Does victory mean we don’t struggle? Every one of us has struggled with things in our lives. Sometimes, they are things that have been long time issues. Sometimes they are sins, sometimes they are weaknesses in character. But they almost always send us into feeling guilt and defeat in our spiritual lives.
The question is, how does God want us to view these struggles?
Does being a Christian mean our struggles stop?
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Oh I wish this were true. There are some very important things here that we need to realize. At the point of our salvation, we are changed. Eternally and completely! The person we were has died and we are born anew into the life-giving family of God.
- We look the same.
- We sound the same.
- We dress the same.
- We have the same mannerisms.
- We have the same personality.
But we are different.
We are now spiritually alive and eternally linked to Jesus through the indwelling of His Spirit. We have the power the Spirit brings to overcome sin. We have the intimate connection to God through His Spirit who instructs us and guides us. And we are fully and forever forgiven of our sins: past, present and future.
But we still have habits and patterns built up in our lives that need to change.
We also have areas in our lives that are ruled by the deception of sin. The rest of our lives on earth, God works in our lives to reveal those lies to replace them with His Truth – the Truth that brings life and transformation.
These are the internal struggles we have to work through. Those areas of failure and weakness and sin that we surrender to. This is our time of transformation. Our time to completely change our behaviors, speech and thoughts to line up with the mind of Christ that we were given at salvation.
What does victory look like?
For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again… Prov 24:16
Well, it doesn’t look like perfection, that’s for sure! Too often I think we believe it should. There are things here we need to recognize. Our lives on earth are in a battle. There is a spiritual war being waged and it is being fought in the heavenly places.
- When I am tempted to stay in bed and skip out on my time of communion with the Lord, that is a spiritual battle.
- When I don’t want to be bothered helping someone move who needs help, that is a spiritual battle.
- When I look away when I see someone in need of food or clothing, that is a spiritual battle.
Every day we encounter times when we are given opportunities to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to be the visible gospel of love, hope and forgiveness. And every day the enemy is there to try and stop that. And not just the enemy, our own flesh cries out, “for heaven’s sake, let me sleep!” (or words to that effect)
Victory looks very prosaic, for the most part. It looks like diligence and faithfulness and patience and kindness. Victory is lived out in those small things that deny our flesh and step into the power of the supernatural. Now, you may ask, how in the world is setting chairs up for a meeting a supernatural thing? It isn’t.
But the POWER behind this act of service is!
Victory does not have its foundation in dynamic miracles or awe-inspiring prophesies (although they are involved). Victory is rooted in surrender to the Spirit and the call of Jesus to sacrifice and surrender every aspect of our lives. Throughout the day, we have many many victories. But granted, we also have many many failures as well. The more we grow with the Lord, the more we let His Word soak into our souls, the more we live lives of praise and joy, letting His Spirit bring refreshment, then the stronger we we grow in victory.
Does having struggles disqualify us from ministry?
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. Matt. 28:19-20
Oh my beloved, this is a lie! And one that makes me madder than a hornet! The enemy is a thief and a liar and seeks to bring destruction. He can’t steal your salvation, so he will try to steal your joy and your power in the faith. For those tender souls who struggle with guilt and discouragement, this is a lie that can grind their fruitful ministry to a halt.
Being in the body of Christ happens at salvation. NOTHING can take that away. Did you hear me? NOTHING. And being in the body of Christ means that He has work for us to do.
- He’s given us spiritual gifts.
- He’s called us to love Him and to love others as we love ourselves.
- He’s called us to proclaim the gospel of truth.
- He’s called us to disciple.
These are for every believer. The gifts and callings. This, my dear beloved, is ministry!
No where in scripture does God tell us that these things are only for those fully perfected in the faith. If that were true, none of us would ever be qualified to minister! No, He tells us that this is part of our heritage of faith and part of our being in His church.
Remember, victory does not mean perfection. Victory means we get up when we fall down. It means we continue on in faith when we blow it. It means that we look to eternity in hope and expectation of the finished work to be perfected in us at Glory.
In this world we WILL have difficulties. Jesus promised that. Some of those difficulties will be from the outside: persecution and derision. Some of those difficulties will be from the inside: weakness and failure and sin. He woos us to Himself, to follow, to surrender, to die to our fleshly lusts, to put the needs of others ahead of our own. Will we always succeed? No, we won’t. But if we are walking in faith, we will grow! Every day we will be changed inside a little bit more to reflect the image of Jesus in our actions, our words and our thoughts.
So my darlings, get up and walk BOLDLY before the Throne of Grace! Jesus calls us friends. He is always with us. His Spirit indwells and empowers us. Let us grow daily in the victorious walk of faith by the grace He provides.
And let the Joy of the Lord be our strength to accomplish this journey with Him!