Our Samson Has Torn Him to Pieces (Van Mastricht)

In chapter eight of Petrus Van Mastricht’s Theoretical-Practical Theology he discusses the biblical topic of fallen angels and devils. At the end of the chapter Mastricht explained the “practical” part of this doctrine. For example, Mastricht wrote that we should avoid the sins of demons and strive against the temptations of Satan. At the end he gave a very encouraging application: Christians have great comfort despite the assaults of devils and Satan. Here is part of Mastricht’s application. Note the wonderful biblical imagery and allusions in the longer section that highlight Christ’s power over demons and Satan. (I’ve very slightly edited it for readability)

….Lest our souls melt, despair, or falter at the thought of so many and such great enemies threatening us day and night, as it did for the Israelites at the thought of the Canaanites (Num. 13:32)…. For comfort we must… consider that:

1) No matter how many, how powerful, or how cruel they [demons/devils] are, yet they are not infinite and omnipotent; their madness is under the most careful limits of divine providence (Job 1:12; Luke 11:21-22; 8:29).

2) The very ones who are such dangerous and hostile enemies to us are also enemies of God and the blessed angels, and thus if God is for us who will stand against us (Rom. 8:31; Ps. 23:4; 2 Kings 6:15-16)?

Hence 3) those who fight against us are opposed and reproached by God (Zech. 3:1), and it is promised that they will be conquered (Hos. 13:14).

Also, 4) in this fight, our leader is the stronger one, who could plunder the house of the strong man (Luke 11:21-22), who could command enemies (Mark 9:25; Luke 8:29), who could also communicate authority over unclean spirits to his own disciples (Matt. 10:1), indeed, who for this reason came into the world, that he might destroy the works of the devil (1 John 3:8). Nor did he come only but he also did destroy them well enough, by openly triumphing over them (Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:15), and he has freed us from the power of darkness (Col. 1:14).

Therefore, the demons may be stronger than us, but they are not stronger than our leader (Luke 11:22; Ps. 110:1). They may be more cunning than us, but not than him who became for us wisdom from God (1 Cor. 1:30), who is our Counselor (Is. 9:6). They may be the princes of this world, but they have been judged by him, nor do they have authority over him (John 14:30). They may be the gods of this world, but he who is in us is greater than the world (1 John 4:4).

He [Satan] may be a roaring lion, but our Samson has torn him to pieces (Judg. 14:5); our David has slayed him (1 Sam. 17:49); our lion from the tribe of Judah has conquered him (Rev. 5:5). He may be that great dragon (Rev. 12:3), but our leader will be a venom against him (Hos. 13:14). He may be Leviathan and the serpent, but our leader is a hard, great, and strong sword against Leviathan the twisting serpent, the murdering dragon who is in the sea (Is. 27:1). He may be Behemoth, whose bones are rods of brass, like bars of iron (Job 40:18), but meanwhile, captured by our leader as if with a fishhook and cord (Job 40:20), he is bound in eternal chains of darkness (Jude 6).

And so that we would not be in doubt at all about the victory, let us ponder that 5) this leader of ours has been tempted in all things like us, and accordingly, he can and will help those who are tempted (Heb. 2:18).

And meanwhile, 6) this contest itself will be so directed by our leader that from it some advantage and benefit will redound to us (2 Cor. 12:9; 7:11; Rom. 8:28).

Petrus Van Mastricth, Theoretical-Practical Theology, volume 3, pages 244-245.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI, 54015

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