Text: 2 Corinthians 2
Has it ever bothered you that there seems to be a great discrepancy between what the Bible says believers are, and what we really are in our daily living? You read all of those great things in the New Testament about those of us who are in Christ. But when you turn to observe the lives of believers, you have to shake your head and say, “Well, I see the picture in the Bible of what you ought to be—but you don’t look a thing like your picture.”
Is this just a glamour photo that God has made, where we’re specially made over and made up so that we’re not presented as we really are? Or is it something else? For instance, here’s one picture the Bible gives of a believer. In Romans 8, Paul talks about all the terrible things that can happen to a person—all the fears and terrors that we face in life. He declares, “In all of these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37, emphasis added). That’s the only time the words “more than conquerors” appear in the New Testament. It means we are supraconquerors. We not only conquer, but we conquer by an overwhelming margin. And this isn’t just a promise; this is a statement of fact. Paul said, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Simply because Christ loved us and we know Christ, we win by an overwhelming margin.
I suppose every Christian believes we’re going to win eventually. But they also think it’s going to be very close. They think the margin of victory will be narrow—that we’re barely going to squeak by. In the last three seconds, they surmise, the Christians are going to kick a field goal and beat the devil 17 to 14. We’re going to win, but it’s going to be by a slim, narrow victory.
That’s not what the Bible says. The Bible says we don’t win by a narrow margin; we win by an overwhelming margin! We are supraconquerors through Him who loved us! Well, I see the description in the Bible of what you’re supposed to look like; ‘but you don’t look a thing like your picture!
In John 4, Jesus was talking to the woman at the well. And He said, “Whoever drinks of the water that you have will thirst again. But whoever drinks of the water that I give him shall not never [notice the double negative] thirst again” (John 4:13—14, emphasis added). In other words, Jesus said that whoever took a drink of the eternal life that He offered would never thirst again.
And yet, everywhere I go I find Christians who are thirsting and living lives that are filled with emptiness. I see in the Bible what you’re supposed to be—but you don’t look a thing like the picture.
The apostle John declared, “This is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). I used to read that and I would think, That’s why I’m not overcoming the world. I don‘t have enough faith. If I just had more faith, I could overcome the world. But then I realized that that’s not what John is talking about. John goes on to say, “Who is victor over the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5 NEB ). It’s not how much faith you have. It’s the kind of faith you have. It’s faith centered on Jesus Christ.
Now if I were to ask how many of you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, I’m confident we’d get 100 percent affirmation. But the positive response would be much lower if I were to ask, “How many of you have overcome the world?”
I believe the reason why we do not look like our phootograph is that we are either ignorant of a certain truth, or knowing it, we have failed to obey it. Let’s take a close look at 2 Corinthians 2:12-17.
Beginning in 2 Corinthians 2:12 and continuing all the way through verse 11 of chapter 6, Paul diverts from his main thought and defends and describes his apostleship. Some people were casting doubt upon his authenticity as an apostle. What we’re about to read is an introduction to that entire section. So Paul said:
“Now when I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-bye to them and went on to Macedonia . But thanks be to God, who always leads us in his triumphant procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many we do not peddle the Word of God for profit. On the contrary. In Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God”(2 Cor. 2:12-17).
I want to call your attention to the first part of verse 14: “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in his triumphant procession in Christ.” In this statement Paul gives us the truth, the principle, the key, the secret to living the victorious life that God has presented for us in the Bible.
The apostle does this in other places, of course, but here he does it in a special way. Notice the phrase “thanks be to God, who always leads us in his triumphant procession in Christ.” Those words “always leads us in his triumphant procession” are the translation of one Greek word. This was a technical term for a custom that was common among the Roman armies of that day. When Paul wrote these words to the Corinthians and they saw that word, they immediately knew what it was. They got the picture, they got the application, and they got the message.
But today, we are so far removed from Paul’s time that we miss what Paul is saying here. “Triumphant procession” refers to a custom that was common among the Roman armies. As soon as the soldiers had won the victory, they dispatched a herald runner who would run all the way back to the city of Rome. He would run through the streets of the city, announcing that the victory had been won. The word preach comes from that word herald, and that’s what preaching is. It is going ahead of our conquering hero and announcing to everybody that the victory has been won.
When the people of the city heard the news, they began to make preparation for what they called a triumphant processional. It was a magnificent victory celebration. A particular type of incense was burned in the temples for those occasions. And that’s why Paul refers to the perfume, or the fragrance. If you had been a citizen of Rome in those days, and you had stepped out of your house one morning and breathed the air and smelled that particular incense, you would have said, “Hey, we’re going to have a party! We’re going to have a celebration. There’s going to be a parade!”
When a commanding general—the conquering hero—returned to Rome, the people would line the streets, waiting for the appearance of their hero. The procession would be led by a priest swinging censors, burning that special incense. He would be followed by musicians and others. The main figure in that drama was the commanding general, the victorious military leader. He would be riding in a gold-plated chariot drawn by white horses. Right behind that chariot were the officers of the defeated army who were chained to that chariot. These men would later be executed, so they were being dragged to their death. The enemy soldiers who had been captured would be brought in later, and they would be enslaved.
When the people saw their hero in that chariot, they would cheer and shout. They would throw garlands and confetti into the air. But when they saw the officers of that defeated army chained to that chariot and being dragged along behind, they would really go wild. This was a demonstration of the power of their hero. Paul was referring to that custom when he said, “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in his triumphant procession.” In other words, Paul was Christianizing that custom. He was saying there was a time when he was at war with Jesus Christ. There were hostilities between God and Paul. But the Lord Jesus had conquered him, and he had yielded to Him in unconditional surrender. And He had put Paul in the chains of His lordship, and he was chained to His chariot. And everywhere Paul went, Christ led him in His triumphant procession.
The New English Bible really brings it out well by saying, “Thanks be to God, who continually leads us about, captives in Christ’s triumphant procession.” Paul was saying, “I came to Jesus Christ. He overcame me, and I yielded to Him in unconditional surrender. He placed my hands in the chains of His lordship and chained me to His chariot. And now thanks be to God, everywhere I go and in every place I am being led in His triumphant procession.
Paul was wanting everybody to know this before he detailed his apostleship, because when you get over to chapter 4 of 2 Corinthians, he will speak about some bad things happening to him. He is saying in anticipation, “Now I’m going to tell you some things that some of you are going to think reveals failure and defeat. But I want you to know at the outset, thanks be to God. He always leads me in His triumph in Christ, and wherever I go, it may look like defeat to you; it may look like failure to you. But I’m chained to His chariot, and that means that everywhere I go, I am following in his own triumphant victory in Christ!”
Paul, how is it that you can say everywhere you go there’s victory? “Because I’ve been conquered by Jesus Christ. I’m chained to His chariot, and I’m simply following along in the wake of His victory.” Here is the principle, the secret. If you want to be a conqueror, you must first be conquered. If you want to be an over comer, you must first be overcome. If you want to be a master, you must first be mastered. If you want to exercise authority, you must first submit to authority.
I was preaching in Florida a few years ago, and a man got to talking about my sermon. He said, “Preacher, that was a good sermon.” I thanked him and told him I was glad he enjoyed it. But he went on to say there was one thing about it he didn’t like. I asked what it was. “I didn’t like that idea of being chained to the chariot,” he replied. “I think if you would take that out, it would be a better sermon.”
I said, “Brother, that is the sermon. That’s the sermon right there! If I take it out, I don’t have a sermon.”
He said, “Well, it just seems degrading and humiliating to be chained to a chariot.”
“Absolutely, Absolutely!” I replied. “I know why you don’t like it. I don’t like it either. None of us like it.”
You know what I want to do? I want to ride up front with the Lord! I don’t want to be chained back there. I want to ride up front, helping drag others along. Well, heaven knows He needs some help from time to time. Sometimes I say to Him, “Lord, why are we going so slow? Everybody else has passed us up. Can’t you put the pedal to the metal on this thing?”
Other times I say, “Lord, why did you take this road? It’s so bumpy and it’s got potholes in it. And we passed up a good superhighway.” Sometimes I say, “Lord, I’m tired of traveling. Let’s pull over at this roadside park and have a picnic.” I like to help the Lord drive, don’t you? That’s where I want to be—up front.
But Paul says if you want to be a conqueror, you must first be conquered. And I say to you that you are only experiencing as much victory in Jesus as Jesus is experiencing in you. If there is an area of repeated failure in your life, that’s a good sign there is an area of your life over which Jesus Christ is not yet Lord. If we want to be conquerors, we must first be conquered.
The best illustration I’ve ever seen of this occurs in the encounter of Jesus and the centurion who had a sick servant. Matthew 8 tells us, “He came to Jesus and he said, ‘Lord, my servant is sick.’
“Jesus said, ‘I’ll come to your house and heal him.’
“The centurion said, ‘Oh, no, Lord, don’t do that. I’m not worthy to have you come under my roof. Just speak the word, and my servant will live, for I also am a man under authority with soldiers under me. And I say to this one, go, and he goes. And to this one, do this, and he does it.’
“And when Jesus heard that, he marveled, and he said, ‘I have never seen such great faith, not even in all of Israel ”’ (Matt. 8:5—10).
Now, I have great respect for the Word of God. But I must confess to you that for a long time I couldn’t see what was so great about what that man said. I didn’t understand it. What did he say? He said, “I also am a man under authority with soldiers under me. And I say to this one, go, and he goes. And to this one, do this, and he does it.”
Jesus was amazed. He said, “I have never seen such great faith.” I couldn’t see what that had to do with faith. But I got to thinking. If it amazed Jesus, it ought to amaze me. I would think it would take a lot to amaze Jesus. He was amazed twice in the Bible. Both times He expressed amazement at the faith of a Gentile. What could you show Jesus or what could you tell Jesus that would amaze Him? He’s seen it all! He made it all!
If this encounter with a Gentile amazed Jesus, it ought to do something to me. I thought to myself that I must be missing something. Let’s look at their encounter again. Jesus told the centurion that He would come to his house and heal his servant. But the centurion replied, “Oh, no, Lord, don’t do that. I’m not worthy to have you come under my roof. Just speak the word, and my servant will live, for I also am a man under authority.” Now I would expect his next words to be, “And if I am told to go somewhere, I go somewhere, and when I am told to do something, I do something.” But that’s not what the centurion said.
He said, “For I also am a man under authority with soldiers under me. And I say to this one, go, and he goes. And to this one, do this, and he does it.” The centurion was saying, “I live under authority; therefore, I have authority.” And he did. He had authority over one hundred soldiers. That’s why they called him a centurion.
As long as that centurion was submitted to the authority of the emperor, he had the emperor’s authority over those one hundred soldiers. If he rebelled against the authority of the emperor, he lost his authority over those one hundred soldiers. So that was the principle by which he was living. But that’s still not what amazed Jesus. What amazed Jesus was one little word that the man said. Some translations say “also.” Some say “too.” And unfortunately, some translations leave it out. But it belongs there.
Now listen to me as I quote it: “He came to Jesus and he said, ‘Lord, my servant is sick.’ Jesus said, ‘I’ll come to your house and heal him.’ The centurion said, ‘Oh, no, Lord, don’t do that. I’m not worthy to have you come under my roof. Just speak the word, and my servant will live, for I also am a man under authority.”’ In other words, “I don’t have to run my own errands. If I want something done, I tell others to do it, and it’s done for me. And Lord, I understand that You live by the same principle I live by.” When he said, “I, too,” or “I, also, am a man under authority,” this is what amazed Jesus, that this centurion had such great insight into the truth that Jesus Himself lived by that same principle. He said, “I have never seen such faith.”
But the point I want you to get is that this was the principle by which Jesus Christ lived. He lived under the authority of His Father; therefore, He had His Father’s authority. That’s the principle by which the centurion lived. He was under the authority of the emperor; therefore, he had the emperor’s authority. That’s the principle by which Paul lived. That’s the principle by which we should live if we want to experience victory in the Christian life. Let’s look at three brief things about this victory.
I. This Victory is God’s Victory Through His Son
This victory that Paul talked about is God’s victory through His Son. Paul was saying, “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in his triumphant procession in Christ.” It’s not we who are triumphing; it’s not we who are riding in that chariot. No, He doesn’t cause us to triumph. He leads us in His triumph. It is God’s victory through His Son. I’m trying to say that the responsibility for victory in the Christian life is not mine; it is God’s. I realize that many of us use the expression, “win the victory.” I’ve got to go out there and “win the victory,” to overcome the devil, and win over temptation.
But I want you to know that there are no victories to be won. Christ Jesus won every victory two thousand years ago when He died for us on the cross! The truth of the matter is that every temptation you will face has already been overcome by Jesus. The responsibility for victory is not ours. It’s important for us to know that, because most Christians feel, “It’s up to me.” So I didn’t do good, I did bad yesterday, but I’m going to do better today. So I climb put of bed, grit my teeth, tense my muscles, and say, “I’m going out there and win the victory today, if it kills me!” And it usually does! The responsibility for victory in the Christian life does not rest with us. It’s not our victory; it is God’s victory through Christ.
I like the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. They must have fought funny wars back in those days. Israel was fighting the Philistines. One day David’s dad said, “David, here’s a sack lunch. Your brothers are at war. Take them lunch.” It just seems strange to me that David just walked into the war and said to his brothers, “Here’s your lunch from home.”
When he got to the front lines, David saw this giant mocking Israel and Israel ’s God. And Israel was hiding over behind the bushes, scared to death. Little David said, “I want you to do something about that guy.”
“Son,” they replied, “just leave the lunch and go back home. Play your harp and write your poetry.”
“Well, it’s not right to let him get by with this,” David said. “Why don’t you do something about it?”
“You don’t understand the situation. Go home. We’ll handle this.”
“Well, you’re not handling it very well, it seems to me. I’d take care of him.”
“Huh! You’d what?”
“I’d take care of him.”
“Go ahead and try.”
They started to put Saul’s armor on David. “Oh, no, I don’t want Saul’s armor,” he cried. “It would swallow me up. I don’t need anything. I’ve got my slingshot and five smooth stones.”
They said, “Good-by, brother. Been nice knowing you.”
And remember what happened? Little David marched out to meet Goliath. He stopped and looked the giant straight in the kneecap. He said to Goliath, “The baffle is the Lord’s. He has delivered you into my hands” (1 Sam. 17:47 ).
The battle was not David’s—why, of course it wasn’t. He wouldn’t have been there if it had been! Neither was the battle Israel ’s. That’s why the Israelite soldiers were hiding behind the bushes. The battle was the Lord’s. What I need to learn to do is stand in front of the Goliaths in my life and say to them, “The battle is the Lord’s. He has delivered you into my hands.” It’s God’s victory through His Son.
I’m a Southern Baptist, and in my denomination we have a bad habit of calling the church by the pastor’s name. When I was pastor, people would say “Brother Dunn’s church.” Or last week I was at “Brother Ken’s church!”
We know it’s not the pastor’s church, but you hear that so much and for so long that you begin to think maybe it is. You’re the pastor, and you’ve got all those people out there, and they’re your responsibility. And you’ve got to take care of them. When they hurt, you’ve got to heal them. And when they’re angry, you’ve got to soothe them. And you have to make sure you have more people in attendance this Sunday than you had Sunday a year ago, or it won’t look good in the statistics. And we’re behind on our budget. This whole thing is mine. This is my church, and I’m responsible for it. I’ve got to build it, and I’ve got to take care of it. It’s just too much. That’s why in our denomination we have about a thousand ministers a year quitting the ministry. It’s just too much.
Well, that’s the way I felt about my church. Once I was preaching through the Book of Matthew, and I came to Matthew 16 where Jesus said, “On this rock I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18 NIV). And I saw a little word there that I had not paid much attention to before: my. Jesus said, “I will build my church” (emphasis added).
I said, “Lord, do You mean to tell me this is Your church?”
“Welcome to it!”
I was never so glad to get rid of anything in all my life! A great weight was lifted from my shoulders. This is the Lord’s church!
Then Jesus said, “Upon this rock I will build my church” (emphasis added).
“Lord, I thought I was supposed to build it. That’s been one of my problems. You mean to tell me that You will build the church? This is Your church, and You will build it?”
What a deal! I don’t know of anything that liberated me any more as a pastor than this. Now I understand that it is not my responsibility to get people to walk down the aisle and join the church. It’s not my responsibility to get the people to give. It’s not my responsibility to build the church. This is God’s responsibility. I have a responsibility, and we’ll get to that in a moment. But building the church is not my responsibility! It is the Lord’s church, and He does the building. I do what God tells me to do as faithfully as I know how. And the rest is up to Him. This is God’s victory through His Son.
You may be thinking that I am preaching a religion, of passivity. No, not at all. We do have a responsibility, a great responsibility, but I think it is essential that we understand that it is God’s responsibility to give the victory and to give the growth. ’Let’s understand that first.
II. This Victory Is Ours Through Submission
Now we come to our responsibility. This is God’s victory through His Son, but it becomes mine through submission. How do I enter into this victory? By submission, by living “chained to the chariot.” You may say, “Oh, is that all?” Well, if you say that, I know you’ve never tried it.
We have a lot of “Houdini” Christians in the church, and they can get out of those chains. My number one responsibility is to make certain that moment by moment, day by day, I am living under His lordship, and I am living chained to His chariot. Every other responsibility I have flows from that.
A seminary student was interviewing several pastors in our area about our philosophy of ministry. One of the questions he asked me was, “What is your primary responsibility as pastor of this church?”
I said, ” Me. Write it down. M-E, me!” He looked at me, and I admit it did sound like an egotistical answer and a very irresponsible answer. I said, “You want to know what my top priority is as pastor of this church?”
‘I said, “It’s to me. Let me explain. My number one priority as pastor of this church is not to the lost of this community. My number one priority is not to the members of this church. My number one priority is to me. To make certain that I am living filled with His Spirit, chained to His chariot. Because when I am filled with His Spirit and living under His lordship, then the lost of this community and the members of my church will be ministered to by the overflow of my life.”
In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul makes this point very clear. These men who were chained were being led to their death. And Paul put himself in that position: “Thanks be to God, who always leads [me] in his triumphant procession” (2 Cor. 2:14 ). Yes, but that’s leading to death. And in chapter 4 he tells us what kind of death. He said, “I bear about in my body the dying of the Lord Jesus so that the life of Jesus might be made manifest through me. So then death works in me, that life may work in you” (2 Cor. 4:10 ,12).
Now I want you to focus on that. I bear about in my body the dying of the Lord Jesus. Why? So the life of Jesus that dwells in me can manifest itself through my mortal flesh.
The only thing that will bless anybody is the life of Jesus. When I stand to preach to my congregation, I cannot bless anyone. I cannot minister to anyone. I may tell a few jokes and get a few laughs, and I may come up with two or three clever little thoughts, but nobody’s going to break out of their chains. No hearts are going to be healed. No wounds are going to be ministered to. No lives are going to be touched. The only thing I have to offer anybody is the life of Jesus that dwells in me. And the only way that you people are going to be ministered to is if somehow the life of Jesus that is in me will manifest itself through my mortal flesh and touch your lives. That’s what ministry is all about.
I must make certain that you understand. It’s not the preacher. It’s not me. I don’t bless anybody. I don’t minister to anybody. It is the life of Jesus in me. That’s what people need. People don’t need to hear my opinions. They don’t need to hear my advice. What people need is to be touched with the life of Jesus. The life of Jesus is in me, and I must make certain that I live in such a way that His life can manifest itself through my human personality and touch others. Then people will be blessed.
Jesus said, “If any man come to me and drink, out of his’ innermost being shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37—38). I like to think of myself as the riverbed. And He supplies the river. Nobody’s ever been blessed by an old, dry, crusty riverbed. No, it’s the river running along it. So this victory is God’s victory through His Son. It becomes mine through submission.
III. This Victory Is Ours in Any Situation
There are two phrases in 2 Corinthians 2:14 that I want you to notice. First of all, Paul said, “Thanks be to God, who always.” At the end of that verse he said, “He manifests through us the sweet aroma of him in every place.” So we have always and every place. Always—that’s time. Every place—that’s space. We are time/space creatures. Everything we do is in time and space. Here’s what Paul is saying: “Thanks be to God who always, anytime, every time, all the time, leads me in His triumph in Christ. And every place, all places, any place, you name the place.”
Now I don’t say this lightly. I’ve thought about this before saying it. If we can learn how to live chained to the chariot, there is no conceivable situation in life in which God cannot give us victory. This may require us to redefine the word victory.
I won’t say I’ve learned it; I’ll say I’m learning. When I wake up and find myself in some trial, some difficulty, some adversity, the first thing I do is check to see if I’m “chained to the chariot.” I check to see if as far as I can tell, I’m still living under His lordship. And if I am, then I can say two things about that situation. First, He led me into it. If I’m chained to His chariot, I couldn’t have gotten there any other way! He led me into it.
Second, Jesus has already overcome it. Well, of course, because I’m following in the wake of His triumph. You may find this hard to believe, but when you live chained to the chariot, do you realize that you walk on conquered ground? That every time you put your foot down, you place it on territory that Jesus Christ has already conquered? He’s leading you along, and you’re simply following in His triumphant train!
There is no conceivable situation in life in which God cannot give us victory. When I was in college, I pastored a little country church in Oklahoma . I lived in Fort Smith , Arkansas , so I would drive down there every weekend. This church was about thirty miles over on the Oklahoma side. To get to this little church, I first took a main highway, a good highway, a big superslab. But then, after a while, I got off on a secondary road, a nice, smooth, asphalt road. After that, I got off on a road that had been acquainted at one time with asphalt, and it was pretty rough. And finally I got off on a dirt road. This dirt road wound through the foothills and mountains for about three or four miles to the church.
Three times on this dirt road I crossed a little, crystal-clear stream about an inch deep. And I didn’t think anything about it. I just splashed right through it.
One Sunday morning, I was driving to the church. It had been raining all week, but God had given us a beautiful sunshiny Easter Sunday. I had on a new suit and a new pair of shoes. And I was driving my 1946 Ford.
Back in those days when I drove to a preaching appointment, I would practice my sermon. I was trying to make it last forty-five minutes. I figured that if I could go for forty-five minutes in the car, when I got up before the people I could at least go for twenty-five minutes.
So I was driving along and preaching my sermon. It was coming along pretty good, as I remember. Suddenly, my car began to buck like it had hit a brick wall. Then it just stopped! I felt my feet getting wet. I looked down, and water was coming through the floorboard. Then I noticed that this little stream that was usually about an inch deep was about knee deep. I hadn’t even paid any attention to it.
There wasn’t anything to do except get out of the car, take off my new shoes, roll up my pants legs, and walk the last mile and a half to the church. You may be saying, “Preacher, does this story go anywhere?” Yes. One day I came to Jesus Christ, and I surrendered my life to Him. He put me in the chains of His lordship, and He took off! And I was happy. Praise God. Hallelujah. It’s fun to be a Christian! Just trust in Jesus every minute of life! Praise God!
We went along like that for awhile. Then we got off that smooth highway and got on that secondary highway that wasn’t quite as nice and smooth. But that doesn’t bother me, man. I’m chained to His chariot. Trust in Jesus. Bless God. Hallelujah! It’s fun to be a Christian! Amen! Bless God!
And after a while we got on the third road that had potholes and bumps. But it doesn’t bother me! I’m chained to His chariot! Praise God! Hallelujah! Trust in Jesus all the way. It’s fun being a Christian! I’m having the greatest time of my life!
Finally, we got on that dirt road. Well, that doesn’t bother me either. There’s just a little dust in my eyes and grit in my teeth. And right there I can sacrifice for Jesus—chained to His chariot! Bless God! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Amen! I’m having a wonderful time! It’s fun being a Christian!
Well, after a while, I feel my feet getting wet. I look down, and I am passing over one of those little streams. The water is about toe-high. Well, that doesn’t bother me! Bless God! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! Trust in Jesus all the way! Man, it’s fun being a Christian!
I keep on going along, and after a while the water gets up to my knees. Doesn’t bother me. I’m chained to His chariot. Praise God! Hallelujah! Bless the Lord! Amen! It’s fun being a Christian!
Then the water gets up to my waist. Well.. amen. And then the water gets up to my shoulders. Oh, Jesus! And then the water gets up to my chin. And I say, “If I don’t get out of these chains, He’s going to drown me!”
Do you know what victory is? Victory is staying chained to the chariot, even if the water covers your head. Victory doesn’t always mean that the Lord will lead you on dry land, or drain the swamp. Sometimes He will take you into water that covers your head. Victory is staying chained to that chariot, no matter how deep the water gets, no matter where the chariot leads.
I go back to what the apostle John said in his first epistle. He said, “Faith is the victory” (1 John 5:4). He didn’t say, “Faith brings the victory,” or, “Faith gains the victory.” He said, “Faith is the victory” (emphasis added).
You come into my office, and you say, “Preacher, I’ve got to have surgery. The doctor says there’s a malignant tumor. And it doesn’t look good.” I ask you, “Do you still believe?” “Yes,” you reply. That’s victory.
Later I stand beside your bed. They’ve done the surgery, but all they could do was sew you back up and send you home to die. I ask again, “Do you still believe?” You reply, “Yes, I still believe.” That’s victory.
And then I stand beside your grave, and I turn to your wife and ask, “Do you still believe?” And she says, “Yes, I still believe.” That’s victory. This is God’s victory through His Son. It becomes ours through submission, and remains ours in any situation. And if we learn how to live chained to the chariot, there is no situation in life in which He cannot give us victory.
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2002