Victory Through Christ

Victory Through Christ

Ernest Barker

The word VICTORY is one of the grandest words in our language. Surely every Christian desires to live a victorious life — to be not only conquerors, but more than conquerors. If this is to be our continual experience we must first of all be willing to acknowledge defeat. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians in Rome, said. “For I know that in me (that is in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing” (Romans 7:18). It is frequently said that there is a certain amount of goodness in every one of us; but this idea is quite contrary to the clear teaching of the Scriptures. Paul was one of the greatest saints in the history of the Church, and yet to the end of his earthly life he designated himself “the chief of sinners.” Apart from the grace of God we are altogether bad. We may endeavour to reform our lives: we may resort to various forms of religious or mental patchwork, seeking thereby to make ourselves more presentable to God; but a careful examination of Romans, chapter 7, will reveal how utterly sinful we are in ourselves, even as Christians. In this particular chapter the unpleasant word sin occurs fourteen times. The writer mentions also more than once “the commandment” which I understand to imply the ten commandments, seeing that the Lord Jesus said that the first and great commandment in the law is, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” This suggests that all the commandments are gathered up into one tremendous human responsibility, namely, that we love God with our entire being, which is the chief reason why we were created. But who has attained to this perfect standard? The answer is; not one single member of the human race who has lived in the past, or who is living today — with the exception of our Lord Jesus Christ. The unpleasant truth is that we have all failed, and failed completely. This teaching is by no means popular, but it is far better to face the facts of Scripture than to live in a fool’s paradise. The Apostle realized his complete inability to attain to the divine standard to so great an extent, so he exclaimed in the bitterness of his soul, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from this body of death?” (this body in which sin dwells, and which is capable of every evil thing).

Some friend may say, “In view of what you have said, is victory at all possible?” The answer is a glorious “Yes.” The condition is quite clear, namely, a complete transfer from self-confidence to Christ-confidence. This was the inevitable conclusion at which Paul arrived when he said triumphantly in the closing verse of Romans 7, “I thank God through Christ Jesus our Lord.” Herein lies the secret of a victorious life — an adequate appreciation of the Person and work of Christ. Upon this depends every advancement in the Christian life.

Let us investigate this theme a little further. What the law failed to do, God has accomplished. The law failed to give life: it could not reveal God to us as a loving and understanding Father. But all this has been made possible by God’s giving His Son to be the Saviour of all who believe in Him. When Christ died on the shameful cross, He not only dealt with our sins from the viewpoint of forgiveness, but He dealt with them so thoroughly that they were carried away into the land of eternal forgetfulness, according to Hebrews 8:12, “Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.”

When God forgives He forgets.

The Christian can now exult in the truth of the opening words of Romans chapter 8, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.” The judgment which was due to us was borne by Him who became our Surety. There is therefore nothing to fear. Our condemnation is now a matter of history; our present is amply provided for; our future is assured.

In 1833 the British Government passed the Slavery Emancipation Act. From 1st January 1834 the keeping of slaves within the British Empire was forbidden. We may easily imagine how eagerly those down-trodden people anticipated the arrival of midnight 1833. When the clock struck twelve, thousands of them rushed into the various churches, chapels, and halls, shouting and praising God for their liberty. This cost the Old Country twenty million pounds — one of the finest transactions ever completed. This is a faint illustration of what took place at Calvary. The Lord Jesus paid our debt: He the Just One suffered for us the unjust ones: He bore the penalty of our sins: and now we are free.

How true and suggestive are the words in Proverbs 17:8, “A gift is as a precious stone in the eyes of him that hath it: whithersoever it turneth it prospereth.” This is a beautiful picture of our lovely Lord. From whatever angle we view Him we see nothing less than perfection. The following verse of a hymn states this very clearly:

“Because the sinless Saviour died
My sinful soul is counted free:
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him, and pardon me.”

This is the Victory which Christ won for us on the Cross. O glorious Saviour! How can those who hear of Thee refrain from placing their confidence in Thee? The question now arises, How is this Victory to be consolidated in our every-day life? Let me suggest a few items which set forth what Christ is to us individually and corporately, at the same time not forgetting that reality is one thing and realization is another.

He is our Complete Satisfaction

In our Lord’s disputation with the Jews (recorded in John chapter 6), He affirmed that He was the Living Bread which came down from Heaven, which He would give for the life of the world. He followed this by telling His hearers that it was necessary to eat His flesh, and to drink His blood, if they were to enjoy eternal life. Apparently this teaching was too exacting for those who were listening. The result was “From that time many of His disciples went back, and walked no more with Him.” (Those disciples were merely nominal followers). The Lord Jesus then turned to the twelve (His real disciples), and said plaintively, “Will ye also go away?” Simon Peter at once said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life.” Here we see Peter at his best. He said in other words, “Lord, if thou canst not satisfy us, no one can.” This reminds us of the Psalmist’s magnificent confession in Psalm 73: 25, “Whom have I in Heaven but Thee; and there is none upon earth that I desire beside Thee.” Complete satisfaction is found only in Christ. To rejoice in these outstanding implications is victory.

He is our Greatest Treasure

The believers to whom the Apostle Peter wrote his two epistles had never seen Christ physically. For His name’s sake they had been driven by persecution into various parts of Asia Minor, which accounts for the various passages where the writer refers to their “trial of faith being much more precious than gold that perisheth.” It was indeed a fiery trial, (see ch. 1:18, and 4:12). But notwithstanding their sufferings they loved their Lord, and their love was real. This reminds us of our Lord’s words to Thomas, “Because thou hast seen Me thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed” (John 20:29). This is where we come in. However wonderful it was for Thomas to have seen his Lord face to face in that upper room, there is something more wonderful, namely, for those of us who have never seen Him, and yet have believed in Him. How lovely it would have been to have been present when the Lord of Glory trod the streets and lanes of Palestine, to have seen Him, and to have heard Him! But we shall see Him in a coming day, when faith shall give place to sight, and hope shall burst into reality. The knowledge of this glorious anticipation signifies victory.