.
1. When we follow God’s words we make for peace among His people. It is God who bruises Satan and establishes peace in contrast with conflict, discord, and division. He is therefore the God of peace.
2. Each element of Paul’s promise is significant. God will crush Satan; he will crush him under the feet of the faithful; and he will do it speedily. Again we see the importance of God’s promise of victory to those who are struggling with the impact of sin. It is as though Paul is reassuring the Romans that God is actively fulfilling the promise of Genesis 3:15. Satan was forever smitten on the head at the cross and the tomb of Jesus. But God continues to display His victory over sin in my own life, as I refuse the enticement of false teaching and remain obedient to His will – When despite the divisive efforts of Satan’s minions, God’people remain at peace among themselves.
Conclusion: Satan must feel safe in many quarters. He is not opposed and fasle teaching is not confronted. May he never feel comfortable here. Do you seek peace with God? The blood of Jesus provides it.