For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same…
We take as the works of the devil those which this malignant spirit hath performed in order to the overthrow of the holiness and the happiness of mankind; and we must endeavour to consider or to ascertain how the effects of the atonement so counterbalanced the effects of the apostacy, that our Redeemer, in dying, may actually be said to have "destroyed the devil and him works." Now, the effects of the apostacy may justly be considered under two divisions; physical and moral effects: those whose subject is matter, and those whose subject is spirit; and if the Son of God destroyed the works of the devil, He must, in some way or other, have nullified both these effects, so that, physically and morally, He provided a fall remedy for a disorganised creation.
I. LOOK FIRST AT THE PHYSICAL EFFECTS OF ADAM'S SIN. Every pain to which flesh is heir, every sickness — the decay, and the dissolution of the body, are to be referred to sin as their first origin; and the temptation to sin having been of Satan, they are to be classed among the works of the devil. And above these consequences existing in ourselves, there are others to be observed in creation around us, whether inanimate or animate. We admit that death is not yet destroyed in the sense of having ceased to possess power; but death no longer reigns by right; it reigns only by sufferance. It is allowed to remain as an instrument for the advancement of certain purposes of the Almighty; but not as a tyrant in whom is vested an undisputed authority. Nay, death succeeded by a resurrection, is not in truth to be designated death. We can gaze on that spectacle of the grave — not the proprietor, not the consumer, not the destroyer, but just simply the guardian of the dust, of human kind, and confess that the resurrection will give overwhelming attestation to the annihilation of death. And if this resurrection is referred to the energies of the atonement it will demostrate to the conviction of all orders of being that the Son of God effected in dying what the text announces as the great end proposed — "that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil." We go on to observe, that similar statements may be applied to all those other effects which we designate the physical effects of rebellion. It is quite true that pain and sorrow are allowed to continue. But it is true that evil is at length to be wholly extirpated from the earth; and that not in consequence of any fresh interposition of God, or any new mediation of Christ, but simply through the effects of that expiatory sacrifice which was offered ages back upon Calvary. Then, when righteousness shall clothe every province of the globe, and happiness, the purest and most elevated, shall circulate through the hearts and homes of all the world's families, and the lustre of an untarnished loveliness shall gild the face of every landscape, then shall our text be accomplished; then shall it be put beyond doubt that there was a virtue in the atonement to counteract all the physical effects of apostacy.
II. We have now to consider what we term THE MORAY. CONSEQUENCES OF APOSTACY, and we own it more difficult to prove their destruction than that of the physical. We shall fasten at once on the hard point of the question. Beyond all doubt the grand work of the devil is the everlasting destruction of the human soul. If it were the work of the devil to bring mankind to share his own heritage of woe; and if, in spite of the interposition of Christ, a vast multitude of our race shall be actually his companions in anguish, can it fairly be contended that there has been any direct counteraction of the works of the devil, or that the effects of redemption are at all commensurate with the effects of apostacy? May we not exclaim in the language of the prophet — "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why, then, is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" We desire to meet this question fairly. We observe, then, that it is quite possible to charge too much on the devil, and to make excuses for men by throwing blame on the tempter. You say, if a man perish, his perdition is the work of the devil; but we are at issue with you here. The man is a redeemed man, and can be destroyed only through destroying himself. The devil does not destroy him. The devil, indeed, may put engines of destruction in his way; it is the man himself who makes use of those engines, and when he dies it is by suicide, and not by the blow of another. After all, it was not the devil that destroyed Adam. The devil tempted him; he could do nothing more. He did as much to Christ; and the destruction lay not in the being tempted, but in the yielding to temptation. And though Satan tempts, it is man who yields. Unless men perish through their own act, they are punished for what was unavoidable, and then their punishment is unjust. We contend, therefore, that it is far from essential to the complete destruction of the devil and all his works that all men should be saved. We will take this case first. We will call a fallen man Satan's work, and we think to show you, by a few brief remarks, that this work is far more than destroyed by the redemption, without the salvation of all. Satan's work is twofold — he has fastened on me death for original sin, and corrupt propensities which are sure to issue in actual sin. Hence, the devil's work is destroyed, if arrangements have been made by which I may escape the death, and resist the propensities. But as interested in the obedience and sacrifice of Christ "The Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world" — life, eternal life, is within my reach; and this destroys the first part of the work. The Holy Spirit is given me for overcoming evil, and this destroys the second part of the work. Satan's work made death inevitable, and rendered me at one and the same time certain to sin and hopeless of pardon. Christ's work, on the contrary, made death avoidable, and rendered me, though not proof against sin, yet sure through repentance and faith of forgiveness. Does not then the one work actually destroy the other? What has Satan done in procuring my fall which has not been balanced by what Christ did in effecting my redemption?
(H. Melvill, B. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;
WEB: Since then the children have shared in flesh and blood, he also himself in the same way partook of the same, that through death he might bring to nothing him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,