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What is, "Victory in Christ Jesus?"
by David A. DePra
What is your definition of Christian VICTORY? Many Christians today are being taught that VICTORY is when we get OUR will, or OUR desires, or when God solves some problem for US. Others are teaching that victory is a matter of preaching the gospel into new areas, and that is it. Well, these suggestions MAY be included in any victory wrought by God. But it is entirely possible for those things to happen, but for us to have very little victory in Christ at all.
In reality, VICTORY means God getting His will to His glory, not simply in my life, but OVER ME personally. Any less and it really isn’t complete victory in Christ Jesus.
Paul describes the possibilities of our victory in Christ in I Corinthians:
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Cor. 15:54-57)
Now, you will note that Paul is really describing OUR experience of victory in this passage. And He is quite to the point. First, he says WHO gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ – he says GOD does. So this isn’t about us figuring out a way to win victory. No. We find victory only in Christ through God. But secondly, Paul tells us WHEN victory is possible. He says that, "WHEN this corruptible shall put on incorruption…." – THAT is when. When death is swallowed up by the resurrection life of Christ – IN US – then we have HIS victory.
But practically speaking how does this work? We know that if we are IN Christ, we potentially have all victory that He has won. But can you live IN real victory just because you are saved? Nope. We know there is overcoming and a struggle. So how does the victory that is already finished in Christ Jesus become something we can experience? Well, – Jesus Christ must get victory over US. You will note that Paul says that God gives us the victory through our LORD Jesus Christ. It is when Jesus become your LORD in a situation that you begin to live in victory. In short, you cannot be lord of anything – you cannot have authority over anything – until Jesus has authority AS LORD over you.
This Truth is built into the above passage. Victory is the result of LIFE swallowing up DEATH. Thus, if you want to find life in Christ, you must lose YOUR life. You have to relinquish control over everything – by faith – and fall into His hands. Then, if you have died that death, you can live unto God. And you will live in His victory because He has victory over you.
It is amazing that so many today teach victory in Christ – almost as a THING God simply hands us – but rarely is it taught that you must lose your life TO Christ. I’m not talking about getting saved. I’m talking about losing SELF – losing your life your way. You have to put aside completely YOUR will, YOUR way, and YOUR life – and sell out completely to the will God to HIS glory. Do we actually think that we can walk in the victory of Jesus Christ upon any other basis? Jesus must become my personal Lord on every level of my inward and outward life. THAT is fundamental to my reigning and ruling WITH Him.
Here we see the futility of trying to get God to do something for us – rather than our yielding to Him for His will. You can spend years praying and praying for God to do this or that, or to give you this or that, and it may be that God is waiting for you to stop trying to get Him on board your program. He is waiting for you to get aboard HIS.
Most Christians know enough to NOT be rebellious towards God. But so many of us have been filled with bad teaching. Many have been taught that God wants to do OUR will. No. God wants to do HIS will – that is why it is HIS WILL. Of course, there is much error out there that would suggest what whatever is our will surely must be God’s will – because, we are told, God has put it on our heart. Baloney. While it is possible for God to put His will on our hearts, indeed, in the ultimate sense, God wants our will be become His will, it is a fact that sincere Christian people can be completely WRONG about the will of God. And sometimes it is not possible to know unless you first surrender your will into the hands of God and LET GO.
There is not one place in the Bible where God promises to do what WE want unless it is what HE wants. This is why Jesus told us to pray, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done." Could anything be more plain? Again – God is not sitting in heaven waiting for us to give Him orders, instructions, suggestions, information, or requests. Rather, He is continually trying to reveal to us HIS WILL for our lives.
So we see that we need to put aside what we want and surrender to God Himself. If we do, there will come a victory in Christ Jesus OVER US in any matter, and this will form the basis for God to bring to pass His will. If we were right about God’s, then we will be able to receive it on the right basis – because through surrender we are now rightly related to Him. And if we were wrong about His will, then we will be set free from our error. Either way, until Jesus Christ become our Lord through our death and resurrection on any matter, we are not going to be able to walk in victory.
For whatsoever is born of God overcomes the world: and this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5)
What is the victory? OUR FAITH. Not – our getting what we wanted from God. Our faith IS the victory because by faith in Jesus, Jesus becomes our living Lord. And then, because we are then rightly related to Him, our victory is over everything over which HE has victory.
Victory is IN Christ Jesus. But only if we are UNDER Him can we be OVER what He is OVER. Thus, if you want to know why there must be trials and suffering in the Christian life, this is your answer. WE must be conquered through surrender to Christ. Only then can we be, "more than conquerors through Him that loved us."
The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together…..Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. (Rom 8:16-17, 35-37)
Once we come to terms with the Truth about victory, a number of clear principles emerge. First, any, "authority of the believer," is directly related to the authority of Jesus Christ over them. Authority is NOT an automatic, "power," built into salvation – although you must be IN Christ to have victory in Christ! No. You must come UNDER Him as Lord. Neither does authority come into my experience simply because I BELIEVE I have it, or because I confess it. People that teach that, "words are spiritual containers," or that you release spiritual power into your life by saying the right things, or that, "you can have what you say," – people like Kenneth Copeland, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, etc., -- are teaching grave error. There is NO authority in your words simply because you are in Christ. ALL authority is in Christ Himself, and it is only if we are related to Him by being under His authority can His authority be made manifest through us.
Do you want to have spiritual authority? Do you want to be more than a conqueror? Then BECOME CONQUERED by Jesus Christ. If you do, your life will no longer belong to you. It won’t be about what you want or even about what you want to do for God. It will be about God’s will to His glory. But you will also find that this is really what you wanted – had you known Him. And your faith in Christ – or, if you will, your RELATEDNESS TO HIM – will be THE VICTORY. It will be an eternal, incorruptible victory what swallows up all death and power of the enemy.
Faith is our victory because through our faith we surrender to Him for HIS victory. It is a matter of our believing, yielding, and obeying the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ – yes, generally, but in any specific situation. Victory is achieved when God has His will IN US, and then, in our lives.
The Word of Faith Heresy
Today there are movements in the church which preach, "the authority of the believer." Most prominent is The Word of Faith Movement. Such teachers as Kenneth Copeland, Oral Roberts, Paula White, Kenneth Hagin, Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyer, Marilyn Hickey, and many others, have preached this heresy – and it IS heresy – for years. Now that we have laid the foundation for victory and authority in the Christian life, we can see WHY it is heresy. The Word of Faith movement is heresy because it divorces the authority OF Christ through the believer from the authority of Christ OVER the believer. In short, those who teach this error almost never teach the necessity of personally coming under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They never teach the work of the Cross as the means by which power is released in the Christian life.
The Word of Faith heresy substitutes for the Lordship of Jesus with what is sometimes called, "positive confession." These false teachers teach that, "you can have what you say." Kenneth Copeland has said that, "words are spiritual containers," that carry, "the FORCE of faith," and this acts upon God, and upon the whole creation. No. In Truth, words are not spiritual containers – this is never taught in the Bible. Rather, Christ in us is THE spiritual container – if we want to stick with such terminology. And faith is NOT a, "force." Faith is a relationship word – it is a submissiveness to Christ as Lord. And nothing we do ever ACTS upon God. Rather, if we come under the authority of Christ, God will act upon us, and in us, and through us.
Now, if you examine all of this, you will see that The Word of Faith teaching is something right out of hell. It is a denial of the work of the Cross as the means by which POWER is released in the life of the Christian. Instead, we can have that power released by SAYING WORDS. Thus, rather than God speaking His Word, and faith being the result of us opening to Him, (see Rom. 10:17), these teachings suggest that WE SPEAK, and if we do, those words set spiritual forces in motion that will bring to pass what we speak.
Of course, Word of Faith teachers are quick to point out that we are to speak only what God speaks. In practice, however, they don’t speak that at all. But even if they did, their basic doctrine is error. Things do not happen – and neither does God make them happen – because WE speak them into happening. If you don’t believe this, go ahead and try. Rather, things happen only because God speaks them, and then, only through us, or to us, if we are yielded to God.
These Word of Faith teachers are people who know little or nothing about the personal dealings of God. They know nothing of the personal Cross. And they have NOT seen Jesus Christ. Now, I know that because it simply is not possible for them to have embraced any of those Truths, or to have seen Jesus, and continue to teach like they do. If a person has truly come under the work of the Holy Spirit --- which is to continually reveal Christ to us – and if a person has truly come under the Lordship of Jesus, they will not emerge teaching such utter nonsense. And about the last thing they would do is continually gravitate towards money and success in this world as the GOAL of faith and relationship with God.
People who want the THINGS of God, and POWER from God, and BLESSINGS from God – but not God Himself, are in serious spiritual trouble. People who want the kingdom of God, but do not want to personally come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, are repeating one of the most common errors of the Christian church. This is nothing more than trying to SAVE one’s life without losing it. It is equal to trying to be raised with Christ without first dying. It is the same as trying to follow Christ, but refusing the Cross of Christ. In the end, if those who embrace such errors are not careful, they will be completely taken in by the, "gospel," of Satan. The gospel of Satan is essentially to preach Christ but deny the Cross. What you end up with is ADAM glorified – with God’s stamp of approval on him.
The people in The Word of Faith movement continually preach the authority of the believer, but essentially deny the authority of Christ over us. Yet there is another extreme: There are those who live in complete indifference or apathy towards this issue of victory in Christ. They aren’t even thinking about it. Some don’t even know about it.
Most of these apathetic folks think that this matter of victory in Christ begins and ends in the event of their salvation. The Christian life for many, at that point, becomes a religion to follow. It is just a matter of holding to doctrines, tenets, and of becoming a part of a church.
But this is not Christianity. It is not what Jesus described when He said, "the gates of hell will not stand against the revelation of myself as the Christ." (see Matt. 16) It is not what Jesus suggested when He told us to pray, "Thy kingdom COME, and Thy will be DONE." The Christian life is the advancement of the kingdom of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ – it is the advancement of the VICTORY of Jesus Christ. It is not passivity or apathy.
So HOW does one advance the kingdom? We’ve already seen how: Personally come under the Lordship of Jesus. I’m not talking about salvation. I’m talking about coming under the will of God to His glory in each area of your life – as God brings you to that point. You can commit to this all at once. But you have to do it step by step. And then God may use you to advance His kingdom in other ways.
The kingdom of God is the RULE of God. The king of the kingdom is Jesus Christ. And Jesus is king over all that He won victory over – which is all creation. Victory in Christ Jesus is achieved when everything is restored back to it’s original design under Christ, and Christ is back in His place as Lord of all.
Victory, in such a case, is not merely legal. It is functional. When I come under the Lordship of Jesus it is not merely a matter of me yielding to Him – it begins there. Rather, it is matter of me functioning in FREEDOM. It is the freedom of knowing Christ and being in a relationship with Him.
God has a will. That will is Jesus Christ – and to bring all things under Him as Lord. Therefore, if we yield to God for His will, and refuse to settle for anything less, this cannot fail to come to pass. Do you want the will of God for your life? Yield to God in all things. You cannot want His will more than He wants it. But realize that this will all begin IN YOU – it will begin, not, "out here in circumstances," but in your personal relationship with Christ. God must have victory OVER YOU, and over what binds you. Then YOU will have His victory.
Jesus did not win all victory just to let it sit there. Neither did He win it to hand it to people who refuse to come UNDER it. Rather, Jesus won all victory so that through overcoming we might enter into it and reign and rule with Him.
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