What is the Gospel? #4: Victory

Here’s a reminder of the seven-fold summary:

1: the announcement of good news concerning the glory of God in King Jesus

2: bringing to conclusion the story of Israel in his

3: life, death, resurrection, & return (which)

4: brings victory over sin, Satan and death, (which)

5: brings salvation by grace to all who 

6: repent and believe in Jesus as Lord and Saviour, 

7: following Him unashamedly with hope through suffering and life.


Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and return brings victory over sin, Satan and death! This is the climax of the gospel.

Near the end of Paul’s glorious chapter about the gospel and resurrection, Paul writes, ‘But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’. (1 Cor 15:57). In Paul’s mind he’s thinking of Jesus’ victory over sin and death, but there’s also another victory we can celebrate. Christ’s victory over Satan. Let’s look at all three in turn.

Christ’s Victory Over Sin

Christ’s death and resurrection has broken our bondage to sin. He has smashed its power and broken its chains. Romans 6 is an amazing chapter that shows us that in Christ sin no longer has power over us. This is because Christ’s death and resurrection has broken the power and dominion of sin. It is nailed to the cross.[1] The penalty of sin has been paid.

Paul writes, ‘We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus’.[2]

It is impossible to do justice to the richness of these verses in just a couple of sentences. But perhaps a couple of verses following this wonderful passage will help us understand how Christ’s death has given us victory over sin.

First, Romans 6:14 says ‘For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace’.

This shouldn’t be seen as a command but a promise. Because Christ has fulfilled the law and because we now live under the New Covenant marked by grace, sin no longer has power over us. The penalty of sin has been satisfied in the death of Christ. His grace ensures sin can no longer lay claim to us.

Second, Romans 6:17-18 says, ‘But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.’

Verse 18 says we’ve been set free from sin. This is something Paul stresses again in verse 22. We have been set free from sin’s chains – from the slavery of sin to become slaves to God and his righteousness. Sin’s power has been curtailed so that we might know God and taste life with him. Death is no longer our destiny, because Christ’s death paid the high price of our sin, rendering it impotent in the courtroom of God.

As Paul writes at the end of 1 Corinthians 15: ‘The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’![3]

Christ’s Victory Over Satan

The second victory that Christ’s death and resurrection triumphs over is Satan himself. Ever since God’s promise in the garden to the woman (Gen 3:15) we have been waiting for the seed of the woman who would come and crush the head of the serpent. Jesus’ death has achieved this, and Jesus’ return will make sure of this.

We see the reality of disarming Satan and the spiritual powers in Colossians 2:15 – ‘He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him’. He did this by cancelling the legal debt we owe by nailing it the cross (v14).[4] This means Satan no longer has any right to accuse us anymore (Zech 3:1). He has lost his only weapon against us. He no longer holds the power of death over us because the cross defeats Satan (see Hebrews 2:14-15). Satan is slain by Jesus’ death.

As Revelation 12:9-11 says: ‘And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death’

How has Satan been conquered and cast out of heaven? By the blood of Jesus and the witness of his followers, proclaiming his death.

Although the cross has disarmed Satan, he is still waging war against Christ’s people today (Rev 12:17). Though we know his time is short (Rev 12:12), Christ will return one day as conquering king to finally defeat him in the Last Battle (Rev 19:11-20:10). Paul alludes to this reality at the end of Romans: ‘The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet’.[5] The fact that God will crush Satan under our feet is because we have the beautiful feet that proclaims this good news.[6] The good news of Christ’s victory.

And so when Christ returns, he will be victorious over Satan, meaning all evil will be vanquished too. The head of the serpent will well and truly be crushed. And the gospel of peace will usher in real shalom and eternal rest.

But in order for that to happen, there’s one more enemy we need to discuss – the last enemy. Death.

Christ’s Victory Over Death

We’ve already seen in 1 Corinthians 15 that Paul gives thanks to God because of the victory of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor 15:57). But let’s back up a few verses and see why.

Paul writes this:

‘Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory?

    O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law’.[7]

No wonder Paul follows this by writing – ‘But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’!

We see this victory over death dramatically conveyed through an earthquake before the women see the tomb empty (Matt 28:1-2). We see Jesus confidently proclaiming it when he says to Martha ‘I am the resurrection and the life’ (John 11:25). The resurrection of Jesus guarantees death won’t have the last word over us. In it we see the true victory of Christ! The conquering of death itself.[8]

And the glorious reality of a deathless life means: ‘The dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away’.[9]

As God makes all things new (Rev 21:5) and ushers in the new creation – death will be crushed and defeated. Death will be no more. This is our glorious gospel!

As Paul writes to Timothy, Jesus Christ has ‘abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel’! (2 Tim 1:10).

This is what we gospel. Victory. Victory over sin, victory over Satan, and victory over the last enemy – death! (1 Cor 15:26).[10]

And it is because of this victory that we can receive salvation – the subject of our next post…

[1] Galatians 2:17-20

[2] Romans 6:6-11

[3] 1 Corinthians 15:56-57.

[4] The word ‘triumphing’ in Col 2:15 is the same word to describe the Roman ‘triumph’ – which happened when a Roman General returned from a great victory in war and had a ‘triumph’ in Rome to celebrate. The same word is used in 2 Corinthians 2:14. In v12 Paul talks about preaching the gospel in Troas but finding no rest because Titus wasn’t with him – then we read in v14: ‘But thanks be to God, who always leads us in Christ’s triumphal procession and through us spreads the aroma of the knowledge of him in every place’ (CSB). When we’re preaching the gospel, we’re spreading the triumphal aroma of Christ’s victory!

[5] Romans 16:20

[6] Isaiah 52:7; cf Romans 10:15

[7] 1 Corinthians 15:51-56

[8] As a sidebar, we see this idea of Jesus being the conqueror in John’s Gospel and 1 John, and it is a good application for how we can trust in Jesus through suffering. The last thing Jesus says directly to his disciples before his prayer in John 17 and his following arrest in John 18 are these words in John 16:33: ‘I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world’ (CSB). In John’s Gospel ‘world’ is not a neutral word, it has connotations of a sinful or evil world in opposition to Christ and his followers. And Jesus says there will be suffering in this world. Evil will persist but it won’t prevail. Why? Because Jesus has ‘conquered’ the world. The root of this word ‘conquered’ or ‘overcome’ (ESV) comes from the noun nikē meaning ‘victory’. Jesus is saying when you endure suffering – remember I have ‘conquered the world’ – which is Jesus anticipating what his death and resurrection does – bringing victory over sin, Satan and death – over evil. Jesus’ death and resurrection conquers evil. John expresses it a little bit differently in 1 John 5:3-5: ‘For this is what love for God is: to keep his commands. And his commands are not a burden, because everyone who has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory [nikē] that has conquered the world: our faith. Who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?’ Here John is emphasising our faith – but it is our faith in Jesus – our faith in his saving death and resurrection which means we can conquer or overcome evil in the world, because our faith means we are ‘born of God’, we are transformed and not like the world (see also 1 John 4:4). So, life-changing faith in Jesus is a weapon to combat the evil in the world.

[9] Revelation 21:3-4

[10] Two notable scholars who emphasise this victory are N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird. The former has a book called Jesus and the Victory of God (SPCK, 2015 reissue). The book covers lots of things like the historical Jesus, but the title of the book captures the reality of the gospel message. Bird writes in his Evangelical Theology: ‘The gospel is the news of God’s victory in Jesus Christ in the context of Israel’s sacred history’, p. 31. See also, Matthew Bates, The Gospel Precisely: Surprisingly Good News About Jesus Christ the King (RENEW.org, 2021): ‘‘Above all, the gospel is the true story about how Jesus became the victorious, saving king’ p. 34.

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