Perils of The Victorious Life

Messages on the Victorious Life

Message Seven – Part 1 victorious perils

In the truly Victorious Life – the Christian believer, having put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:11), moves forward under the protection of the shield of faith, wherewith he is able to quench all the fiery darts of the Evil One (v. 16). God’s Word is absolute on the completeness of the victory that is the experience of every child of God who trusts that victory wholly to Christ. It is not a once-for-all victory; it is a moment-by-moment victory, had each moment only in the present, but had completely in that present as the believer “looks away” from all, else “unto Jesus,” the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

But what a perilous life it is! Satan hates it; for it is an incarnate advertisement of the sufficiency of his Conqueror, Jesus Christ. Therefore to trust Christ for complete victory is to be moved up into the front line trench of the Christian warfare; and front line trenches are perilous places when the attack is on. There is no life in the world so perilous as the Victorious Life. And there is no life so safe.

Where the onslaughts of the Adversary are the most terrific, the grace of the Captain of our salvation is the most effectively demonstrated.

Some of the perils are so subtle, so unexpected, that they may not be recognized unless we frankly face them in advance as terribly real possibilities – nay, not possibilities, but certainties. We need a supernaturally sensitized consciousness of these perils if we would be safeguarded.

For, as has been iterated and reiterated, by all who know anything of real victory in Christ, the Victorious Life is not the un-tempted life, but it is the most tempted life that anyone can live. Our Lord was tempted, and the “servant is not greater than his Lord” (John 13:16).

Indeed, it may fairly be said that one never knows the full meaning of temptation until he has dared to trust Christ for full victory. Then comes the temptations as never before: desperate, diabolical, hellish, subtle, refined, gross, spiritual, fleshly – the whole gamut of all the deception and the down pull that the world, the flesh, and the Devil can bring to the soul of a child of God. But Christ sees them all, and He is standing on sentry-guard in our lives against them; the Word of God has disclosed them all to us, and this “sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17) is our sure weapon today as it was our Lord’s in those victorious words, thrice repeated, “It is written” (Matthew 4:4, 7, 10).

The secret of complete victory is faith: simply believing that Jesus has done and is doing it all. Victory is entered upon by a single act of faith, as is salvation. Victory is maintained by the attitude of faith.

But suppose the believer, having experienced the miracle of victory over sin through trusting his Lord’s sufficiency comes, somehow, to doubt that sufficiency? At once his victory is broken; and he fails. This is possible at any moment. And at once, if there should be, failure through unbelief, comes a real peril. The lie of Satan is whispered in the ear, “You have sinned; and that proves that you never had the blessing you thought you had: you never had the Victorious Life.”

This is a lie, of course, as are most of Satan’s attacks. They say at Keswick, “If you should fail, shout Victory!” Not with any idea of denying the reality of the failure, but in recognition of the fact that Jesus has not failed, and that there may be instantaneous and complete restoration through faith in His unimpaired sufficiency.

The peril just here is, either that we shall think we never had the blessing we thought we had; or that we shall imagine it will now take us some time to get back into that blessing.

Satan may tell us that we cannot have complete victory again until we have gone apart alone with the Lord for a day, or an hour, or five minutes. But our Lord wants us to believe Him for instantaneous cleansing and restoration. The way back is as “it is written”: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

The confession can be unspoken, in the instant turning of the heart to God and claiming of cleansing. Every moment of delay in believing Him for this is further sin, grieving and wounding His loving heart.

Another peril is twofold: Our supposing, on the one hand, that the longer we continue in victory the safer we are; and, on the other hand, that if by sin we have broken our victory we are thereby weaker, and less certain of continued victory. Both ideas are perilous and fallacious.

This is quickly seen when we recognize that Christ, and Christ alone, is our Victory. Suppose we should live for ten years in unbroken victory; that ten years record of unbroken victory does not add a particle to the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ; it does not increase the sufficiency of His grace, for that sufficiency is infinite.

The assurance of our continuance in victory is not our good record in victory, but the grace of our Lord. Our Lord and His grace are the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We have all His infinite grace at work for us and in us any moment and every moment: therefore our continued record in victory adds nothing to our assurance of victory, for it adds nothing to Christ, and He alone is our assurance of victory. Of ourselves we are just as weak and helpless, just as sinful, just as impotent for victory after ten years unbroken victory as we were the first moment after being born again into the family of God.

Even the veteran warrior in the Victorious Life is always capable of unbelief and of disastrous defeat in sin. He needs the moment-by-moment looking away unto Jesus as His only Saviour just as much as the young Christian who has just entered upon that life.

And so of failure: my unbelief and resulting sin do not weaken my Lord at all. Having confessed that sin and having been cleansed and restored by Him, He is just as strong, just as omnipotent, as though I had never failed. And my victory now, after failure, depends wholly upon His sufficient and omnipotent grace, which is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

We shall be safeguarded from these two perils, of overconfidence through continued victory, and of weakening fear through failure, if we remember God’s Word concerning the absoluteness of the victory that is ours in Christ. That victory is not a relative thing, not a comparative thing, not a matter of degree at all: it is, the freedom with which the Son sets men free (John 8:36). Not that we are given “sinless perfection.”

We always have our sinful nature, which can sin and will sin any moment that we fail to trust Christ for His victory in us. But as we trust Him, His victory in us is absolute.

The very joy of the yielded life, when God’s will is wholly accepted, brings with it another peril. It has been said that, when Satan finds he cannot prevent one from doing the whole will of God, he then tries to drive that one beyond the will of God. And it is a perilous thing to go beyond the will of God, even in matters that of themselves are right.

It often happens, for example, that the Victorious Life Christian is driven beyond the will of God into imaginary duties. Satan comes as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14), suggesting that the believer do this or that thing, good in itself but not the will of God for that one. The believer has found great blessing in listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit, and in instant obedience to His leadings; and when Satan speaks, giving leadings in direction that of themselves are entirely right, the unsuspecting believer follows those leadings, no blessing results, and then follow anxiety, confusion, perhaps doubt and fog.

God prompts us, for example, to speak to this or that one about Jesus as Saviour: We do so, and we have the joy of leading a soul into salvation.

Now comes Satan with the insistent suggestion that we speak to one and another, under all sorts of circumstances and at all times, about salvation or victory. We follow the impulse, Which is not of God, and no blessing follows.

A soul-winning Christian had a “leading” to go to a certain street and number in the city where he lived and to talk with the persons there about Christ as their Saviour. The house was one of which he knew nothing, but he went. He rang the bell, and after some time of waiting he found that it was an unoccupied house. That leading was evidently not from God. The resulting confusion and doubt in that young man’s mind are easy to see.

It is possible to fall into confusion, again, as to confession of sin. Perhaps we have confessed to a fellow Christian some personal sin or failure of our own, and real blessing has resulted, both to that one and to ourselves. Then the suggestion comes to us that, inasmuch as that confession was so blessed, we must now confess to some fellow Christian every sin that we recognize – perhaps some sins that were long ago put away forgiven and cleansed by our Lord, or every present failure or mistake of any sort.

And the obsession of confession takes hold of us, and into the fog we go. God does not want this. God will guide us as to when He may wish a confession made to another; and He will guide us as to when to let it be a matter wholly between Himself and ourselves. One general principle here is that it is to be kept to God and ourselves unless someone else will be injured by our withholding confession. If a confession to another or to others will accomplish nothing except giving them knowledge of our sin, it is to be questioned whether God would have such confession made.

Or again, having surrendered the whole life to the mastery of the Lord, having given up the pride of the flesh, all luxuries and self-gratification, there is the peril of asceticism. Perhaps fine clothes, or jewelry, or overindulgence in food were among the things that had to go when we surrendered wholly to the Lord.

As we find our new joy in Him, not in these things, we may be driven beyond the will of God into an asceticism that dishonors Him. More than one wholly surrendered Christian has mistakenly become indifferent and careless about personal attire or appearance, and has actually become repellent to others because of this mistake.

Or, having been delivered from the sin of luxury in jewelry, we may be driven beyond the will of God into supposing that every bit of gold or silver we have should now be given away or sold and the proceeds given directly to the Lord’s service.

Christian women have actually sold their wedding rings under this form of sadly mistaken asceticism. The spirit is commendable, but neither the guidance nor the results are necessarily of God.

We are to maintain a golden mean between the extremes of asceticism and luxury. We are to take care of our personal appearance, our cleanliness, our clothing, so as to be attractive to our fellow men; it is a positive duty to be attractive Christians, both in dress and in appearance that others may be won to us in order that we may win them to our Lord. We are to do all things to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31).

This includes our pleasures as well as all else. We are not to believe the lie of Satan that everything that is pleasurable or attractive is sinful. We are to enjoy our meals, for example, not reduce them to the minimum of mere physical sustenance. This also pertains to other temporal details of our life.

We may get the mistaken idea that when we have a choice between something that is hard and something that is easy, the hard thing is always God’s will. His will may be just the opposite. There is not necessarily any virtue in difficulty, and there is not necessarily any sin in ease. The only question is, “What is God’s will for us in each matter that comes before us?”

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God” (I John 4:1).

 And we are never to abandon our God-given common sense in the Victorious Life.

Here is one way of distinguishing between God’s leadings and Satan’s “angel of light” leadings. To the really surrendered Christian, who is trusting Christ for victory, God’s leadings and promptings never nag, or worry, or harass. Satan’s do just this. If one has a seeming “leading” to do something that in itself is good, yet with the impulse there is a sense of nagging disquiet, almost as though a mosquito or a gnat were buzzing about to try to drive us in a certain direction, that is Satan’s earmark, his calling card; and his false “leading” is to be instantly recognized and rejected. The Holy Spirit’s leadings to the surrendered and trusting Christian come with a sense of peace and quiet, even if they point in a really difficult direction which only the grace of God can enable one to follow.

By Charles G. Trumbull

Edited by Verona