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Victory - through Christ
By Ruth Paxson
The dictionary meaning of the word victory is, “the act of conquering, especially in battle, triumph”. A victor is a conqueror and victory implies the existence of an enemy or enemies who must be conquered in battle.
The Bible is a book of warfare. God has enemies with whom He is in conflict and over whom He wins the victory through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. This victory is won in two stages, by the cross and by the throne. There is a crucifixion culminating in a crowning.
As Christians we are in a living union with Christ. Christ’s own definition of a Christian is given in John l4 v2O, “You in me and I am in you”. Through Paul He carried the revelation further, “He who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit” (1 Cor. 6 v17). Therefore, by virtue of this union, Christ's enemies are our enemies and by the same reasoning Christ’s victory is our victory. We are Christ’s trophy. Once a bondslave of Satan and sin, but now freed by Christ, we have become the joyous, willing captives of the Lord Jesus, who leads us on in the procession of His triumph to celebrate His victory over all His enemies.
No truly earnest Christian is devoid of the sense of defeat. There is the consciousness of conflict with forces of evil, both without and within, that are overwhelming and overpowering. Real Christians know that they have enemies for whom they are no match, and with deep shame and humiliation they acknowledge that too often they go down before them in defeat, in tragic and repeated failure. Countless Christians down through the ages have uttered with Paul that poignant, anguished cry, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?" (Rom 7 v24). Has God no answer to such a piercing cry for deliverance from an intolerable bondage? He assuredly has, “Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord”.
In fact God declares throughout the Bible, from beginning to end, that victory is not only a possibility but a necessity, that it is not merely something humanly desired, but something divinely required. The Bible reveals that victory for the saint is as integral a part of God's eternal purpose as salvation is for the sinner. As salvation through the blood shed on Calvary runs like a scarlet cord through the Bible, so victory through the sovereign Lord on the throne runs as a golden cord. The Lamb of God who lays down His life on the cross is the Lion of the tribe of Judah, receiving the worship and adoration of thousands of thousands around the throne (Rev. 5 v6, 11-12).
But what answer does the Church give in its preaching and teaching to this anguished cry from those longing for deliverance? Very largely it remains silent. Even those who are faithful and fearless as messengers of deliverance from the penalty of sin have no message whatever on deliverance from the power of sin. In fact, the Church is pathetically divided on this great truth. Some preachers and teachers deny and even oppose it. Some are afraid of it both for themselves and for others because of its demands and consequences. Some hunger to know the pathway to victory and would walk in it if they knew how. Some know the theory but do not know how it works out in practice. Some have a head knowledge of victory as a doctrine but little or no manifestation of it in daily life, so that their teaching and testimony are nullified by a non victorious life. Some know the truth of victory over Satan, sin, and self through the Spirit’s revelation of it to them and in them, and the truth has made them gloriously free.
Just where are you in relation to this precious truth, both as to the knowledge and to the experience of it? Do not go further until you have given an honest consideration to this question.
Jesus gave two signposts on the pathway of victory in His conversation with the Pharisees in John 8 v12-59.
In His first signpost, John 8 v32, He said, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” and in His second signpost, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”. He had declared to them the truth regarding Himself but they would not believe the truth nor receive Him as the One sent from God. Jesus boldly told them they were bondslaves to sin and to Satan, (John 8 v34) “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin”, and (John 8 v44) “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies”.
Bondslaves to Satan the murderer, they were themselves murderers seeking to kill Jesus at Satan’s command. Bondslaves to Satan the liar, they were themselves liars not only rejecting the truth but also accusing Jesus of being a liar and having a devil. They were bondslaves to sin because they were bondslaves to Satan, but they would not acknowledge their bondage. As sinners all are in this twofold bondage and need to be set free. Have you acknowledged your bondslavery to Satan and to sin? Do you long to be set free? Jesus points the way to perfect freedom.
In His first signpost, John 8 v32a, He says, “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”. “You will know the truth” - truth - principle - understanding - “The truth will set you free” - truth - life practice - application.
God purposes that every great truth shall be so worked into life that redemption really redeems. Truth makes free but only when known in experience. Speaking the truth in love one may say that the majority of Christian leaders are guilty of criminal negligence in failing to make known to those under their spiritual care the pathway of victory. Many are very faithful in making known the initial step out of bondage to Satan and sin, through regeneration and justification, who never make known to their flock the way into the glorious freedom and continuous victory made possible through scriptural sanctification, yet Paul devotes the larger part of his letters to the churches to this great truth.
It is tragically easy to know the truth regarding the way of victory and yet to be living in defeat. Truth understood is not enough. It must be personally accepted, applied and acted upon. The hallmark of truth is that it is intensely practical. In other words, it works. Truth which is mere head knowledge and not heart experience is excess baggage. Only as truth becomes me does it become mine. Paul told us this in Colossians 3 v16-17, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly . . . and whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus”. John told us this in 3 John v3, “It gave me great joy to have some of the brothers come and tell about your faithfulness to the truth and how you continue to walk in the truth”, and Peter told us in 1 Peter 1 v22, “Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart”.
The saint and the sinner both need to know the truth that the Saviour is also Lord, and that He came not only to deliver from sin’s penalty, but likewise from its power. The present day Church is replete with “castaways”. Even on the mission field there are those who are scrupulously faithful in their duties, but with little dynamic power. Why is this so? Largely because the truth that sets free is so little known or understood and so feebly acted upon. The Word of truth never leaves us where it finds us.
The second signpost in John 8 v36 is, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed”. If the Son . . . sets you free. Jesus had told them the truth regarding themselves as sinners, and of Himself as their Saviour. He had revealed fully their need for freedom and His ability and willingness to set them free. But too frequently the scope of victory has been limited by relating it only to the past tense of redemption, that of deliverance from the sphere over which Satan is sovereign and in which sin rules. But victory has its past, present and future tense, even as salvation has (Titus 2 v11-14). To truly grasp this truth is one of the greatest incentives to live victoriously. We are redeemed to reign.
Redeemed. The past tense of victory-deliverance from the sphere of Satan’s dominion and bondslavery into the sphere of Christ’s dominion and bondslavery, “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness, and brought us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption” (Col 1 v13-14).
Redeemed to Reign in Life. The present tense of victory-deliverance from the bondage to sin and self into the glorious liberty of the Son through the Spirit, “How much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ”. The Weymouth translation has "reign as kings in life” (Rom 5 v17).
Redeemed to Reign on Earth. The future tense of victory, the overcomer receiving his regal reward, reigning with The Overcomer, “Because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth” (Rev 5 v9-10) and “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne” (Rev 3 v21).
The scope of victory has been limited by thinking of it only in terms of personal victory which one usually regards as optional, rather than grasping its tremendous collective significance, that the defeat or victory of one Christian spells to that degree the defeat or victory of the entire Church. To admit this as fact makes victory obligatory.
I was thrilled to see the relation between personal and collective victory. Caleb "Wholly followed the Lord”. Out of Israel’s hundreds of thousands, he was one of the two who survived the wilderness, entered Canaan and possessed his inheritance. At eighty-five years of age he conquered the toughest crowd in Canaan, those giants, the sons of Anak, who terrified and overwhelmed the younger men forty years before. He took their walled cities and gained a magnificent collective victory for all Israel. He secured the possession of the land for his descendants and his victory brought blessing to his children and his grandchildren. Joshua the other of the two overcomers in the wilderness also came into Canaan as a conqueror, to conquer thirty five kings, take the whole land and give it for an inheritance to Israel. Of several kings who came after David it was said, “And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord and walked in all the ways of David his father”.
Paul, imprisoned, beaten, bruised and with his feet in the stocks, at midnight sang the songs of victory and of praise to the Lord. Personal victory of the most glorious caliber, but what a trail of victories followed the salvation of the jailor and his household and the founding of the Church at Philippi. The greatest triumph of history was Christ’s sacrifice for all humanity when by one act of obedience He purchased salvation for the whole human race and provided the way of deliverance from the bondslavery to Satan and sin.
Lastly, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Victor, whose victory we share through our union with Him. In Him is both our provision and our pattern. In John 8 Jesus gave a second signpost on the pathway to victory. Truth merely as truth cannot set us free. Victory is not a creed, nor is it a special teaching, nor a pet doctrine of a few extremists and fanatics, nor is it a set of rules merely to guide one’s conduct. Victory is a Person. If you are in the Victor and the Victor is in you, then you have victory and you can have it in no other way. Our Lord rang the liberty bell when He said, “If the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8 v36).
From ‘War in your Heart’.