When Jesus died on the cross, he said, “It is finished.” The Bible teaches that Jesus then descended to the center of the earth, which is the holding place that the Hebrew text refers to as “Sheol” (Greek: “Hades”). In this place, Jewish literature teaches that there is a compartment set aside for the wicked dead (those who died in their sins). There is another compartment referred to as“Paradise,” set aside for the righteous dead. Think of Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross that professed faith in Him: “Today you will be with me in Paradise.”
We’ve been taught over the years that Satan and his legions of demons are in Hell, but they’re not. Not yet, anyway. You know where they are? They’re here; running to and fro throughout the earth. When Satan fell from Heaven, he wasn’t cast into Hell; he fell to the earth. He became the prince of the power of the air; the spirit that works in the lives of the children of disobedience.
When Satan came before God in the Book of Job, God asked him, “From where do you come?” and Satan replied, “From going to and fro on the earth and walking back and forth on it.” At the end of time, as we know it, the Bible reveals that Satan and his legions of demons will be cast into Hell and will forever remain there, but he’s not there now.
When Jesus rose from the dead, He led “captivity captive.” That means He preached to those in Sheol. Then He led those who were being held captive, captive with Him. He preached to the spirits in prison (Tartarus), brought the righteous dead out, and delivered them to the presence of God.
The Bible even teaches that some of those spirits when they came out after the resurrection appeared to many people in Jerusalem (cf. Matthew 27:51-53). The Bible also teaches that Jesus took the “keys to the kingdom.” Let me ask, where did He get the keys to the Kingdom?
In Colossians 2:14-15, the Apostle Paul writes, “Having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed/spoiled principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.”
Through His death, burial, and resurrection, Jesus has conquered and triumphed over the principalities and powers of this dark world. There is a particular word in this passage that informs us as to exactly what took place: ἀπεκδύομαι (apekduomai). This Greek word translates: “disarm/spoil.” It literally means, “to strip off of, to divest, to renounce.” ἀπεκδύομαι pertains to a ceremony that a Roman General would lead over a defeated army.
When a Roman General would win a battle, the leader of the defeated regime would bring his soldiers to a place where they would surrender to the victor, usually in an open field. Once the general of the defeated army was in place, then the general of the victorious army would march out and come face-to-face with him. There, in front of all of his men, the conqueror would begin to rip the medals and badges off the defeated leader’s uniform.
As the winning general would rip the medals off the defeated leader’s garments, he would say things like, “Every victory you’ve ever won is now mine. Everything you’ve conquered is now ours. We have defeated you. We disarm you.” This is ἀπεκδύομαι (apekduomai) in action.
Jesus didn’t take the keys to the kingdom from Satan in Hell. He took them away from him in the atmosphere, right here. He “disarmed” the Devil right here in the spiritual realm. With the angelic hosts of heaven around Him, Jesus called Satan and his demons front and center, and said, “Satan, whatever you’ve gained, I’ve now conquered. What once was yours is now mine. You have been defeated. I disarmed you.”
Jesus stripped Satan of everything right there in front of all the spiritual entities of the universe. Then He ascended to Heaven.
So, what does this mean for us? It means that when we “Resist the Devil” that he has to flee, not because of who we are, but because of who He is! Not because of what we’ve done, but because of what He’s done! Not because of the authority we have, but because of the One who has authority over us! And that, my friends, is where we discover the ultimate power of submitting to authority.
Again, God ordains authority. If you’re not submitting to the authority structures in your life you are opposing God’s will for your life. As long as you oppose God’s will for your life you’ll never walk in the fullness of God’s promises for your life.