Text: Joshua 1, 2
A victorious life is not a superior brand of Christianity reserved for the elite of the elect. It is the normal life for every Christian. It isn’t bestowed upon some because they are spiritual, it is given to all because they are saved! Too many Christians are struggling to win a victory that has already been won. It was won 2,000 years ago. The Christian life is a victorious life and anything less is a cheap imitation of the real thing. Jesus said, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 )
It will help if we understand that the Christian life can be divided into two stages–the Red Sea stage and the Jordan River stage, with a wilderness in between. What the cross is to us, the Red Sea was to Israel . It was the symbol of their redemption, their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt by the mighty hand of God. They looked back to the Red Sea as we look back to the cross; they celebrated the Passover as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
But it wasn’t enough to get them out of Egypt . Moses reminded the people in Deuteronomy 6:23, “and He brought us out from there ( Egypt ) in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.” The purpose of their redemption wasn’t realized until they entered the land of Canaan . And to enter that land they had to cross the Jordan River . Then and only then would the redemptive purpose of God be fulfilled.
This may surprise you, but Canaan never symbolizes heaven in the Bible. Church hymns may say that, but the Bible doesn’t. There were giants in Canaan –there are no giants in heaven. There were battles to be fought in Canaan –there will be no battles in heaven. God’s people sinned in Canaan –in heaven all traces of sin will be erased.
Canaan represents the fullness of salvation, the fullness of blessing, the possessing of our possessions. Canaan was when God redeemed Israel for, just as victory is what God saved us for. He brought us out that He might bring us in. Many Christians are out but not in. They, like those spoken of in I Corinthians 10:5, die in the wilderness without ever experiencing the life of fullness in Christ.
The Old Testament described Canaan as a land flowing with milk and honey, a land of luscious clusters of grapes and pomegranates and figs. The New Testament describes our Canaan as:
Peace which passes all understanding (Phil. 4:7);
Joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8)
Blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3)
More than conquerors through Him who loved us (Rom. 8:37 ).
Are you in?
The first nine verses of Joshua tell us three important things about the life of victory:
Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you… Be strong and courageous for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law… be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:3-9)
VICTORY IS THE GOAL OF THE CHRISTIAN LIFE.
Recently I heard someone refer to the victorious life as “an emphasis.” It is not one emphasis in the Christian life; it is the Christian life. That’s why I use the terms, “Christian life,” and victorious life”, interchangeable.
Escape from servitude in Egypt was not God’s goal for His people. He took them out of Egypt in order to bring them in to their own land, the land He had promised them. Generations before, God had made this promise to Abraham as Abraham stood looking over the strip of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River ?
Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; for all the land
which you see, I will give it to you and to your descendants forever (Genesis 13:14,15).
Freedom from Egypt was only the first step. Until they occupied Canaan they would not experience God’s complete rescue operation.
In the same way, God’s goal in saving us is not to get us out of hell and into heaven–that’s just a bonus The real goal is for us to experience all that He has promised us in Christ. This is not an incidental emphasis in Scripture, but its heart. Listen to Paul speaking to the Roman Christians: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son…” (Rom. 8:29 ) To the Ephesians Paul revealed the goal of salvation in these words: … He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be hold and blameless before Him…” (Eph 1:4). Not a word about hell or heaven there.
Paul wrote to the Christians at Colossus: the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has
now been manifested to His saints.. .which is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Colossians 1:26 , 27).
In all God’s dealings with you, He has been leading you up to His goal–the full release of Christ in you. That is your only hope for a glorious life.
Paul makes another point about victorious living in his second letter to the Corinthian church. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in His triumph in Christ” (2 Cor. 2:14 ). It is possible for a Christian always to be victorious. Since the Lord Jesus can give you victory for a minute, He can give you victory for an hour; if for an hour, then for a day. If He can give you victory for a day, He can day by day give you victory for a lifetime. Anything less than always triumphing in Christ is less than God’s desire for you.
But wait a minute. Does living in victory mean we no longer sin? Not at all; but it does mean that we learn to depend upon Christ for every aspect of our life. We live in His strength, not our own. We serve His desires, not our own. We live for His glory, not our own. And when we sin, instead of plunging into despair and guilt, we trust His cleansing blood to wash it away an restore us to that sweet fellowship. We become supersensitive to sin, and when the Holy Spirit convicts us we immediately deal with it.
The best way to define the victorious life is to describe it, so let’s examine some of its ingredients.
(1) We enter into God’s promises. The promises of the bible become experiential instead of merely theological, God’s promises to Joshua were definite. He told the Israelites the land was theirs; they needed only to act–act with strength, courage, and obedience. And the promises made generations earlier were fulfilled before their eyes I’m afraid many Christians look at the promises of God as I looked at the Sears catalog as a boy. When I was about ten I spotted a .22 rifle in the catalog and I had to have it! It cost twenty-five dollars, but it might as well have been a thousand. Knowing it was beyond my reach, I would get out the catalog, turn to the page that displayed the picture of “my rifle”, and dream. No wonder the catalog is called “the wish book”. To many Christians the Bible is just that–a wish book. They read the promises with enthusiasm and shout “Amen” when they are preached from the pulpit, but never really expect to see them fulfilled in their own lives, but the Bible is not a wish book; it is a faith book. And for those who by faith cross over into victory, all the promises of God become real.
(2) We experience Gods presence. One of the promises God made to Israel and repeated often in this chapter is “I will be with you.” They would experience His continuing presence. God would be real to them. When I was in seminary, I read a sermon by R. W Dale, the famous preacher of Birmingham , England, in which he said, “Christ is as real to me as the chair on this platform.” I thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to say that and mean it!” I knew Jesus wasn’t that real to me, but I longed for Him to be. But, praise the Lord, when He answered my desperate cry for help, one of the first things I experienced was the overwhelming awareness of His presence. Jesus became more real to me than any chair on any platform.
(3) We exercise God’s power. God promised Joshua, “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life” (Joshua 1:5). He was telling Joshua that no man could prevent Israel from reaching their God-appointed goal. Joshua would have the power to do everything God asked him to do. When the original spies went into the land, they cowered like grasshoppers before the giants of Canaan . But Caleb, standing on God’s promises, declared the giants would be bread for them. “Pass the peanut butter! We’ll make sandwiches with them.” And a generation later, as Israel acted in God’s power, they found Him spreading a banquet table for them. God’s power gives us victory over the giants in and around us. We become not only giant-defeaters but also giant-eaters!
Resurrection Power: “I pray that.. .you may know. .what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.., in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead….” (Ephesians 1:18-20). Think of it! The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is made available to every believer. You’re facing a problem. Which is easier–solving that problem or raising a dead man from the grave? The answer is obvious If God can raise one from the grave, He can do anything. You have resurrection power residing in you.
Reigning Power: “. . . Those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One Jesus Christ” (Rom 5:17 ). God has made kings of of slaves and princes out of paupers. And notice, the verse says “in life,” not in heaven. He’s not talking about the “Sweet Bye and Bye” but the “Nasty Here and Nod’.
Released Power: “and for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me” (Col. 1:29). The life of victory means that I no longer labor according to my strength but according to His. My ability is no longer measured by my power but by His. Throw the word “impossible” out of your vocabulary. You can do anything and everything God wants you to do. There is nothing that can prevent you from being exactly what God wants you to be. No wonder it’s called the gospel–good news!
VICTORY IS A GIFT TO THE CHRISTIAN.
Victory is not only God’s goal for the Christian; it is also His gift to the Christian. “Every pace on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses” (v.3). Notice the tense: “I have given,” not “I will give.” It was already theirs. God had given the land with all its riches to His people before they even saw what it was like.
Understanding that the victorious life is a gift already given us by God is essential. this means victory is assured. There is no reason why every Christian cannot live a life of victory, because it is not attained by struggling and striving. It is part of your birthright, as a child of God. You don’t have to make peace with failure or come to terms with defeat. The victory of Christ is yours for the taking.
God’s people are often slow to believe this–slower even than non-Christians. In chapter two of Joshua, Rahab, an insignificant citizen of the soon-to-be conquered city of Jericho , said to the spies:
I know that the Lord has given you the land… For we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the red Sea.. .And when we
heart it, our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is God in
heaven above and on earth beneath (Joshua 2:9-1 1).
The enemy knew they had lost before the Israelites knew they had won! They had more faith in the power of God than God’s people.
Since victory is a gift from God, it is already accomplished. Before Joshua led the people into Canaan , God said to him, “I have given it to you.” Though the land was occupied by the enemy, it was God’s and He had given it to His people. every step Joshua took was on conquered ground. And that’s what the life of victory is–walking on conquered ground. Christian, every step you take today will be on ground conquered and controlled by our Lord Jesus Christ.
VICTORY MUST BE GAINED BY THE CHRISTIAN.
After going to great lengths to say the victorious life is a gift, you may think I am contradicting myself when I say it must be gained, but the Scripture holds to both concepts. God told Joshua He had already given them the land–but that they would have to possess it, and that would require strength and courage. although the gift was absolute, it had to be appropriated. There was something for them
This same idea is made clear by Jesus in Matthew 11:28,29. First He said, “come to Me and I will give you rest”; and then He said, “You shall find rest.” Well, which is it–does He give it or do we find it? Both. By simply coming to Christ we receive rest, but there is a second rest (comparable to the life of victory) that we find only by taking His yoke and learning of Him. Rest is given, but rest must be gained. There is God’s side of giving an man’s side of gaining.
How do we gain it? What is our part? Three things are mentioned in chapter one of Joshua.
(1) The victory is gained by faith. Joshua was to take God at His word and start walking. And that’s what faith is–acting on the word of God. “This is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith” (1 John 5:4). We exercise faith when we acknowledge that the victory has already been won for us by Christ and thank Him for it. We don’t go out to victory– we go out from victory. Face each new day with this attitude: “Lord, thank You that every problem I meet today has already been overcome by You. Every temptation I confront today has already been put down by You.” But if you meet the day hoping you can remain strong and true, determined to do your best for Jesus, you will fail miserably. Victory isn’t doing your best for Jesus; it is Jesus doing His best for you! You have no victories to win; Jesus won them all. Rely upon Him.
(2) The victory is gained by following. God told Joshua: Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law. .do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go .(Joshua 1:7).
Here is God’s formula for success. God was actually telling Joshua that success in the forthcoming venture depended upon him. You say, “I thought it depended upon the Lord.” It does, but the Lord can give us that success only as we follow His instructions.
The word translated “law” means “directions”, and that’s what god’s law is –divine directions on how to put together a successful life.
(3) The victory is gained by fighting. When the people left Egypt , God could have taken them by a direct way straight into Canaan , but He led them by a circuitous route instead. God deliberately made the journey longer. Why? The explanation is recorded in Exodus 13:17:
Now it came about when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war, and they return to Egypt.”
They weren’t ready to fight, and entering Canaan would take courageous fighting men, so God postponed military confrontation until they were ready.
The land of fullness is occupied by the enemy. We will not go in unopposed. Spiritual warfare is the order of the day. When we move into our victory Have you noticed that while in the wilderness, Israel didn’t fight a single battle (except among themselves)? Only when they entered Canaan did they encounter warfare. That is significant.
Again, this doesn’t contradict the fact that victory isn’t won by our struggling and striving. Although we much fight, we fight in the power of the Lord; we are to be strong in the Lord; we are to put on the whole armor of God that we may be able to withstand all the attacks of the enemy (Eph. 6:10 -17)
But understand this: there will be conflict and confrontation. The ship of Zion is a man-of-war; not a luxury liner, at times it is easy to pray and praise the Lord; at others it is an intense struggle. We want always to read the bible with ease and enjoyment but sometimes only rigid discipline makes it possible. When our flagging faith falters, our enthusiasm wanes, and our bodies tire, we will need the whole armor of God to throw off the attacks of our adversary.
When a person first becomes a Christian, it often seems everything is easy for him. He witnesses, prays, read the Bible with radiant and tireless enthusiasm. Temptations seem not to exist. God, as He did for the Israelites, is leading him in the easy way. He is not yet ready to fight. When he is suddenly besieged by difficulties, he becomes frustrated and confused and wonders what went wrong. At this moment Satan may take advantage of his predicament and accuse him of total and terminal failure, trying to convince him that God has surely abandoned him. But God has not deserted him~ He has merely enrolled the new Christian in basic training in order to get him ready to fight.
The first victory for Joshua was an easy one. No intense struggle took place at Jericho . The people simply marched thirteen times around the city played their instruments, and shouted; and the massive walls disintegrated. The ease with which Jericho was conquered was remarkable. but the other victories weren’t that way. They had to fight and fight desperately. Don’t assume because of Jericho that you will need only to shout a little and stage a pre-battle victory parade for the walls of spiritual opposition to flatten before you. As you mature in your victory walk, the hand-to-hand and face-to-face combat suggested by Ephesians 6 will more often be the case.
This life of victory is God’s goal and gift for every believer, already accomplished by the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. But that doesn’t mean that every Christian automatically experiences this victory there is something for us to do. We must appropriate what god has made available.
Jesus invited all who were thirsty to come to Him and drink. He doesn’t force our mouths open and pour it down us. We must do our own drinking. The fountain is waiting; come and drink.
©Ron Dunn, LifeStyle Ministries, 2002