Victorious Christian Living Colossians 1:27-2:7

What is “Victorious Christian Living” We are not talking about “success” or “popularity” in human terms. We are not talking a worldly false gospel of “health, wealth and prosperity”. Victory in Christian living means victory over temptation, victory over the devil, victory over everything which drags us away from God. And the secret of victorious Christian living is simple. A wise preacher once said,

“The triumphant Christian does not fight for victory; he celebrates a victory already won.”

Christ has already won the victory over sin and death and the devil by His cross and resurrection. We thought about this a month ago

1 John 3:8 For this purpose Christ was revealed – to destroy all the works of the evil one!
We thought about how from the very beginning of his ministry Jesus had already “disarmed the strong man.” And how the devil had no hold on Jesus. “I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on me.” John 14:30. This was demonstrated clearly in Jesus’s acts of deliverance. Jesus came to release the prisoners and set the captives free – to set people free from evil by driving out demons.
MATTHEW 12 28 But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. 29 ‘Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house.
But the ultimate victory of Christ over the devil took place on the cross. We saw how Jesus explained his death on the cross in the week before he died, and how Jesus would be glorified, not through his resurrection but through his death.
JOHN 12 23 ‘The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. … 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.
The judgment and the salvation of the whole world would hang on that one hour in which the devil would finally be defeated and the grip of evil on the world would be broken.
It was the cross, not the resurrection, which was Christ’s victory over the devil and all the powers of evil.
Colossians 2:15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
And it was by his death that Jesus set human beings free from the grip which the devil has over us all.
Heb 2:14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— 15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Christ has defeated the devil. And one day the devil and all his minions will face his just desserts in eternal judgment for all the pain and destruction he has caused. Until then our victory over the devil comes from sharing in Christ’s victory. We don’t need to be afraid in this battle. Christ has already won the war.
1 John 4 4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

So we are called simply to resist the devil and he will flee from us. To put on the armour of God and stand firm, with truth, righteousness, gospel shoes, faith, salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God, the weapon which God has given us to confront and resist and rebuke the devil. Christ has already won the victory over sin and death and the devil. The Bible tells us an amazing thing. As Christians we SHARE Christ’s life. Our life and death are wrapped up in HIS death and resurrection life. Christ lives in us!
Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (NIV)

Paul puts it this way to the Colossians.
1:27 God’s plan is to make known his secret to his people, this rich and glorious secret which he has for all peoples. And the secret is that Christ is in you, which means that you will share in the glory of God. (GNB)

The mystery is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (NIV)

Christ is IN us – living in us, working in us by His Holy Spirit. So here is the secret of victorious Christian living.
Colossians 2:6 Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

The secret of victorious Christian living is to live not in our own strength but in Christ’s strength. To let Him live and reign in US! Jesus Himself teaches us this when he says, “I am the Vine, you are the branches.”

John 15 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

This is victorious Christian living – abiding in Christ. We thought about this in our morning service three weeks ago but the principle is so important that it deserves to be repeated.
Apart from me you can do nothing. If only we would actually accept the fact that without Christ we can do nothing. That all our valiant efforts at showing love and becoming holy and witnessing for Christ are USELESS – absolutely worthless. That only God’s grace working through us can accomplish anything worthwhile for God! If only we would truly acknowledge that we desperately need God’s help in EVERY part of our lives! Then we would stop struggling and failing, and Christ’s life could begin to shine through us.

I talked about this last Sunday morning as we thought about God the Holy Spirit being The Helper: Helping us to know Jesus; Helping us to become more like Jesus; Helping us to serve Jesus and Helping us to tell others about Jesus. The Comforter, the Counsellor, the Strengthener, the Helper. In particular I said that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to change us into the image of Christ!
“All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)

The Spirit “metamorphoses” us into the image of Christ. He is the HOLY Spirit and His work is to make us holy too. That process is called “purification” or “sanctification” depending on which book you read. Oswald Chambers “Sanctification is not something our Lord does in me; sanctification is himself in me.”

“The triumphant Christian does not fight for victory; he celebrates a victory already won.”

We don’t have to win the war. The devil has already been completely defeated on the cross. We are just involved in the “mopping up” operations. And if there are times that seems difficult, remember the message of the Book of Revelation. Jesus is going to win. In our sermons on Revelation we thought about the Victory of the Lamb in Revelation 5 and the Saints in Glory in Revelation 7. In Revelation 19-20 we saw Six Pictures of Unseen Reality. Jesus as the Commander of the Armies of heaven, whose Victory is certain. The devil is condemned and God’s enemies are doomed. Judgment Day is coming and the church WILL BE triumphant. We may face hard times. But Jesus has already won the victory. We just need to live in that victory.

So how can we let Christ live His life through us? How can we abide in Christ? In John 15 Jesus points us to THREE essential parts to this.
1. SCRIPTURE

At the heart of Christian maturity and Victorious Christian Living is the Bible, Scripture, God’s Word.

John 15: 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you.
It is God’s Word that brings us new life – God’s word which is the truth that sets us free!

7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
We become more like Christ as we allow His words to take root in our hearts and transform us.

10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
The pathway to maturity and victory is so simple. Obeying Christ’s commands. Knowing what the Scripture says, and obeying what we have learned. One of the first sermons I preached here was called “Disciples are Learners.” And in it I shared what I believe to be very true. “Most evangelical Christians are educated beyond their obedience.” We know what the Bible says, but be don’t obey it! We don’t allow the Scriptures to shape our lives. We allow the Word of God to inform our minds but we don’t allow it to change our hearts.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Romans 1:16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.

Do we really believe in the transforming power of the Word of God?
1Thessalonians 2:13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe.

Apparently it was Spurgeon who said, “A Bible which is falling apart usually belongs to someone who isn’t!” As Jesus proved in His temptations in the wilderness, the key to victory is “It is written.”

2. PRUNING

John 15:1 ¶ “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

Sometimes we go through hard times. These can be God pruning us. “God could have kept Daniel out of the lions’ den. . . he could have kept Paul and Silas out of jail.. . . he could have kept the three Hebrew children out of the fiery furnace. . . but God has never promised to keep us out of hard places . . . what he has promised is to go with us through every hard place, and to bring us through victoriously.” (Merv Rosell)

We do not become perfect overnight. We reach only Christian victory and Christian maturity through a process of refining, of purifying, of being made holy. But we have to be willing for God to change us. We have to be willing to be made willing. We have to want God to change us, and allow us to change us to become more like Jesus Christ.
Romans 12:1 ¶ Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God- this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.

We still have to play our part by repentance and faith. But that transformation is the work of God the Holy Spirit, it’s not about human effort. Yet we still have to say “yes” to God! To be living sacrifices which are prepared to stay on the altar. To say yes to the Gardener’s pruning. For the clay to stop fighting and submit to the Potter’s will and purposes.

You are the potter and I am the clay, Help me to be willing to let You have Your way.
Jesus, You are changing me, As I let You reign supreme within my heart.

Scripture, pruning and of course, most important of all,
3. PRAYER

How else do we let Christ live in us but through prayer?

John 15:4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. 5 If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

Prayer. Abiding in Christ. Spending time in His presence. Spending time listening to God and not just rattling through our shopping list of requests. True prayer is receiving God’s joy and His peace and His wisdom. Enjoying God’s presence, as adoring children love to just cuddle up and spend time in the arms of their loving Father.

Scripture, pruning, prayer – the paths to living a victorious Christian life. But why is it important that we should be letting Christ live in us and through us? It’s not just for our benefit. And it’s not just for God’s glory. It also matters because our victorious Christian living is our witness to the world. Our lives showing the life of Christ shining through us into the darkness. The difference Jesus makes to the things we do and the way we talk and the ways we think about things. That IS our Christian witness. Sometimes we think of “witnessing” as some desperately challenging and difficult task. But if we are living our lives according to the Scriptures, if we are living for God instead of for ourselves, then people around us WILL see the difference and WILL want to know about Jesus for themselves. Jesus teaches in the Sermon on the Mount.
Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

How on earth do you hide a city built on a hill? “A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” And the people of God are that city! Note that Jesus doesn’t say, “You must work hard to be the light of the world. You must try to be the light of the world.” He says “You ARE the light of the world.” The challenge is to let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. In other words, the way we live is our witness to the world. The difference Jesus makes and the victory he gives us is our witness. So we all need to discover the secret of victorious Christian living. Not just for our own sake! Not just so that we can live in victory over temptation and victory over the lies and schemes of the devil. But because our VICTORY is our witness to a watching world!

The secret of Victorious Christian Living is nothing dramatic, nothing surprising, nothing new. It is simply to let Christ live in us. To let the victory of his cross over sin and death and the devil be our victory. To let the power of His glorious resurrection life be OUR power. Through Scripture. Through Pruning. Through Prayer. Reign in me – Sovereign Lord. Reign in me.

Dwight L. Moody once used this illustration. “Tell me,” he said to his audience, “how can I get the air out of the tumbler I have in my hand?” One man said, “Suck it out with a pump.” But the evangelist replied, “That would create a vacuum and shatter it.” Finally after many suggestions, moody picked up a jug and quietly filled the glass with water. “There,” he said, “all the air is now removed.” He then explained that victory for the child of God does not come by us working hard to eliminate sinful habits. Instead victory comes by allowing the Holy Spirit to take full possession of our lives. By letting Jesus live in us.

My favourite Christian song from the days of Youth Praise puts it like this.

IF I tried to live for you Lord today. If I tried to follow your wonderful way.
Then all of my life would be me and not you. And none of your glory would ever shine through.

Since I first met you I knew Lord you were the way. I tried hard to walk I your footsteps each day.
But somehow my life didn’t glorify Thee. So make me a channel and you live through me.

Take each new day, whatever’s in store. Take my whole being and into me pour,
Your power and your Spirit, Oh make me anew. For no-one can change me, Lord Jesus, but you.

Scripture. Pruning. Prayer. Letting Christ live in us. That’s victorious Christian living!

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