Christ came into the world for the purpose of destroying the works of the devil (Heb. 2:14).
This, He has done at the cross. But if Christ has been victorious over the devil and principalities and powers, why are we still wrestling with principalities and powers? Why is the devil still able to roam about like a lion looking for prey to devour?
Study Colossians 2:15 carefully. Look at the three different verbs that Paul uses in order to describe what happened at the cross. How do we understand what this means?
First, Christ spoiled (KJV) or disarmed (NASB, NKJV) the powers. The Greek word is apekduomai, which literally means to strip off one’s clothes. Here it may mean that the powers were stripped of their weapons.
What weapons? Christ’s life of victory, culminating in Calvary, spelled the doom of the devil. Satan’s disguise was torn away. His methods of operation were laid open before the angels and the entire heavenly universe. He had exposed his true colors. . . . By His cross Jesus Christ stripped from the principalities and powers of darkness both their robe of office and authority as princes of this world, and their armor of strength in their warfare against right. − The SDA Bible Commentary,vol. 7, p. 205.
Christ made a shew . . . openly (KJV), made a public display (NASB) of the powers. How were the powers exposed publicly at the cross? What image of them became evident? See John 8:44.
The text also says that Christ triumphed over them. The Greek word is thriambeuo and it implies celebration. There’s a great mystery here: Jesus hung on the cross, suffering what appeared to be a terrible defeat, and yet the Bible calls it a triumph? Whatever else this triumph included, it certainly helped to reveal Satan to be the murderer that Jesus said he was.
Because of the Cross, a day is coming when the dominion of the powers will come to a complete and definite end. That is when Christ puts an end to all rule and all authority and power (1 Cor. 15:24, NKJV), and the last enemy to be destroyed will be death (1 Cor. 15:26). Until then, we have to endure, fighting the fight of faith in the strength of God that is offered to all who will claim it.
After Christ’s death, Satan saw that his disguise was torn away. His administration was laid open before the unfallen angels and before the heavenly universe. He had revealed himself as a murderer. By shedding the blood of the Son of God, he had uprooted himself from the sympathies of the heavenly beings. Henceforth his work was restricted. Whatever attitude he might assume, he could no longer await the angels as they came from the heavenly courts, and before them accuse Christs brethren of being clothed with the garments of blackness and the defilement of sin. The last link of sympathy between Satan and the heavenly world was broken. Yet Satan was not then destroyed. The angels did not even then understand all that was involved in the great controversy. The principles at stake were to be more fully revealed. And for the sake of man, Satan’s existence must be continued. Man as well as angels must see the contrast between the Prince of light and the prince of darkness. He must choose whom he will serve. − Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, p. 761.