Today, on independence day, we like to celebrate freedom in America. And we do know a great many freedoms — like freedom of worship and freedom to speak the gospel and freedom from the harshest kinds of physical persecution.
But those are not the greatest freedoms. The greatest freedom we know is the freedom we have in Christ who has secured our liberty from sin, death, and our great enemy, Satan. And this is a freedom to be enjoyed even in places where no other freedoms exist. This is a freedom that no earthly power (man) and no demonic power (Satan) can take from the believer.
Just what is this freedom that Christ secured at the cross? Just how was Satan defeated and what was the power that was removed from him? John Owen provides a summary of four of Satan’s powers that Christ dissolved by His death in his discussion of Hebrews 2:14-15:
When the sinner ceaseth to be obnoxious unto death, the power of Satan ceaseth also. And this every one doth that hath an interest in the death of Christ: for “there is no condemnation unto them that are in Christ Jesus,” Rom. viii.1; and this because he died. He died for their sins, took that death upon himself which was due unto them; which being conquered thereby, and their obligation thereunto ceasing, the power of Satan is therewith dissolved.
(1) The first branch of his power consisted in the bringing of sin into the world. This is dissolved by Christ’s “taking away the sin of the world,” John i.29; which he did as “the Lamb of God,” by the sacrifice of himself in his death, typified by the paschal lamb and all other sacrifices of old.
(2) Again, his power consisted in his rule in the world, as cast under sin and death. From this he was cast out, John xii.31, in the death of Christ. When contending with him for the continuance of his sovereignty, he was conquered, the ground whereon he stood, even the guilt of sin, being taken away from under him, and his title defeated.…
(3) Nor can he longer make use of death as penal, as threatened in the curse of the law, to terrify and affright the consciences of men: for “being justified by faith” in the death of Christ, “they have peace with God,” Rom. v.1. Christ making peace between God and us by the blood of his cross, Eph. ii.14, 15, 2 Cor. v.19–21, the weapons of this part of his power are wrested out of his hand, seeing death hath no power to terrify the conscience, but as it expresseth the curse of God.
(4) And, lastly, his final execution of the sentence of death upon sinners is utterly taken out of his hand by the death of Christ, inasmuch as they for whom he died shall never undergo death penally. And thus was Satan, as to his power over death, fully destroyed by the death of Christ. [From his commentary on The Epistle to the Hebrews, quoted by Sinclair Ferguson in For the Fame of God’s Name, 182-3.]