“Therefore He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, And gave gifts to men.’”
— Ephesians 4:8
What does the phrase “He led captivity captive” mean? It may seem like a puzzle, but it’s not as confusing as it seems. Let me explain.
Before Christ came, all who died went to a place called, in the Hebrew, “Sheol.” Some people believe there were two compartments in Sheol, one for the wicked, and one for the righteous, but the Bible simply says that everybody went there. In this shadowy land controlled by Satan and his demons, believers waited for the Messiah to come set them free. After His crucifixion, before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus went to Sheol and rescued from the bonds of eternal death and torment all the saints of the Old Testament (those who had trusted in the promised Anointed One). Jesus led His beloved saints triumphantly to Heaven. This triumphant procession was the greatest victory march of all times, greater than any this world will ever see.
Because Jesus “led captivity captive,” we as Christians are all winners. We can partake in His victory and in the spoils of the spiritual war that rages all around us. However, in order to partake, we must first totally surrender our lives to Christ. We can’t hang onto control of our own lives. When British General Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington, he came dressed in his finest uniform and began to praise the American’s skill as a commander and military tactician. He continued in this way until Washington interrupted him and said, “Your sword, sir!” You see, Cornwallis hadn’t fully surrendered until he handed over his weapon. In the same way, we will not experience spiritual victory until first we have been conquered by Christ and have surrendered our lives to Him. Then by faith we can enter into that triumph as we identify ourselves with Him. By faith we can know that He has already won the victory. Since He turns our defeats into triumphs and works all things together for our good, we know we can face today with confidence in Him, come what may. Jesus is the ultimate “Commander in Chief.”
Is there anything that stands in the way of your complete devotion to Christ? If there is, I encourage you to surrender it to God right now. Don’t waste one minute before you start enjoying the spoils of your victory in Christ.