Major Texts: Isa 35:10, Mark 10:45, Rom. 6:12-23, Eph. 6:12, Col. 1:16, Gal. 4:1-11, Col. 2:15.
This lesson is titled “Growing in Christ,” but the content would suggest a different title, something more along the lines of “Victory in Jesus!”
The lesson this week picks up a theme that will play out for the next several weeks, namely that the conflict between good and evil is still very real and active, that we as humans are caught up in it, but because of Christ’s victory at Calvary, we may be freed from the power of sin as well as from the consequences it brings.
A good place to start this discussion is with the observation that the conflict between good and evil, at least as far as the Bible is concerned, involves two dimensions, the natural world in which we live, and a supernatural world to which we have little capacity to understand or influence. At the same time, what goes on in the supernatural world has a profound and even determinative effect on life in the natural world. The passage in Ephesians 6 is worthy of study in this connection.
In current times, there are many who argue and believe that the idea of a supernatural world that affects the natural world is so much nonsense. They argue that we have reached far out into the universe with our various investigative methodologies, but have found nothing but material substances. Their conclusion is that there must only be material substances. On this basis they rule out the idea of the supernatural categorically.
This kind of reasoning warrants some reflection. For one thing, the inability to discover something does not mean it is non-existent. It may mean we do not have the right kind of instruments for testing for what we don’t find. In that light, we might ask materialists with what instruments they have tested for the supernatural? The answer is that there are no known instruments for testing the supernatural. Beyond that, it is a fair question to ask if the supernatural can be tested at all, particularly by those stuck in the natural world.
Biblically speaking, the existence of a supernatural realm is simply presumed. And the fact that the powers and personalities of evil occupy and have their being in the supernatural world is also presumed. Denying their existence does not do away with them but may only allow them more play without the benefit of a sense of caution that would exist if a person does believe.
- If we are trapped in a realm that is under the influence of something supernatural, what hope do we have of gaining an advantage over the supernatural on our own?
- In Ephesians 2:1-3, the Apostle Paul lays out the plight of humans. Put in modern words, he says we are spiritually dead, we are enslaved by the devil, the world, and our own biological drives, and we are condemned as well. There is no human solution to any of these things. Clearly, when you understand this, you will sense a crying need for a Savior.
- Can you bring to mind things in your own life that would indicate to you that, when left to your own devices, you are “in bondage” to something you cannot free yourself from?
The main point of this lesson is that Christ, at Calvary, won a decided victory over the forces of evil. In light of that, we are freed from their power.
- Colossians 2:15 provides a very good entrance point to this aspect of the lesson. It reads, “Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” This is an enlivening text! The victory Christ won was both complete and public. Paul says it was a “spectacle.” In other words, the cause of the opposition ended up in ruins! What good news.
- Notice that Christianity is here shown to be a religion of redemption rather than being a religion of law and penalty, or a religion of earning grace with God by way of doing good works.
- It would be worthwhile to spend some time in discussion over the New Testament indications that the victory of Christ involved both sacrifice and substitution. Do you think these concepts are viable? In many circles today, they are viewed with disapproval, even disdain.
- If the victory won by Jesus at Calvary is complete, what implications would that have for the room evil has to operate in the world? What implications does it have for those who spend so much time thinking and talking about the devil? Is it possible to give the devil too much attention?
- What can Christians do to rejoice in the victory of Christ? How should that victory affect the life of a believer?
- What evidences do you see that would indicate the powers of evil are real and hard at work?