The Victorious Christian Life

"O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord " Romans 7:24-25a.

     It is common among Christians to talk about the difficulties of living the Christian life because of the weakness of the flesh, the pressures of the world, and the temptations of Satan.
     The Christians of the apostolic church lived when the church was in its infancy. They faced difficulties equal to or greater than any Christian faces today:
     Jews who rejected Christ were certainly hostile to Christians. They sought to put anyone guilty of being a Christian in chains and imprisonment, putting to death those who were the most fervent.
     Greeks were hostile to Christians. Their Hellenistic culture was the prevailing culture throughout the Roman world. They believed in many gods, whereas Christians firmly proclaimed there was only one true God.
     Roman authorities were often hostile to Christians. They were primarily concerned about keeping the peace, expanding their empire, and collecting taxes from those nations under their control. Christian evangelism often provoked violent upheaval as seen in Paulís missionary journeys. Many times this would bring about severe persecution from Roman authorities.
     And yet, with all these difficulties these early believers demonstrated that when the Christian life is lived as it should be that it is a life of joy, peace, victory, fellowship in Godís family and purposeful living.

     Perhaps there is no better example than Paul and Silas when they were beaten and thrown into the dungeon of the Philippian prison. (Acts 16:22-25). In spite of backs that were lacerated from whips and ankles that were aching in pain from the wooden stocks, they prayed and sang praises to God at the midnight hour. They beautifully pictured thousands of other believers who sang joyfully as they were burned at the stake; fed to the lions and crucified like their Lord.
     They do not stand alone. Throughout the nearly 2000 year history of the church there have been believers who possessed this victorious spirit even up to the point of making the ultimate sacrifice of their lives.
     The question may rightfully come to many of us, "Why am I not experiencing the victorious Christian life? Why does it seem so few Christians I know are experiencing it? The answer is because they are not appropriating all that has been made available to them in Christ. They donít need anything new. They need to appropriate what they already have.

I.  THE BELIEVERíS PART

     To the extent Christians believe and practice the truths God has given in the following words determines the degree of victory (joy, peace, and fellowship) they will:

KNOW (Be certain these facts are true) 

1.  That we have received Jesus Christ as Savior and that He lives within us. "But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, to those who believe on His name:"   John 1:12.      "Examine yourselves, as to whether you are in the faith; Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?,---unless indeed you are disqualified."  2nd Corinthians 13:5  We must know that we have received Jesus Christ by faith and that He lives within us.

2.  That we have been placed into Christ. In 1st Corinthians 12:13 we are told that the Holy Spirit has baptized (immersed) every believer into Christís body. Romans 6:3 asks "Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?"
    
The scriptures are teaching us that every believer has been placed into Christ. This means that in Godís eyes every believer was in Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. When He "died for our sins" and received the full penalty of the law for us we were in Him. The full penalty of the law was also carried out on us for our sins. When Christ rose again we rose with Him. Since the full penalty of the law was carried out, it has no more authority to be carried out on Christ or us again. (read Romans 6:4-11).

RECKON (Believe these experiences to be true)

As a believer we know that Christ is in us and that we are in Christ, so we are to reckon or account some things to be true:

1.  Reckon our sinful nature to be dead. "Likewise  you also reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sinÖ" Romans 6:11a. If we go by our feelings we will say, "This means I am reckoning something to be true that is false." But if we go by what God declares in His word, we reckon by faith and say, "God has decreed that my fallen nature was crucified with Christ and He sees it dead and buried forever. Even though I feel the stirrings of that fallen nature in my present experience, I will account that what God says is true is true. I believe myself to be free from the control of my old fallen nature." 

2.  Reckon our new nature to be alive in Christ Jesus. As a believer we say, "When I received Jesus as my Savior I was born again by the Holy Spirit. I received Godís life and became a "new creature in Christ Jesus". (2nd Corinthians 5:17) I therefore reckon or account myself to be "alive unto God through Jesus Christ (my) Lord."  (Romans 6:11b)

YIELD (Accept Godís will for your life)

     We have only two options as to who we can yield ourselves: Satan and sin, or God and righteousness. Jesus stated "Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin." John 8:34. The fact is that the lost person has no choice in the matter. His/her fallen nature dictates yielding to Satan and sin. That is the reason it is a universal truth that "Öall have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23 Jesus went on to say, "Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."  John 8:36.  When we experience Christís saving work we are set free to choose to whom we shall yield ourselves.
     Paul exhorts, "but present yourselves to God, as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God."  Romans 6:13b
    
At this exact point the marvelous grace of God brings about a supernatural work in the believer that lifts him or her on to the plain of victory. In contrast to Satan, God never makes his children do anything. God only works in cooperation with His childrenís will when their will is yielded to do His will.

II.  GODíS ENABLEMENT BY GRACE

GOD ENABLES THE BELIEVER TO LIVE BY FAITH.

Every truly saved person knows they have been saved by grace through faith. (Ephesians 2:8,9). In Romans 1:16 Paul spoke of this when he wrote, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believesÖ"  By grace, God produces faith in a lost sinners heart through their hearing the gospel of salvation. This is further confirmed in Romans 10:17 "So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God."
    
In relation to the victorious Christian life it is sad that many Christians miss the truth of Romans 1:17 "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." A lost sinner receives positional righteousness in Godís eyes when he or she hears the gospel and God produces faith in their heart to trust Christ to save them. What now? After having been saved by grace through faith is the new believer left on his or her own to live the Christian life in their own strength? Many try, but they always end in failure. It is when the believer yields his or her body to the Lord with the sincere desire to live a life totally pleasing to God that God begins to give them faith to trust Him to do it. And, yes, God does it through His word. His word becomes like a new book with His promises producing greater and greater faith in the heart of His child. The consequence is that "the righteousness of God is revealed" in a practical way through the yielded believer believing God to provide all the enablement they need to live for Him

GOD ENABLES THE BELIEVER TO OBEY FROM THE HEART

     "Yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered".  Romans 6:17b. 
     To obey from the heart is impossible for an unsaved person. "Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be." Romans 8:7. It is also impossible for an unyielded believer to obey from the heart. It is only when our yielded will comes into harmony with Godís will that God supernaturally gives us a heart that delights to obey Him. Jesus revealed how powerful this principle is when He said, "If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself." John 7:17. 
     As believers we provide a willingness to do Godís will and God provides us a heart that delights in obeying His will.

GOD ENABLES THE BELIEVER TO ALLOW JESUS TO LIVE THROUGH THEM.

   The Apostle Paul revealed how God enabled him as a hated Jew with meager resources to shake the Roman Empire to its foundations. "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and delivered Himself up for me."  Galatians 2:20 . 
     Paul reckoned his (fallen fleshly nature) dead and his new nature alive unto Christ. He yielded himself totally to Christ to do Godís will and Christ evangelized the bulk of the Roman Empire through him and gave the world fourteen epistles of Godís revelation.
     To the extent that we do what Paul did Christ will live in and work through the body we yield to Him.

Copyright © 2005 Thomas E Berry
All Scriptures quoted from NKJV unless otherwise noted

    Copyright © 2008 Truth Helpers Inc.