August 4, 2014.
“When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
(1 Corinthians 15:54-57)
Do the cares and burdens of the world weigh you down? Do you ever get caught up in worry about material things, or even the spiritual condition of this world? Does the outlook of the future frighten you? I believe each of these worries attacks all of us at one time or another. I was listing to a sermon today, however, that put a new perspective on these outlooks that perhaps I should have already had (or have had in the past).
Why do we worry? What is the base of our fears? What are we afraid of losing? Too many times do I think we get caught up in this idea of fear of losing things, people or even dignity. I want you to read the opening passage a few times to yourself, and then a couple of times aloud. Do you hear what Paul is saying? We have the victory! We are victors! Christ overcame both sin and death, putting this world of flesh under his feet and marching in triumph over it. Through Him we too have gain the victory. There is an old hymn that is dear to my heart (I’m pretty sure it is the first song I ever led) that I believe encompasses this idea of victory (as the name, “Victory in Jesus,” states explicitly):
I heard an old, old story,
How a Savior came from glory,
How He gave His life on Calvary
To save a wretch like me;
I heard about His groaning,
Of His precious blood’s atoning,
Then I repented of my sins
And won the victory.
O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.
The hymn goes on with two more verses, but I believe the above is sufficient to convey the meaning of the song. Christ died that we might be reconciled to him and gain a victory that is more precious than anything this world has to offer. No riches, no amount of friends, no level of success can compare to the glory he has set for us. Through Christ we are more than conquerors.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
More than conquerors. Do you feel victorious? Do you feel as though you have gained the victory? Unfortunately, I think we often do not feel victorious. We let doubt and worry creep into our minds and eat away at our faith in God. Sure we can say that we have gained the victory, but do we act like it? Do we believe it? If so, why worry? What can happen to us that would separate us from the love of Christ. We should have concern for what we are doing and how things are going, sure, but not worry. Jesus told us not to worry. Over and over again in the bible can you read the phrase “Be not afraid” or “Do not fear.” So, why are we still afraid? Is that phrase any less important than the other things we wouldn’t dare do? If someone said, “yeah, I know that the bible says not to murder people, but I just can’t help it. Jesus will understand,” would we accept that? So why is it any less true with worry?
I’m afraid (haha, ironic) that when we worry and fear we are at some level showing a lack of trust in God. Not complete lack of trust, but some. Let’s face it, if you had God standing in the flesh right beside you saying “don’t worry, I’ve got this,” would we not be relieved? I can’t speak for you, but I would. So why is it any less meaningful when we read it in the bible? I do understand that this is a tough thing to work on, I myself have not eradicated worry, but I do think it’s worth considering and applying.
I heard a very well delivered sermon once on the power of Christ that lives inside us. We have the spirit and the power of Christ. God. The Almighty, creator of the universe, the one who formed all that is there in and defined the laws of physics. His power. In us. Why- why are we afraid of anything? Big test coming up? We have the spirit of God in us! Why are we afraid? Being evaluated at work?We have the spirit of God in us! Why are we afraid? Moving to a new place? We have the spirit of God in us! Why are we afraid?
Again, I’m not saying we should just switch to autopilot and let God do all the work in guiding us where we need to go without us trying. God expects us to work, and do everything we do with our full heart (Col. 3:23). But without fear of the world. If we are doing his will and seeking his kingdom, he is going to take care of us. That is a promise, signed Jesus (Matt. 6:33). Let us work for the Lord and not let our fears dominate our mindset.
Suggested Daily Reading: Isaiah 6, Matthew 6, Romans 8, I Corinthians 15.
We are more than conquerors in Christ.