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.
I have shown you the sword; I now come, in the second place, to speak to the question: how do we use it? “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb.”
When a man gets a sword, you cannot be quite certain how he will use it….
A gentleman has purchased a very expensive sword with a golden hilt and an elaborate scabbard: he hangs it up in his hall and exhibits it to his friends. Occasionally he draws it out from the sheath, and he says, “Feel how keen is the edge!” The precious blood of Jesus is not meant for us merely to admire and exhibit. We must not be content to talk about it, and extol it, and do nothing with it; but we are to use it in the great crusade against unholiness and unrighteousness, till it is said of us, “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb.” This precious Blood is to be used for overcoming, and consequently for holy warfare. We dishonor it if we do not use it to that end.
Some, I fear, use the precious blood of Christ only as a quietus to their consciences. They say to themselves, “He made atonement for sin, therefore let me take my rest.” This is doing a grievous wrong to the great Sacrifice. I grant you that the blood of Jesus does speak better things than that of Abel, and that it sweetly cries, “Peace! Peace!” within the troubled conscience; but that is not all it does. A man who wants the blood of Jesus for nothing but the mean and selfish reason, that after having been forgiven through it he may say, “Soul, take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry: hear sermons, enjoy the hope of eternal felicity, and do nothing”—such a man blasphemes the precious blood and makes it an unholy thing. We are to use the glorious mystery of atoning blood as our chief means of overcoming sin and Satan: its power is for holiness. See how the text puts it: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb”: these saints used the doctrine of atonement not as a pillow to rest their weariness, but as a weapon to subdue their sin. O my brothers, to some of us atonement by blood is our battle-axe and weapon of war, by which we conquer in our struggle for purity and godliness—a struggle in which we have continued now these many years. By the atoning blood we withstand corruption within and temptation without. This is that weapon which nothing can resist.
Let me show you your battlefield. Our first place of conflict is in the heavenlies, and the second is down below on earth.
Battle with Satan in the heavenlies
First, then, my brothers and sisters who believe in the blood of Jesus, you have to do battle with Satan in the heavenlies; and there you must overcome him “by the blood of the Lamb.” “How?” say you. I will lead you into this subject.
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 Cor. 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 Michael of the angels, 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 (Eph. 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.