I believe one of the greatest desires in the lives of believers is that of walking in victory. I don't know of anyone who plays a game, whatever it is, to lose. I believe in the heart of every person, believer or not, that God has placed a desire to win. Why is that? Because we are created in the image of God and our God is a winner; there is nothing in our Creator that is not good. In other words, God's purposes and plans for our lives are one of destiny fulfilled and victorious Christian living. This was God's desire for Adam and Eve and for the rest of mankind. Yet we know that mankind fell short of God's glory. Sin and wounds and lies make it very difficult for victorious living. In light of the fall of mankind, people became self-loving and self-serving and competitive at the expense of others. We entered into a world of arrogant winners and sore losers. Satan was smiling and God was grieving but planning for our future.
Years ago, I had dream of playing basketball with Satan; the game was 21... My opponent made the first shot but missed the second and then I got the rebound. Now it was my turn, I was on fire and made all my shots without missing any. I won and then I woke up. I felt terrific. I was a winner. Then I realized it was a dream and the reality of life set in. In the moment of that reality check God spoke to me. "Larry, you are going through life hoping for victory but thinking that you are a loser. That is not how I see you - 'You are a winner'". I made some changes to my life at that time. There was a lot of repentance – changing the way I thought, felt or acted in life. It was not easy, but over time, I began to experience transformation from thinking like a loser because of sin, wounds and lies, to that of seeing myself as a winner in God. Over the next few weeks we will be looking at the victorious Christian life. I know that we can learn from Scripture and personal circumstances just what it takes to live victoriously.
Practices of Victorious Christian Living
I remember learning to ride a bike as a young boy in Saskatoon. My friends were steadying the bike, running beside me, and eventually launching down the street in front of our house. I rode the bike for about five seconds and then crashed into our neighbours car, breaking his headlight with my knee. Despite the pain it was obvious to me I needed more practice and eventually I learned how to ride a bike. Practice makes perfect is used to describe a regular exercise of an activity or skill, thereby becoming proficient in it. This phrase has its limitations, but none-the-less, is accurate when mastering certain activities in life. The point of this little story is simply this – riding a bicycle, or whatever you are attempting to learn takes time, often involves failure and getting up and getting on again. To some degree this practicing to make perfect relates to our walk with Jesus, with the understanding the ultimately our perfection is found in the righteousness of Jesus.
One of my experiences in discovering the victorious Christian life involved the pursuit of faith practices. These spiritual disciplines included Bible Study and teaching, fellowship and communion and prayer and fasting and worship; it was like Acts 2:42. On the one hand, I was very aware of the importance of the confession of sin, and on the other the sharing of my faith in Jesus. One of the challenges I had to overcome was the over-emphasis on my part of these spiritual disciplines; at times, I grew very weary of trying to live the victorious Christian life. The Scripture tells us not to grow weary in doing good (Gal 6:9). In these moments, I was drawn to resting and abiding Scriptures where I found refreshment for my soul (Psalm 23, Psalm 46:10). A key word for me in my journey of faith and being victorious is abide. I often reflected on this verse in relation to Jesus as found in John 15; abide in me, abide in my word and abide in love. I must say I love spending time in God’s Word discovering more of who he is. It was in those tired moments I realized that these practices came out of God's grace touching my life and faith being acted upon. There is so much to be said of the importance of grace and faith in the victorious Christian life. I believe that is why Satan attempts to distort these truths and corrupt true Scriptural grace and faith. This reminds me of the need for living a balanced (not deceived) life of spiritual discipline and abiding grace and faith. We need both to enjoy the victorious Christian life. We cannot over-emphasize one or the other, both are needed to become a mature and victorious Christian.
The Holy Spirit
I would say the most important aspect of living a victorious Christian life must do with the introduction of the Holy Spirit to the follower of Jesus. When Jesus ascended to heaven he did not leave the church powerless or as orphans. In fact, in John 14:16-18 it states – “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” The key idea is again one of abiding; in other words, the Spirit of God is to live fully and completely in us.
One of the key Scriptures that impacted my life with regards to living a victorious Christian life is found in Romans 8. We know from Foursquare Doctrine that Jesus is the Baptizer with the Holy Spirit. The importance of knowing and experiencing the Holy Spirit is foundational for living a victorious life as a Christian. Here are some key thoughts to remember:
· One aspect of victorious Christian living is being guilt free, no condemnation or worry of judgement. Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. Rom 8:1–2.
· A second point of living in victory is a mind that is controlled by the Spirit. Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. Rom 8:5–7.
· Victorious Christian living touches our physical nature, our mind, emotions, will and bodies, with the same power of God that raised Jesus from the dead. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you. Rom 8:11.
· The last point I want to make from this passage is this – we are God’s children by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Rom 8:14-16
This is an introduction to victorious Christian living. Romans 8:37 tells us we are more that conquerors. Over the next few weeks we will be looking at our relationship with the Holy Spirit. It is possible to live in victory especially as we surrender our lives to the fullness of the Spirit of God living inside us. We will discover seven aspects of the Holy Spirit that enable us to walk as victorious believers; regeneration, empowering, guidance, unifier, intercessor, comforter and refiner. Let’s pray…