This week I’ve been writing about fighting and winning the spiritual battles we will face in this life. It is so important for believers to understand that we are involved in a spiritual battle whether we want to be or not. We are involved in a war that has raged since our first parents were in the Garden of Eden. It is a war that affects every area of our lives. There is no way we can avoid being involved in the battles of this war. There is no foxhole, bunker or neutral country where we can retreat and not be involved in the war.
Sadly, many believers don’t realize they are involved in this war. They live day to day unaware of, or at least ignoring, the battles that rage in them and around them. Therefore, they often become causalities of this war.
Some believers are emotional casualties of the war. They are discouraged, depressed, downtrodden and defeated. Others bear the marks of being marital and family casualties. Divorce, infidelity, constant conflict and abuse are some of the scars that these believers bear. Others have been morally wounded in the battle. They cannot control their passions and so they make poor moral choices.
I could list more casualties, but you get the idea. Since we are all at war and since there is so much at stake both on earth and for all eternity, we need to understand this spiritual warfare and how to fight the battles successfully. I pray that what I’ve posted this week has/will help you fight and win the spiritual battles.
There is one last thing about spiritual warfare that I want to talk about today that may well be the most important element of all. What I want to talk about today is called Christus Victor. The great truth of Scripture is that Christ is our victory. We are more than conquerors through Christ who died for us. Today I’m going to give a few verses that demonstrate our victory in Christ.
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.” 2 Corinthians 2:14 (NKJV)
The picture Paul is painting is that of a Roman triumph processional. A Roman triumph processional was the highest honor that a Roman general could receive. But it wasn’t easy to earn one. There were some pretty strict conditions that must be met before a general could earn one.
According to William Barclay for a general to earn a triumph procession, he had to have been the actual commander-in-chief on the battlefield. The campaign must have been completely finished before the parade could happen. There had to be at least five thousand enemy troops killed in battle. The campaign must have extended theRoman Empireand not merely repelled an attack. And the victory must have been won over a foreign enemy and not in a civil war. Barclay went on to say that something like this may only happen once in a lifetime.
The parade was lead by the politicians dressed in their ceremonial best. They were followed by the trumpeters blowing their trumpets announcing that the victory parade was coming. Then in wagons came the spoils of war. The wagons would be filled with the gold, silver, sculptures, really anything of value that had been taken from the defeated foe.
The spoils of war were followed by the prisoners of war. The prisoners of war weren’t the soldiers that fought the battles. The prisoners of war would have been the conquered generals, members of the royal family, priests and anybody of importance to the conquered people. The prisoners of war were led in chains to show their utter defeat.
Following the prisoners of war was the Roman priests leading white bulls and carrying burning incense. Then the military officers who led in the campaign would come. Finally the general himself would come. He came in a chariot drawn by four horses. He would be clothed in a purple cloak thrown over a toga sown with golden stars. In his right hand, he would carry a scepter crowned with an eagle and in his left a laurel branch, both symbols of victory. The soldiers were behind him cheering with words such as “Hurrah, triumph!” and pointed toward their leader.
When the processional came to the place of completion two things would happen. They would sacrifice the bulls as an offering to their gods in thanks for the victory. Then came the most gruesome part of the victory parade, the slaughter of the captives. At this point all, or at least a large number, of the captives that had been in the parade were sacrificed to the Roman gods.
In Paul’s picture, Jesus is the conquering general. At this point, it would be so nice to say that Christians are the soldiers that follow Jesus and the captives that are led in the procession are the wicked who reject Christ and fight against theKingdomofGod. If this were the case this would point to the final judgment when Christ will be exalted, we will see His glory and the wicked will be punished. What a glorious picture of our victory in Christ that would be. But that isn’t what Paul says.
In the picture Paul is painting here, Christians aren’t the soldiers following Christ in the triumphal procession. Christians are the captives being led in the triumphal procession. This passage does speak of victory, but probably not in the way we might think about it. This doesn’t speak of victory in ministry as a result of our effectiveness but because of the One who has conquered us. The victory in your, the victory in my life, is not found in the person but in the One that has saved us.
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14 (NKJV)
Believers have been rescued from the powers of darkness through faith in Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that Satan works in unbelievers to keep them blinded to the Gospel and living in rebellion against God (2 Cor 4:4, Eph 2:2). When God saves believers, He rescues them from Satan’s control.
Paul goes on to say that God not only rescues believers from Satan’s control, He also brings them into the kingdom of His dear Son. The word “conveyed” was a word that was used to describe what a conquering nation did to the conquered people. The conquering nation would gather the conquered people and move them to a new place to live within the conquering nation’s kingdom. You see this in the Old Testament when the people of the Northern Jewish Kingdom were taken away to Assyria and the people of Judah were taken away to Babylon.
Paul uses this imagery to show what happens to believers when God rescues them. Christ conquered the kingdom of darkness through His sacrificial death and victorious resurrection. When someone believes in Christ for his or her salvation, God rescues them from the kingdom of darkness and makes them citizens of His Kingdom. Believers are no longer citizens of the kingdom of darkness. They are now citizens of the Kingdom of God.
“And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it.” Colossians 2:13-15 (NKJV)
Part of the reason that Paul wrote his letter to the Colossian believers was to protect them against false teachers. The specific false teachers the Colossian believers were dealing with taught that there were all sorts of angels and heavenly beings that were basically equal in power to Christ. Not only that, but they also taught that many of these beings were hostile toward humanity. The people of this day pretty much lived in fear of these spiritual beings. Paul now tells them that they don’t have to worry about those spiritual beings, because Christ has defeated them.
When Paul says that Christ made a spectacle of them by triumphing over them, he is again painting the picture of Roman triumph processional. Paul used that picture to describe the total defeat of the evil spiritual forces at the hand of Christ. Christ’s sacrificial death and victorious resurrection publicly defeated and humiliated all of the spiritual powers of evil. He conquered them and He is forever victorious.
Satan is ultimately and forever defeated because of the shed blood of Christ. The critical blow to Satan had come when the Christ shed his blood for sinful humanity. The victory was won by sacrifice, Christ’s death to pay the penalty for sin. Those who accept this sacrifice become victors along with the Christ.
If you want to study more of what Scripture has to say about Christ being our victory spend some time studying, 1 John 3:4-8, 1 John 4:1-6, 1 John 5:1-5, Hebrews 2:14-18, Romans 8:31-39.
Those who have been redeemed through faith in Jesus Christ should not live defeated beat down lives. Our victory has been won by our Savior Jesus Christ. This doesn’t mean there won’t be battles to fight because there certainly will. However, it does mean that we fight from a position of victory not a position of defeat.