There have been numerous ways to express this subject in the Christian circle of life: “Living victoriously”; “Victorious Christian living”; “Living above”; are some that come to mind, but what does all this mean? After our conversion to Christianity our deep desire is to live a holy life, to become more like Christ, to be able to overcome the sins that plague us, to live above the worldly desires; but how do we accomplish this? How do we uphold such deep desires? Some of us keep on trying very hard and when there is no success we drop to a lower standard in our Christian experience, and become helplessly fearful of trying any further. Then there are those Christians who may not be aware that there is victorious Christian living. Victorious Christian living is following hard after God, and A.W. Tozer in his book “The Pursuit of God” expresses it – “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit. ‘No man can come to me,’ said our Lord, ‘except the Father which hath sent me draw him’, and it is by this prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for the act of coming. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him”. So then, the secret to the victorious life is found in Paul’s instruction to the Colossian believers: “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” <Col.3:1-3 (NIV)>. Paul has already expressed this concept to the Ephesian believers where he says that we as believers used to live and follow the behaviours of this world, satisfying the desires of our old sinful nature, but God in His mercy has saved us from our sins and given us a new character making us alive in Christ – “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” <Eph.2:6 (NIV)>; therefore, as such we need to re-focus our thoughts and desires on “heavenly appetites”.
The Scriptures teach the possibility of a victorious life since every believer in Christ has been given the daily victory over sin because we have been “born of God” through our belief in Christ; “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.” <1 Jn.5:4 (NIV)>; and where the truth of this is not evident in a believer’s life there is something wrong; additionally, Satan will do all that he can to keep this truth from the Christian. There is not only the possibility, but there is also the promise of victorious living given by Christ; for we read Christ’s promise “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” <Jn.10:10b (NIV)>; every believer needs to claim this promise and not allow Satan to defeat us. We can do so by understanding that sin is not our master <Rom.6:14> for God has given us victory over sin and temptation <2 Cor.2:14; 1 Cor.10:13; Rom.8:37>. Since God has given us this victory then we must understand that as a Christian we must not satisfy the desires of our old (sinful) nature: “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want.” <Gal.5:16-17 (NIV)>; it should be our desire to be guided daily by The Holy Spirit.
The principle of the victorious life is to live by Faith, understanding that victorious living is a gift of God to us by faith in Christ. It is impossible for us to accomplish victory in our own ability, for any personal attempt only results in our defeat; for in the same way that we were converted by faith, we are required to live by faith <see Rom.1:17; Gal.3:11; Heb.10:38>. Faith is not doing; faith is trusting in God, and victory is not in trying, victory is in trusting!
The secret to victorious living is our identification with Christ. The scriptures teach us that the cross of Christ identifies the substitution of Christ in the death of the sinner, and that the believer is identified in the resurrection of Christ: “4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. 5 If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. 6 For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— 7 because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.” <Rom.6:4-7 (NIV)>. The believer in Christ is identified with Christ’s death in that we died with Him < 6:5>, and our old nature is crucified with Christ <6:6; cf Gal.2:20>. We are also identified with Christ’s burial <6:4>, and with His resurrection <6:5>. This passage also teaches us that we are identified with Christ in the new life <6:4>, and as such we must not be servant to sin <6:6>; we will also live with Christ in eternity <Rom.6:8>, and in this life we must live unto God <Rom.6:10>. So, we see that the secret to a victorious life is in the fact that Christ indwells the believer for the purpose of being Lord and master of the believer’s life, and gains glorious victory for the believer <Col.1:27>.
Therefore, if it is true that in Christ the believer is dead to sin, then the right thing is for the believer is to yield himself/herself to God: “Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.” <Rom.6:13 (NIV)>. In so doing, we acknowledge the fact that sin and the world have no hold or control on the believer, and instead of fighting sin by ourselves, yield to the power of the resurrected Christ. As a believer in Christ, we still have our own free will to do as we choose, we can choose victory through Christ or we can continue to live a defeated life, but we must recognize the fact: “Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey — whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness?” <Rom.6:16 (NIV)>; and since we have been liberated from sin, freedom in Christ is ours <Rom.6:18-19>, but we must be mindful of the warning given that we are weak in our old nature; so, then the choice is ours <Rom.6:22>.
There is no doubt that every Christian believer can live triumphantly, for Christ can do all that is necessary in us through the power of the Holy Spirit: “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” <Ph.3:20-21 (NIV)>; and Christ makes us triumphant for His glory throughout our life and for individual believers in all generations. The whole purpose of God working in us is to conform us to the image of Christ <see Rom.8:29>, and this is living triumphantly.
In conclusion then, in this life there will always be days in which we fail to be victorious and we need to remember the words penned by the apostle John – <1 Jn.1:9>. Christ will always forgive our failures, so we should not rely on past victories for our future victories, we must rely on Christ alone to live triumphantly <Gal.2:20>; and remember that this is possible because of “him who is able to do”; so, set your minds on things above <Col.3:1-2>.