An expression that is often heard in today’s culture is “play to win”. It conveys a meaning of settling for nothing less than total victory in a contest or battle. As believers, we have the ability to achieve total victory against the enemy; this ability is found in Christ Jesus. Yet many believers do not actually play to win, but often concede defeat quite frequently. The reason for this is because generally, believers are not taught about the wonderful power for defeating the enemy that Jesus has given to us.
So today we will be studying how we are able to defeat the enemy – through Christ Jesus – which is something you may have never heard before. However this truth when received will give you great victory in Christ that will empower you over the enemy in every area, as Jesus Christ intends for you to be.
There is a rather widespread misconception among many Christian pastors and leaders, and that is the idea that in order to stamp-out sin, we must preach against sin using the law (ten commandments). Now to be honest, I do understand their good intentions here, but the Bible is very clear that this is not the answer, in-fact God says that the more the law is preached the stronger the sin will become. 1St Corinthians 15:56-58, not only tells us this, but also points us in the proper direction of where to find our true victory. Let’s read these verses now:
“The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be you steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”
We can plainly see here that strength of sin is the law. Sin gets its power from the law beating on a person. The law interacts with the sin-nature in man and strengthens our desire for wickedness. Put simply, more law equals more condemnation and the tendency for sin increases – not because we are evil, but there is evil inside of us because of the fall of man and natural sin.
What this means for you and me today is that the more we hear the law being preached by pastors and leaders, the more sin will actually gain strength in our lives. This, I’m sure is not what the pastors intend to happen, but it is the result never-the-less, directly from the mouth of God from His Word.
Yet all is not hopeless, because we have a source of victory far beyond anything that we could even ask or imagine for. Look at verses 57 and 58. Our answer to sin is not to try harder, not to work more, but to change our way, to repent and change our mind from focusing on ourselves or problems and even our sins and to focus wholeheartedly on Jesus Christ. Notice that it is through Him that our victory comes and not through our own efforts or strengths.
Verse 58 says something very interesting that is often misunderstood. We are told to be steadfast and unmovable, always abounding (filled to overflowing) in the work of the Lord.
Think about that statement. The work of the Lord. Many people confuse that to mean “doing good works”. However the verse does not say “the work for the Lord”, but it says the work of the Lord. Do you notice the difference. The work of the Lord is what He has done for you, not what you have done for Him.
What this verse is actually telling us is to fill ourselves exclusively and completely to overflowing with Jesus Christ and what He has done for us. And in this truth is where we will find true victory over sin.
But why is this so? Put simply, this is true because the truth of Christ robs sin of its power in our lives. And the reason it does this is because as we see the finished work of Jesus Christ for us, and what we truly have and who we really are in Him, our true identity is revealed. It is this identity that enables us to rise above temptation and the enemy in a way that we could never do apart from Christ.
Romans 8:16-17 says the following:
“The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:
And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
Now some people become afraid when they see the word “suffer” in verse 17. Yet the interesting thing here is that word is actually the Greek word sumpaskhō which means “to sympathize with”. So the application of this is that as we are in full agreement, and accord with Jesus and His redemption of us; as we are allowing Him to lead and guide is we will also be glorified with Him. And this glory will manifest in every area of our life. This is our true identity in Christ Jesus. Not a weak or helpless creature that the enemy can trample on. Not a dirty and defeated person with no hope or no future, but a child of God destined for glory and honor. This is what Joseph had in mind when he was tempted by an adulteress and deceitful woman and responded appropriately in Genesis 39:7-11:
“And it came to pass after these things, that his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph; and she said, Lie with me.
But he refused, and said to his master’s wife, Behold, my master wotteth not what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand;
There is none greater in this house than I; neither has he kept back any thing from me but you, because you are his wife: how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?
And it came to pass, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he listened not to her, to lie by her, or to be with her.
And it came to pass about this time, that Joseph went into the house to do his business; and there was none of the men of the house there within.
And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me: and he left his garment in her hand, and fled, and got him out.”
There are several things that we can learn from these verses. The first of these things is that it was not the law or the ten commandments that motivated Joseph to resist temptation or sin because the law had not yet been given – Joseph lived prior to the time of the law of Moses or God’s law. Even so, notice the response of Joseph in verse 9: how can I do this thing against my God?
Do you see the relationship that Joseph had with God? He wasn’t some distant deity, but a close personal God. He was Joseph’s God. And the identity was real and vibrant. Joseph knew who God was to him and Joseph knew who he was to God.
Furthermore, Joseph did not only resist once or twice, but repeatedly. And Joseph was no fool, when the woman showed persistence in the temptation, Joesph did not try to stay in the midst of the temptation and pray it away. He knew the most wise course of action was to flee and avoid the further temptation. Now this is the same way that God tells us today to handle sexual temptation… we are told to flee from it in 1st Corinthians 6:18; but how did Joseph know to do that without the law? Joseph had his God-given identity solidified in the very center of his being.
So this is how God desires for us to live rightly today, by believing rightly and seeing our identity in Him. When temptation or trouble comes, we don’t quote the “Thou shalt not’s” of the law and try to beat it with force of will – No my friends, instead we simply realize that we are one with Jesus because He has made us so. You are a Jesus person, you are completely righteous and called to a higher purpose and greater things, and as this becomes real to you the desires for sin and whatever the enemy is trying to do in your life will fall away to nothingness.
Today as we behold the truths of Jesus for us, we are seeing more and more of our identity, and no force of hell can ever hope to stand against the truth of Jesus Christ.