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While I only watched a little bit of the Super Bowl last Sunday, by all accounts it was more of a defensive game than an offensive one.
Now, in the sports world, there is a saying that a good offense begins with a good defense, and it’s defense that wins the game. And while this seems to be the case with last Sunday’s Super Bowl, what I have found is quite the opposite, especially in the spiritual realm.
Let me explain. In sports I don’t care how great your defense is, if you don’t put points up on the board, you will lose.
And I think it’s the same thing in the spiritual realm. As Christians, if all we are doing is playing and praying defensively, then we’ll never gain any ground or see victory over the forces of evil that assail our lives.
Now, I thought of calling today’s message, “Living Offensively,” but that could be taken another way, and let me just say that there are a little too many offensive Christians out there, but let’s not dwell on that.
This is why today’s message is entitled “Living Victoriously.”
As I began putting the message together, I realized that while our victory is in Jesus Christ and what he did upon the cross, taking our place and dying the death that we all deserve, what I found is that most sermons and messages deal with our victory over this present world, and while there is nothing wrong with this, I don’t think they deal with the real victory we have.
Our victory is not so much over the trial and tribulations that we have to endure, and that’s because Jesus said that in this world we will have these sorts of trials and tribulations, but instead Jesus had victory over this world, and in this we can rejoice (John 16:33).
And so today’s study is about how we can live victorious lives because Jesus overcame this world, and the goal is more than merely our victory over this present world, but it is also for our eternal future.
In our study on living intentionally, we saw that the first thing we need to do is to identify God’s eternal values, and the main one is that of salvation and an eternity in heaven through faith in Jesus Christ. It is in this value that we then need to invest ourselves on a daily basis if we’re ever going to have the victory.
Some time ago I read an Ugandan bishop’s account of an execution back in 1973 of three men from the bishop’s diocese.
He begins by saying; “February 10 began as a sad day for us. People were commanded to come to the stadium and witness the execution. Death permeated the atmosphere. A crowd of about three thousand watched silently. I had permission to speak to the men before they died, and two of my fellow ministers were with me. They brought the men in a truck and unloaded them. They were handcuffed and their feet were chained. The firing squad stood at attention.
“As we walked into the center of the stadium, I was wondering what to say. How do you give the gospel to doomed men who are probably seething with rage? We approached them from behind, and as they turned to look at us, what a sight! Their faces were all light with an unmistakable grow and radiance.
“Before we could say anything, one of them burst out: ‘Bishop, thank you for coming! I wanted to tell you. The day I was arrested, in my prison cell, I asked the Lord Jesus to comes into my heart. He came in and forgave me all my sins! Heaven is now open, and there is nothing between me and my God!
“The other two men told similar stories. I felt that what I needed to do was to talk to the soldiers, not to the condemned. So I translated what the men had said into a language the soldiers understood. They were standing with their guns cocked and bewilderment on their faces. They were so dumbfounded that they forgot to put the hoods over the men’s faces!
“The three faced the firing squad. They looked toward the people and began to wave, handcuffs and all. The people waved back. Then shots were fired, and the three were with Jesus. We stood in front of them, our own hearts throbbing with joy, mingled with tears. It was a day never to be forgotten. Through dead, the men spoke loudly to the District and beyond, so that there was an upsurge of life in Christ, which challenges death and defeats it.
“The next Sunday, I was preaching to a huge crowd in the home town of one of the executed men. Again, the feel of death was over the congregation. But when I gave them the testimony of the man, and how he died, there erupted a great song of praise to Jesus! Many turned to the Lord there.”
Turn to Revelation 12:7-12
Whenever the book of Revelation is talked about, people get excited and want to hear about the Judgments of God, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and the scenes of heaven. They like to speculate on the Antichrist and False Prophet, and they love the symbolic images of the dragon, the beast and the harlot riding upon it. But most of all they love the images surrounding the return of Jesus Christ.
But we do ourselves a disservice by not getting as excited at the scenes surrounding the throne room of God and the songs of praise, because it is in these songs that we see and hear the final victory, especially when we come into the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
There’s an old gospel song that speaks of this victory, and it is aptly entitled, “Victory in Jesus.”
The Chorus goes,
Victory in Jesus, my savior forever, He sought me and He 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 blood.
This song speaks volumes of the victory we have in Jesus.
The Apostle Paul also tells about this victory in the word of thanks he gives towards the end of his first letter to the Corinthian church.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:17 NKJV)
The writer of Hebrews tells us that it was through Jesus’s death upon the cross that the devil has been defeated.
“Because God’s children are human beings — made of flesh and blood — Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” (Hebrews 2:14 NLT)
This victory we have, and what brings us the victory is seen in one of these heavenly scenes. It is the victory over Satan and his cohorts as they get tossed out of heaven for good.
Read Revelation 12:7-12
Here the heavenly voice announces the reality that Satan has been defeated. And it all began at Jesus’s death upon the cross. At His death Jesus destroyed all the claims that Satan has upon us, but the final putting away of Satan doesn’t begin until Jesus returns, and Satan finally meets his end at the end of the millennial reign of Christ, when Satan and his hoard are tossed in into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
In the meantime, Satan is still active and out to destroy all those who are believers.
Now, I don’t want anyone to be discouraged at this because there is some good news coming in just a second. But it may do us some good if we were to know something about Satan and his tactics:
• The Bible says that Satan is the instigator of sin and betrayal, that He is a liar; he tempts, slanders, inflicts suffering, and sows discord and division. He also is our accuser in heaven.
• He blinds the eyes of understanding so that people cannot see the truth and the light, and the Bible says that if it were possible he could deceive those who believe in Jesus.
• It says that Satan prowls this earth like a roaring lion seeking to devour, and that his powers and forces are formable, as the Bible tells us that our battles are not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and a spiritual host of wickedness in high places.
Yet, for all of this we don’t need to fear, because Satan is a defeated foe. And the good news is that we can have the victory over Him as it is outlined for us in Revelation 12:11.
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” (Revelation 12:11 NKJV)
So what are these weapons that overcome Satan and that give us the victory. And please understand, these are spiritual offensive weapons, not defensive ones. These are weapons the put points on the board as we talked about earlier.
1. The Blood of the Lamb
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb”
In the Law of Moses it states that the children of Israel were not to eat meat with the blood still in it, and the reason was because God had given the blood as His way to forgive sins.
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11 NKJV)
Blood is the substance of life that flows through our veins, and when it is poured out it becomes a symbol of death. It’s actually used over 400 times this way in the Bible. We could say that the blood sacrifice weaves its way throughout the Bible like a scarlet thread bringing God’s plan of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, into full view.
Further, it was the sacrifice of the lamb that God brought this out with.
It began with the very first sacrifice, the lamb that Abel sacrificed in Genesis. It was His sacrifice that was accepted, while the bloodless sacrifice of Cain was rejected. (And while Cain’s offering was without blood, it should also be noted that it was also offered with flippant attitude as he offered only a portion of his crops, while Abel offered the best of his flock, the firstborn.)
Forgiveness was achieved through the sacrifice offering when an innocent and unblemished victim was offered in the place of the person presenting it who was guilty. In other words, the lamb didn’t sin, however, the person offering the lamb did.
And so, a person would placed their hands upon the lamb’s head and confess their sins, thus transferring their sins onto the lamb. The lamb would then be led away and sacrificed, taking upon itself the sin of the person. Thus, forgiveness by the Law was achieved.
The Bible says that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), which means that something had to die for sin.
The next place the lamb sacrifice is presented, is during the last of the ten plagues that God poured out upon the nation of Egypt in order to set Israel free from their bondage. To spare Israel from this plague, God had them sacrifice a lamb, and the lamb’s blood was put upon the doorposts of each Jewish home. When the Lord saw the blood, He would pass over that house sparing those who were in it, and then delivering them from their bondage to the Egyptians.
All of this was a foreshadow of the Lamb of God, the Messiah, who was to come. The prophet Isaiah talks about the Messiah as that sacrificial lamb.
“He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7 NKJV)
Now look at the results
“He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12b NKJV)
When John the Baptist saw Jesus he said,
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29 NKJV)
The Apostle Peter confirmed this role of Jesus the Messiah when he said,
“Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:18-19 NKJV)
And this is what we see when Jesus was dying upon the cross. At the end He cried out, “It is finished.” But what was finished? Nothing less than the atonement for humanity’s soul! The Bible says that Jesus’s sacrifice and the blood He shed never had to be repeated, so that whoever would believe in Jesus Christ their sins would be forgiven and an eternity in heaven would be theirs.
“He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12 NIV)
And it was through this blood sacrifice that Satan was defeated, as Jesus now has the keys of death and hell, making a public spectacle of it all, and this He did at His resurrection when He rose from the dead (Revelation 1:18; Colossians 2:15).
On a trip to Israel, there was a person who, when shown the site of Calvary, began running up the hill. When the others finally caught up to him they found him standing on the Mount with his head bowed. When asked if he had been there before he said, “Yes, I was here nearly two thousand years ago”
We were all there 2000 years ago when Jesus took our place and died our death. Yet, in God’s amazing grace Jesus offered Himself for each one of us. And so everyone who places their trust in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
The second weapon that overcomes Satan is
2. Our Testimony for the Lord
“And by the word of their testimony”
When we tell people that we are believers in Jesus Christ, it commits us to proclaim the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, that is, it was His blood that bought us and brought us the victory. And it is His blood that now cries out for all to come.
Consider Abel. Cain, in a fit of jealous rage that God accepted Abel’s sacrifice and not his, killed his brother Abel. Later the Lord confronted Cain.
“What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood cries out to Me from the ground.” (Genesis 4:10 NKJV)
That is how precious blood is. Now, the Bible tells us that the blood of Jesus speaks of better things than that of Abel’s (Hebrews 12:24). And the reason it does is because the blood of Abel cried out for justice, while the blood of Jesus cries out for forgiveness. And the reason it does is because the blood of Jesus institutes the New Covenant of God through Him; the forgiveness of sins. This is the message we are to proclaim.
Now, we don’t have to be theologians to give testimony of the saving power of Jesus Christ and the victory He brings. We just need to declare what He has done in our lives. People don’t need a statement of faith from us as much as they need our testimony of what Jesus has done for us.
This is actually the testimony of the Apostle John as he ended his gospel account of Jesus’s life, ministry, death, and resurrection.
“This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true.” (John 21:24 NKJV)
John promises that not only was he the one who wrote this, but that he was standing by every word. It is such a testimony that we are not to be ashamed of as well.
The Bible says, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.” (2 Timothy 1:8a NKJV)
And then there is what Paul said to the Roman church.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16a NKJV)
And so, we overcome Satan through the blood of Jesus, along with our testimony of His saving grace.
3. Our Commitment to Jesus
“And they did not love their life to the death”
It is this very thing that makes our testimony so undefeatable, and that is our willingness to die for what we say we believe in. It is what those three men in Uganda demonstrated at their execution.
This is not insignificant, because the word, “witness,” in the Greek language is our English word for martyr.
Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV)
To take up, or to carry the cross isn’t a journey of inconvenience, like when people say that something is their cross to bear. No! Rather, it is a journey that leads to a person’s death. Whenever people saw someone carrying a cross, they knew the person was walking to their death; literally they were dead men walking.
The Apostle Paul brings out in his letter to the Church in Rome.
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1 NKJV)
Today we see whole sections of bookstores devoted to books on self-improvement, self-fulfillment, self-image, and self-esteem. But I have yet to find any books on self-denial. Unfortunately, within the church we find those who are more concerned with their own rights than they are in renouncing them for the sake of Jesus.
Jesus said, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39 NKJV)
This goes completely against the world’s thinking and philosophy to live and do everything in our power to keep alive. But the truth is that when we are willing to die for our faith in Christ; that is when we’ll be able to truly live for Christ.
And so we become overcomers, that is, we can live victoriously when we fight this battle through the blood of Jesus, along with the words of our testimony, and our total commitment to Jesus Christ, that is, not loving our lives so much that we shrink back from death.
This is what brought the victory to those three men in Uganda, and that brought a surge of faith in Jesus Christ to that sin-darkened nation. And, this was also what brought eternal victory to those martyrs we see in heaven before God’s throne.
And so, with these three formable weapons, the blood of Christ, the words of our testimony, and our total commitment to Jesus, we also can say with that heavenly voice; now has come our salvation, power, and the kingdom of God in and through the power and authority of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study