A couple of weeks ago, we took a look at how a new kingdom of darkness became the reality on the earth, after heaven’s departure at the fall of mankind. We saw that there was a new, innate identity in mankind – “sinner” – which had effects on all of creation, creating brokenness and bondage to the devil. However, as we will see today, all of that changed when Jesus showed up.
There were many prophecies regarding the Messiah who would come, bringing salvation to mankind. Last week, we looked at how Jesus fulfilled all of these prophetic pictures throughout the Old Testament, but what were the effects? It isn’t enough that He fulfilled prophecies if there is no tangible evidence that anything changed.
The good news (gospel) is that Jesus brought a brand new reality into the world when He went to the cross. He pronounced that the Kingdom of God has come (Luke 17:20-21; Matthew 9:35), and demonstrated this Kingdom in miraculous ways.
God’s Plan for Restoration
All along, God’s people held to God’s promises to restore all things. Not only did He promise to renew the creation itself, but for people, God promised salvation, healing, and deliverance. Just take a quick look at Psalm 103:
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit…Psalm 103:2-4 (emphasis mine)
Yet as mankind was in bondage to sin, they struggled for generations to keep the faith and continue hoping for these promises to be fulfilled. However, when “the fullness of time” came, and Jesus made His appearance into the world, He established a new Kingdom which changed everything!
How did He do it? By restoring lost humanity to what we were before the fall!
The Greek word for the salvation which Jesus brought into the world is “sozo” (or “sodezo,” depending on who is transliterating). It is used, in some grammatical variation, 192 times in the New Testament and is used in various ways to describe different aspects of salvation.
In Mark 16:16 it says, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved (sozo)…” This is the same usage as when the angel prophesied to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, telling him, “[Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save (sozo) his people from their sins.” At the most basic level, “sozo” means salvation from sins.
In other places, however, “sozo” is translated to mean physical healing. Mark 6:56, for example, says, “And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well (sozo).” It is obvious, then, that sozo does not just have effect on the soul of man, to save us, but that Jesus’ salvation also carries with it the healing of our physical bodies!
Still, in other places, “sozo” is used to mean deliverance from bondage to demons. In Luke 8:35-36, for instance, after Jesus has cast out the legion of demons into a herd of pigs, the Bible says, “Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed (sozo).” Now, even though the English translators chose the word “healed” in this passage, this man was not sick. He was in bondage. Jesus’ salvation delivered this man from the power of the devil. “Sozo,” then, also means deliverance from the power and authority of the devil and His demons!
I could give many more examples where the biblical writers used the word “sozo,” but let’s just summarize by seeing what a Bible dictionary says about this little word:
Sozo means “save, rescue, deliver; keep safe, preserve; cure, make well.”
Barclay M. Newman Jr., A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies, 1993), 177.
This is Complete Salvation
As human beings, we are made up of three distinct parts, which form our existence. We are a soul (psyche), living as a spirit, all contained within a physical body.
Your soul, at the most basic level, is you. It is your mind, will, and emotions. When I say, “I am Scott,” I am speaking of my soul — the thing that makes me who I am. It is the soul of which Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” It is your soul that was transformed by sin, and which needs to be saved.
Your spirit, on the other hand, is the supernatural essence of your being. It is your spirit that was transferred into Satan’s custody through the fall into sin and rejection of God. Your spirit must be delivered from this bondage.
And your body, which is the physical (natural) aspect of your being, as it exists inside the creation, broken by the effects of sin and God’s curse, must be restored to health and wholeness.
To put it simply Jesus did not just die to save your soul. He died to save you completely! That is “sozo.” Let’s take a minute to look at how.
As we discussed before, although mankind was created in the image of God and appointed to represent Him as stewards over the creation, when we entered into sin, that image inside us was marred. Instead of “good” as God had created us, our very nature was changed and we were now “sinner.” However, Jesus’ greatest promise of salvation was that our sin could be forgiven and our hearts (psyche) could be restored back into alignment and fellowship with God. When Jesus save our soul, our identity is changed!
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself…2 Corinthians 5:17-18
When Jesus died on the cross, there was an exchange that took place. Jesus took our sin into Himself (1 Peter 2:24), experienced our separation from God (Matthew 27:46), and bore the curse of death on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). Then, as soon as we put our faith in Him, we receive His righteousness, imputed to us (2 Corinthians 5:21), as all the record of our sinful history is erased (Colossians 2:14). Not only is righteousness “imputed,” but grace is imparted to us to remain righteous moving forward (Romans 6:17-19).
In every way, Jesus saved us from our sins!
Deliverance from the Devil
Again, as we have looked at before, when mankind sinned there was a transfer of authority that happened in the creation. Just as God mankind the mandate to govern over creation, when we broke fellowship with Him in sin, our authority was transferred to the devil (Luke 4:5-7) ! His kingdom of darkness consumed the creation, and we became his faithful citizens.
As we lived in sin, we were dominated by the king of sin. In the most literal sense, we had been adopted into the devil’s family, which is why Jesus continually rebukes the faithless religious leaders by calling them “children of the devil” (see 1 John 3:8 and Matthew 13:38).
Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” John 8:42-44
However, when Jesus saved us from our sins, our identity changed, the Bible declares that the Devil lost his rights to us!
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, John 1:12
He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14
The Apostle Paul also talks about this transfer when he writes to the Ephesians. He begins by recalling the old life, lived in blind bondage to the devil:
And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. Ephesisans 2:1-3 (emphasis mine)
However, when Jesus saved us, all of that changed. Not only did He save us from our sins, but He spiritually removed us from the Devil’s domain:
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus…Ephesians 2:4-6 (emphasis mine)
Just as our soul was saved and we were reconciled to God, our spirits are delivered from the power of the devil and are now hidden in Christ. As believers in Jesus’ gospel, we now live in a new Kingdom!
This is one of my favorite mysteries of the Gospel: that when Jesus saved us, His Spirit came to live inside of us, while our spirits have ascended to sit with Him in heaven. That is a current reality, not a future expectation! The gospels are full of stories of how Jesus delivered people from the grips of the demonic when He forgave sin and removed their authority. It is an inseparable part of His (sozo) salvation.
Healing for Brokenness
Finally, as Jesus forgave our sin and transferred us into His Kingdom reality, He brought healing to all the brokenness in our physical bodies. As we still live in the midst of the broken world, it is true that some of this healing is available now, while some will not come until the final restoration of all things. However, as believers who pray like Jesus prayed (see Matthew 6:10), it should be our desire to see as much healing take place now as God wants to release!
Peter, quoting from Isaiah 53:5, declares:
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 1 Peter 2:2-4
Peter does not put this in the future tense. He says it is already your reality in Jesus! Just as He has already forgiven all of your sins; He has also purchased your complete healing by the marks on His physical body.
Repeatedly, everywhere Jesus went, He healed the sick. It was a physical manifestation of His (sozo) salvation, which we now share through faith in Him.
Jesus’ salvation for humanity covered us completely — body, soul, and spirit — as He saves, heals, and delivers those who believe in Him. In the next post, we will look at how we can live in this new Kingdom reality, now, with all the benefits God has given. Stay tuned…
© Anthony Scott Ingram 2021. All Rights Reserved.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Anthony Scott Ingram.