Calvary Road Baptist Church


First Corinthians 15.57


In 1861 the liberal Mexican Benito Juárez (1806-1872) became president of a country in financial ruin, and he was forced to default on his debts to European governments. In response, France, Britain and Spain sent naval forces to Veracruz to demand reimbursement. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew, but France, ruled by Napoleon III (1808-1873), decided to use the opportunity to carve a dependent empire out of Mexican territory. Late in 1861, a well-armed French fleet stormed Veracruz, landing a large French force and driving President Juárez and his government into retreat.


Certain that success would come swiftly, 6,000 French troops under General Charles Latrille de Lorencez (1814-1892) set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. From his new headquarters in the north, Juárez rounded up a rag-tag force of 2,000 loyal men—many of them either indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry—and sent them to Puebla. Led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza (1829-1862), the vastly outnumbered and poorly supplied Mexicans fortified the town and prepared for the French assault. On May 5, 1862, Lorencez drew his army, well provisioned and supported by heavy artillery, before the city of Puebla and led an assault from the north. The battle lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the clash.


Although not a major strategic win in the overall war against the French, Zaragoza’s success at Puebla represented a great symbolic victory for the Mexican government and bolstered the resistance movement. Six years later—thanks in part to military support and political pressure from the United States, which was finally in a position to aid its besieged neighbor after the end of the Civil War—France withdrew. The same year, Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, who had been installed as emperor of Mexico by Napoleon in 1864, was captured and executed by Juárez’s forces. Puebla de Los Angeles was renamed for General Zaragoza, who died of typhoid fever months after his historic triumph there.


Within Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is primarily observed in the state of Puebla, where Zaragoza’s unlikely triumph occurred, although other parts of the country also take part in the celebration. Traditions include military parades, recreations of the Battle of Puebla and other festive events. For many Mexicans, however, May 5 is a day like any other: It is not a federal holiday, so offices, banks and stores remain open.


Many people outside Mexico mistakenly believe that Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of Mexican independence, which was declared more than 50 years before the Battle of Puebla. That event is commemorated on September 16, the anniversary of the . . . declaration of war against the Spanish colonial government in 1810.[1]

May I suggest that we think of Cinco de Mayo as an annual celebration of victory over the enemy, in General Zaragosa’s case the enemy being France? That being the case, allow me to also suggest that the Christian life is in like manner a victory over an enemy that rightly ought to be a celebration of victory over an enemy. Consider that a thousand years before the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, the psalmist described the salvation wrought by God in terms of a great victory.[2] Seven centuries before our Lord’s birth, the prophet Isaiah uttered these words about Christ’s saving work, in Isaiah 25.8-9:

8      He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

9      And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.

In Matthew 12.20, the Apostle Matthew quotes from Isaiah 42 when he describes the Lord Jesus Christ’s gentleness while exhibiting miraculous power as a way of displaying His ability to deal with men’s sins: “A bruised reed shall he not break, and smoking flax shall he not quench, till he send forth judgment unto victory.” Then, in First Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul makes repeated references to the victory wrought by Jesus Christ, concluding in verse 57 with these words: “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Thus, we find convincing evidence in God’s Word that what Christians receive from God when they come to faith in Jesus Christ is victory, victory that is the outcome of the gospel, the good news, referred to by the Apostle Paul in First Corinthians 15.1-4:

1      Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

2      By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

3      For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;

4      And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures.

To recapitulate, the gospel, the good news, speaks in God’s Word of the Lord Jesus Christ dying for our sins according to the scriptures, of His burial, and of His rising up from the dead on the third day according to the scriptures.

That good news results in God giving us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ, the victory referred to in numerous places in both the Old Testament and the New. However, victory implies conflict, struggle, warfare, and defeat of the enemy. Does God’s Word support this notion? Consider the following passages when making up your mind:

First Corinthians 9.26: “I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air.”

Second Corinthians 10.3-4:    3      For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh:

4      (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds)

Ephesians 6.11: “Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.”

First Thessalonians 5.8:     “But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.”

First Timothy 1.18:  “This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare.”

First Timothy 6.12:  “Fight the good fight of faith”

Second Timothy 2.3:   “Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

After reading these passages, there can be no doubt that the Christian life takes place amidst great spiritual conflict that is termed warfare, with the Christian called upon to engage in the fight much as a soldier engages in a battle of arms, though our conflict is for the most part a purely spiritual one, with stakes that are much greater than simply the physical life or death of our enemy.

Because today is Cinco de Mayo, I will focus on the victory wrought by Jesus Christ when He died on the cross for my sins, was buried, and then rose from the dead three days later. Being a victory, one must ask who was defeated? You cannot have a win unless someone experiences a loss. There can be no victory on one side unless there is a defeat on the other side. Since the Bible declares in no uncertain terms that Jesus Christ won the victory, we must therefore be mindful of who suffered defeat.

Three considerations:


Yes, Margaret, there really is a devil. The Devil, of course, is that created being referred to in the Bible as Satan, whose original name was Lucifer. Consider him under three headings:

First, his creation. Created before God spoke the physical universe and all that herein is into existence, Lucifer was the first of God’s creatures, the highest and most noble of God’s creatures, witness to all of God’s other creative acts, and the first of God’s creatures to rebel against His holy and righteous rule.[3] However, despite his pretenses and ambitions, Satan is after all a mere creature and not the infinite God, and not the omnipotent God, and not the omnipresent God, and not the righteous God, and not the eternal God, and not the holy God. Satan qualifies as creator in only one sense, as the creator and originator of sin.

Second, his career. We know he was created a sinless being, and good, for God pronounced all that He had created to be very good.[4] However, something happened that we have only sketchy information about in God’s Word, and Lucifer sinned and became Satan, the Devil. Isaiah informs us that he was lifted up with pride and became presumptuous.[5] The Apostle John reveals in the Revelation that Satan led a heavenly rebellion against God that resulted in the downfall of one-third of the heavenly host.[6] This likely occurred before the creation of Adam and Eve, for by the time Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden the serpent was used by Satan to tempt Eve by deception.[7] From then until now, the Devil roams the earth as the god of this world, as the prince of the power of the air, and as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.[8] He was the first murderer and is the father of lies.[9] As if he was not guilty of enough crimes, he controls and dominates this world system of fallen men and opposes the plan and purpose of God in every conceivable way.[10]

Finally, his crushing defeat. Yes, Satan is a defeated adversary. He fomented rebellion in heaven, drawing one-third of the heavenly host into his proud revolt against God, yet he and they were cast down. It was what our Lord was referring to when He said, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”[11] Then, when he tempted the Lord Jesus Christ in the wilderness for forty days and nights, he failed in his attempts to persuade the Son of God to sin.[12] It was at the apparent height of Satan’s prowess, immediately after he had successfully tempted Eve and witnessed the human race in the person of Adam plunged into the darkness of depravity and the deadness of sin, that a prediction was made about him by the LORD God, in Genesis 3.15. There would come a day when Satan would bruise the heel of “the seed of woman” (implying the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus Christ), yet He would bruise his head. When did that take place? It took place on the cross of Calvary. When the Lord Jesus Christ offered Himself on the cross, He defeated the Devil, Hebrews 2.14 and First John 3.8, thereby fulfilling the first prophecy recorded in God’s Word. Make no mistake about it. His end is determined. He and all who follow his lead will spend eternity in the lake of fire, experiencing the endless torment of the damned as God’s perpetual wrath is poured out upon him and upon them.[13]


Of course, sin is any conduct or thought that God disapproves of, or that is contrary to God’s plan and purpose. The first sinner was Lucifer, Satan, the Devil, who led the angelic rebellion against God, in that revolt introducing sin into the angelic realm. After that, because of the malevolence of his sin, Satan turned his sinful inclinations to the human race.

First, we consider the origin of sin in the human race. Sometime after the sixth day’s fulfillment of all God’s creative acts, when He pronounced His creation “very good,” Lucifer sinned in the heavenlies, led the rebellion among many angels, and he and they were cast down. Sometime after that, God gave to Adam lordship over the whole earth and then created Eve.[14] Thus, Adam became lord over that which Lucifer had originally been lord over before his rebellion. Because of his pride, the lordship of Adam over what Lucifer had been lord over was intolerable to him, so he plotted Adam’s destruction and the thwarting of God’s will. He used a serpent, spoke through the serpent, and attacked Adam by attacking Adam’s wife, Eve. Eve was deceived into sinning against God by the serpent, while Adam knowingly transgressed against God.[15] By the simple act of eating forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve sinned against God, were separated from God by their iniquity, and experienced spiritual death.[16] Physical death would follow as a direct consequence.

Next, we consider the transmission of sin in the human race. The precise theological explanation of what happens has been disputed for centuries by theologians. However, the Word of God is very clear in declaring that as a direct result of Adam’s sin his descendants are born sinful. Romans 5.12 records the Apostle Paul’s explanation: “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” Then, in First Corinthians 15.22, he writes, “in Adam all die.” However, long before Paul’s pronouncements were written, scripture recorded the sad story. Adam’s firstborn son, Cain, slew his own brother, Abel.[17] Cain’s was not an isolated sin. Though Adam became a sinner by sinning, every human being sired by a man since then has been conceived a sinner, and born sinful. David confessed, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me,” and then later wrote, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.”[18] Sin is why we do wrong. Sin is why we disobey God. Sin is what each person is responsible for to God in his own life.

Third, we consider the punishment of sin in the human race. Because sin is criminal conduct in both thought and deed in violation of God’s holy and righteous nature, it demands an appropriate response. Because of who He is and because of what He is, God cannot simply pretend He is not angered and offended by the sins of His creatures. Though He is longsuffering and He delays responding, there comes a time when justice demands that He punish sin, and His holiness insists upon it. To that end, God prepared the lake of fire for the eternal punishment of the Devil and his angels for their sins.[19] As well, His plan is also to eternally punish wicked men in the same place for their sins.[20] In Second Thessalonians 1.7-9, the Apostle Paul informed new believers that there would come a day when “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.”

However, we should also consider the salvation of some from sin wrought by Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ is victorious over sin not only by punishing unrepentant sinners for their infinite crimes against God, but also by saving repentant sinners from their sins. As before, He won this victory on the cross of Calvary. What did He do to gain the victory over sin? He gained the victory over sin by becoming sin for us, though He Himself never actually committed a single sin. This was predicted in type in the Old Testament when animals were sacrificed on behalf of sinners to atone for their sins.[21] It is predicted in Isaiah 53.5, where we read of the Messiah who would someday be wounded for our transgressions, and be bruised for our iniquities. Did that happen? The Apostle Paul writes in Second Corinthians 5.21 that God “made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” The Apostle Peter echoes Paul’s declaration in First Peter 3.18: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.” God’s holiness demands that defilement be cleansed. God’s righteousness demands that criminality be punished. The lake of fire is God’s solution for the sins of sinners who will not turn from their sins, but cling to them tenaciously by rejecting the gospel. Thereby, Christ is victorious over the sins of the lost by means of their eternal punishment. However, having paid the penalty for sins on behalf of the repentant, the Savior gained the victory over our sins on the cross and freely cleanses and forgives our sins by virtue of His shed blood.[22]


Death must properly be understood not as the cessation of existence, but as separation from that which gives life. Thus, physical death occurs when the physical body loses the spiritual part of man, which is the soul. However, the soul does not cease to be when the physical body dies, but passes through the portal of death to an eternal existence in the afterlife, either in the presence of God for the believer in Christ or in a place called Hell for the one who is not a believer in Jesus Christ. There is also spiritual death, the separation of an individual from God because of sin.

Allow me to address that which we are most likely to think about concerning death, which is physical death, which is the eventual and unavoidable consequence of human sinfulness. How, then, did Jesus Christ gain victory over death? Two observations will serve to answer that question:

First, let it be observed that victory over death is not a victory gained by avoiding death. Avoidance of death would have been the easiest thing for the Lord Jesus Christ to do. After all, in Him was life, John 1.4, He was recognized to be the giver of eternal life, Matthew 19.16, and faith in Him is the difference between eternal life and the wrath of God abiding on you, John 3.36. However, since mastery over death, victory over death, is not realized by the avoidance of death but by meeting death head on, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Author of life, took the necessary steps to experience death. What did He do that He might experience death? Sinless though He was, He took our sin upon Himself and suffered the death of the cross for our sins.[23] Did He really and truly die? Would the Romans have given up His body to be buried unless they were sure He had died? Remember, a spear point had been thrust into His side.[24] Would He have been prepared for burial by women who knew Him had He not been dead?[25] Would He have been entombed had they not been sure He was dead, the tomb then sealed and guarded by soldiers?[26] The answer is that the Lord Jesus Christ really and truly did die. There is no question about His dying. He suffered the death of the cross at the hands of Romans, who were expert executioners.[27]

Let it also be observed that victory over death is demonstrated by life after death. Such was predicted a thousand years earlier in Psalm 16 and referred to by Simon Peter on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2.23-27, when he lifted up his voice to the thousands who had gathered:

23     Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:

24     Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

25     For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:

26     Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:

27     Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.

Is there proof of Christ’s victory over death? You mean, other than prophetic predictions being fulfilled that He would rise from the dead?[28] You mean, other than the empty tomb in Jerusalem?[29] You mean, other than the hundreds who saw Him after He had risen from the dead?[30] You mean, other than the greatest enemy of Christianity converted after seeing the risen Savior, the Apostle Paul?[31] You mean, other than the greatest of skeptics converted after seeing the risen Savior, His half-brother James? Therefore, yes, there is proof of Christ’s victory over death, His own resurrection from the dead. However, some will always refuse to believe, despite the proofs that have been provided. Such men will only respond to the greatest and most undeniable of proofs, but by then it will be too late. I refer, of course, to Christ’s second coming in power and in great glory.[32]

Therefore, on this Cinco de Mayo, a day in which victory is celebrated, let us celebrate the victories won by the Lord Jesus Christ; His victory over the Devil, His victory over sin, and His victory over death. However, there are undoubtedly some among you who have a question in your mind. You are wondering how victory could have been achieved by the Lord Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago while the Devil still roams about seeking whom he may devour, while men are still enslaved by sin and believers still wrestle with their sins, and while death is still the common experience of every man and woman until the Lord Jesus Christ comes again. Let me answer by explaining the way warfare has always worked in the human experience before the advent of modern technology. When warfare breaks out the fighting between opposing forces commences and continues until there is a great victory and the war is won. However, despite the victory by one combatant and the defeat of the other combatant, skirmishes and battles after the war has been won or lost have always been commonplace.

The most well-known example of this in our American experience was in what we refer to as the War of 1812, between the new United States of America and the British Empire. The famous Battle of New Orleans was won by General Andrew Jackson against the British on January 8, 1815 even though the Treaty of Ghent ended the war on December 24, 1814.[33] The fighting was real though the outcome of war had already been decided. More recently, some in our church can tell you of Japanese soldiers on the Philippine Islands decades after the end of World War Two, evading capture as enemy combatants thinking the war was still being fought.

These are but poor reflections of the spiritual reality that the Lord Jesus Christ is mighty in triumph, having won the victory by His death and resurrection over the Devil, over sin, and over death. Must these three foes still be contended with to this day? Yes. Are these enemies still deadly foes? Yes, especially to the unconverted who remain in their powerful grip.

However, for the child of God, the victory has been won. Is there still fighting? Oh, my, yes. There is terrible conflict at times. However, the war is won, don’t you see? The victory is ours, because our God reigns and the Captain of our Salvation, the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of the living God, has defeated all His foes; Satan, sin, and death.

Is it victory for you today? Only if Jesus Christ is your Savior. If He is not your Savior today, it is only defeat for you.

[1] 4/30/2013

[2] Psalm 98

[3] Genesis 1.1; Job 38.6-7; Isaiah 14.12-15; Ezekiel 28.1-15

[4] Genesis 1.31

[5] Isaiah 14.13-14

[6] Revelation 12.3-4

[7] Genesis 3.1-6; 1 Timothy 2.14

[8] 2 Corinthians 4.4; Ephesians 2.2; 1 Peter 5.8

[9] John 8.44

[10] 1 John 5.19

[11] Luke 10.18

[12] Matthew 4.1-11; Hebrews 4.15; 9.28

[13] Revelation 19.20; 20.10; 21.8

[14] Genesis 2.20-25

[15] Genesis 3.1-6; 1 Timothy 2.14

[16] Genesis 2.16-17; Isaiah 59.2; Romans 6.23a

[17] Genesis 4.1-8

[18] Psalm 51.5; 58.3

[19] Matthew 25.41

[20] Revelation 20.11-15

[21] Leviticus 4.1-3; 5.1-6

[22] Hebrews 9.22; 1 John 1.7

[23] Isaiah 53.12; Philippians 2.8

[24] Mark 15.43-45; John 19.33-37

[25] Mark 15.46; John 19.40

[26] Mark 15.46; John 19.41-42

[27] Acts 2.23

[28] 1 Corinthians 15.4; Psalm 16.10; Hosea 6.2

[29] Matthew 28.1-6

[30] 1 Corinthians 15.6

[31] 1 Corinthians 15.8

[32] Revelation 19.11-21

[33]   5/4/13

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