One of the blessings of following Jesus Christ is that of overcoming the challenges of life. Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Our inheritance in Christ is two-fold. One aspect involves embracing our fulness of life in Jesus, and the other is learning how to overcome the enemy. Do you want to live in victory? The obvious answer is yes, but there are times when we wrestle with our own temptations or weaknesses. This morning I want to share with us a powerful Scripture that ultimately secures the love of God within our lives.
More than Conquerors
Romans 8:37-39 tells us that “in all things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus our Lord.” The Apostle Paul is ending a powerful teaching regarding our life in Christ. He ends by stating we are more than conquerors. The Greek language implies we are ‘hyper-victorious;’ to be completely and overwhelmingly victorious. Have you ever met a hyper person? The idea is that because of Jesus and through him it is OK to be hyper-successful. Our victory is not only victory over sin and Satan, but also over natural afflictions in life and death, spiritual challenges, pressures of today or tomorrow. Not only will we overcome, but better off and greater for it.
We know that we are victors in God’s Court because we have been vindicated and justified by what Christ has done for us. His grace is sufficient for us and his power is perfected in our weaknesses (2 Cor 12:9). The question remains, how do we consistently live in the victory provided to us in Christ? It has been said that good theology leads to a successful life; as a man thinks, so he is (Prov 23:7). Our thought life is foundational to our faith. Therefore, it’s time to start thinking about what we’re thinking about! One of the best weapons of our warfare is our mind. With our mind we can choose obedience and righteousness. Our mind is one of the most powerful and creative tools that God has given to us, influencing our lives to be more than a conqueror.
I want to clarify the difference between the ‘power of positive thinking’ and some New Age teaching. To think positively and biblically is essential for victorious Christian living. However, there are New Age teachings which deny foundational truths of Christianity while promoting a life of enrichment, peace, newfound self-worth and spiritual freedom through positive thinking. Genuine and eternal success is ours in Christ and Christ alone. There is an abundant life available to us, righteousness, health, happiness, provision and favour. And it hinges on how we think. That is something to think about…
Three keys to being more than a conqueror
I want to share with you three keys that can help us begin to tap into the supernatural power of your mind. By virtue of being a follower of Jesus Christ we have the Spirit of Christ living in us. In other words, our minds when given over to the Holy Spirit bring the life of Jesus to bear upon our natural and spiritual lives; Rom 8:5-6 - 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…
1. Guard Your Heart
Over the past few months I have become increasingly aware of my heart, physically speaking. Every ache or pain has been magnified and caught my attention. Wouldn’t it be appropriate to have the same awareness when we consider our spiritual heart? “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Prov 4:23). Some of you may know Patricia King. She came to speak at the church we pastored in Williams Lake. She said, “Whatever we focus on, we empower.” In other words, guard your heart. Don’t focus on negative things or we empower negativity in our lives. Don’t focus on sin or we end up empowering our sinful nature. If we become fixed on fears, doubts, complaints, or focus on how unfair everything seems to be in a difficult situation, we are not helping ourselves. In fact, we are making this worse.
We must learn how to focus on positive truths of the Scriptures, thereby releasing the full effects of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We may be going through difficult circumstances; however, we still need to direct our thoughts towards God’s solution. We may find ourselves anxious about this or that. We need to put Scripture into practice and not be anxious about anything but prayer into action (Phil 4:6). Paul goes onto to say to the church in Philippi – “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Phil 4:8-9).
2. Let Heaven Fill Your Thoughts
I have found myself quite reflective on life and death over the past few months. I have had various heart tests and have been very aware of what I would call “our frail humanity.” During this season God has helped me focus my thoughts by engaging in various bible studies relating to heaven. It has been a wonderful learning experience. There is a key verse that has been an encouragement to me during this introspective season. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Col 3:1-2). “So, if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective” (Message).
How do we set our hearts and minds on heaven perspective? We are not to deny our challenges in life; that would be to lie. But we are not to dwell on the things of this fallen world anymore.
· We have to intentionally choose to think about heaven manifesting on earth.
· We have to come into agreement with God’s truth.
· We have to engage our faith.
3. Think Like a Victor, Not a Victim
There are times in my life, whether personally or related to ministry, I have struggled with victory. In those times one of my challenges is to not think like a victim. I have had to learn to take victim thinking to the cross. In life you cannot move into success without experiencing some kind of defeat. In a spiritual context, maybe temptations have got the best of us. Maybe we feel the like the devil is attacking us. I have had to learn how to think positive hopeful thoughts in those moments, thanking God for the challenge because with every challenge there is an opportunity for God to release victory.
Recently, I came across 1 Peter 5:8, but in a new translation for me, (NLT 1996). “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour.” This has become my favourite translation of this Scripture, because it makes it clear that it is victims the enemy devours. Therefore, we need to get rid of all victim thinking. When we think like victims, we are denying the truth that we have victory in Christ over death and in life, over demons, the present or the future, or any powers…
If we think of ourselves as victims, we empower the devil and give him the opportunity to devour us. Not because he is so mighty, but because we have chosen to lay down our more than a conqueror identity in Christ for a victim identity in our current circumstances. We must learn to choose to fill our hearts with the truth that we are victorious in Christ…
We are more than conquerors in Christ and through him. I hope you are catching the significance of our super and abundant victory that is ours in Jesus. We have been given everything we need to life, godliness, maturity and success in God’s Kingdom (2 Peter 1:3:11). We must take care to guard our hearts and minds in Christ. The good news is that God is committed to the transformation of our minds when our minds wander and conform to this world. “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom 12:1-2).
· Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to help us overhaul our hearts of stone and give us a new heart in Christ (Ezek 11:19; 2 Cor 3:3).
· Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to help us with our mental transformation so that we think about things from a Kingdom perspective.