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Through the Passion of Christ We Are Freed from the Power of the Devil

Monday after the Third Sunday of Lent

Through the Passion of Christ We Are Freed from the Power of the Devil.

Our Lord said (John 12:31), when His Passion was imminent: Now shall the prince of this world be cast out; and I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all things to Myself. Now He was lifted up from the earth by His Passion on the cross. Therefore by His Passion the devil was deprived of his power over man.

There are three things to be considered regarding the power which the devil exercised over men previous to Christ’s Passion.

The first is on man’s own part, who by his sin deserved to be delivered over to the devil’s power, and was overcome by his tempting. The second is on God’s part, whom man had offended by sinning, and who with justice left man under the devil’s power. The third is on the devil’s part, who out of his most wicked will hindered man from securing his salvation.

As to the first point, by Christ’s Passion man was delivered from the devil’s power, in so far as the Passion is the cause of the forgiveness of sins. As to the second, it must be said that Christ’s Passion freed us from the devil’s power, inasmuch as it reconciled us with God. But as to the third, Christ’s Passion delivered us from the devil, inasmuch as in Christ’s Passion he exceeded the limit of power assigned him by God, by conspiring to bring about Christ’s death, Who, being sinless, did not deserve to die. Hence Augustine says (De Trin. xiii, cap. xiv): The devil was vanquished by Christ’s justice: because, while discovering in Him nothing deserving of death, nevertheless he slew Him. And it is certainly just that the debtors whom he held captive should be set at liberty, since they believed in Him whom the devil slew, though He was no debtor.

Indeed, even now the devil exercises his power over men; God so permitting it, the devil can still tempt men’s souls and harass their bodies: yet there is a remedy provided for man through Christ’s Passion, whereby he can safeguard himself against the enemy’s assaults, so as not to be dragged down into the destruction of everlasting death. And all who resisted the devil previous to the Passion were enabled to do so through faith in the Passion, although it was not yet accomplished. Yet in one respect no one was able to escape the devil’s hands, i.e., so as not to descend into hell. But after Christ’s Passion, men can defend themselves from this by its power.

God permits the devil to deceive men by certain persons, and in times and places, according to the hidden motive of His judgments; still, there is always a remedy provided through Christ’s Passion, for defending themselves against the wicked snares of the demons, even in Antichrist’s time. But if any man neglect to make use of this remedy, it detracts nothing from the efficacy of Christ’s Passion.

(STIII.Q49.A2)


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