|Is Victorious Christian Living Really Possible?|
One doesn't have to be a Christian for many years before he begins to wonder, "Is there really such a thing as victorious Christian living? Do I only have the promise of God's forgiveness and eternal salvation, or can I actually experience victory over old habits and ways?" I think that if we were completely honest with each other, we would discover that there are multitudes of Christians asking those questions - and for good reasons.
We only have to look around us to find many Christians living far below the victory described in the New Testament. I have often met people with such immense problems and difficulties that I've even thought there's no workable solution to their situation. Then, I look around, even among many Christian leaders, and often I find defeat, discouragement, and despair throughout the Christian community. Defeat has become such a norm in the Christian community that many have given up on the Biblical principles of victory and turned to psychological and humanistic principles rather than Biblical ones. An entire industry of counseling has grown up in recent years because of so much defeat in the Christian community. Consequently, the natural tendency is to question whether victory actually exists.
Far worse than seeing the defeat of so many Christians around us is seeing our own failures. Many Christians find themselves held captive to lust, bitterness, anger, anxiety, and a host of other heart attitudes that they thought they would no longer have to face once they became a Christian. Most of us don't need to be told that we're defeated. We face that reality every day. Recently, one Christian lady very nonchalantly told me that she had been involved sexually with another woman's husband. The manner in which she confessed her sin conveyed no hope of victory over the relationship. Years ago, I confronted a pastor about an immoral relationship. He told me, "I've prayed and asked God to deliver me from these feelings that I have for this woman. But He hasn't done it. Therefore, I've accepted the relationship as what He wants for me." Too many Christians have accepted defeat as the destiny of the believer because they can't seem to get a grip on the source and way of victory in their lives.
I've often heard Christians quote the Scriptures to excuse their lack of victory in the Christian life. Most notably, King David, is cited for his failure. Such reasoning states that "he was, after all, a man after God's own heart. Yet, he succumbed to lust, adultery, and murder. If he was a man of God and a leader in the kingdom of God, then why should we expect to do any better than him?" The Bible is certainly filled with a multitude of examples of godly men who wound up defeated. The Apostle Paul said, "For the good that I wish, I do not do; but I practice the very evil that I do not wish" (Rom. 7:19 ).
Peter denied Jesus, and Thomas doubted him. Abraham was a coward when a king wanted his wife. Moses fled into the Midianite desert in defeat and fear of the Pharaoh. Take a quick tour of the Bible and one could easily think that victory for the believer just doesn't exist.
But there's one other reason that many followers of Christ have stayed in the sewer of defeat. They know that the place where they're living stinks. They know that the Bible describes a different kind of life. Many want out of the slums of sin, but have accepted their ghetto dwellings as their spiritual destiny. What many people don't understand is that there's an illegitimate and evil landlord that's convinced them they must dwell in the slums. They've believed the lies of Satan. He's been telling the same old story since the creation of man. He's attempted to convince every generation of believers that they were destined to live in the slums of sin and that spiritual sewerage is the norm for the Christian life.
Victorious Christian living is certainly impossible for us in our own strength and power. Left to ourselves we will remain defeated. But there's good news for the true follower of Christ. Jesus said that "the things impossible with men are possible with God" (Luke 18:27). Our God is a God who specializes in the impossible. He's made full provision for our victory. Victorious Christian living isn't just a dream or unattainable wish for the Christian. It's a present reality. It's not something that's achievable. It's that which has already been achieved by Christ.
Jesus defeated everyone of our enemies when He died on the cross. Foremost, He defeated Satan. The devil is described as the accuser of the brethren. He constantly tells us that there's no hope. He convinces us that defeat is our destiny. But he's a liar. The Scripture clearly tells us, "But in all these things, we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us" (Rom. 8:37). The Bible says that Jesus made a public display of the defeat of Satan when He died on the cross (Col. 2:15). We no longer have to believe the devil's lies. The victory has already been achieved over the spiritual forces in heavenly places. That's a fact.
Perhaps the most difficult struggle we face is within our own selves. That's primarily what the Apostle Paul wrestled with in Romans chapter 7. He wanted victory, but confessed that in his own self (flesh) dwelt no good thing (Rom. 7:18). He even asked the question, "Who will set me free from this body of death" (Rom. 7:24)? He then answered his own question firmly stating, "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord" (Rom. 7:25)! Yes, Paul had tasted defeat. But he also knew the source of victory was found in Christ.
That's perhaps the greatest truth that I've ever learned since becoming a Christian. The victorious Christian life is not something that I can attain. It's that which Christ has obtained for me. It's not what I can do for Him, but what He's already done for me. It's not "I", but it's "Christ in me" that's the great hope of victory. My responsibility is to trust in Him. Just as I trusted Jesus to save and forgive me, I can trust Him to give me victory over every evil desire with which I am tempted. Christ is my victory. Yes, victorious Christian living is possible. It's attainable because Jesus has won the victory. We simply need to trust Him.