Written by C.H. Spurgeon
Excerpt was taken and adapted from a sermon delivered Lord’s Day Morning, September 9, 1888, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington, London.
First, then, my brothers and sisters who believe in the blood of Jesus, you have to do battle with Satan in the heavenlies; there you must overcome him “by the blood of the Lamb.” “How?” say you…
First, you are to regard Satan this day as being already literally and truly overcome through the death of the Lord Jesus. Satan is already a vanquished enemy. By faith grasp your Lord’s victory as your own, since He triumphed in your nature and on your behalf. The Lord Jesus Christ went up to Calvary, and there fought with the prince of darkness, utterly defeated him, and destroyed his power. He led captivity captive. He bruised the serpent’s head. The victory was the victory of all who are in Christ. He is the representative Seed of the woman, and you who are of that seed and are in Christ actually and experimentally, you then and there overcame the devil by the blood of the Lamb. Can you get a hold of this truth? Do you not know that you were circumcised in His circumcision, crucified on His Cross, buried with Him in baptism, and therein also risen with Him in His resurrection? He is your Federal Head, and you being members of His body did in Him what He did.
Come, my soul, thou hast conquered Satan by the Lord’s victory. Wilt thou not be brave enough to fight a vanquished foe, and trample down the enemy whom thy Lord has already thrust down? You need not be afraid, but say, “Thanks be to God which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). We have overcome sin, death, and hell in the Person and work of our great Lord; and we should be greatly encouraged by that which has been already wrought in our name. Already we are more than conquerors through Him that hath loved us. If Jesus had not overcome the enemy, certainly we never should have done so; but His personal triumph has secured ours. By faith we rise into the conquering place this day. In the heavenlies we triumph, as also in every place. We rejoice in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of men; for by Him we see Satan cast out, and all the powers of evil hurled from their places of power and eminence.
This day I would have you overcome Satan in the heavenlies in another sense: you must overcome him as the accuser. At times you hear in your heart a voice arousing memory and startling conscience; a voice which seems in heaven to be a remembrance of your guilt. Hark to that deep, croaking voice, boding evil! Satan is urging before the throne of justice all your former sins. Can you hear him? He begins with your childish faults and your youthful follies—truly a black memory. He does not let one of your wickednesses drop out. Things which you had forgotten he cunningly revives. He knows your secret sins, for he had a hand in most of them. He knows the resistance which you offered to the Gospel, and the way in which you stifled conscience. He knows the sins of darkness, the sins of the bedchamber, the crimes of the inner chambers of imagery. Since you have been a Christian he has marked your wickedness, and asked in fierce sarcastic tones, “Is this a child of God? Is this an heir of heaven?” He hopes to convict us of hypocrisy or of apostasy.
The foul fiend tells out the wanderings of our hearts, the deadness of our desires in prayer, the filthy thoughts that dropped into our minds when we have been at worship. Alas! we have to confess that we have even tolerated doubts as to eternal verities, and suspicions of the love and faithfulness of God. When the accuser is about his evil business, he does not have to look far for matter of accusation, nor for facts to support it. Do these accusations stagger you? Do you cry, “My God, how can I face Thee? for all this is true, and the iniquities now brought to my remembrance are such as I cannot deny. I have violated Thy Law in a thousand ways, and I cannot justify myself.” Now is your opportunity for overcoming through the blood of the Lamb. When the accuser has said his say, and aggravated all your transgressions, be not ashamed to step forward and say, “But I have an Advocate as well as an accuser. O Jesus, my Savior, speak for me!” When He speaks, what does He plead but His own blood? “For all these sins I have made atonement,” says He, “all these iniquities were laid on Me in the day of the Lord’s anger, and I have taken them away.” Brethren, the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s dear Son, cleanses us from all sin. Jesus has borne the penalty due to us: He has discharged for us upon the Cross all our liabilities to the justice of God, and we are free forever, because our Surety suffered in our place. Where is the accuser now? That dragon voice is silenced by the blood of the Lamb. Nothing else can ever silence the accuser’s cruel voice but the voice of the blood which tells of the infinite God accepting, in our behalf, the Sacrifice which He Himself supplied.
Justice decrees that the sinful shall be clear, because the accepted Substitute has borne his sin in His own body on the tree. Come, brother or sister, the next time thou hast to do with Satan as an accuser in heavenly places, take care that thou defend thyself with no weapon but the Atonement. All comfort drawn from inward feelings or outward works will fall short; but the bleeding wounds of Jesus will plead with full and overwhelming argument, and answer all. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifies. Who is he that condemns? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us” (Rom 8:33-34). Who, then, shall accuse the child of God? Every accuser shall be overcome by the invincible argument of the blood of the Lamb.
Still further, the believer will have need to overcome the enemy in the heavenly places in reference to access to God. It may happen that when we are most intent upon communing with God, the adversary hinders us. Our heart and our flesh cry out for God, the living God; but from one cause or another we are unable to draw nigh unto the throne. The heart is heavy, sin is rampant, care is harassing, and Satanic insinuation is busy. You seem shut out from God, and the enemy triumphs over you. You feel very near the world, very near the flesh, and very near the devil: but you mourn your miserable distance from God. You are like a child who cannot reach his father’s door because a black dog barks at him from the door. What is the way of access? If the foul fiend will not move out-of-the-way, can we force our passage? By what weapon can we drive away the adversary so as to come to God? Is it not written that we are made nigh by the blood (Ephesians 2:13)? Is there not a new and living way consecrated for us? Have we not boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus? We are sure of God’s love when we see that Christ died for us; we are sure of God’s favor when we see how that Atonement has removed our transgressions far from us.
Pleading the propitiation made by the blood of the Lamb, we dare draw nigh to God. Behold, the evil spirit makes way before us. The sacred name of Jesus is one before which he flees. This will drive away his blasphemous suggestions and foul insinuations better than anything that you can invent. The dog of hell knows the dread Name which makes him lie down: we must confront him with the authority, and specially with the atonement of the Lamb of God. He will rage and rave all the more if we send Moses to him, for he derives his power from our breaches of the Law. We cannot silence him unless we bring to him the great Lord Who has kept the Law, and made it honorable.
We next must overcome the enemy in prayer.
Alas! we cannot always pray as we would. Do you never feel, when you are in prayer, as if something choked your utterance—and, what is worse, deadened your heart? Instead of having wings as of an eagle to mount to heaven, a secret evil clips your wings, and you cannot rise. You say within yourself, “I have no faith, and I cannot expect to succeed with God without faith. I seem to have no love; or, if I have any, my heart lies asleep, and I cannot stir myself to plead with God. Oh, that I could come out of my closet, saying, ‘Vici! Vici!’ —‘I have overcome, I have overcome;’ but, alas! instead thereof I groan in vain, and come away unrelieved. I have been half dead, cold, and stolid, and I cannot hope that I have prevailed with God in prayer.” Whenever you are in this condition fly to the blood of the Lamb as your chief remedy. When you plead this master argument you will arouse yourself, and you will prevail with God. You will feel rest in pleading it, and a sweet assurance of success at the mercy-seat. Try the method at once.
This is the way in which you should use this plea. Say, “My God, I am utterly unworthy, and I own it; but, I beseech Thee, hear me for the honor of Thy Dear Son. By His agony and bloody sweat, by His Cross and passion, by His precious death and burial, I beseech Thee hear me! O Lord, let the blood of Thine Only-begotten prevail with Thee! Canst You put aside His groans, His tears, His death, when they speak on my behalf?” If you can thus come to pleading terms with God upon this ground, you must and will prevail. Jesus must be heard in heaven. The voice of His blood is eloquent with God. If you plead the Atoning Sacrifice, you must overcome through the blood of the Lamb.
Thus have I spoken of overcoming in the heavenlies…You must first overcome in the heavenly places before the throne; and when you have been thus triumphant with God in prayer, you will have grace to go forth to service and to defeat evil among your fellow-men. How often have I personally found that the battle must first be fought above! We must overcome in order to service. Many a score of times of late I should not have ventured into this pulpit had it not been for power at the mercy-seat. Those who know the burden of the Lord are often bowed down, and would not be able to bear up at all were it not for having in secret battled with their enemy and won the day. I have been bowed down before the Lord, and in His presence I have pleaded the precious Blood as the reason for obtaining help, and the help has been given. Faith, having once made sure that Jesus is hers, helps herself out of the treasury of God to all that she needs. Satan would deny her, but in the power of the blood she takes possession of covenant blessings.
You say to yourself, “I am weak, but in the Lord, my God, there is power: I take it to myself. I am hard and cold, but here is tenderness and warmth, and I appropriate it. It pleased the Father that in Jesus should all fullness dwell, and by virtue of His precious blood, I take out of that fullness what I need, and then with help thus obtained I meet the enemy and overcome him.” Satan would hinder our getting supplies of grace wherewith to overcome him; but with the blood-mark on our foot we can go anywhere; with the blood-mark on our hand we dare take anything. Having access with confidence, we also take with freedom whatsoever we need, and thus we are provided against all necessities, and armed against all assaults through the atoning Sacrifice. This is the fountain of supply, and the shield of security: this, indeed, is the channel through which we receive strength for victory.
We overcome the great enemy by laying hold upon the all-sufficiency of God, when we really feel the power of the precious blood of Christ. Thus, being victorious in the heavenlies, we come down to the pulpit or to the Sunday-school class, made strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Having overcome Satan at the throne of grace, we see him like lightning fall from heaven, even before our feeble instrumentality. We speak, and God speaks with us; we long for souls, and God’s great heart is yearning with us. We importune men to come, and the Lord also pleads with them to come, so that they no longer resist. Spiritual power of a holy kind rests upon us to overcome the spiritual power of an evil kind which is exerted by Satan, the world, and the flesh. The Lord scatters the power of the enemy, and breaks the spell which holds men captive. Through the blood of the Lamb we become masters of the situation, and the weakest among us is able to work great wonders. Coming forth to the service of God, in the power of our victory in heaven gained by pleading the blood of the Lamb, we march on conquering and to conquer, and no power of the enemy is able to stand against us.
Battle with Satan on this earth
It is time that I now showed you how this same fight is carried on earth. Amongst men in these lower places of conflict saints overcome through the blood of the Lamb by their testimony to that blood. Every believer is to bear witness to the atoning Sacrifice and Its power to save. He is to tell out the doctrine; he is to emphasize it by earnest faith in it; and he is to support it and prove it by his experience of the effect of it. You cannot all speak from the pulpit, but you can all speak for Jesus as opportunity is given you. Our main business is to bear witness with the blood in the power of the Spirit. To this point we can all testify. You cannot go into all manner of deep doctrines or curious points, but you can tell to all those round about you that “There is life in a look at the Crucified One.” You can bear witness to the power of the blood of Jesus in your own soul. If you do this, you will overcome men in many ways.
First, you will arouse them out of apathy. This age is more indifferent to true religion than almost any other. It is alive enough to error, but to the old faith it turns a deaf ear. Yet I have noticed persons captivated by the truth of substitution who would not listen to anything else. If any discourse can hold men, as the ancient mariner detained the wedding guest, it is the story of divine love, incarnate in the person of Jesus, bleeding and dying for guilty men. Try that story when attention flags. It has a fascination about it. The marvelous history of the Son of God, Who loved His enemies and died for them—this will arrest them. The history of the Holy One Who stood in the sinner’s place, and was in consequence put to shame, and agony, and death—this will touch them. The sight of the bleeding Savior overcomes obduracy and carelessness.
The doctrine of the blood of the Lamb prevents or scatters error. I do not think that by reasoning we often confute error to any practical purpose. We may confute it rhetorically and doctrinally, but men still stick to it. But the doctrine of the precious blood, when it once gets into the heart, drives error out of it, and sets up the throne of truth. You cannot be clinging to an atoning Sacrifice and still delight in modern heresies. Those who deny inspiration are sure to get rid of the vicarious atonement, because it will not allow their errors. Let us go on proclaiming the doctrine of the great Sacrifice, and this will kill the vipers of heresy. Let us uplift the Cross, and never mind what other people say. Perhaps we have taken too much notice of them already. Let the dogs bark, it is their nature to. Go on preaching Christ crucified. God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of the Lord Jesus Christ!
We also overcome men in this way, by softening rebellious hearts. Men stand out against the Law of God, and defy the vengeance of God; but the love of God in Christ Jesus disarms them. The Holy Spirit causes men to yield through the softening influence of the Cross. A bleeding Savior makes men throw down their weapons of rebellion. “If He loves me so,” they say, “I cannot do other than love Him in return.” We overcome men’s obduracy by the blood, shed for many for the remission of sins.
How wonderfully this same blood of the Lamb overcomes despair. Have you never seen a man shut up in the iron cage? It has been my painful duty to talk with several of such prisoners. I have seen the captive shake the iron bars, but he could not break them, or break from them. He has implored us to set him free by some means; but we have been powerless. Glory be to God, the blood is a universal solvent, and it has dissolved the iron-bars of despair, until the poor captive conscience has been able to escape. How sweet for the desponding to sing—
“I do believe, I will believe,
That Jesus died for me”!
Believing that, all doubts, fears, and despairs fly away, and the man is at ease.
There is nothing, indeed, dear friends, which the blood of the Lamb will not overcome; for see how it overcomes vice, and every form of sin. The world is foul with evil, like a stable which has long been the lair of filthy creatures. What can cleanse it? What but this matchless stream? Satan makes sin seem pleasurable, but the Cross reveals its bitterness. If Jesus died because of sin, men begin to see that sin must be a murderous thing. Even when sin was but imputed to the Savior, it made Him pour out His soul unto death; it must, then, be a hideous evil to those who are actually and personally guilty of it. If God’s rod made Christ sweat great drops of blood, what will His axe do when He executes the capital sentence upon impenitent men! Yes, we overcome the deadly sweetness and destructive pleasurableness of sin by the blood of the Lamb.
This blood overcomes the natural lethargy of men towards obedience; it stimulates them to holiness. If anything can make a man holy, it is a firm faith in the atoning Sacrifice. When a man knows that Jesus died for him, he feels that he is not his own, but bought with a price, and therefore he must live unto Him that died for him and rose again. In the atonement I see a motive equal to the greatest heroism; yes, a motive which will stimulate to perfect holiness. What manner of persons ought we to be for whom such a Sacrifice has been presented! Now are we quickened into intensity of zeal and devotion. See, dear brothers, how to use the blood of the Lamb in this lower sphere while contending with evil among men.
But I must close with this. It is not merely by testimony that we use this potent truth. We must support that testimony by our zeal and energy. We need concentrated, consecrated energy; for it is written, “They loved not their lives unto the death.” We shall not overcome Satan if we are fine gentlemen, fond of ease and honor. As long as Christian people must needs enjoy the world, the devil will suffer little at their hands. They that overcame the world in the old days were humble men and woman, generally poor, always despised, who were never ashamed of Christ, who only lived to tell of His love, and died by tens of thousands rather than cease to bear testimony to the blood of the Lamb. They overcame by their heroism; their intense devotion to the cause secured the victory. Their lives to them were as nothing when compared with the honor of their Lord.
Brethren, if we are to win great victories we must have greater courage. Some of you hardly dare speak about the blood of Christ in any but the most godly company; and scarcely there. You are very retiring. You love yourselves too much to get into trouble through your religion. Surely you cannot be of that noble band that love not their own lives unto the death! Many dare not hold the old doctrine nowadays because they would be thought narrow and bigoted, and this would be too galling. They call us old fools. It is very likely we are; but we are not ashamed to be fools for Christ’s sake and the truth’s sake. We believe in the blood of the Lamb, despite the discoveries of science. We shall never give up the doctrine of atoning sacrifice to please modern culture. What little reputation we have is as dear to us as another man’s character is to him; but we will cheerfully let it go in this struggle for the central truth of revelation. It will be sweet to be forgotten and lost sight of, or to be vilified and abused, if the old faith in the substitutionary Sacrifice can be kept alive. This much we are resolved on, we will be true to our convictions concerning the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus; for if we give up this, what is there left?
God will not do anything by us if we are false to the Cross. He uses the men who spare not their reputations when these are called for in defense of truth. Oh to be at a white heat! Oh to flame with zeal for Jesus! O my brethren, hold you to the old faith, and say, “As for the respect of men, I can readily forfeit it; but as for the truth of God, that I can never give up.” This is the day for men to be men; for, alas! the most are soft, weak and vulnerable creatures. Now we need backbones as well as heads. To believe the truth concerning the Lamb of God, and truly to believe it, this is the essential of an overcoming life. Oh for courage, constancy, fixedness, self-denial, willingness to be made nothing of for Christ! God give us to be faithful witnesses to the blood of the Lamb in the midst of this ungodly world!
As for those of you who are not saved, does not this subject give you a hint? Your hope lies in the blood of the Lamb
Come, guilty souls, and flee away,
Like doves, to Jesus’ wounds.
The atoning Sacrifice, which is our glory, is your salvation. Trust in Him Whom God has set forth to be the propitiation for sin. Begin with this, and you are saved. Every good and holy thing which goes with salvation will follow after. But now, this morning, I pray you accept a present salvation through the blood of the Lamb. “He that believeth in him hath everlasting life” (John 6:47).